How Many Medical Schools Should I Apply To?

The decision is finally made.  You are going to medical school!  You have studied hard, dedicating your time to strengthening your CV, building your skills, and rocking the MCAT.  Now you have reached the moment when you have to figure out where you are going to submit your medical school applications.

You may want to escape the mid-west and apply only for the coasts.  You might be trying to stay near loved ones.  Whatever your motivation, you need to remember a few important things when selecting how many medical schools to apply to.

Factors to consider when deciding how many medical schools to apply to:

1. It costs a lot of money.

The AMCAS costs $160 for the first application, and then $33 for each designated school after that. Applying to ten schools will cost a minimum of $457. Why do I say minimum?  Because that’s only for the AMCAS application!

Each school that you designate to receive your application will then likely send you a secondary application.  Secondary applications (usually) cost money too, and a lot more than the original $33.  Expect to pay upwards of $150 for the secondary applications.

Check out our Medical School Applications Cost Estimator for a more personalized estimate!

[Related tool: Medical School Application Secondary Essay Library]

2. It takes a lot of time.

As stated above, the primary AMCAS application is just the beginning. Once you submit that application, it can take several weeks for your application to be verified.  Once verified, your primary application is released to the schools you designated.

The hard work continues when the secondary applications start rolling in. These secondary applications typically require new essays and more information. With most schools offering interviews on a rolling basis, it is obviously in your best interest to return these secondary applications as soon as possible.

You can learn more about the whole medical school application timeline here.

Average number of medical schools applied to

While it might seem smart to apply only to schools where you wish to attend, so as to save money, one of the biggest mistakes applicants make is not applying to enough medical schools.  Do the research, apply to med schools you want to attend, and apply to schools you know will want you to go to them.

According to the AAMC, a staggering total of 609,312 applications from 42,919 applicants were submitted for 2011, an average of 14 per applicant. Fourteen applications, fourteen possible futures. Choose wisely! I would definitely recommend not applying to more than 30 schools total.

One of the biggest mistakes applicants make is not applying to enough medical schools.Click To Tweet

My Story of Applying to Medical School

When I applied to medical school (the first time), it was the first year of the web-based AMCAS. What a mess!  I applied to a lot of schools and received a pile of secondaries, each asking for MORE essays and MORE information.

At that point in the game, I was tired.  So I only filled out a few of them, wasting their time, my time, and more importantly my money. If I had researched the medical school application process a little bit more (or at all), I would have been more selective with where I sent my primary application.

If I had researched the medical school application process more, I would've been more selective with where I sent my primary application.Click To Tweet

Building a list of schools to apply to

For more on this subject, I cover a lot more about how many schools to apply to, and how to build a list of schools in Session 304 of The Premed Years podcast.

Links and Other Resources: