What is the role of the Health Professions office?

Our Health Professions Program provides you with guidance and resources as you plan for your future matriculation to medical, dental, optometry, or veterinary school.

How do I receive information about the health professions program?

If you would like to receive information about the hp programming, please let us know of your interest by emailing us at healthprofessions@lafayette.edu and we will add your name to our distribution list.

Do I need to go through your office to apply to a health professions school?

Although it is not required, we strongly recommend that you do so. By applying with the assistance of our office, you will receive application guidance and a committee letter of evaluation. Additionally, health professions schools expect to see this committee letter from our (Lafayette) students.

Do you write committee letters for all health professions schools?

We write committee letters for the following: medical (allopathic, osteopathic, and podiatric), dental, optometry, and veterinary schools. For all other programs, you do not need a committee letter and may apply directly to the program. For a list of such programs, please meet with Melissa Schultz in Career Services.

Does your office work with recent graduates/alumni?

Yes, we work with recent graduates. However, if you graduated from Lafayette more than 3 years ago, we suggest you contact us regarding the appropriateness of the committee letter of evaluation for your case.

I'm an international student. What should I know regarding my application to US health professions schools?

Non-US citizens who hold permanent residency in the US (i.e., green card holders) are commonly treated as equivalent to US citizens with respect to their application to health professions schools. However, non-US citizens (particularly non-permanent residents) have dramatically diminished applicant prospects. Some health professions schools do not allow applications from international students, while others do (those that do are mostly private schools); overall, the number of international students admitted yearly is quite small. In 2014, 1901 foreign applicants applied to M.D. -granting programs in the United States and 409 of those applicants were accepted. Therefore, in addition to looking into US and Canadian health professions schools, you should research the admissions requirements for health professions schools in your home country.

An additional issue that arises for non-US applicants involves financing their health professional education. Many US students finance their education, at least in part, through US government loans, which are not available to international students who are not permanent residents.  Health professions schools may require international students to document their ability to pay for their education or place adequate funds in an escrow account prior to enrollment.

How many Lafayette students apply to health professions school per year?

Typically, 30-40 students apply to health professions programs (medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary schools) per year.

What is the acceptance rate of Lafayette students who applied to medical, dental and veterinary schools for the last 5 years?

First, keep in mind, Lafayette doesn’t get you into a health professional school! Therefore, you need to make sure that you are serious about becoming a health care professional.

That said, for the 2013-2016 matriculation years, the overall medical school acceptance rate for Lafayette applicants regardless of GPA is 80%.

For students with a grade point average of 3.6 or above, our medical school acceptance rate for Lafayette applicants is 84%. (Note: Medical school applicants include those applying to allopathic, osteopathic, and podiatric medical schools.)

The acceptance rate for Lafayette dental applicants is around 73%, 64% for veterinary school applicants and 100% for optometry school applicants.

What are some of the medical and dental schools where Lafayette students have been accepted?

Just to name a few medical schools that our students (from 2013-2017) got accepted to are:

Boston University School of Medicine, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of PA, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Some of the dental schools to which our students (from 2015-2017) were accepted are:

Boston University Henry M Goldman School of Dental Medicine (BU), Colombia University College of Dental Medicine (CUL), Howard University College of Dentistry (HOW), University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry (ILL), University of Michigan School of Dentistry (MICH), New York University College of Dentistry (NYU), University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (PENN), University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine (PITT), The Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, Temple University (TEMP), Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUF).

Does the ranking of a health professional school matter?

To some extent rankings always matter, but keep in mind that this is now a professional school and the most important point is the strength of the particular school in the specialty areas of most interest to you.  Ultimately, how well you do academically in your professional school programs and on the licensing exams are the factors that carry the most weight when you apply for residencies.


Is there a pre-health major at Lafayette?

No. As a health professions-bound student you may graduate with any major or minor offered at Lafayette College. You should follow your own intellectual and academic interests. However, keep in mind that you must satisfy health professions course prerequisites regardless of your major and/or minor. For required coursework information, please click here.

What are the majors that health professions schools look for?

Medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary schools really do not care what your major is as long as you have taken the courses required for admissions. Major in whatever you want. There is no advantage to any particular major.

What areas should I focus upon to prepare for admissions to health professional schools?

Areas to focus upon include but are not limited to:

  • academic preparation
  • health-related experiences
  • research experiences
  • community service and volunteer work
  • admissions tests/entrance exams
  • letters of recommendation
  • the actual health professional school application essay and interview

In addition to the above, health professions schools are looking for students with:

  • an evident commitment and passion for a health professions career
  • interpersonal skills (leadership, teamwork, and oral communication skills)
  • intrapersonal skills (integrity and ethics, reliability and dependability, resilience and adaptability, capacity for improvement)

What is the profile of a successful applicant?

There is no “typical” profile, and the possible profiles vary dramatically!  However, successful applicants share the following characteristics:

  • They follow their own passions
  • They do very well at whatever it is that they do
  • They act responsibly in their lives, and act conscientiously toward the people they meet and with whom they interact

What grade point average (GPA) should I have to be a competitive applicant for health professions school admission?

While there is no “magic” GPA, keep in mind that grades are suggestive of your abilities to handle a health professions school’s curriculum.

At Lafayette, the most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.6 and above.  The average GPA for Lafayette applicants accepted to health professional schools between 2013 and 2016 was 3.65 for allopathic medical schools, and 3.46 for osteopathic medical schools, and 3.45 for dental schools.

If your GPA is less than 3.3, you should certainly consider delaying your application for a year in order to improve your academic preparation. In some cases, this may entail enrolling in postbac or special master’s programs.

What is the importance of GPA and other selection criteria in the overall successful application?

While the successful applicant will have a rich overall application portfolio, the foundation of it all will be academic success–therefore, one must focus on GPA. However, a high GPA, by itself, will not lead to success as an applicant. Extracurricular experiences, health related experiences, research, community service, etc., all play important roles.  But do not become involved in non-academic activities to the extent that they diminish your GPA.

What application test scores (MCAT & DAT) should I have to be a competitive applicant for health professions school admission?

You should have the highest score that you can possibly achieve! That being said, in recent years, the average MCAT for successful Lafayette applicants was at the 76.8 percentile; for the academic average DAT was 19.5.

For information regarding the national applicant and matriculant data, please review the following websites:  Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and American Dental Education Association (ADEA).

Do I need to do research to get into a health professions school?

Although you do not need to do research to get into a health professions school, a successful research experience is a net positive–it displays curiosity and a passion for knowledge that are both important traits for HP applicants to have.

If you are applying for an MD/Ph.D or other dual degree program, then significant research experience is necessary to demonstrate that you have the ability to do graduate level research.

How do I set up an internship/externship in the health professions environment?

Career Services and their Gateway program will assist you in your search. Additionally, as a member of our Health Professions email distribution list, you will frequently receive information about different opportunities. It is your responsibility to take advantage of those opportunities.

Will I be able to build a study abroad experience into my course of study?

Most certainly. Our study abroad office can work with you to select appropriate semester and summer programs. In fact, there is a two course summer interim abroad program planned for London in 2019 that will provide a special opportunity for students interested in the health professions in that it offers a health care, human services, or research-based internship as well as a traditional seminar course entitled “Societal and EthicalAspects of Health Care in the UK and US.” Other programs (e.g., SIT: Global Health, Boston University- Geneva Internship, IFSA- Butler: King’s College Health & Society Program, etc.) are available that specifically include coursework relevant for health professions-bound students.

Many of our students have studied abroad and still manage to graduate “on time” as well as apply to health professions schools during their junior or senior year. The key issue to keep in mind is that you need to plan ahead. Problems most commonly arise due to full year courses that distribute across two semesters (e.g., General Chemistry, Introductory Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Physics). For most students, it is very difficult to either wait a full year to take the second semester of such courses, or to find a suitable substitute course abroad.

When do I need to take the MCAT, DAT, OAT, or GRE?

In all cases, take the admission test when you are ready to do so! The most common option is to take the admission test during or just after the spring semester you apply (typically between April and June of your junior or senior year). However, if you are prepared, you can take the admissions test even earlier than the spring/summer of your applicant year.

While you may take the admissions tests during the summer (July or later), you should be aware that doing so delays your application as schools wait for your scores before moving on your application. Taking the exam in August or later is, therefore, even more problematic and not recommended.


What courses do I need to take if I want to attend a health professions school?

On our website under the Required Coursework section, you will find the coursework necessary for students who are planning to attend medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary school. Please keep in mind that you should always check with the particular health professions school regarding their individual course requirements as these can vary between the schools.

Will AP credit satisfy pre-health coursework requirements?

AP credit may sometimes be used to satisfy the Mathematics and English/writing requirements. However, as a general rule, AP credit should not be used to satisfy the science requirements because health professional schools want you to experience college-level science laboratory coursework.

If you accept AP credit in any of the sciences, you should take upper-level science courses with labs in the same science to satisfy the health professions school requirements.


How and when do I apply to medical, dental, optometry or veterinary school?

Application to a health professions school begins approximately 16-18 months prior to matriculation.

What is the role of Lafayette’s Health Professions Advisory Committee in the application process?

The HPAC assists applicants in the process by interviewing and writing Composite Letters of Evaluation that includes our assessment as well as verbatim copies of your individual letters of recommendation. Most health professions schools expect to receive our HPAC letter of evaluation.

In order to obtain the HPAC letter, you must go through our campus application process. Lafayette’s HPAC application process runs through the spring semester of the year you apply. Our application process closely mimics that of actual health professions school application processes–requiring you to fill out a personal information form, write an essay, acquire letters of recommendation, and go through an interview with our Committee. By the end of our process, you should be ready to submit your official applications to health professions schools (most application services open in early June). Applying close to the opening dates is very important as most schools have rolling admissions.

What are the benefits of applying as a senior or recent graduate? 

The most important benefit of applying as a senior or recent graduate is the additional year(s) of both academic and non-academic activities that enhance your overall application profile. A second benefit is that the intensity of the spring junior semester (coursework, MCAT or other exam prep, and application prep) can be distributed across the junior and senior years, or senior and following years. For example, late summer (August) following the junior year is an excellent time to take the admissions test if you are applying as a senior.

What are the common reasons for non-acceptance to a health professions school?

The most common reason for non-acceptance into a health professions program is the competition from other highly qualified candidates.

Other common reasons for non-acceptance to health professions schools include:

  • A weak academic record due to non-competitive GPA and/or nature of one’s course selection (e.g., too many easy or lower division courses, too many science with lab courses taken during the summer)
  • Noncompetitive health professions admissions test scores
  • Insufficient clinical exposure
  • Paltry demonstration of a sustained interest in and a passion for a health professions career, including extra- and co-curricular activities
  • Non-compelling personal statement
  • Generic or weak letters of recommendation from professors and others
  • Incomplete, sloppy, or late applications (including secondary applications)


What are my chances of getting accepted into a health professions school on my second try?

The application process is probabilistic, but it is not random! Simply reapplying does not increase your chances. Unless you are cognizant of the weak points in your application and improve upon them, you will do no better on the second attempt than you did on the first attempt.

What are some suggested steps I can take to improve my academic standing after graduating from Lafayette?

Students will often enroll in post-baccalaureate or other programs specifically designed to enhance their academic standing. These include:

  • Traditional Postbac Programs: Programs designed to provide applicants with health professions school prerequisite coursework coupled with additional opportunities for clinical activities, research, and/or community service. Many of these programs also offer preparation programs for admissions tests and other workshops and programs for improving one’s application.
  • Science Enhancement Programs: These postbac programs are designed to improve your previous poor performance in the sciences. These programs are not designed to fill in missing science prerequisites but to retake or build upon those science courses that have already been taken.
  • Special Master’s Programs: Postbac programs typically offered through medical or other health professions schools. Students often enroll in the same courses as the successfully matriculated health professions school student.
  • Special Programs for Non-Traditional, Disadvantaged/Minority Students: These programs may vary in length from summer to yearlong and are designed to provide intensive experiences designed to meet the needs of the non-traditional student.

For more information concerning postbac programs consult the AAMC website at https://students-residents.aamc.org/financial-aid/article/postbaccalaureate-premedical-programs/ as well as Syracuse University’s Health Professions Advisory Program website. This list is currently posted at our Health Professions website at http://healthprofessions.lafayette.edu/resources/summer-opportunities/.