AMCAS

An AMCAS application workshop is held every spring for current applicants (see schedule). The presentations for AMCAS 2018 (for fall 2018 matriculants) and FAQs are provided below.

AMCAS Application & Secondary Applications

Applying to State Medical and Dental Schools in Texas: Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS)

Applying to Osteopathic (DO) Schools

FAQs for Applicants

For general information about medical school admissions policies, download the U.S. Medical School Admissions Information - Financial Aid Policies, MCAT policies, and information about in-state, out-of-state, and international applicants (xls) and U.S. Medical School Admissions Requirements.

Coursework Section

First, be sure to review the “Coursework” section of Completing the AMCAS 2018 Application.

Q: How do I classify a course in AMCAS?

A: Many Harvard courses do not fit perfectly into AMCAS course classifications, so you will need to use your best judgment. Classify according to the primary content or disciplinary approach of the course. So, biostatistics would be classified as math/stats, not biology. For further explanation, please see the 2018 AMCAS Instruction Manual. The OCS premedical advisers cannot make this determination for you; AMCAS is the final arbiter of all course classifications. Your Science (“BCPM”) GPA is made up of your Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math (Statistics = Math) grades. For more information about how to classify your courses, see the AMCAS Course Classification Guide.

If AMCAS changes a classification you made, and you disagree with the change, you can appeal the change via the Academic Change request option (available within the AMCAS application). You only have a limited time to appeal this decision, so review your application carefully as soon as it is verified by AMCAS.

Q: I am not Advanced Standing but want to indicate to med schools that I have taken AP Calculus. How do I do this in the coursework section?

A: AMCAS has asked that students not list AP calculus on their AMCAS application if it is not on that student’s Harvard transcript. You will have other opportunities to tell medical schools how you are fulfilling their requirements, either on the secondary application, on the interview day or later after acceptance. The Harvard Registrar will not validate the APs, but you may be asked at some point to have the official AP score sent from the testing service to particular medical schools.

Q: Do I have to list future coursework?

A: No. Some applicants may want to indicate to med schools that they plan to (for example) take more science courses. But most applicants do not fill this out. You are not under any obligation to enroll in courses you indicate you plan to take.

Q: What should I list as the Course Number?

A: The course number is generally the number that follows the department name (e.g., Chemistry 17, Math 21a, etc.). If the department is not intuitive (e.g., FRSEMR), you can modify it so it makes sense to someone outside of Harvard.

Q: Should I list the Course Name exactly as it appears on my transcript? (e.g., "Frank Lloyd Wright and the")

A: What you list for Course Name does not need to correspond exactly to what is listed on your transcript. But make sure it is similar enough, so that AMCAS can easily match up your course with the one on your transcript. Med schools need to be able easily to discern what kind of course it was. It is fine to abbreviate course names.

Q: For a SAT/UNSAT course, do I select “Pass/Fail” for course type?

A: Yes, AMCAS only has one option for pass/fail, so you select this regardless of whether the course was required pass/fail or optional pass/fail. The grade you enter should be the grade that appears on your transcript (e.g., “SAT”).

Q: If I did a Harvard Summer School (HSS) abroad program, do I indicate that this was a study abroad program in AMCAS?

A. Yes. If you took courses abroad through a Harvard Summer School (HSS) program, you must first add a second entry for “Harvard University” in the “Schools attended” section of your AMCAS (in addition to your main entry of your “Harvard University” undergraduate degree program).

In the box called “School Name,” in which “Harvard University” appears as an option, please type into the box to add “—Study abroad” so that it will say “Harvard University—Study Abroad.”

Next, assign “undergraduate credit,” enter the dates of your HSS summer program, and for “Other options,” check the box “Study Abroad Program.”

When you get to the “TRANSCRIPT REQUEST” page, you will be prompted to answer the question “Does AMCAS require an official transcript from Harvard University-Study Abroad?;” answer “No,” and select “Foreign Institution or Study abroad program sponsored by U.S., U.S. territorial or Canadian institution- Credits transferred” as your “Transcript Request Exception Reason.”

Next, answer “Yes” to the question “Was credit for Harvard University-Study Abroad transferred to another institution?.” As “School where transfer credits appear,” select “Harvard University” (which refers to your first entry of “Harvard University” under schools attended, where you recorded your undergraduate degree and major, and for which you should make a transcript request for your Harvard College transcript; your HSS Study Abroad summer course/s appear on this transcript).

Note that courses taken in the summer are entered as part of the upcoming academic year (e.g., a course taken in the summer of 2016 should be entered as part of the 2016-2017 academic year, along with the year in school status (e.g., SO, JR, or SR).

For all Study Abroad-related questions about course work and institutions attended: See the “Foreign Coursework” and other relevant sections of the 2018 AMCAS Instruction Manual. If your question is not answered by these instructions, please contact the AMCAS Help Line at 202.828.0600.

Q: I took organic chemistry, CHEM S-20, in the Harvard Summer School. / Q: I took an intensive semester-long language course (e.g., French Bab), for which I received a full year’s worth of Harvard credit (8 credits). How do I indicate that these courses were equivalent to a full year’s worth of credits? How do I make sure that the full weight of these grades is entered into my GPA calculation?

A: Your transcript will indicate the amount of credit you received. But do make sure that you double check that these courses were coded and calculated correctly when your verified AMCAS is returned to you. Do not code these courses as “Full Year” courses. For all summer courses, assign the upcoming year’s status (e.g., courses between FR & SO year will be listed as SO status). For an intensive term-long 8-credit course, assign the term’s status (e.g., for junior year spring, JR/ 2016/ S2).

Work & Activities Section

First, be sure to review the “Work/Activities” section of Completing the AMCAS 2018 Application.

Q: In the description section, is it better to write full sentences or in resume form? (e.g., "I volunteered at the Red Cross for four years” versus "Volunteered at the Red Cross for four years")

A: Either way is fine, but be sure to use a consistent format across all entries. Your objective is to convey to med schools what you did in clear, concrete terms (i.e., roles, responsibilities, accomplishments, etc.). If you have a lot of information to share, listing items like you would on a resume can make it easier to read. Be aware, however, that AMCAS application only accepts plain text, so indentions and bullets will not show up, so for most situations, this means that full sentences will be easier to follow. Again, be sure to use consistent sentence syntax within and across all entries in this section.

Q: Should I say only what I did or also what I got out of the experience (i.e., should I reflect on what the experience meant to me)?

A: We think that keeping your “Experience Descriptions” (700 or fewer characters) brief and to the point makes sense. Med schools will glance over your activities very quickly, and you want to make sure they are able easily to pick out the main points.

For the three activities you select as your “most meaningful experiences,” you have an additional 1325 characters of space to write about the experience. See the instructions that go with this additional “Experience Summary.” Remember that you also have your personal statement for additional reflection on any experience described in the “Activities” section you feel merits more attention.

Q: I was the director (or a member) of a student-run volunteer group, and there is no supervisor who can verify my role and responsibilities for this activity. Who do I enter as the “Contact” for the organization?

A: Supervisor contact information must be provided. If the activity was organized by a student group, list a faculty advisor or another administrator who can verify your experience, if possible. This person does not need to know you personally. You may use a student director as contact if there are no administrators who can validate the activity. As a courtesy, be sure to notify the person whose name you list for this contact.

Q: Should I fill up all 15 slots for activities and/or go right up to the word limit?

A: Probably not. Many applicants will not have 15 substantive activities that they can list. Also, most activities will not require using all the space allotted to you in the description section. Be concise and to the point.

Q: If I was involved with an organization for an entire summer but only sporadically during the year, what do I fill in for hours per week, dates, etc.?

A: You can enter up to four separate date ranges, including future end dates up to the start of the matriculation year (up to August 2018). Specify the total hours spent on this activity for each date range.

Q: Can I consolidate activities and awards under one entry?

A: Yes, feel free to be flexible. If you have been involved in three different service activities but do not have a lot to say about each one individually, perhaps list them as one activity and call it “Various service activities.” If you have received a fellowship for an internship, you can mention the fellowship in the description section of the internship; it does not require its own entry. If you have little to say about an activity or award, this is probably an indication that you can fold it into another entry or leave it out. You want to make understanding how you have been involved as easy as possible for the reader, and consolidating activities, awards, etc., can help you do this.

Q: Is it appropriate to include activities in which I participated for only a year (e.g., freshman year), or for short period of time only, etc.?

A: Any activities you list are fair game for questions during interviews, so list only those activities that were significant and that you know you would be enthusiastic to talk about.

Letters of Evaluation Section & Process

First, be sure to review the “Letters of Evaluation” section of Completing the AMCAS 2018 Application.

Also review the AMCAS letter service links on their website: AMCAS Letter ServiceAMCAS Letter Writer Application

Q: How many letters do I need to "add" in AMCAS?

A: You will only enter one "committee letter" in the Letters of Evaluation section. This "committee letter" consists of the committee ("House") letter written by your House, as well as your individual letters of support. For “Letter title,” enter “Harvard Committee Letter.” For primary contact, use your Academic Dean’s name (or simply “Academic Dean”).

Q: Will AMCAS process my application before my House letter is uploaded?

A: Yes, these processes are completely separate. Plan to submit AMCAS by mid-June. Your letters of recommendation will be sent to AMCAS by your House by mid-August.

Q: What is the AMCAS Letters program and what do I need to do?

A: For most medical schools, AMCAS is going to serve as a central repository for applicants' recommendation letters. Letters will be sent to AMCAS and then AMCAS will make them available to each of the medical schools on your list. There are three things that you will need to do in order to ensure the successful delivery of your recommendation letters through AMCAS.

        1. Within the AMCAS application, you will need to “add” a committee letter to let AMCAS know about the letters they are going to receive from your House Office.
        2. You need to send the Letter Request Form ID to your House Office. (This number is automatically generated when “adding” a committee letter in AMCAS.)
        3. You need to assign the committee letter to each of the schools that participate in the AMCAS Letters program to which you are applying. Please see Completing the AMCAS 2018 Application on the OCS website for more detailed instructions.

Q: I created multiple AMCAS Letter IDs rather than just the one that I was supposed to do. What do I do?

A: If you have created multiple Letter IDs (the IDs that get generated in AMCAS when applicants "add" letters that will be sent on their behalf), keep one Letter ID to indicate the Committee Letter coming from your House Academic Dean. Send this number to your House Office. Be sure to correct your AMCAS application to indicate that the others will no longer be sent.

Q: Do I need to let my House know to which schools I am applying?

A: Yes, your House will need both your list of schools as well as the Letter ID that gets generated in the Letters of Evaluation section of the AMCAS. Your House needs to know where to send your letters. It is very important that you keep them up to date if your list changes or you add additional schools.

Q: What is VirtualEvals and how does this interact with the AMCAS Letters program?

A: VirtualEvals is a service that each House uses to electronically send medical school recommendation letters to medical schools. Since VirtualEvals is only accessible by staff and administrators, applicants will not interface with VirtualEvals. For a school that uses the AMCAS Letter Service program, your letters will be sent by your House using VirtualEvals; AMCAS will then know to download your letters from VirtualEvals. As long as you complete the AMCAS correctly and meet your House deadlines for turning in their materials (e.g., list of medical schools, individual rec letters turned in, list of which letters to send, etc.), your letters will be successfully transmitted to medical schools by August 15. For a school that does not use the AMCAS Letter Service Program, your letters will be sent by your House using VirtualEvals directly to those medical schools, bypassing AMCAS. Only one MD program in the United States does not participate in VirtualEvals - the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. For this school you will need to arrange for your house to send a paper copy of the House letter with attached letters via U.S. mail.

Q: Can I customize the group of letters I send from medical school to medical school?

A: No, all medical schools will receive a single PDF from your House Office containing the committee letter from your House and the individual recommendation letters that you choose to include. (MD/PhD applicants: see below.)

Q: I am an MD/PhD applicant. Does the process change for me? 

A: The letter transmission process is the same for an MD/PhD applicant as it is for an MD applicant. The one difference is that VirtualEvals allows for two different sets of recommendation letters to be uploaded for MD/PhD applicants. For example, you may want to include three to five letters for MD-only programs and four to six letters for MD/PhD programs (to include additional research-focused letters). Your House will be able to transmit two different PDFs, one for each type of program.

Q: Do I need to list Additional Authors under the Committee Letter details in the AMCAS?

A: No, leave these fields blank. However, make sure to fill out the Primary Author fields with the name of your Academic Dean or just the words "Academic Dean" (per the instructions in Completing the AMCAS 2018 Application).

Q: Will I be notified when my letters have been transmitted to medical schools?

A: Yes, when your PDF is uploaded to VirtualEvals, you will receive an email confirming that your letters have been sent.

Q: Can I send in a letter that came in late, after my letters were already sent? 

A: Letters arriving to your House after the House letter packet has been sent will need to be submitted to AMCAS separately. This is highly discouraged and should happen only in the rarest of circumstances. Please use the AMCAS Letter Service to send any additional letters.

Q: When will my House letters be sent?

A: Houses will transmit letters to medical schools by mid-August if the applicant abides by House deadlines. This timeline is similar for all of our peer institutions. Medical schools are aware of this timeline for sending your letters, and have confirmed that receiving your letters by mid-August will not place you at a disadvantage in the admissions process.

Secondary Applications

Q: I took Chem 15 to satisfy the inorganic chemistry requirement. When I list this on my secondary, will the medical school know that this course satisfies both semesters?

A: Medical schools have been notified about Chemistry 15 and have agreed to consider it as satisfying both semesters of the inorganic chemistry requirement. If you are asked on your secondary application to list both chemistry courses, it is fine to list just Chemistry 15. You may choose to explain this in the additional information section if you prefer. Schools may ask for more clarification about this, but this will happen much later in the process and is not something to worry about now. 

Q: Washington University (or another medical school) has a math requirement and on their secondary application say they accept AP Calculus but only if it appears on a transcript. What should I tell them? Will this hurt my chances for admission? 

A: Washington University's secondary application asks you to list which courses satisfy their year-long math requirement and, if an AP is used, that it should appear on the transcript. APs do not show up on the Harvard transcript unless you activated Advanced Standing. If you did not take math at Harvard and would like to use your AP Calculus scores to satisfy this requirement, please list the AP on your Washington University secondary. 

In the additional information section, you should explain that you would like to petition that the AP be counted in place of coursework. Each House has access to a letter from the Math Department explaining the equivalence between an AP Calculus score and math courses offered at the College. For now, list your AP on the Washington University secondary and explain the situation briefly in the additional information section.

You will not need this letter until later in the process, if at all, and you should ask this to be sent to a medical school only if they explicitly request it. Please be aware that not all medical schools with this policy will accept this letter and, therefore, not all medical schools will accept your AP tests. In most circumstances, whether or not you have already verified that you satisfy a school's math requirement will not affect your chances of being admitted.

Q: What questions have medical schools asked within their secondary applications?

A: Read the examples of secondary application questions (scroll down to the end of the page) that medical schools have asked applicants on their secondary applications. Keep in mind that next year’s questions may be different and the specific questions vary from school to school. Many students access questions from the secondary applications of previous years on studentdoctor.net.

Ordering & Sending Harvard Transcripts to AMCAS

For instructions about how to obtain your official Harvard transcript, please see the FAS Registrar’s Office instructions. (Note that your Harvard College transcript can only be ordered online through the National Student Clearinghouse transcript ordering service. You will find instructions and the link to this service on the FAS Registrar website.)

Q: Do I need to include the AMCAS Transcript Request form with my transcript request?

A: Yes. You will need to scan and upload an electronic copy of the AMCAS Transcript Request form into your National Student Clearinghouse order. Harvard University is no longer an approved eTranscripts (ETX) sender to AMCAS, so your transcript will be sent to AMCAS by the Clearinghouse in hardcopy. Options for sending include US Mail and Express Mail. To select AMCAS as the recipient of your transcript in your Clearinghouse order, select “Educational Organization Recipient.”

If a school has placed a financial hold on your transcripts, AMCAS will not grant an exception under any circumstances. If your question is still not answered please email transcripts@fas.harvard.edu or call 617-495-1544 and a member of the Registrar's Office Team will answer you as soon as possible.

State Residency Concerns

Our office is not equipped to answer questions related to this topic, as the definitions and requirements of residency vary from state to state, and within states, and sometimes from one medical school in the state to another. Also, residency is often defined differently for different purposes. Please contact state medical school/s directly for all questions related to how to validate, establish, or re-establish state residency in a particular state.

Contact AMCAS for Help

Remember that the quickest answers to many questions can often be obtained by contacting AMCAS directly:

  1. AMCAS Help Line: 202.828.0600; office hours M-F 9:00am – 7:00pm EST. 24-hour automated phone line.
  2. On the applicant website, see especially the 2018 AMCAS Instruction Manual (pdf).
  3. Email amcas@aamc.org

Updates from the Premed Advisers

If you are applying for matriculation in 2018 or are an alumnus/ae applying in a future cycle, please be sure to subscribe to the OCS Med School Applicants Listserv using a harvard.edu email address. During the application cycle, we will be sending periodic updates with important information for applicants over this list.

If you still have questions that are not answered in the resources posted above or in these FAQs, you are welcome to come to a 10-minute drop-in or make an appointment for a 30-minute advising appointment. Premed drop-ins will be held through the end of final exam period. Individual appointments are available through the month of June, and resume again in August. (schedule through Crimson Careers). See our instructions for emailing us.