How Many Medical Schools Should I Apply To?

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In your journey towards medical school, one of the first things you’re undoubtedly wondering is, “How many medical schools should I apply to?”

You must apply to medical school to take the first step in realizing your ambition of becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, the competition for spots in medical schools is fierce.

Even if you have settled on a certain college as your first choice, it’s seldom a good idea to throw all your resources into that one option.

To maximize one’s acceptance odds, it is wise to submit applications to as many colleges as possible. 

The typical candidate sends their documents to 16 different universities. However, this is not the best approach.

You should apply to eight or ten institutions where you have a good probability of being accepted.

The AAMC reports that 53,371 people applied for 896,819 positions in 2019. This works out to an average of 17 applications per person.

Medical students listening sitting at desk at the university

When determining how many medical schools to apply to, it is important to take into account the following factors:

1. It’s a lot of money.

The first application fee for the AMCAS is $160, and an additional $33 for each specified school.

The minimal fee to apply to 10 colleges is $457. What do I mean when I say “minimum”?

Afterward, you’ll probably get a secondary application from each institution you include on your primary application.

The fee for a secondary application is often much more than the first $33. The secondary applications may cost you up to $150.

2. It takes a great deal of time.

Having completed the initial AMCAS application is just the beginning.

The application verification process might take several weeks after submission. Your first application will be sent to the selected institutions after verification.

The real labor begins when secondary applications start to arrive. Many of these supplementary applications need fresh essays and more data.

It would help if you got these additional applications back to the institutions as soon as possible since most of them give interviews on a rolling basis.

Things to think about before applying to the medical school:

Making a list of schools to apply to and choosing a specific medical school is no easy task, and there are many factors to consider.

If you want a sense of a school’s people, campus, and area, you should contact individuals in relevant programs and visit campus in person. A few things to think about are:

Rate of acceptance: Find out how competitive the institution is by looking up the acceptance rate. 

Reputation and ranking: These factors impact the school’s access to and use of many resources, including but not limited to financing, technology, and the quality of its faculty and students. It also shows how difficult it is to enter a medical school of your choice.

Specialty: Pick a medical college with programs that accommodate your preferred area of medical study.

Although most institutions provide a diverse curriculum, some are more suited to students interested in pursuing a particular field of medicine, such as surgery or family practice.

Expenses: The cost of attending medical school varies widely amongst institutions.

There are free and paid options, with annual fees ranging from $20,000 to $90,000.

In addition, the tuition for students from other states and countries is often more than that for students from the student’s home country.

Location: The school’s location is an essential factor to think about. Living expenses, fees, and tuition are based on location.

Generally, living costs are cheaper for students attending public schools and those living in more remote places.

Choosing where you feel comfortable living for the whole academic period is also important. Location-wise, public schools are the most convenient option.

Asian medical student smiling thumbs up. How many medical schools should I apply to.

Why submit applications to many medical schools?

Apply to many medical schools if you’re anxious about your chances of acceptance.

Applying to a large number of medical schools is justified in the following cases:

  • Grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or lower
  • With an MCAT score of 510 or below
  • Absence of extracurricular activities
  • Poor application letters
  • Re-applications

Why should you limit the number of institutions to which you apply?

First, the cost of applying to medical school may be high, with secondary exams costing anything from $35 to $130 per institution.

Second, each medical school requires that you submit a supplementary application. 

Short version: it doesn’t matter how many schools you apply to; you should always take the time to craft a thoughtful secondary application for each.

This will demonstrate your enthusiasm and, ideally, get you an interview.

Applying where you have the highest chance of acceptance is always advisable.

Is it possible for medical schools to find out how many other schools a student has applied to?

No, the medical school will not know how many other schools the student has applied to. 

How to choose a medical school?

Students applying to medical school should review their academic credentials (GPA, MCAT score, etc.) and compare the schools they are using.

They should compile a list of schools they’re interested in and their average GPA and MCAT scores.

Students need to know whether or not they are ranked higher than or lower than the school average.


If you’re applying to medical school, I hope this post helped you recognize why more applications aren’t always better.

Many aspiring doctors have been told that sending their applications to as many medical schools as possible is a good idea, but trust me when I say it’s not.

Happy medical student working with microscope at the university

However, it doesn’t imply you should limit your applications to just a few institutions.

There will still be a lot of effort, but you should aim to apply to at least 10–12.

It’s the perfect middle ground between having too many and few school institutions.

Have fun and good luck! Congratulations on making it this far. It’s not easy to be a premed student. If you’ve made it through the application process, you’ve got a leg up.

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