Linkage Admission

Linkage is a formal agreement between the Postbac Premed Program and a medical (or dental) school, which enables highly qualified Postbac Premed students with a strong interest in the school to accelerate the application process. A successful linkage applicant would matriculate in one of the 15 linkage schools in the subsequent academic year, generally upon completion of the orgo/bio year.

Students interested in linkage are urged to consider both the benefits and the disadvantages associated with linkage.

Pros

  • Linkage enables the applicant to eliminate the glide/application year.
  • Linkage allows the applicant to cut costs associated with applying to multiple medical schools.
  • Linkage applicants quickly receive their admissions decision from the medical school to which they have applied.
  • Linkage insures that the candidate's application is carefully and thoroughly studied.

Cons

  • Linkage restricts the applicant's choice of school to those with which Columbia holds linkage agreements, and the applicant may apply to only one of these.
  • The eligibility criteria for linkage admission tend to be higher than for general applicants to the same school.
  • The applicant must complete the phases of the application process during the orgo/bio year (arguably, the most challenging coursework of the Postbac Premed Program), rather than afterward.
  • In most cases, the applicant must prepare to take the MCAT in April or May, where general applicants frequently choose to take it in June.
  • The linkage applicant must complete all premed course requirements by May (general applicants may exercise the option of postponing a lab course to the summer, usually after taking the MCAT).

The Postbac Premed Program schedules visits to most of the schools each fall. As a rule, only students who are currently pursuing a linkage nomination are eligible to attend these visits. While participating in these visits is not required, it is strongly encouraged. Visiting schools is one of the best ways to learn about them.

Guidelines for Linkage Visits

  • Show up promptly.
  • Dress appropriately. It is not necessary to wear a suit or business attire; however, jeans, sweatshirts, and sneakers should be eschewed in favor of business casual attire.
  • While linkage visits are not interviews, be mindful. For example, do not send text messages while a panel or PowerPoint presentation is in progress. Remain interested and engaged.
  • If you sign up for a linkage visit, but are unable to attend, be sure to cancel your registration by clicking on the cancellation link included in the registration confirmation you will receive. If the deadline to cancel has passed (or the cancellation link does not work), email gspostbac@columbia.edu. If you must cancel on the day of the visit, please contact the linkage school's Office of Admissions.
  • Don't be a no-show.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility criteria for linkage programs tend to be more extensive than for traditional applicants. This is because the linkage school is extending the privilege of a review of the application at the end of the admissions cycle.

The minimum eligibility requirements an applicant must meet to apply for linkage include: 

  • Current enrollment and good standing in the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program of the School of General Studies at Columbia University.
  • Enrollment in the Postbac Program for at least two (2) semesters prior to nomination.
  • Completion, by the end of the fall semester prior to nomination, of at least 15 points of required science course work within the Postbac Program with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 and with no individual grades below C
    NOTE: While a minimum grade point average of 3.2 within the Program is required for students applying for nomination, many linkage schools require a higher grade point average
  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree at an accredited U.S. college or university; in the case of students with degrees from foreign universities, the degree must be deemed equally acceptable by the linkage school
  • Completion of all of the required premed courses by the May prior to beginning the linkage program
  • Concurrent enrollment in the Organic Chemistry and Contemporary Biology course sequences at Columbia (or an approved upper division sequence) as a Postbac Premed student

In addition, to be eligible for linkage, students should:

  • Not have taken any required premedical course at Columbia more than once
  • Have no outstanding incompletes in Columbia coursework
  • Take the MCAT by April or May (depending on the school’s requirement)
  • Complete at least 90 hours of volunteer or paid research or clinical healthcare work by the end of December, and 120 by the end of the spring term
  • not have previously applied to medical school
  • meet the GPA and other pertinent requirements for the linkage school by the end of the fall semester prior to nomination. For example, if a school requires a 3.6, applicants to that program will not be nominated in January with less than a 3.6

Specific Program Requirements

In addition to the minimum eligibility requirements for linkage, applicants must also satisfy the specific program requirements of their chosen linkage schools, which may exceed the minimum requirements listed above. Note: Satisfaction of requirements makes a Postbac student eligible to be considered for nomination, but does not guarantee nomination or ensure admission.

Students considering linkage should take the following steps:

  • Attend the linkage program information session held by the Postbac Premed Program advisors in the spring semester before the orgo/bio year.
  • Speak with admissions deans and directors at the medical school fair in the spring before the orgo/bio year.
  • Visit linkage schools: tour the facilities and speak with admissions officers, faculty, and medical students. The Premedical Office arranges for visits to most of the linkage schools during the fall of the orgo/bio year.
  • Attend the Linkage Panel in the fall semester.
  • Consult with their advisor about their interest in linkage and the specific schools in which they are interested. Premedical advisors will help determine whether a student is a plausible candidate for specific schools. Such consultations may increase the likelihood of nomination.

Students wishing to pursue nomination for linkage should consult with their advisors and plan to conduct research into their linkage school options during the fall semester of the orgo/bio year.

Timeline

For specific dates and details, please consult the timeline. Below is an overview of the timeline for applying for nomination.

Spring Semester before the Orgo/Bio Year

  • Students interested in linkage should attend a linkage information session.
  • Students considering applying for nomination to a linkage program research the linkage programs and meet with their advisor.

Summer before the Orgo/Bio Year

Fall Semester of Orgo/Bio Year

  • Prospective nominees must complete and submit the internal application by the date in September specified on the timeline.
  • Prospective nominees must request letters of recommendation from faculty for courses already completed, supervisors, their undergraduate college, and others who may be able to write insightfully about them.
  • By December 1, prospective nominees must submit the linkage school essay and the verification of clinical healthcare work. This is also the date by which letters of recommendation are due (with the exception of letters requested from fall semester faculty).

Spring Semester of Orgo/Bio Year

  • At the beginning of the spring semester, after fall grades become available, the Premedical Committee will announce its nominations.
  • Nominees are then given their school's linkage application timeline, including deadline dates for AMCAS, the secondary application, MCAT, interview date and so forth.
  • Letters of recommendation from fall semester faculty are due by the beginning of the spring semester.

Nomination Decisions

Nominations are made at the discretion of the Premedical Committee. Decisions are non-negotiable and are not open to petition.

Nomination to be a linkage applicant is by no means a guarantee of acceptance to the linkage school.

Students who accept a linkage nomination will complete the following steps during the spring semester:

  • Work on their personal statement for AMCAS or AADSAS application in consultation with the Postbac Premed Program Office.
  • Submit the AMCAS or AADSAS and secondary applications according to the linkage school's application timeline.
  • Interview with the Premedical Committee.
  • Take the MCAT by the last date designated by the linkage school.
  • Interview at the linkage school, if invited to do so.

The Premedical Committee will compose and submit committee letters for nominees by the linkage schools' deadlines.

Linkage is not an easy way to get into medical school. Reading through the linkage program requirements, visiting schools, attending the Linkage Information Session and the Linkage Panel, and talking to your advisor are the best ways to determine if linkage is the right path for you. From year to year, approximately 25% of eligible Postbac Premed students applied to a linkage program. In 2014, the proportion of students who accepted nomination for linkage, and who were accepted at their selected linkage school, was 78%; it was 52% in 2015, and 72% in 2016.