General Admission to Medical School

General Admission to Medical School

Getting Ready to Apply

It is never too early for students to begin familiarizing themselves with the medical school admissions process; they are likely to be more confident if they are well informed about what awaits them. Toward that end, the Postbac Program conducts sessions on developing the Prehealth Porfolio, a resource students are encouraged to begin working on early in their time at Columbia.

Applicant Meeting

The Premedical Office hosts mandatory meetings during the fall semester for those who plan to apply to medical school over the following summer. Their purpose is to give an overview of and introduction to the application process. Topics covered include completion and submission of the Prehealth Portfolio, the common application, supplemental applications, standardized admissions examinations, letters of recommendation, committee support, interviewing, resources, and the timeline for the application process to medical, dental, and veterinary schools. This overview prepares students to consult individually with their advisors about the optimal application strategy.

Students are also encouraged to consult the following resources:

American Medical College Service (AMCAS)

Schools of allopathic medicine in the US participate in AMCAS, the American Medical College Application Service. Students complete a single common application, including a composite academic record and a personal statement, which is submitted directly to AMCAS. After AMCAS verifies the contents of the application (a four- to six-week process), it forwards it to each school designated by the applicant. For information about individual schools, including their admissions processes and requirements, students should purchase a subscription to the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), a web-based resource updated annually by the AAMC.

Note: The AMCAS application is available beginning in early May. Transcripts should be sent to AMCAS at that time; however, it is recommended that applicants wait for spring grades before sending their Columbia transcripts. Columbia transcripts can be transmitted to AMCAS electronically. Applicants may begin submitting their AMCAS applications in late May or early June.

To apply to a non-AMCAS allopathic medical school, students must complete each school's proprietary application online (or, in some cases, request a paper copy from a school’s admissions office). Applications for non-AMCAS schools are typically available by May, so students should make requests in mid-April. Schools of osteopathic medicine have their own common application, AACOMAS, as do all Texas state schools. These are just the principal exceptions to the AMCAS application process.


Because many medical schools select their entering classes on a rolling basis, it is to a student's advantage to submit applications as early as possible.

AMCAS begins accepting applications in late May or early June .

Postbacs who plan to apply with support of the Premedical Committee should submit their common application by the end of June. It takes up to six weeks for AMCAS to verify an application before sending it on to the schools designated by the applicant. At that point (sooner in some cases), the applicant will begin to receive supplemental applications from the schools. Although many schools' application deadlines are in late autumn, it is in the applicant's best interest to submit all supplemental applications within two weeks of receiving them.


Once medical schools receive a student's verified AMCAS application, many will then send secondary applications to complete (some may even send the secondary application as soon as the applicant submits the AMCAS application). In some cases, schools will use the AMCAS application to screen applicants to determine whether or not to send the secondary application. Generally, students should aim to complete and return secondary applications within two weeks of receipt (some schools may expect to receive them even sooner). The essays for the secondary applications provide another great opportunity for students to persuade medical schools that they are worth interviewing.