MD Admission & Interview Process
Applying to the MD Program? See the application materials we require, and learn what to expect during the interview process.
We seek well-rounded students committed to a lifelong process of self-education. See our detailed admission requirements.
We require an online application to through AMCAS, a secondary application for the College of Medicine, and completion of the CASPer Test for personal characteristics. Applicants judged to be most qualified are invited for a virtual interview and required to complete the AAMC Video Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA). Interviews for the 2021 admissions cycle are held late September through March. See a detailed application timeline with deadlines.
When applying to the MD Program, please adhere to the following procedure and guidelines:
- Complete and submit an online application to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), indicating Penn State College of Medicine as one of your medical schools of choice. For more information, call the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) at 202-828-0600.
- Upon receipt of your initiated AMCAS application, beginning in July, Penn State College of Medicine will notify you via email to complete and submit our web-based Secondary Application.
- Provide AMCAS with official transcripts, service fees, and letters of recommendation. AMCAS will verify application information and send it electronically to Penn State College of Medicine. We must receive your fully verified and processed AMCAS application by November 15.
- Applicants seeking an application fee waiver are reviewed on an individual basis only after an AMCAS fee waiver has been granted and appropriate documentation submitted.
- All applicants are required to complete the CASPer Test — computer-based assessment of personal characteristics. Please go to the CASPer website to sign up for the medicine test (CSP-1011 – U.S. Medicine).
- •Applicants invited for interview are required to complete the AAMC Video Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA) in order to complete the application process. Please go to the VITA site for information and sign up instructions.
- Letters of recommendation are required from each institution that has granted you a degree and any institution you are attending or plan to receive a degree. A composite recommendation from a pre-professional committee is strongly recommended. If there is no such committee, letters should be solicited from individual faculty members as outlined in the secondary application instructions. If there is a pre-professional committee and a recommendation will not be forthcoming, you should explain why in a separate letter to the admissions committee. Applicants who have been enrolled in a graduate program are required to provide an additional letter of support from their graduate program. Please note: The College of Medicine is only accepting letters through the AMCAS letter system. You must send, or have sent, your letters directly to AMCAS. Please reference the website above or call AMCAS at 202-828-0600 for further clarification.
- It is the policy of the College of Medicine not to grant requests for late application.
- It is the applicant's responsibility to see that the application is complete. A completed application is one in which all necessary materials have been submitted with all questions on each form completely and answered, the $90 application fee has been paid, and the required letters of recommendation have been received and processed by AMCAS.
The "preferred" addresses (mail and email) on applicants’ AMCAS applications are the addresses to which any printed correspondence from Penn State College of Medicine will be sent. If your preferred addresses (mail or email) change after you have submitted your application to AMCAS, you will need to enter the new addresses on your electronic application, then re-certify and re-submit your application to AMCAS with the updated addresses.
Email is a primary and official mode of communication between the College of Medicine and its applicants. Some correspondence from the College of Medicine is sent only by email and will not be sent to you unless you provide an email address. Due to the importance of the admissions process, we recommend that applicants establish a unique email address for during the process and check that email address regularly throughout the process. Be sure to keep both your email address and your preferred address up-to-date at all times.
It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to make sure that the email address indicated as "preferred" on the AMCAS application is functional. The College of Medicine is not responsible for email that unable be delivered or for emails deleted as bulk, spam, or the like.
Letters of Recommendation
The College of Medicine accepts letters through the AMCAS letter system only. You must send, or have sent, your letters directly to AMCAS. Please reference the website or call AMCAS at 202-828-0600 for further clarification.
If your letters are being transmitted to the admission committee by your undergraduate advising office, it is possible that office is using VirtualEvals. Once your letters are posted to VirtualEvals, they will be downloaded by AMCAS and made available to us. If you have a question about whether or not your advising office uses VirtualEvals, please contact your undergraduate advising office.
If your college or university has a pre-health committee or pre-health office that submits recommendation letter(s), you are required to use their service. If you do not use their service, you must include an explanation (please title your explanation "Reasons for not using the Pre-Health Committee").
If your college or university does not have a pre-health committee or pre-health office, you are required to submit a minimum of four recommendation letters (maximum of six) using the guidelines below:
- At least two letters from faculty in science disciplines
- At least one letter from faculty in a non-science discipline
- At least one remaining letter from college faculty, community leader, employer, or others in positions of responsibility that know the applicant well
In either case, no additional letters are required, unless:
- You have multiple degrees. If this is true, you must submit one letter from each of the institutions that has granted you any of the following degrees:
- You have one or more years of graduate study or full-time employment at the time of application. If this is true, you are required to submit one additional letter of recommendation from a member of the graduate faculty or work supervisor.
After the receipt of all required materials, the applications are reviewed according to medical student selection committee procedures. Decisions are made by the admissions committee after careful consideration of all aspects of the application.
Applicants judged to be most qualified are invited for an interview. Other highly competitive applicants may be placed on a hold list and may be invited for interview at a later time if space becomes available.
Interviews are conducted only at the College of Medicine and consist of two or three individual meetings with members of the faculty. See more information in the “Interview process” section.
Applications will be continuously reviewed until the class is filled. Applicants on the hold list will be selected to fill spaces, which may occur any time prior to the first day of classes.
Students will be notified of acceptance into the class entering in the fall after October 15 and as late as required until the class is filled. Applicants have two weeks to respond to an offer of acceptance.
After an applicant is accepted, a $100 deposit is required and is applied to the first semester tuition. The deposit fee must be paid before May 15 and is not refundable upon withdrawal after this date.
Unsuccessful applicants of previous years who reapply for admission must submit a completely new application, application fee, and additional letters of recommendation. Any previous application will act as an additional resource file.
Criminal Background Checks
The College of Medicine participates in the AAMC-facilitated pilot program for performing criminal background checks on conditionally accepted applicants. The admissions process depends on the integrity of the answer to the AMCAS felony statement and timely disclosure of any related matter after submission of the application. Falsification of this information can result in dismissal from the College of Medicine.
Students should also be aware that criminal background checks will also be required during medical school in order to participate in certain clinical rotations.
According to the Pennsylvania Medical Practice Act, the state medical board may refuse to issue a license or certificate to an applicant for a number of reasons including:
- "Being convicted of a felony or being convicted of a misdemeanor relating to a health profession or receiving probation without verdict, disposition in lieu of trial or an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition in the disposition of felony charges, in the courts of this Commonwealth, a Federal court or a court of any other state, territory or country."
- "Conviction of a felony under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act or similar criminal statute of another state, unless certain conditions are met."
Licensure and Felony Convictions
On January 1, 1986, the following amendment to the Medical Practice Act went into effect:
The board shall not issue a license or certificate to an applicant who has been convicted of a felony under the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act, or of an offense under the laws of another jurisdiction which if committed in this Commonwealth would be a felony under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, unless:
- At least ten years have elapsed from the date of conviction;
- The applicant satisfactorily demonstrates to the board that he has made significant progress in personal rehabilitation since the conviction such that licensure of the applicant should not be expected to create a substantial risk of harm to the health and safety of his patients or the public or a substantial risk of further criminal violations; and
- The applicant otherwise satisfies the qualifications contained in or authorized by this act. As used in this division the term "convicted" shall include a judgment, an admission of guilt, or a plea of nolo contendere.
Applicants can obtain further information from the State Board of Medical Education and Licensure, Post Office Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649, for information relating to licensure requirements.
The interview is an essential component of the selection process. It provides vital information about the applicant that is impossible to obtain by any other means. Because of COVID-19, interviews are presently being conducted in a virtual format.
Faculty interviews with critical evaluations are the only method within the admissions process for the assessment of the important nonacademic attributes of applicants. The selection committee places great importance on these evaluations in making decisions on admission.
Dates: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, mid-September through March.
Interview day: Half of the applicants will have a virtual interview in the morning, and the other half in the afternoon. Two faculty members will interview each applicant. At midday, both groups will come together for informational meetings with admissions staff, College of Medicine leadership and students.
8:30 a.m.: Arrival to Zoom room; welcome and overview of day's activities
9 to 11 a.m.: Faculty interviews
10:30 a.m.: Arrival to Zoom room; welcome and overview of day's activities
Groups 1 and 2
11:15 a.m.: College of Medicine presentation and Q&A
Noon: Virtual "lunch" with medical students
1 p.m.: Virtual tour of College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center complex
2 p.m.: Group is finished for the day
2 to 4 p.m.: Faculty interviews
4:15 p.m.: Group is finished for the day
Following the interview day, applicant files will be reviewed in a holistic manner by the Admissions Committee. Applicants will be placed in one of three groups – Acceptance, Hold for Continued Review or Denied Acceptance. Files placed in the Hold category remain active in the admissions process. They are periodically reviewed and may be selected for Acceptance during the interview period. After the interview period, files remaining in the Hold category continue to be reviewed and may be selected to fill vacancies in the entering class.