How many schools to apply?


I am new to the forum but have been following some of the amazing stories here. I am in need for some advice and would appreciate any feedback. I am in the process of completing my primary application and plan to submit it this Sunday. I was originally thinking about applying to 20-25 schools, but a few people told me that is too many. A little about me: I completed my undergraduate study in a foreign country, but I received a PhD from an US institution in a biology-related field. My graduate school GPA is 3.78. I am almost done with my pre-req courses. Due to scheduling reasons, I have to take some courses in junior college and some in a 4-year university. My post-bac GPA is 4.0. My MCAT score is 36Q (10VR, 14 PS, 12BS). There are 3 MD schools and 1 DO school near me, so I really hope to be accepted by any one of the 4 schools. I am concerned that my foreign undergraduate degree would have a negative impact on my application, so I originally plan to apply to 20-25 in-state and out-of-state schools. However, it is costly and the amount of work required for the secondary application would be a lot for me to handle while taking the intensive courses during the summer. How many schools do most people apply? Any suggestions?

I honestly have no idea how not having a US bachelor’s affects your chances. It’s a pretty specific situation. Perhaps first start by calling the 4 schools in your area and see what they say?

Most schools require a bachelor’s degree, and each one handles international students differently - you neglected to mention if you are considered a citizen or not.

There is also the problem of finances - while medical schools happily take on US students with no money, many will require documentation that you can afford to pay for school, if you are not a citizen.

Short answer - Check each website, then call each school. Don’t throw away money on applying until you get that info.

There is no such thing as too many schools. The reason most people limit themselves is primarily because it is so very expensive. Typically I hear 10-15 is the average. Personally I have active applications at 10 schools at the moment, and plan on adding another 5-10 pending the release of scores from my second attempt on the MCAT.

With your grades and MCAT scores I would imagine you have a guaranteed interview just about anywhere you apply (short of the Ivy league perhaps). You’ll obviously still need a good personal statement and letters of rec, but with the stats that you have mentioned thus far you are incredibly competitive and I would think you could apply to smaller number of schools just making sure to include a few “safeties” in case things are less than ideal with your top picks.

As far as foreign undergrad stuff goes, the MSAR has information about what schools will accept that stuff and who won’t. On secondaries, I’ve only started doing them this week, but they’re very similar from school to school from what I’ve seen thus far. The essays are mostly rehashes of your personal statement and the questions are all things that were in your primary application. They shouldn’t take a horrible amount of time if you focus on them and just get them done as they come in.

Thanks for all the comments! I forgot to mention that I am a permanent resident and I am also a resident in my state.

I wrote a good overview at Medical School HQ.

Basically average number of schools applied to was 14 in 2011.

One thing to make sure of, even if it is considered a safety school that you are willing to go there. So many people on the other site seem to have buyers remose for applying and interviewing at schools, that I ask why did you even waste the money to apply there.


I can’t agree with you enough! I had classmates that applied to 50 schools and I thought “there aren’t 50 places that I want to live!”

Everyone is going to have their opinion about where an applicant should apply and to how many schools. The bottom line is to go with a “GUT FEELING” about the place. Unless of course, the stats are clearly against you (ie. OOS applying to Mercer or LSU).

  • Apple pie Said:
Thanks for all the comments! I forgot to mention that I am a permanent resident and I am also a resident in my state.

With this info, your GPA and your MCAT score the only thing is to still make sure the school's you are interested in will be okay with the international work. MSAR, school websites and phone calls ahead.

Having said that, you've got solid stats and can probably "get away" with applying to less schools. I had very, very average stats (GPA closer to 3.1, MCAT a 29) so I applied to over 20 schools (23?25? I don't remember exactly).

Good luck!

After a long consideration, I decide to apply to 16 schools. I feel that the expenses and energy required to apply to 16 schools should still be manageable especially Prodigal’s post. A year ago when I first started on this OPM journey, my very supportive husband, aka my manager, contacted a lot of schools and made a list of schools that would accept my international work. The problem is that I worry a lot and sometimes I put too much pressure on myself. I fear about not getting in anywhere even though I know negative thinking is destructive. It is very comforting and reassuring to read the stories shared by people on this forum. I know I am not alone on this journey. I am actually pretty lucky to have 4 schools that are close to me. Hopefully, I will be accepted by one of them. Otherwise it will be rather interesting/challenging to relocate with my 3 animals