Professional School Planning Timeline

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Suggested Timeline for Pre-Health Professional School Preparation

Below is a general guideline for pre-health planning and preparation, beginning in the first year of college. 

Your early years at university are an important time to build a strong academic foundation and explore the range of options and opportunities available.

In your final years of university, you will focus on your studies and your preparation for the future - whether that is graduate school, health-related professional programs or healthcare-related work.  If you are interested in going to health-related professional programs immediately after earning your undergraduate degree, you will start preparing in your junior year and apply in your senior year (alternately, many students apply during a gap year - please see below for discussion and suggestions*).

Freshman Year

  • Meet with your pre-major advisor early. They will help you begin to build a timeline and acacemic plan that incorporates your pre-health professional school pre-requisites
  • Consider joining a pre-health Registered Student Organization (RSO)
  • Begin developing relationships with your faculty for future letters of recommendation
  • Solidify summer volunteer or leadership experience within the medical field

Sophomore Year

  • Check in with your pre-major advisor
  • Continue involvement with an RSO
  • Pursue meaningful clinical experiences
  • Begin researching pre-health professional schools and standardized test information


Junior Year

  • Meet with your major advisor
  • Seek leadership experience in an RSO
  • Continue meaningful clinical experiences
  • Finalize your list of 10-20 pre-health professional schools
  • Familiarize yourself with application to the schools
  • Request recommendation letters
  • If you are not taking a gap year
    • Take any standardized tests by mid-April
    • Begin applying to professional schools beginning June 1st


Senior Year

  • Meet with your major advisor and apply for graduation
  • If you are taking a gap year
    • Take any standardized tests by mid-April
    • Begin applying to professional schools beginning June 1st
  • Prepare for campus visits and interviews
  • Receive acceptances!
  • Notify schools you will not be attending
  • Apply for financial aid as early as possible


*Gap Year and Alternative Planning

Many students find that planning a gap year or two after completing their undergraduate education helps them to feel more prepared to enter pre-health professional programs. There are many ways that you might plan a pathway to pre-health programs, but here are some possible ideas for ways to use a gap year well to better prepare for pre-health professional programs:

  • Work - get a job and save as much money as you can. You might look for a job in a health-related field, such as a medical scribe, but you might be just as well off looking for any job that helps to build those key skill sets for your pre-health professional school.
  • Intern - look for paid and unpaid internships related to healthcare. Don’t limit yourself to local programs. Some national internship programs offer stipends for living expenses.
  • Volunteer - look for meaningful ways that you can give back to your community, gain life experience and/or gain exposure to your preferred area within healthcare. See our Vounteering guide.
  • Plan - take this time to work out your financial plan for pre-health professional programs and beyond.
  • Apply - take or re-take any necessary standardized tests. Stay in touch with your references and keep them apprised of your plans.