How to Decide if Applying Early Decision Is Right for You

Is Applying Early Decision to Medical School Right for You?

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Posted in: Applying to Medical School

An early decision program (EDP) for medical school can be an amazing opportunity for you if you have been a motivated and accomplished student, and you are passionate about a particular medical school. 

EDPs allow medical school applicants to submit their application to a single school for admissions consideration ahead of the regular cycle. 

While not every medical school has an early decision program, if your school of choice does, adcoms will see your application before the sea of others.

EDPs do come with a catch: You can’t apply to any other medical schools until you have gotten your decision, and if you are accepted, you must attend that school.

Making the decision to apply to an EDP presents both enticing advantages and undeniable challenges. I frequently work with pre-meds to determine whether or not applying to medical school early decision is the right choice.

My goal here is to give you an in-depth understanding of the pros and cons, the schools that offer EDPs, and the application cycle timeline to see if it is a good fit for you.

This article was written by Sahil Mehta, MD and reviewed for accuracy by Renee Marinelli, MD. Drs. Mehta and Marinelli are physicians with combined decades of experience coaching students pursuing a career in medicine.

Early Decision for Medical School Timeline (2024-25 Cycle)

The biggest advantage of early decision programs is getting your admissions decision earlier than regular applicants. Because of this, it is imperative to be mindful of the application timeline.

August 1st is the AMCAS deadline for EDP applications, but we always recommend starting the medical school application process early. You should  always double check with their schools about important deadlines and dates. 

Here’s a glance at the AMCAS Early Decision Program 2024-2025 timeline:

  • March-April — You should already have taken the MCAT and be ready to start your medical school application for your preferred medical college.
  • May 2, 2024 — AMCAS application cycle opens. Be sure to indicate your interest in the early decision program on your application.
  • Thursday, August 1st, 2024 — This is the final date for EDP submissions via AMCAS.
  • August-September — Meeting all admissions criteria will earn you an invitation for a medical school interview with the admissions committee. If you don’t receive an interview invitation, your application will shift to the regular pool, and you’re free to apply to additional allopathic and osteopathic medical programs.
  • Tuesday, October 1st, 2024 — Schools must finalize their admission decisions for EDP candidates by this date, though some might inform you sooner.

August 1st and October 1st fall on weekdays in 2024, but if these dates were to fall on a weekend in the future, the deadline would be moved to the soonest business day.

How to Apply Early Decision

Before you decide to apply to an EDP, it’s important to make sure your first choice school of medicine offers this type of program and know how to apply to the medical school you’ve chosen.

There are 3 different types of medical school application processes: AMCAS for MD programs, AACOMAS for DO programs, and TMDSAS for medical schools in Texas.

Each medical school program has similar application requirements, including the following:

The 3 application services have different application fees and character limits, but one major difference is how you will signal your intent to apply for a school’s EDP.

On the AMCAS application, you have the option to select Program Type and choose Early Decision on your application.

For DO schools, AACOMAS recommends contacting the school for the best information. You may be required to submit a letter of intent to apply to an osteopathic EDP program.

TMDSAS schools have a Select Schools section where you can indicate you are applying for an early decision program.

We can help you boost your MCAT score to boost your chances of being accepted into an Early Decision Program.

Is early decision for medical school worth it? If you believe that you are a competitive applicant who will stand out ahead of the majority of other medical students, early decision may be worth it for you. For most students, regular admissions are a better option than an early decision program for medical school.

When applying for an EDP, remember these 3 crucial pieces of information:

  • You are only able to apply to ONE medical school.
  • You may NOT apply for an early decision program if you have submitted an application to any other medical schools for this admissions cycle.
  • You are REQUIRED to attend the college of medicine you have applied to if you are accepted.

All Medical EDPs in the United States

It’s helpful to know which medical schools have early decision programs so you can determine if your school of choice offers this option. This table contains all EDPs available through AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS for the 2024-25 application cycle.

StateMedical SchoolAvailable ToProgram NotesType of Program
ALUniversity of Alabama School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
ALUniversity of South Alabama College of MedicineResidents of Alabama, Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in FL, and Jackson, Harrison, George, Stone, Perry and Greene counties in MSMD
CACalifornia University of Science and Medicine – School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
CALoma Linda University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsApplicants accepted through the Early Decision Program must have demonstrated excellent performance in academics, MCAT, non-academics, and mission fit.MD
CTUniversity of Connecticut School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
DCGeorge Washington University School of Medicine and Health SciencesAll ApplicantsMD
FLFlorida International University Herbert Wertheim College of MedicineAll ApplicantsCandidates must meet the following minimum academic criteria: Overall GPA 3.70, BCPM 3.50, MCAT 510.MD
FLFlorida State University College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
FLUniversity of Central Florida College of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
FLUSF Health Morsani College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
GAMedical College of Georgia at Augusta UniversityIn-State ApplicantsMD
GAMercer University School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
GAMorehouse School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
HIUniversity of Hawaii, John A. Burns
School of Medicine
All ApplicantsMD
ILChicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & ScienceIn-State ApplicantsMD
ILNorthwestern University The Feinberg School of MedicineAll ApplicantsAvailable for MD applicants only.MD
ILRush Medical College of Rush University Medical CenterAll ApplicantsMD
ILUniversity of Illinois College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
INIndiana University School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
INMarian University COM (MU-COM)All ApplicantsLetter of intent stating MU-COM is first choice is requiredDO
KSUniversity of Kansas School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
KYUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
KYUniversity of Louisville School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
LALouisiana State University School of Medicine in New OrleansAll ApplicantsMD
LALouisiana State University School of Medicine in ShreveportAll ApplicantsMD
LATulane University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
MABoston University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsThis binding program is typically reserved for candidates with extraordinarily strong academic records as well as some special or extenuating circumstance.MD
MATufts University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
MAUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolAll ApplicantsMD
MDUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
MICentral Michigan University College of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
MIWayne State University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsThe EDP requires a minimum Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) score at or above 508. A BCPM and overall grade point average of 3.60, as calculated by AMCAS is also required (as of 4/20/2023).MD
MOSaint Louis University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
MOUniversity of Missouri – Columbia School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsTo apply for the early-decision program, candidates must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.75 and a MCAT of 508.MD
MOA.T. Still University Kirksville COM (ATSU-KCOM)All ApplicantsDO
MSUniversity of Mississippi School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
NCWake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical CenterAll ApplicantsMD
NCCampbell University Jerry M. Wallace SOM (CUSOM)All ApplicantsStudents must submit a letter of intent to the CUSOM Office of Admissions for EDP by June 1st.DO
NEUniversity of Nebraska College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
NJCooper Medical School of Rowan UniversityAll ApplicantsMinimum requirements: all EDP applicants must have a science GPA of 3.6 or higher and a total MCAT score of 507 or higher.MD
NJRutgers New Jersey Medical SchoolAll ApplicantsFor those interested in applying Early Decision, a consultation with an Admissions dean is strongly recommended.MD
NJRutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolAll ApplicantsEarly decision applicants will be reviewed prior to September and undergo the same review process as other applicants. Any applicant interested in early decision should contact us for counseling.MD
NJRowan-Virtua SOM (Rowan-Virtua SOM)All ApplicantsDO
NMUniversity of New Mexico School of MedicineAll ApplicantsWICHE applicants MUST apply through the EDP to receive consideration.MD
NVUniversity of Nevada, Reno School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
NYAlbert Einstein College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
NYDonald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/NorthwellAll ApplicantsMD
NYJacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at BuffaloAll ApplicantsEDP Candidates should only apply if their candidacy is highly competitive compared to other applicants.MD
NYNew York Medical CollegeAll ApplicantsMD
NYState University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
NYState University of New York Upstate Medical UniversityIn-State ApplicantsMD
NYStony Brook University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
OHNortheast Ohio Medical UniversityIn-State ApplicantsMD
OHWright State University Boonshoft School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
OHUniversity of Cincinnati College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
PADrexel University College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
PAGeisinger Commonwealth School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
PALewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple UniversityAll ApplicantsMD
PAPennsylvania State University College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
PAPerelman School of Medicine at the University of PennsylvaniaAll ApplicantsApplicants must meet the mean GPA and MCATs of the entering class and be pre approved by the Committee on Admissions before submitting.MD
PASidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson UniversityAll ApplicantsMD
PAUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
SCMedical University of South Carolina College of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsSouth Carolina residents are encouraged to apply Early Decision if they have a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.50 and a minimum MCAT score of 506.MD
SCUniversity of South Carolina School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD
SCUniversity of South Carolina School of Medicine GreenvilleAll ApplicantsMD
TNEast Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD
TNMeharry Medical CollegeAll ApplicantsMD
TXTexas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsMD (TMDSAS)
TXUniversity of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of MedicineTexas Residents from the Rio Grande Valley (RGV)MD (TMDSAS)
TXUniversity of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas COM (UNTHSC/TCOM)All ApplicantsDO (TMDSAS)
VAEastern Virginia Medical SchoolAll ApplicantsMD
VAVirginia Commonwealth University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsApplicants may consult with an admissions officer before applying.MD
VAEdward Via COM (VCOM)All ApplicantsApplicants can choose any VCOM campus, including in SC, AL, and LADO
VTUniversity of Vermont College of MedicineIn-State ApplicantsA meeting with the Associate Dean for Admissions is required for preapproval to apply to our program to ensure applicants are aware of all considerations for this decision.MD
WIMedical College of WisconsinAll ApplicantsThe EDP is available at all campuses but not dual-degree programs.MD
WVWest Virginia University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsMD

Is Applying Early Decision to Med School Right for You?

Making the choice to apply for an early decision program warrants heavy consideration. You will be submitting your application against a pool of highly competitive applicants.  It is important to be honest with yourself when you make this decision. 

Before applying to an EDP, make sure you meet the all of the following criteria:

  • You are 100% certain you want to complete your medical education at the particular school you’ve selected.
  • You are a high-achieving pre-med student with extensive clinical experience, extracurriculars, a competitive MCAT score, and an above-average GPA.
  • You understand that if you are not accepted into the EDP, you will be moved to the regular applicant pool. Because regular admissions are on a rolling basis, you may have to wait for the next application cycle to enroll in medical school. 
  • You will have to attend the EDP if you are accepted and cannot compare scholarship and financial aid offers from other schools.
  • You have discussed this decision with advisors, academic counselors, and healthcare mentors. 

Our Physician Advisors can help you assess where you stand among other medical school applicants and give you tips to strengthen your application.

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of early decision for medical school to help you make an informed decision.

Pros

  • Displayed Dedication — Applying through an EDP shows your commitment to your preferred medical college.
  • Tailored Applications — Focusing on one school allows you to research the school and tailor your application materials with that school’s mission and culture in mind. By concentrating on just one school in the admissions process, you can fine-tune what you write about your ambitions, experiences, and viewpoints in your secondary application.
  • One Interview — Because you’re only applying to a single school, you’ll only need to attend one interview (unless you’re moved to the regular applicant pool). This is especially advantageous as you won’t need to balance work, extracurriculars, and pre-med coursework while trying to schedule multiple med school interview dates.
  • Cost-Efficient — Application expenses go up as the number of schools you apply to goes up. The initial AMCAS application fee is $170 for the first school, with an added $25 for every subsequent school. When you consider the additional costs of secondary applications, the savings add up.

Cons

  • Highly Competitive — EDPs are known for their intense competition, with just a handful of positions typically allocated to EDP candidates in each incoming class (typically no more than 5-10). Securing a spot in med school through regular admissions is already tough. EDPs have a significantly lower acceptance rate.
  • Admissions Uncertainty — The med school admissions landscape is notoriously unpredictable. There’s no guaranteed formula for success. In some instances, an applicant might get turned down by what they considered a “safety school” only to be accepted by a more renowned institution later on.
  • All-In Approach — Opting for an EDP means you’re committing to a singular school right from the outset. Applying for EDP does not increase your chances of getting into medical school. In fact, given the already competitive nature of medical school admissions, this approach is “going all-in” on one outcome and may hinder your chances.
  • Risk of Late Regular Admission — If an EDP denies you, your choices are limited — either postpone your application for a year or dive into the regular admissions cycle. You’ll be later than most in the process, and many schools might have been admitting on a rolling basis for months by the time October 1st rolls around.
  • Locked-In Commitment — Securing a spot through an EDP is binding. You’re making a geographical commitment, anchoring yourself to the location of your chosen EDP medical institution. You will also not have the chance to weigh financial aid packages or scholarships from different schools.

Early Decision vs. Early Assurance

Early decision programs and early assurance programs allow students to apply to medical schools ahead of the typical timeline. The programs are different, however. EDPs require students to apply to just one school, whereas early assurance programs might not have this restriction.

The main difference lies in who the programs are for. Early assurance often targets undergraduate sophomores, while EDP is generally for students about to begin their senior year or post-baccalaureate students.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two programs:

Early Decision Programs

  • Apply during the regular medical school admissions cycle.
  • Obligated to attend the medical school if you are accepted.
  • Ideal for students who are certain about their top choice school and their competitiveness as an applicant.

Early Acceptance Programs

  • Apply during your sophomore or junior year of undergrad.
  • Not obligated to attend. The medical school provides a provisional offer based on continuing academic success.
  • Ideal for high-performing pre-med students interested in a future career in healthcare.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, you can only apply to one school. If your application is rejected, you can then apply to additional schools as a regular applicant.

Not necessarily. EDPs are highly competitive and only accept a small number of applicants. There are more seats in the regular admission pool, and you’ll still have a chance at a spot that way.

Early decision is on an accelerated timeline, putting your medical school application in front of admissions committees before other applicants. It also restricts you to applying to just one school. Regular decisions are made throughout a longer timeframe but often on a rolling basis as soon as applications are being received.

If you’ve been released from your EDP application, you can begin applying to additional medical schools. To do so, edit the Program Type drop-down selection in your AMCAS application (on the AAMC website).
Follow the on-screen instructions to add more schools, and remember to go to the Change Notification Process section and press “Submit.”
You’ll be directed to a section to select the Early Decision Program release option. Click accept and recertify by clicking Resubmit Application.

Being waitlisted in a previous cycle and still waiting on a decision is a tricky situation. Because there is no official documentation from AMCASs, I recommend contacting the early decision school for clarification.

Nail Your Early Decision Application with MedSchoolCoach

If you’re considering the early decision program or navigating the regular admissions cycle, expert guidance can make a significant difference. MedSchoolCoach can help you understand the nuances of the application process, from drafting the perfect personal statement to preparing for your medical school interview.

Stand out from other applicants and give yourself the best chance at your first-choice early decision medical school with MedSchoolCoach. 

Picture of Sahil Mehta MD

Sahil Mehta MD

Dr. Mehta is the founder of MedSchoolCoach and has guided thousands of successful medical school applicants. He is also a practicing physician in Boston where he specializes in vascular and interventional radiology.

Picture of Renee Marinelli, MD

Renee Marinelli, MD

Dr. Marinelli has practiced family medicine, served on the University of California Admissions Committee, and has helped hundreds of students get into medical school. She spearheads a team of physician advisors who guide MedSchoolCoach students.

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