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Choosing Schools

We're here to help guide you in the med school decision process. To start, consider the following questions.

How many medical schools should I apply to?

  • National average: 16-17
  • Northwestern applicant average in 2019 cycle: approximately 26 (your number may also depend on your state of residency)
  • Preliminary list: about 30-35

Consider Costs

  • 2020 Primary application fees information (fees typically increase each year):
    • AMCAS – MD programs: $170 for first school, $40 for each additional.
    • AACOMAS – DO programs: $195 for first school, $45 for each additional.
    • TMDSAS - Texas MD programs: $185 flat rate.
  • Secondary application fees typically range from $25 to $150
  • Applicants that qualify for fee assistance programs can reduce application costs:

Consider Time

You may be required to answer 3 to 12 essays per secondary application. Each application typically takes 1 to 5 hours to complete on average.

Use our Secondary Application Essay excel worksheet to start drafting your essay responses. The updated worksheet will be shared via email with our applicant list each cycle. Some schools change their essays, so please let us know if a secondary essay question has changed.

Where am I competitive?

Use the Medical Schools Admission Requirements (MSAR) online database to compare the following information to your own statistics.

  • GPA – science, overall:
    • Use the 10%-90% and medians in Selection Factors.
    • Science GPA is more important than overall. See our GPA calculator to check your grade point average.
  • MCAT scores:
    • Use the 10%-90% and medians in Selection Factors.
  • In-State Residency advantage:
    • Check the Matriculation Data table in Acceptance Information.

It is okay to apply to a few schools in which your statistics fall outside of the 10%. But, if you find that your statistics are consistently under most schools’ 10%, we would recommend improving the science GPA and/or MCAT before applying.

School Profiles

Reviewing school profiles can help you determine your medical school list based on criteria such as special programs, teaching style, mission statement, and current student data. A significant amount of information from the MSAR is available for free to all users. They have compiled a list of the data and features anyone can access free-of-charge, to help you make insightful, strategic decisions about where to apply.