Applying to Medical School

Early Decision for Medical School: Definition, Pros & Cons

Students who have a strong aspiration to attend one specific medical school have the opportunity to apply through an Early Decision Program (EDP)

What is an early decision program? An Early Decision Program will put your medical school application in front of the medical school’s admissions committee a few months earlier than regular applicants. This gives you the chance to secure a spot in that medical school by October 1st.

The tradeoff is that Early Decision Programs bind applicants to only one U.S. medical school until a decision is made. You may not apply to other schools while you are waiting for a decision, and you are required to attend the school if you are accepted.

Because of these caveats, EDP applicants need to be confident in the choice they are making. If you’ve had a high-achieving undergraduate academic tenure and distinguished extracurricular performance, a medical school Early Decision Program may be right for you.

A screenshot of applying through AMCAS for an Early Decision program into medical school.

How to Apply Early Decision to Medical School

To apply early decision to medical school, verify that the school you wish to apply to offers an early decision program, then designate on your application that you’re applying early decision. Select only the one program you wish to apply early decision to.

The application you submit is the same as for the medical school admissions process. This application includes:

  • College prerequisite coursework and GPA
  • Your medical school personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Work and activities
  • MCAT scores
  • Casper exam results (if required for your program of choice)

Students who apply to an EDP are bound to the following conditions:

  • You can only apply to ONE medical school.
  • You cannot apply to an EDP if you have already submitted any applications to medical schools for the current class.
  • You must attend the school you have applied to if you are accepted.

Both the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) have EDPs.

EDP Application Timeline

Pay attention to the accelerated timeline of the admissions cycle for EDPs. Even though the application cycle starts at the same time for regular admissions and early applicants, you must decide as soon as possible for your own benefit. 

The official deadline for AMCAS early decision applications is August 1st. However, it’s not wise to wait until the deadline, as this will negatively impact your chances of acceptance.

The timeline for EDP applications is as follows:

  • March-April — Submit your AMCAS application or AACOMAS application for the school of your choice and indicate you’re applying to the early decision program.
  • August 1st — This is the absolute latest you can submit your application for an EDP through AMCAS.
  • August-September — If all admissions requirements are met, you’ll be asked to attend a medical school interview. EDPs are full of competitive applicants, so if you are not asked for an interview for your EDP, your application will be moved to a regular applicant pool and you can begin applying to additional schools.
  • October 1st — This is the deadline for schools to give their admissions decisions to EDP applicants. You may hear from your school earlier.

It should be noted that if August or October 1st land on a weekend, the official deadlines will be the following business day.

Our Physician Advisors can walk you through the medical school admissions and application process for your best shot at getting into the school of your choice.

Pros of Applying Early Decision to Med School

When you consider an EDP, you must weigh many factors. The pros of early decision for medical school include:

  • Applying early decision demonstrates your enthusiasm and commitment to your first-choice college of medicine.
  • Applying to an EDP means you save on application fees. AMCAS costs $175 to submit your primary application to your first school, $45 for each additional school. Then, there are the costs of secondary applications, which can vary. 
  • You can focus on the essays and tailor your application to one particular school. Secondary applications ask more detailed questions about goals, experiences, and your personal views. Instead of answering the questions from a handful of different schools, you get to spend more time crafting your response to one school of medicine.
  • There is only one interview! If you are applying for an EDP, you do not need to carve out time between work, extracurriculars, and pre-med classes for multiple medical school interviews.
  • If accepted, your senior year will be much less stressful. Knowing that you’ve already got a plan for your medical education gives you the opportunity to focus on more advanced studies, gain clinical experience, and just take a moment to breathe and relax.

Cons of Applying Early Decision to Med School

All of the advantages of EDPs make it hard to think of choosing any other way, but there are some very important reasons why the majority of students do not apply this way.

  • Early Decision Programs are incredibly competitive. Only a few spots are generally available in each entering class for EDP applicants. While only 41.2% of medical school applicants are accepted to at least one program, the chances of being accepted into an EDP are just a fraction of that.
  • The medical school admissions process is unpredictable, and there isn’t a clear formula to determine admissions. Even a seemingly “safety school” may reject a high-quality early decision applicant who later goes on to be accepted to a more prestigious program.
  • Choosing to apply to an EDP means you can only apply to a single school. Medical school is competitive enough as it is, which is why most students apply to many schools early on. EDPs are the medical school equivalent of putting all of your eggs in one basket.
  • If the EDP rejects your application, you must either wait a year before applying again or enter the regular admission cycle late. This means taking a chance at applying to medical schools that have been receiving applications on rolling admissions for months prior to October 1st. 
  • Being accepted to an EDP means that you are obligated to attend that program. You will not be able to compare financial aid or scholarships, and you must commit to living in the location of that early decision program medical school.

Find out what your chances are of getting into your dream medical school with the Medical School Chance Predictor!

Early Decision Programs vs. Early Assurance Programs

Early Decision Programs should not be confused with Early Assurance Programs. They are both programs that help secure enrollment into medical school, but there are several key differences between the two.

Early Decision ProgramEarly Assurance Program
Timing of ApplicationApplicants typically apply during the regular admissions cycle.Students usually apply during their sophomore or junior year of undergraduate studies.
CommitmentIf admitted through an Early Decision Program, applicants are bound to attend that institution.Successful applicants receive a conditional offer for a spot in a future class. This is often contingent upon maintaining certain grades, completing specific coursework, and sometimes an MCAT score. They are not typically bound to attend, but they have early acceptance if they choose to take it.
Who Should ApplyStudents who are certain that a particular school is their top choice. They should also be fairly positive they have a strong chance of acceptance with a well-rounded, high-quality application to back them up.High-performing undergraduates who are confident they want a future career in healthcare.

Medical Schools with Early Decision Programs (2023)

Which medical schools have early decision? 175 MD programs offer an early decision program through the AMCAS application. These allopathic medicine programs differ by applicant eligibility, EDP notification date, and individual requirements. 

See the below table for information on individual EDPs, including eligibility requirements and school-specific notes.

Information is current as of Fall 2023. Check each program’s website or contact their admissions office to verify program information before applying.

StateMedical SchoolAvailable ToProgram Notes
ALUniversity of Alabama School of MedicineIn-State Applicants
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 MS
CACalifornia University of Science and Medicine – School of MedicineAll Applicants
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.
CTUniversity of Connecticut School of MedicineAll Applicants
DCGeorge Washington University School of Medicine and Health SciencesAll Applicants
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.
FLFlorida State University College of MedicineAll Applicants
FLUniversity of Central Florida College of MedicineIn-State Applicants
FLUSF Health Morsani College of MedicineAll Applicants
GAMedical College of Georgia at Augusta UniversityIn-State Applicants
GAMercer University School of MedicineIn-State Applicants
GAMorehouse School of MedicineIn-State Applicants
HIUniversity of Hawaii, John A. BurnsSchool of MedicineAll Applicants
ILChicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & ScienceIn-State Applicants
ILNorthwestern University The Feinberg School of MedicineAll ApplicantsAvailable for MD applicants only.
ILRush Medical College of Rush University Medical CenterAll Applicants
ILUniversity of Illinois College of MedicineAll Applicants
INIndiana University School of MedicineIn-State Applicants
KSUniversity of Kansas School of MedicineAll Applicants
KYUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineAll Applicants
KYUniversity of Louisville School of MedicineAll Applicants
LALouisiana State University School of Medicine in New OrleansAll Applicants
LALouisiana State University School of Medicine in ShreveportAll Applicants
LATulane University School of MedicineAll Applicants
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.
MATufts University School of MedicineAll Applicants
MAUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolAll Applicants
MDUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineAll Applicants
MICentral Michigan University College of MedicineIn-State Applicants
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).
MOSaint Louis University School of MedicineAll Applicants
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.
MSUniversity of Mississippi School of MedicineIn-State Applicants
NCWake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical CenterAll Applicants
NEUniversity of Nebraska College of MedicineAll Applicants
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.
NJRutgers New Jersey Medical SchoolAll ApplicantsFor those interested in applying Early Decision, a consultation with an Admissions dean is strongly recommended.
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.
NMUniversity of New Mexico School of MedicineAll ApplicantsWICHE applicants MUST apply through the EDP to receive consideration.
NVUniversity of Nevada, Reno School of MedicineAll Applicants
NYAlbert Einstein College of MedicineAll Applicants
NYDonald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/NorthwellAll Applicants
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.
NYNew York Medical CollegeAll Applicants
NYState University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of MedicineAll Applicants
NYState University of New York Upstate Medical UniversityIn-State Applicants
NYStony Brook University School of MedicineAll Applicants
OHNortheast Ohio Medical UniversityIn-State Applicants
OHWright State University Boonshoft School of MedicineIn-State Applicants
OHUniversity of Cincinnati College of MedicineAll Applicants
PADrexel University College of MedicineAll Applicants
PAGeisinger Commonwealth School of MedicineAll Applicants
PALewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple UniversityAll Applicants
PAPennsylvania State University College of MedicineAll Applicants
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.
PASidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson UniversityAll Applicants
PAUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAll Applicants
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.
SCUniversity of South Carolina School of MedicineIn-State Applicants
SCUniversity of South Carolina School of Medicine GreenvilleAll Applicants
TNEast Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of MedicineAll Applicants
TNMeharry Medical CollegeAll Applicants
TXTexas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of MedicineIn-State Applicants
TXUniversity of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of MedicineTexas Residents from the Rio Grande Valley (RGV)
VAEastern Virginia Medical SchoolAll Applicants
VAVirginia Commonwealth University School of MedicineAll ApplicantsApplicants may consult with an admissions officer before applying.
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.
WIMedical College of WisconsinAll ApplicantsThe EDP is available at all campuses but not dual-degree programs.
WVWest Virginia University School of MedicineAll Applicants

Osteopathic (DO) Schools with Early Decision Programs (2023)

The 6 osteopathic colleges (DO programs) that offer Early Decision Programs are:

Does Applying Early Decision Make Sense for You?

As a former admissions committee member, I counsel prospective medical students frequently about whether or not early decision programs work for their circumstance. You should consider applying early decision only if you can confidently answer “yes!” to each of the 9 questions below:

  1. Does your school of choice offer an early decision program?
  2. Are you extremely confident that you want to complete your medical education at only the single school you have chosen?
  3. Do you have a higher-than-average MCAT score and GPA, particularly your science GPA?
  4. Do you have incredibly strong letters of recommendation from strong letter writers?
  5. Does your application show a strong track record of clinical experience, volunteer work, and demonstrated leadership capacity?
  6. Should you be transferred to a regular applicant pool, are you willing to apply to other schools or potentially be deferred to the next application cycle?
  7. Are you financially prepared to commit to a single school without comparing financial aid or scholarship offers from other institutions?
  8. Are you prepared to commit to living in the location of the medical school you are applying to without exploring other potential living situations?
  9. Have you consulted with mentors, academic advisors, or professionals about the potential risks and benefits of applying through an early decision program?

Applying early decision to medical school through an EDP means you are not only certain about your top-choice school, but also what you have to offer this school as a future medical student. 

Such a decision hinges on your academic credentials being notably competitive, as well as a track record of clinical experience, volunteer hours in the community, and an eagerness to continue dedicating yourself to medicine.

Is early decision for medical school worth it? If you are absolutely certain and confident, an early decision can be worth it. But, while EDP offers several advantages, it also has inherent risks. 

Being rejected from an EDP can result in delays in applying elsewhere, potentially putting you at a disadvantage due to rolling admissions. You must be prepared to possibly wait an additional year to be accepted to a medical school in the event you are not accepted to the EDP. 

How to Increase Your Chances at Being Accepted

To boost your chances of acceptance into an Early Decision Program (EDP), you will need to study and work hard to have a strong GPA and MCAT score. Your personal statement should underscore your specific connection and commitment to the school and highlight extracurriculars that align with the school’s values. 

Letters of recommendation, particularly from those familiar with the school, can help you stand out from other applicants. Look for volunteer and networking opportunities related to the school to establish genuine connections.

Learn how we can help boost your chances of success getting into medical school.


Does early decision increase your chances of getting into medical school? 

Early Decision does not increase your chances of getting into medical school. Not only will you lose the ability to apply to multiple schools, but you’ll be applying in the most competitive pool of prospective med students.

Can you apply early decision at DO schools?

Yes! There are six osteopathic schools that have early decision programs. AACOM recommends visiting the schools’ websites directly for the best and most up-to-date information on how to apply to an osteopathic EDP. 

Can you apply to other schools while waiting on your EDP response?

No, you cannot apply to other schools while waiting on your EDP response. You must wait for the EDP decision, and if rejected or released, you are free to apply to additional schools.

Can you apply early when re-applying to med school if you’re on a waitlist from the previous cycle?

If you’ve been waitlisted in a previous cycle and are still waiting on a decision, it is best to contact the early decision school to which you plan to apply for clarification. Each school will have its own guidelines, and AMCAS doesn’t specify details to address this concern.

How can I add more schools to my application after being released from my Early Decision Program commitment?

To begin applying to additional schools after being released or rejected from an EDP, you have to log into your AMCAS application and edit the type of program to which you are applying from Early Decision to Regular

A screenshot of the AMCAS application to apply for early decision medical schools.

After you click Next, you can follow the on-screen instructions to add more schools.  Be sure to visit the Change Notification Process section and click Submit.

A screenshot of the AMCAS application demonstrating how to change from Early Decision to Regular when applying to medical school.

This will take you to a section where you can select the Early Decision Program release option. After you’ve clicked accept, recertify by clicking Resubmit Application

Need Help Applying to Med School?

ProspectiveDoctor has resources and Physician advisors to help you prepare your medical school applications. We can guide you through the medical school application process, and offer tutoring, interview prep, and practice tests to make your application stand out.

Renee Marinelli MD

Renee graduated magna cum laude from California State University San Marcos with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. While attending school, she worked for a neurosurgeon where she led clinical trials. Renee attended the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine where she served on the admissions committee and interviewed many applicants. In medical school, Renee met her future husband, a military scholarship student. After medical school, both Renee and her husband attended family medicine residency in Hawaii where she also served on the residency admissions committee. She has mentored and assisted many students in the medical school admissions process and brings a wealth of experience serving on both medical school and residency admission committees. She is excited to continue to provide guidance to students while spending quality time with her son.

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