Selection of Schools

Consider the following factors as you compile your preliminary list of schools, and before you speak with the health professions advisor to finalize your list.

Number of schools

  • Most of our candidates for M.D. programs apply to 15-20 schools.
  • Most of our candidates for D.O. programs apply to 4-8.
  • Include both “long shots” and schools for which you think you are a realistic candidate. There are  no “safety” medical schools, but some are significantly more competitive than others.

Location of Schools

  • Your legal residence will influence your selection of allopathic schools.
  • For many candidates, their state school will be their "best bet" for acceptance, but states like California and Massachusetts have very competitive state schools. The the success of in-state versus out-of-state applicants for each school can be found in the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), published by AAMC. 
  • Most candidates apply to quite a few private schools that pay little attention to residency. 

Academic Qualifications

  • When reviewing the information in MSAR, you must realize that admissions committees are aware of the rigor of our curriculum.
  • If the average grade point average for matriculants of a particular school is 3.6 and your GPA is 3.4, this would be a reasonable school to consider. If, however, your GPA is 3.2, you are not likely to gain the attention of that school.
  • Unless they have completed some additional subsequent coursework, applicants to allopathic programs with GPAs below 3.3 have met with very limited success in recent years due to the highly competitive nature of the admissions picture.

Characteristics of Schools 

  • When choosing your group of schools, consider factors such as:
    • Size of the student body
    • Number and type of patient contacts available
    • General philosophy of education
    • Geographic location
    • Student support services
    • Stated mission of the school
    • Sources of financial aid
    • Opportunities for graduate programs and/or research 
  • You can find a list of allopathic medical schools through the AAMC Curriculum Directory at, and a list of osteopathic medical schools are at

Personal Interests

  • You should also consider your specific interests and needs and the way in which they will affect your medical school application. It is a wise investment of time to make a careful decision about where to apply.