Prepare to Apply
Applying to health professional programs is a lengthy, detail-oriented process. This process can be intimidating for many applicants.
One of the main intentions for USF Pre-Health Professions Advising is to guide students and alumni through the processes of deciding when to apply, completing the application in a timely and comprehensive manner, and navigating the admissions cycle.
This includes writing a composite letter on behalf of eligible applicants for dental and medical school. Applicants to other health professions are supported through advising appointments and access to resources but are not expected to receive a composite letter of recommendation. USF Pre-Health Professions Advising is happy to work with applicants to all health professional programs.
The timeline for most health professional programs is applying a year in advance. In many cases, applicants submit their application a full year before starting their program.
Figuring out when to apply usually means self-assessment and asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I have enough clinical experience to truly understand my future career field?
- Is my GPA strong enough/within the competitive average for programs I am applying to?
- Do I have adequate research experience?
- Have I gotten to know enough individuals- including professors- to request strong letters of recommendation?
- Does my resume feel well-rounded in terms of activities, involvement and leadership skills?
- Have I taken the standardized test I need and is my score competitive?
- Am I financially able to pay for application costs?
- Does my application feel compelling?
The majority of health professional programs offer a "common" application where you can fill out one application for all programs. In these applications, you will be expected to fill out information such as:
- Biographical Information
- Disadvantaged Statement (if applicable)
- Coursework Details
- Personal Statement
- School List
In addition, many schools will have supplemental questions or secondary applications with information specific to their own program.
Letters of Recommendation
Health professional schools seek to understand applicants in more detailed ways. This can be achieved through the application itself but also from reading evaluations by your letter writers. Depending on your program, you may need 3-5 letters of recommendation and from the following individuals:
Professors who have taught you in science coursework (and non-science coursework in some instances)
Health Professionals (physicians, physical therapists, physician assistants, dentists, etc).
Other individuals who may know you well and are able to advocate for you and your application
It is your responsibility to make connections during your time at USF so that you can ultimately receive strong letters of recommendation from those who know you well.
Composite Letter for Dental & Medical School Applicants
The composite letter (referred to as a committee letter, as well) is intended to provide University of San Francisco applicants with comprehensive guidance and support when applying to dental or medical school.
A composite letter is a 2-page cover letter that accompanies your individual letters, to form a packet that will be sent to dental or medical schools.
The USF composite letter may include:
Passion for career
Experiences in research, community service, and other areas
Specific challenges that you may have had to overcome
Pre-Health Professions Advising will write a cover letter for each applicant, addressing their unique qualifications for medical school. Taking what has already been said by other letter writers into context, the office will supplement with any additional information to ensure that the letter packet encompasses a full depiction of the applicant. The composite letter ultimately serves to advocate for you and your application to medical school.
In addition, Pre-Health Professions Advising will work with each applicant closely to produce the best possible and most competitive application strategy related to your experiences, goals and strengths. This includes a thorough review of all written materials (personal statement, activities list), constructive feedback on school list (including USF specific data related to dental or medical school admissions), secondary application guidance, mock interview preparation, waitlist strategies and more.
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE)- most common for masters' programs.
- Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)
- The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)
NOTE: the PCAT is being discontinued after the 2023/2024 application cycle.
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
- Physician Assistant College Admissions Test (PA-CAT)
Note: The PA-CAT is not a common requirement among PA programs.