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How, When, and Where to Apply

When should I apply?

Make sure you understand the application timeline for your health profession. For many healthcare professions, the application cycle begins over one year in advance of when you matriculate, and even more time is needed to prepare to be ready to apply. Preparation includes not only performing well in the required coursework and standardized exams, but also developing your extracurricular profile, including service to others and exploration of your chosen healthcare profession. Many of the health professions following a rolling admissions model, so it is advantageous to apply early in the cycle.

The best time to apply to a health profession schools is when you are ready. This may or may not not be the same time as your classmates, friends, or siblings. Admissions committees are searching for well-prepared applicants who are ready to immerse themselves in and contribute to their field.

View your application as an admissions committee might. Have you shown that you have explored your healthcare field of interest? Have you demonstrated commitment to helping others? Have you shown academic competence in the required coursework? Have you secured strong letters of recommendation? Are you satisfied with your scores on the standardized test required for your field? Have you educated yourself about the application timeline for your specific program? If the answers to these questions are “yes,” then you are most likely ready to apply. Your pre-health advisor will be happy to discuss the status of your preparation with you.

Gap Years

The term gap year(s) applies to any amount of time spent between graduation from college and matriculation into your chosen health profession school. More and more frequently, pre-health students are choosing to take time off before applying to health professions schools. You may be asking, “What should I do during a gap year?” The answer is different for everyone. Some students choose to pursue education in an area of interest or as a means by which to improve their GPA. Some students travel, while others volunteer, work, or carry out research. The possibilities are endless! The most important thing is to spend your time doing something you care about (and potentially won’t have the opportunity to do again once you’ve been accepted to your career of choice). Your pre-health advisors in the Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center and the counselors at the Career Center can assist you in developing your gap year plans.

How do I apply?

Most health professions programs use centralized application services. Your application is a summary of your work to date, both inside and outside the classroom, and your motivations for pursuing your chosen healthcare profession. Letters of recommendation should attest to the qualities you have that will serve you well as a healthcare provider. You should be sure to become well acquainted with the application cycle timeline of your chosen health profession.

Centralized application services typically require the following:

Biographic and Demographic Information

Be sure to include your full legal name (and preferred name, if different) and up-to-date contact information where programs can reach you. Be sure to use the application service ID number consistent with any standardized tests or applications from previous cycles that you may have used. You will typically be asked to identify your citizenship status, along with your state of residency.

The application may ask you to list your proficiency levels in any languages you speak, as well as self-identification of race and gender. You may choose to answer questions about your childhood, including but not limited to access to healthcare, household incomes, family size, and use of federal assistance programs. You will also be asked to disclose any military service and any felony or misdemeanor offenses. (There are state-specific guidelines for this information—be sure to consult the instruction manual of your application service.)


You will be required to have official transcripts from every institution where you have taken college-level coursework sent to your application service (or directly to the schools where you are applying if no centralized service is available for your health profession). Most centralized application services require that a transcript request form, which can be generated from within the application, accompany the official transcript. Be sure to include these forms when you initiate your transcript requests with the registrar’s office. You will also be asked to indicate any future intended coursework within your application.

Work and Activities

This typically appears in the format of a list with a short description of each activity. You will be asked to provide contact information for someone who can verify that you did what you say you did, the number of hours you have spent on the activity, and the date range in which you participated in the activity.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is a reflective piece of writing that reveals your motivations for pursuing your chosen health profession. The advisors at the Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center and the Career Center can work with you to develop your personal statement.

Letters of Recommendation

Nearly all health professions programs require multiple letters of recommendation. The types of letters required will vary from program to program. Be sure to check the specific requirements of your target programs. More importantly, letters of recommendation should come from people who know you well and who can comment on the qualities you have that will help you succeed as a competent health professional. Most programs require one or more letters from academic instructors in the basic sciences. There is no pre-health committee letter service at the University of Michigan.

How do my letters get submitted? 

  1. Note that all of your letters should be confidential (unseen by you) and if at all possible they should be on official letterhead.  
  2. The great majority of the application services used by health professions programs (see the list on this page, below) have reference letter services (RLS) built into them and therefore require that your letters be submitted through the RLS built into the application.  
  3. It is therefore least expensive if you ask your letter writers to wait until the application service opens, at which point you will be able to send them an e-request for a letter (make arrangements for this ahead of time!) that will allow them to submit their letter into the confidential RLS attached to your application.  
  4. If for some reason your letter-writer needs to submit their letter before you can open your account, you still need to use a third-party RLS to maintain the confidential status of the letter (do not accept the letter yourself).  
  5. You will then have to instruct the third-party RLS to download your letters into your application once you've opened an application account. There are many good commercial RLS companies available but so far Interfolio is most commonly accepted for this purpose.  However, you should always check with the application service about the acceptability of a commercial RLS before opening an account with one!

Standardized Test Scores

You will need to give your target programs access to your official standardized test scores. Depending on your chosen profession, this may happen automatically, or you may need to release your scores to the application service.

List of Programs to Which You Want to Apply

You will develop a list of target programs as you prepare to apply, making sure you are meeting the requirements for your programs of interest as you progress along your journey to a healthcare career. Factors to consider when selecting programs include cost, size, location, classroom style, co-curricular opportunities, student support, and more.


For pre-medical students, we recommend registering for the Career Center’s MedApp Canvas site.

The following is a list of links to centralized application services:


  • Application available for data entry in May; submissions begins in early June.


  • Application available for data entry in May; submissions begins in early June.

AADSAS (Dental)

  • Application available for data entry and submission in early June.

PharmCAS (Pharmacy)

  • Application available for data entry and submission in early July.


  • Application available for data entry and submission in April.


  • Application available for data entry and submission in July.

SOPHAS (Public Health)

  • Application available for data entry and submission in September.

OptomCAS (Optometry)

  • Application available for data entry and submission in July.

VMCAS (Veterinary Medicine)

  • Application available for data entry and submission in May.

TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools)

  • Application available for data entry and submission in May.
Application Service Launch Date Earliest Submission Date
AACOMAS (DO Schools) Early May Same as launch date
AACPMAS (Podiatric Medicine) Early August Same as launch date
AADSAS (Dental schools) Early June Same as launch date
AMCAS (MD schools) Early May Early June
CASPA (PA schools) Mid - Late April Same as launch date
OPTOMCAS (Optometry) Mid July Same as launch date
OTCAS (Occupational Therapy) Mid July Same as launch date
PHARMCAS (Pharmacy) Mid July Same as launch date
PTCAS (Physical Therapy) Late June Same as launch date
SOPHAS (Public Health) Mid - Late August Same as launch date
VMCAS (Veterinary) Early May Same as launch date
TMDSAS (Texas Med & Dent) Early May Same as launch date