Frequently Asked Questions

General:


We do not have admissions counselors at the University of Washington's School of Medicine. We recommend you confer with an advisor at your current institution, or visit www.naahp.org to learn more about finding an advisor. We provide extensive information on our website about what we are looking for in applicants and our requirements for admission. If you still have questions after reviewing our website and videos, please email our staff at askuwsom@uw.edu.


We look for applicants who meet our missions and expectations. The AAMC has a helpful page about Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students. The UWSOM reviews applications holistically, taking all aspects into consideration, to provide us with an accurate impression of each applicant. Please see our Resources page for more information.


We recommend that applicants apply as early as they can in order to be sure they’ve met all deadlines. However, it is better to wait to submit your best application than to rush it. If you’ll be participating in an experience in the coming year that will significantly improve your application, we recommend that you wait to apply until that experience can be added, even if that means waiting until the next cycle.


You may apply three times to the UWSOM. The application has to have been complete, i.e. including the secondary, letters of recommendation, MCAT scores etc.  to count as one of your three tries. The primary application alone does not count towards our policy of considering only three complete applications.


We recommend that you choose the school, major, experience or opportunity that appeals most to you—you will get the most out of your experiences when you’re passionate about them. We do not have a preference for any particular institution or major. You will need to complete our course requirements regardless of your major. We are looking for experiences that tell us more about you and what kind of doctor you’ll be—don’t do something because “it will look good on an application.”


We accept current U.S. citizens, permanent residents and applicants with DACA status who reside in a WWAMI state and who are legally authorized and recognized by their state’s residency office as a resident for WWAMI educational purposes. We do not accept Canadian or other international applicants unless they are green card holders. We consider applicants from WA, WY, AK, MT, and ID to be “in-region” applicants, and the majority of our incoming students are from these states. See our Acceptance Statistics page.

If you have residency questions, please direct them to the appropriate state Residence Classification office.

Applicants from outside the WWAMI region who come from either economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and/or who have demonstrated a significant commitment to serving underserved populations will be considered. The UWSOM does not accept applications from students who request to transfer from other medical schools unless the students are residents of Wyoming, Alaska, Montana or Idaho (WAMI), and there is a funded position open in the respective state's contract due to student attrition. Please see our Transfer and Advance Standing section for more information.


Regarding your academics, the Admissions Committee is primarily concerned with whether you have demonstrated the ability to succeed in our curriculum and pass licensure exams. Your application will be reviewed holistically and with consideration for your individual circumstances (for example, an upward trajectory and working while in school are considered with respect to grades). Please see our “Red & Green chart” to see the MCAT and GPA statistics (considered together) of the previous year’s applicants. Please keep in mind that your academic record is one part of your application, and our committee will also be considering much more than metrics when making their decision.


You have the opportunity now to learn about healthcare and the medical field. Rather than focusing on how to prepare for medical school, consider how you’re preparing yourself to be the person you want to be. Shadow physicians and other healthcare providers as much as you can. Learn good study habits and time management skills. Volunteer and work with others. Get outside your comfort zone. If you do decide that medicine is the right path for you, you’ll go into it as a well-rounded person who knows him/herself well. 


Each applicant is reviewed using the same criteria. The Admissions Committee wants to see that every applicant fully understands medicine and the role of the physician. This is especially true of applicants who are switching careers, so be sure to fully explore the healthcare field, shadow and be able to justify your decision: Why are you choosing medicine rather than what you were doing before, especially if you’re already in the healthcare field? Like every applicant, the full range of your experiences will be considered when you apply, so be sure to make clear in your application how your experiences will help enrich the class.


You are welcome to visit UWSOM Seattle and take a self-guided tour. Maps are available at the front desk of our office of Directions and Lodging. Interviewing applicants will have an opportunity to tour the campus on their interview day and during Second Look.

GPA and MCAT:


All previous scores can be seen on your application.  An upward trajectory in your MCAT scores will be looked upon positively. Applications are held until we have the newest score.


Any additional courses you take will not affect your GPA, since the GPA used is your total undergraduate work. Having said this, please keep in mind the committee will be able to see all the courses you have taken and the grades that you have received. These additional courses and grades will be taken into consideration by the committee. Showing that you can do well in upper-level science courses is helpful.

A post-baccalaureate program is useful for applicants who had GPA below 3.5 as undergrads and/or <503 MCAT, or non-traditional students with minimal science exposure and low MCAT.  

If you are screened out immediately and have a low initial GPA, but subsequent better grades, please let our office know.


No.

Experience:


Any meaningful experiences that you have should be included in your application. We have people who talk about things that happened to them in the third grade, some of which are medical, some are not. Some are just to let people know that they really like helping people. Anything that lets us know who you are is fine and it does not matter when it happened.​


Assume that the committee member reviewing your file will be too busy to read your publication. A short description is probably best and you could include the website—just in case. If it is associated with a presentation or award, include that in the same experience box.


It is very helpful when you list the amount of time with each experience/activity. If there are some activities that you are presently still participating in, it would be helpful to state it in your experience box.


There are benefits to having a breadth of experience and also focusing your attention on specific activities. Breadth allows you to see what is out there. Focusing on one or two activities allow you to really understand the organization and community that you are involved in. This could also lead to leadership opportunities. Either way, the committee would like to see personal growth from your experiences.


Don't worry about the verbiage in the boxes. We expect to read those. Consider them as mini personal statements. However, some schools value brevity. You can still say what you learned in one or two sentences. 


If you are applying to the M.D./Ph.D. program, it is critical that you have research and talk as much about research as possible. For the M.D.-only program, it is one more experience. It is nice to put what you found in your research if you can do it concisely and comment on it. During the interview, we commonly ask you to describe your research to us and want you to be able to describe it in plain English.


If you previously only described the experiences, then use this opportunity to add reflections. Or, if you feel differently about an experience now that you have thought about it for another year, change your reflection. Otherwise, it is fine to leave the experience boxes as they were on the previous application.


If the activity is well-known to any reader (eg. Habitat for Humanity, tutoring) it does not need to be described. You should just talk about what you learned.


Certainly. Anything you learned about relating to people is a good thing. Having a child is another example.


We do take that into consideration, as well as varsity sports. You would not have as many hours to study. You may be working to support your family and we take that into account. The ability to handle more than one commitment at a time speaks to your maturity, organizational skills, time management and balance. These are all important in medical school and in a career as a physician.

Admissions process:


CEDI (Center for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) faculty, students, student organizations, main campus diversity offices and activities, plus our usual counselors and learning specialists are available to all of our students.


It is not positive and actually a negative. What may seem to be an act of dedication is looked at as "does this person really want to go to medical school?" We do not know how many schools you apply to but some interviewers will ask. If you can't afford to apply to many schools, say so.


The Executive Committee members (the same people who ultimately make the admissions decisions) do the screening.


We accept deferrals only for significant medical problems or for once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunities. We prefer that you complete whatever activity interests you BEFORE you apply to medical school. You will be a stronger applicant.


You would go through screening earlier and be interviewed earlier, although it doesn't really matter. We have a rolling admissions process. We start accepting applicants in October and by the end of the interview season in March we have accepted half of the class.


No. We want you to be consistent with whatever you are interested in. That is what your clinical exposure should be in and you should tell us that you are interested in that area.

Personal statements:


This is a good place for applicants to add anything they feel was not covered in the AMCAS personal statement. It is an opportunity to discuss your motivation for being a doctor if it was not covered in your AMCAS application.


We recommend that you lead off with why you want to be a doctor and why you think you will be good at it and save the slightly more negative stuff for later in the personal statement. One way to describe a bump in the road might be, "I realize that my GPA might not be what you expect for someone who is applying to medical school. Initially I was not sure I was interested in the sciences, or I was carrying a heavy load..." We want to know that you have some understanding of what happened and why it happened. You can phrase it "I'm not happy with my GPA, however as a junior and senior I subsequently took a lot of difficult courses and did very well." Or, "I've taken a lot of classes after college and I have done very well." Use two or three sentences at most.


The personal statement does not have to be a chronology of your life in any way. It should be about why you are suited for medicine. Therefore, the defining moments that happened in the past can still be your defining moments but move them around in the personal statement. By not rewriting the personal statement, it gives the impression that the applicant is not dedicated.


Only the Executive Committee member sees your previous application. Whenever an applicant re-applies, the committee anticipates and appreciates any evidence of self evaluation and change. The committee might feel an applicant is a strong candidate in many ways, but just needs some time to mature. You might be one of these individuals.


Your essay is a personal statement, so by its very nature it will be relatively casual. However, you should beware of using "I" too frequently, using texting abbreviations or slang.


Details of your first round need not be part of your personal statement unless you feel that not being accepted the first time was a major learning experience and in some way made you realize something important about yourself. In addition, in our Secondary Application, you are required to answer a question asking how you have improved since your previous application. Also keep in mind that you may be applying to schools that never saw your previous application and the main emphasis in your personal statement should be about why you want to be a doctor and how you know that this is the right career for you.

Letters of recommendation:


You should try to get some or most letters updated. You can ask the writers to change the date or let them know what else you have been doing in case they want to include updates. Most folks who write letters of recommendation for you are interested in you. Different letters may be beneficial if you think all your previous writers wrote about the same thing, e.g. academics.


Yes. Some universities and colleges will have letters of recommendation services that will keep your letters until you are ready to apply. If your university does not have this service available, Interfolio is a commercial service that will also hold your letters. You would want to get your letter while you are still fresh in the mind of the letter writer. When you apply, letters need to be filed with AMCAS. UWSOM will only be accepting letters of recommendation forwarded from AMCAS Letters Service. Please see their website for instructions on submitting letters of recommendation.

The interview:


Absolutely. The interview is important because it determines the sequence that we talk about the applicant. However, the committee will review and consider all aspects in your file.


Please do not contact the EXCOM member.  All correspondence to your interviewers should go through the Admissions Office. The exception is if the interviewer initiates the contact.


If rejected, WWAMI applicants can request a feedback appointment by contacting the Office of Admissions between January and April: askuwsom@uw.edu Please note: we do not accept feedback requests any other time throughout the year. Also, we do not offer feedback to applicants who are not residents of WWAMI states.