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Acceptance, Rejection and Wait List

The three ultimate outcomes of your application to medial school are Acceptance, Rejection or a spot on the Wait List.

Normally, medical schools have to make more offers than they have spots available in their class to fill each class. This works in your favor. If a school has 100 spots to fill for that year, they may have to extend 150, 200 or 300 offers to get 100 students to actually attend their school. If the medical school is very prestigious, then they typically have to extend fewer offers to fill the class. If they are the "backup" school for many applicants who would rather go elsewhere, then they have to extent more offers.


Celebrate your acceptance letters! Congratulations!
You made it! All the hard work in preparation has paid off!

Of course, you want to get acceptance letters from medical schools - at least from one medical school. Acceptance letters are mailed within about 2 to 4 weeks from your interview date by most medical schools. A few schools notify students with a few days and some even take several or many months to notify applicants of their decisions. Some other medical schools notify most of their applicant pool at once - on a given day, rather than on a rolling basis.

You are typically given 10 - 14 days from the day you receive the acceptance letter from a medical school in the mail to make a deposit and indicate that you are interested in attending there. Once the deposit is made and you respond to the school, the medial school will hold a spot for you in the incoming class.

Make sure you pay your deposit and have the school hold the spot for you! This does not mean that you actually have to attend this particular school in the end. Once you have made deposits at several schools (with several offers), you can still decide where you really want to study medicine, after considering all of your options. So, by making the deposit, you don't promise or commit to attend that particular school.

You typically have until about April 15th to make your FINAL decision of where to attend. You cannot hold spots at different medical schools past this date, so you have to decide (if you are still holding spots at different medical schools at that time).

For most allopathic (MD) schools, the deposits are usually only $100, but there are exceptions with higher deposit amounts. The deposits are typically refundable or will be applied towards your tuition if you attend there eventually. However, for most osteopathic (DO) schools, the deposits are between $500 and $1,000 and are most often non-refundable.


Most applicants get some rejection letters. It's certainly hard when the first letter you receive back is a rejection. But, don't give up. Some rejections are normal. Often, it depends on the interviewer you had that day and whether or not you connected with that person. It may have nothing to do with your application or your personality.

If you did not receive any acceptance letters at all (and you applied to a dozen or more schools), you will need to re-evaluate your options. Don't despair. This does not mean that you are not meant to be a physician. I know several individuals who applied at least two years in a row before getting accepted. For some, it even takes 3 tries.

You will need to analyze your overall application and see which areas can be improved within another year, before applying again. Read the re-application section for more info and strategies to increase your chances.

Wait List

Medical schools maintain lists of students who are qualified for admissions, but just barely didn't make the first cut to fill the class. These students are placed on the wait list, which is typically numbered, so each student is assigned a specific numbered spot on the list.

Most medical schools will reveal how many students, who were initially placed on the wait list, were offered spots in previous years, so you can get an idea if you really have a chance to get an offer by the time classes begin. But there is some fluctuation every year. Also, a medical school may not let you know the exact number you are on the list or how many students on the wait list were eventually offered spots in the class in previous years.

As an example, if the school typically takes 10 applicants from their wait list every year, and you're number 9 on the list this year, you may have a chance. But, I know of some students who were in a similar spot and that particular year the school only took 50% of the number they accepted off their wait list in previous years. So, it's no guarantee. It all depends on how many other applicants decline offers at that medical school late in the game. For sure, if you're in the top 3 or 4 on the wait list, you'll most likely have very good chances.

Being on a wait list can be good and bad. Obviously, if you don't have any other offers, a wait list spot is better than nothing. Also, you may have other offers, but your first-choice school, where you would rather study medicine, has placed you on the wait list. In this case, you can wait until you have to decide (usually around April 15th, when you have to tell all your schools if you are going to attend - you cannot hold spots at different schools after that point) to see if your wait list spot turns into a real spot in the class.

All you have to do when April 15th comes around is to make a decision among the offers you have already received. So, any medical school which has offered you a spot in the class demands an answer of "yes" or "no". Hopefully, you have at least one offer, which you can accept at that point. This does not apply to wait lists - you can remain on different wait lists until class begins - even if you have accepted a spot at a different medical school already.

So, even once you have told another medical school that you will be attending there, you can still change your mind, up to the day you actually begin class and pay your tuition.
So, it is possible, in theory, to receive a phone call from a medical school notifying you that your wait list spot has turned into a real spot until the day classes start.

In fact, I know of several people who had already moved to attend one medical school and received such a call from their first-choice school where they had been wait-listed. One person packed up again and moved, just about a week before classes actually started to attend his first-choice school.

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