General Timeline

The following general timeline is a guide to help you plan the courses and activities that will help to prepare you for a future application to a health professional school. While many of the courses you will take are common to most health professions--medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or others--the specific courses, your major, and the steps you take will be unique to your own choice of profession.

Freshman Year

  • Attend the Fall Meeting for New Pre-Health Students.
  • Plan a tentative course schedule for the next three years.
  • Know the prerequisites for the profession you choose to enter.
  • Think about a major.
  • Talk to health professionals about their careers and paths to health care.
  • Join pre-health and related science clubs.
  • Visit the Health Professions Advising Office in Thompson Hall 203.
  • Examine your motivation for a health professions career. Set goals.

Sophomore Year

  • Plan the focus of your curriculum and choose a major.
  • Check course requirements for the schools you may be interested in attending, and fine tune your long-range plan to accommodate them if necessary.
  • Get exposure and experience in your field of interest by volunteer work, community service, research, leadership positions during the semester, semester breaks or in the summer.
  • Talk to various health professionals about their careers and their own career decisions. Consider whether you may be interested in an MD/PhD program.
  • Visit the AMA's Virtual Mentor, an interactive website that seeks to sharpen knowledge and to encourage consideration of ethical dilemmas in medicine and other professions.
  • Begin researching finances.    
  • Visit the Office of International Programs to learn about a study abroad program.
  • Consider applying for a Puget Sound summer research grant, external undergraduate summer research program or internships.

The sophomore year is a time to self-evaluate and reassess your original career plans or to begin to investigate options for the first time; you may reconsider your future plans many times and it is wise to do so. Becoming aware of health-related issues and expanding your world view as well as discovering the many opportunities available to you in your professional and personal life is challenging.

Your knowledge of yourself should also be growing and you may find that careers previously unknown to you are appealing. Don't be afraid to consider new paths and weigh them against your current career plans. Our world needs multi-faced individuals in the roles of healthcare provider. It is assumed that you will never loose your fascination with science, however, your major area of study should reflect your deep interests whether it be in the sciences, humanities, social sciences or any other area of study.

Exposure to a variety of people with different cultural background is important to those entering a medical profession. Experiences such as study abroad are valued by medical school admissions committees. Planning will need to be given to the scheduling of the pre-requisites courses as well as the required admission examinations.

Some students have considered delaying their application a year or more; the sophomore year is a good time to think about this option. Experience shows that admissions committees value a well-thought out decision to delay and consider it a sign of a mature and thoughtful approach to reaching your career goals.

Junior Year


  • Attend first application meeting.
  • Begin work on the personal essay which accompanies most application.
  • Begin requesting confidential letters of recommendation; have them sent to the Health Professions Advising Office.
  • Register for the admissions test required (if you plan to apply during your junior year). Take the MCAT. Please check for the most updated MCAT information.
  • Register for an optional test preparation course-Princeton or Kaplan are two.
  • Go online or check out admissions books for your profession; research specific schools.
  • Visit the website for the professional association that you are interested in such as the AAMC (medical school) or ADEA (dental school). For a list of professional associations by field, visit: Defining Health Professions


  • Sign up for a mock interview with Health Professions Advising in the spring.
  • Attend required application meetings in February and March.
  • Request a committee letter if applying to medical or dental programs. 
  • Revise, revise, revise your personal comments essay; visit the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching for reviewing and editing assistance.
  • Begin the application process.
  • Complete your application file with the Health Professions Office.
  • Complete your application.
  • By taking the admissions test in the spring of your junior year, participating in a committee interview, filing your application in the summer and making sure your individual letters of recommendation are on file, you may expect to receive word from schools as early as mid-summer.

Senior Year

  • Continue to take challenging courses and a full course load.
  • Stay active in volunteering, leadership roles--extracurricular activities.
  • Carefully, complete the secondary applications you receive.
  • Keep the Health Professions Advising Office updated frequently.
  • Prepare financial aid information for schools where you will interview.
  • Travel to interviews.

Note: Many applicants are now choosing to take gap/growth years and apply after graduation. This provides time to gain relevant experience and to pursue passions while continuing to prepare for professional programs. Regardless of when you apply the services of the Health Professions Advising Office are available to you.