Preparing to Apply for Professional School
Preparing to apply to a graduate health professions program is a daunting task. There are application services, admissions test, and program prerequisites to be mindful of. The Office of Pre-Health Professions Advising helps you in applying to the various professional programs so that you are able to present your best self throughout the admissions process.
To help you prepare for the application process, check out our Applying to Professional School Guide (PDF).
Most professional schools use centralized application services. You apply directly to these services instead of applying to the various schools. These professional association applications services meet the needs of both participating member institutions as well as prospective students by providing applications in a standardized format. It is important to know the requirements of particular graduate programs to know the best approach to applications. The Office of Pre-Health Professions Advising is knowledgeable of application process and able to help you successfully navigate the process.
Admissions test information
Similar to the SAT and ACT, you are expected to perform successfully on admissions tests specific to your graduate program. For information regarding test prep options and when to take these exams, see the Pre-Health Professions Advisor.
Academic prerequisites are of the utmost importance when preparing to apply to graduate programs. While there are general requirements for most professional schools, the Office of Pre-Health Professions Advising is able to assist you as you prepare for these requirements.
Pre-Health Professions Advising Committee (PHPAC) letters
Our Pre-Health Professions Advising Committee's major function is writing committee letters of recommendation for professional schools. Many professional schools require committee letters if available, and most view committee letters favorably as part of a strong application.
Professional schools applications have many components and requirements. Most graduate professional school applications require:
- College/university transcripts
- Admissions test scores
- Letters of recommendation from faculty/committee and other professionals
- Personal essay
- Interview (if invited)
- AMCAS: American Medical College Application Service
- AACOMAS: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service
- AADSAS: Associated American Dental Schools Application Service
- OptomCAS: Optometry College Application Service
- PharmCAS: Pharmacy College Application Service
- CASPA: Central Application Service for Physician Assistant
- AACPMAS: American Association of College of Podiatric Medicine Application Service
- VMCAS: Veterinary Medical College Application Service
Your transcripts play a crucial role in your application and acceptance to professional school. You will be expected to provide copies of official transcripts to the application service in order to complete the application process. Be sure to request transcripts from the UNE Registrar's office in a timely manner, as well as any other colleges you have attended. You will need to provide proof of grades for all college-level work. This does not include Advanced Placement/IB courses.
Professional school admissions required admissions tests for the various programs. All are standardized, time test covering subject-specific topics depending on the medical field.
Strong letters of recommendation are critical to any application to professional or graduate school. It is important to carefully consider who you will be asking to write these letters. When beginning the letter of recommendation process, consider:
- What aspects of your personality are most relevant/helpful to this particular application?
- Which professors/supervisors/etc know me best and can paint an accurate picture?
Always allow letter writers ample time to craft a well-written, thoughtful letter. Provide stamped, addressed envelopes when necessary and provide a list of whom the letter should be addressed to, deadlines, and other pertinent information to your letter writer.
The Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee (PHPAC) major function is writing letters of evaluation for students applying to health professions schools. Many professional schools prefer a composite letter from the undergraduate Advisory Committee rather than several individual professors. (See the Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee (PHPAC) page for more information.)
Health professions schools will require a personal statement along with your application. This personal essay is used in a number of ways by admissions committees and should be a well-written, well-prepared picture of who you are as an applicant and future doctor/dentist/veterinarian/etc. While the prompt itself is somewhat vague, topics to focus on include academics, extracurricular interests and achievements, and patient interactions. Connect with the Pre-Health Advisor for ideas on structuring your personal essay.
For many professional schools, the interview is the final step in the admissions process. Not all applicants are invited to campus for interviews and not all students interviewed are accepted. Professional schools use the interview as their opportunity to learn more about the applicant and have a feel for whether or not you have what it takes to not only make it through the program but succeed in the profession. Preparation for the graduate program interview is key. Career Advising as well as the Pre-Health Professions Advisor will help you prepare fully for your professional school interview.
Depending on the type of program a person is interested in pursuing, the courses required for admissions will vary. In general, most graduate programs will require applicants to have completed:
- English – one year/two semesters
- Biology (with laboratory) – one year/two semesters
- General Chemistry (with laboratory) – one year/two semesters
- Organic Chemistry (with laboratory) – one year/two semesters
- Physics (with laboratory) – one year/two semesters
Students are expected to perform above average in these prerequisites. A grade of C or better is essential.
Many programs have specific requirements in addition to those listed above. For example, many dental programs require at least one semester of biochemistry. It is important to consult with the Pre-Health Advisor to ensure you are on track to complete all necessary prerequisites for admission.
Hands-on experience and direct patient contact are important parts of a successful professional school application as well. Many programs require a minimum number of hours of experience and patient care before submitting an application. While not all programs will expressly require this, it is extremely valuable.