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Applying to Graduate and Professional School Douglas McBride Pre-professional Advisor Academic Factors Your Chosen Major No major is better than any other major for professional school. Major can matter for graduate programs. Advantage of Biology and Chemistry Majors. 140 Credit issue.

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applying to graduate and professional school
Applying to Graduate and Professional School

Douglas McBridePre-professional Advisor

academic factors
Academic Factors

Your Chosen Major

  • No major is better than any other major for professional school.
  • Major can matter for graduate programs.
  • Advantage of Biology and Chemistry Majors.
  • 140 Credit issue.
academic factors3
Academic Factors

Prerequisite Classes

  • Medicine.
  • Dentistry.
  • Optometry.
  • Podiatry.
  • Other.
academic factors4
Academic Factors

Other Required Classes

  • University of Utah Diversity Requirement.
  • Books: MSAR, ADEA, OPTED
  • Online Resources
  • Data Sheets.
academic factors5
Academic Factors

Recommended Classes

  • The value of additional upper division classes
    • Biochemistry.
  • Liberal Arts Classes
  • Only doing the minimums.
    • Calculus
academic factors6
Academic Factors


  • An extremely important quantitative measure.
  • A great GPA does “NOT” guarantee admittance.
  • Cumulative vs Science GPA
  • GPA from a “competitive” vs “non-competitive” school.
    • GPA trends and standardized test scores.
academic factors7
Academic Factors

Standardized Test Scores - Other

  • Medical – MCAT
  • Podiatry – MCAT or GRE
  • Dental – DAT
  • Pharmacy – PCAT or GRE.
  • PT/OT/Other graduate level programs – GRE.
  • Veterinary School – GRE.
    • VCAT no longer available.
  • Chiropractics – Usually not required.
non academic factors
Non-Academic Factors

“The reward goes not to him with the greatest ability, but to him with the greatest determination.”


non academic factors9
Non-Academic Factors
  • University of Utah Example-
  • “As important as grades and test scores are, by themselves they do not predict who will be successful in medical school. The demands of medical education and life as a physician are not for everyone. We consider how the applicant balances outside activities and responsibilities with schoolwork as an indicator of ability to deal with the rigors of life as a physician. The committee is interested in motivation for attending medical school and understanding of the medical profession. Commitment to community service, ethical behavior, compassion, leadership ability and communication skills are important characteristics of physicians. We expect applicants to be courteous, respectful and professional at all times.”
  • Dean of Admission
  • University of Utah Medical School
non academic factors10
Non-Academic Factors

The three guiding principles for selection:

  • Overall Excellence
  • Humanitarian Skills
  • Diversity of Experience
bio 311 professional school preparation
Bio 311 - Professional School Preparation

Extracurricular Activities

  • The more diverse your background and experience, the more interesting you will become to the admissions committee.
  • Don’t avoid out of fear of a lower GPA.
  • Make sure your participation is ‘Active’ participation.
  • Personal anecdotes in your application.
personal statement
Personal Statement

Personal Statements – Common Topics

  • The five common topic areas:
    • Your motivation for a career as a physician.
    • The influence of your family / early experiences in life.
    • The influence of extracurricular, work/volunteer activities on your life.
    • Your long-term goals.
    • Your personal philosophy.
  • Description of irregularities in you record.
personal statement13

Realistic self-assessment









Active Learner





Acknowledging limitations

Seeking help when appropriate

Accepting responsibility for learning

Working well with others

Completing tasks

Accepting disappointment and moving on

Good performance in activities without being distracted by them

Not isolating self from others

Concentration on task at hand

Integrating and applying new information

Willingness to change

Making good use of time

Systematically taking care of business

Setting long-term and short-term goals

Personal Statement

Attributes Committee Look For:

personal statement14
Personal Statement

The Most Common Essay Mistakes:

  • Underestimating the Importance of the Essay.
  • Using Excessive Detail
  • Failing to Make the Essay Personal.
  • Embellishing the Essay.
  • Failing to Proofread the Essay.
application process
Application Process

Allopathic Medical Schools

  • MD/Ph.D., MD/JD
    • Individual Applications.
  • AMCAS vs non-AMCAS
    • 115 out of 125 schools participate in AMCAS
    • Online AMCAS Available around May 15
    • Processing 1st to middle of June.
  • Early Decision Program
    • Deadline August 1st
  • Application Fees
    • $160 for the first school
    • $30 for each additional school.
application process16
Application Process

Osteopathic Medical Schools

    • 20 out of 21 schools participate in AACOMAS
      • University of North Texas at Fort Worth
    • Online AMCAS Available around May 1
    • Processing begins June 1.
  • Application Fees
    • A graduated scale:
application process17
Application Process

Dental Schools

  • AADSAS vs non-AADSAS
    • 54 schools participate in AADSAS
      • Non-AADSAS - Louisiana State, Medical College of Georgia, Northwestern U., University of Mississippi, University of Tennessee
    • Online AMCAS Available around May 15
    • Processing begins June 1.
  • Application Fees
    • $195 for first school.
    • $60 for each additional school up to ten.
    • $50 for each additional school from 11 to 20
    • $25 for each additional school over 20
application process18
Application Process

Optometry Schools

  • Independent Applications
  • Deadlines
  • OAT Scores
  • Transcripts
application process19
Application Process

Podiatry Schools

    • 6 out of 8 schools participate in AACPMAS
      • New York and Midwestern University in Arizona
    • Online AMCAS Available around September 1st.
  • Application Fees
    • Application Processing Fees:
      • 1 school: $50.00
      • 2-3 schools: $75.00
      • 4+ schools: $100.00
application process20
Application Process

Pharmacy Schools

  • PharmCAS vs non-PharmCAS
    • 42 out of 84 schools participate in PharmCAS
    • Online AMCAS Available around May 5th
application process21
Application Process

Physician Assistant Schools

  • CASPA vs non-CASPA
    • 68 out of 134 schools participate in CASPA
    • Online CASPA application available April 15th.
  • Application Fees
    • Graduated Scale
standardized tests
Standardized Tests

Why Take Standardized Tests?

  • Grades Don’t Tell the Whole Story
    • The Great Equalizer of Undergraduate Education
    • More Important for Students Graduating from Schools not Well Known or Schools Who’s Reputation is Less than Other Schools.
  • Determine the Test Taking Ability of an Applicant.
    • Will you Do Well on Medical School Exams?
    • Will you Do Well on a Licensing Exam?
standardized tests23
Standardized Tests

What are the Different Tests?

  • MCAT
    • Allopathic
    • Osteopathic
    • Podiatry
    • Some Veterinary and Pharmacy Schools
  • DAT - Dental
  • OAT - Optometry
  • PCAT – Pharmacy
  • VCAT – Veterinary (No Longer Offered)
  • GRE – Graduate Schools
standardized tests24
Standardized Tests

Should You Retake a Test?

  • Are your scores consistent with your grades?
  • Did you prepare adequately for the test?
  • Will you have the time and motivation to prepare for a second test?
  • Doing the same or worse a second time will hurt you.

What is your job as a freshman student?

  • Work hard and get good grades.
  • Get as much out of the university resources as possible.
  • Get to know you professors.
letters of recommendation
Letters of Recommendation

How do you get to know your professors?

  • Arrive at your appointments on time.
  • Find time for extra appointments.
  • Be honest about any problems you may have with an application.
  • Always feel free to ask questions.
  • Have evaluators read your personal statement.
  • Let your evaluators know where you have been accepted.
letters of recommendation27
Letters of Recommendation

Why are letters important?

  • Judgment of your non-academic attributes.
    • Character
    • Personality
    • Motivation
    • Maturity
    • Integrity
    • Etc..
  • Will you make a good clinician?
letters of recommendation28
Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation Tips

  • Ask potential evaluators if they can write a ‘good’ letter on your behalf.
  • Let your evaluator know the type of health profession school you are applying to.
  • Be prepared to furnish information about yourself.
  • Get at least two science evaluations.
  • Diversity your evaluations.
  • Give sufficient lead time.
  • Collect evaluations after you finish a class.
  • Keep track of your evaluations.
letters of recommendation29
Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation – Don’ts

  • Don’t get a letter from family member.
  • Don’t get letters from well known persons unless they know you well.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Don’t act unprofessional around your potential letter writers – Ever.
  • Keep up on current topics!
    • World and Local News
    • Current Industry Issues

What percentage of an applicant’s overall

evaluation does the interview constitute?


Why do schools interview?

  • Intellectual Curiosity
    • How you approach the unknown
    • How do you organize your thoughts
    • What is your preferred learning style
    • Do you have the desire for continuous learning
  • Social Awareness and Cultural Competency
    • Exposure to people with different interests, religion, culture, economics, gender, age, ethnicity, language, education, and race.
    • What value do you place on these differences
    • Can you modify your behavior to show respect for differences.

Why do schools interview?

  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
    • What is your perception of yourself
    • What is your response when others have misunderstood you
    • What are your experiences with teamwork
    • How do you handle criticism
  • Maturity
    • What have you done to explore a health career
    • What disappointments have you experienced in your life
    • What accomplishments are you most proud of
    • What is your definition of a leader

Preparing for an interview

  • Practice your responses to questions.
    • List five important things you want to make sure the interview knows about you.
    • List five powerful questions you want to ask during the interview.
    • Describe three ways you can contribute to your class.
    • What are your three most significant leadership qualities?
    • List of anticipated questions.
    • List of toughest questions you could be asked.
  • Review potential interview questions.
  • Learn all you can about specific schools.
  • Mock Interview.

Any Questions?

  • Don’t forget to have some good questions to ask.
masters ph d programs
Masters/Ph.D Programs

What is it like in Graduate School?

  • Masters (M.S. Degree)
    • Most Graduate Schools offer an M.S. degree
    • Typically 2 years
    • Thesis usually required.
  • Ph.D Programs
    • 1/5 of graduate schools offer Ph.D ONLY program.
    • The rest offer combined M.S./Ph.D programs.
    • Typically about 5 years
masters ph d programs37
Masters/Ph.D Programs

How hard is graduate school?

  • Attrition rate of some Ph.D programs is as high at 75%
  • By comparison more than 90% of medical school students receive degrees.
  • Very few jobs in biology for B.S. degree students.
  • You usually must do a graduate level program to get a good job.
masters ph d programs38
Masters/Ph.D Programs

Choosing a Graduate School

  • Talk to professors
  • Review graduate school posters
  • List programs that have degrees in your area of interest
  • Visit the school
  • Learn about and talk to researchers in your area of interest to find out if space is available in their lab.
masters ph d programs39
Masters/Ph.D Programs

Financing a Graduate School Education

  • National Fellowships
  • University Fellowships
  • TA, Research Assistants
  • Loans
masters ph d programs40
Masters/Ph.D Programs

How do programs select students?

  • GPA
  • Reputation of undergraduate school
  • GRE scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of Goals