Overview & Timeline

Applying to health professions schools is a lengthy, detail-oriented process. One of HPA's main goals 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 committee letter of recommendation on behalf of each applicant.

When to Apply

If applying to begin health professional school directly after graduation, the preapplication preparation begins in the fall of junior year. Over 75% of Princeton applicants in recent years have taken one or more "glide years" between undergraduate and health professions school. Throughout the year, potential applicants should think carefully about when to apply.

How to Apply

  • Medical and dental school applicants who qualify for the committee letter of recommendation should follow the Application Timeline below.
  • Older alumni who do not qualify for the committee letter are supported through advising appointments, access to all of the applicant resources, and may participate in the HPA Letter Collection Service.
  • Applicants to other health professions are supported through advising appointments and access to resources, but are not expected to receive a committee letter of recommendation. HPA is happy to work with applicants to all health professional schools!

Application Timeline

1. Attend an Applicant Information Session

This overview of the application process -- both how to work with HPA and how to prepare to apply -- is required of all applicants who are requesting a committee letter of recommendation.

Applicant Info Sessions will be announced in the HPA Vitals newsletter and on our website. Email hpa@princeton.edu for access to a recording of the info session.

Timing: The first info session will be in October. 

2. Complete the HPA Intent to Apply form

Any student or alum who may apply to medical or dental school in the application cycle should complete this form. It will provide HPA with some background information about each potential applicant and provide some reflection questions to help the applicant begin to develop their narrative as a future health professional.

Timing: After attending the Applicant Info Session. 

Deadline: Prior to scheduling a preapplication interview. 

3. Participate in an HPA Applicant Intake Appointment

The intake appointment is mandatory for individuals who have not met with a health professions adviser in the past year and optional for others. The intake appointment is an opportunity to get (re-)acquainted with advisers and discuss your candidacy. 

Timing: After attending Applicant Info Session.

Deadline: Prior to scheduling a preapplication interview. 

4. Participate in HPA Preapplication Interview

This 30-40 minute interview is required for any student or alum requesting a committee letter of recommendation. A number of written materials must be submitted prior to the interview.

Timing: January through April

Deadline: Interviews must be scheduled by April 31.

5. Take Standardized Test

Medical school applicants will take the MCAT and dental school applicants will take the DAT. Other tests are required for other professions. Learn more about standardized tests.

Timing: For MCAT, ideally by May of the application year. For DAT, ideally by July of the application year.

6. Request Letters of Recommendation

Applicants requesting a committee letter of recommendation should gather 4-6 individual letters of recommendation from faculty, staff, supervisors, and mentors who know them well:

  1. One letter from an individual who has taught the applicant in a science class, who can speak to their readiness for the science curriculum in professional school (required)
  2. One letter from an individual who can speak to the applicant's science competencies--this can be from a class or a research experience (required)
  3. One letter from an individual who can speak to the applicant's academic ability from any discipline (required)
  4. One letter from an individual whose letter will complement the three academic letters and speak more to the applicant's pre-professional competencies  (required)
  5. Up to two additional letters (optional)

Learn more about letters of recommendation.

Timing:  Ask for letters in the spring semester. Provide writers with at least a month's notice to produce the letter.

Deadline: To meet the HPA priority deadline to receive a committee letter of recommendation, letters should be received by June 1.

7. Submit Primary Application

The primary application is the "Common App" -- all schools to which you apply will receive your primary application. Learn more about primary applications.

Timing: Applications open for preparation in May and may be submitted in June. Submitting early is optimal.

Deadline: To receive a committee letter of recommendation, the application must be submitted by August 1.

8. Submit Secondary Applications

Individual professional schools will require an additional secondary or supplementary application that is unique to that school. Learn more about secondary applications.

Timing: Summer, ideally within two weeks of being invited to complete the secondary application.

Deadline: Varies by school.

9. Interviews

Interviews are required by every health professions school. Learn more about interviews.

Timing: Interview invitations are released between July and April with the majority in August through October.

10. Get accepted!

After the interview, admissions committees will deliberate and extend acceptances. 

Timing: For medical school, October through April for regular decisions; before the first day of classes for wait list decisions. For dental school, regular decisions begin in December.

Application Resources


HPA uses Canvas to share resources and collect materials relevant to the application process. Canvas provides access to forms, presentation PowerPoints, and other resources. Materials required for the HPA preapplication process are submitted through Canvas. Contact HPA for more information on how to register.


In January of the application year, applicants receive free access to veCollect, an online letter collection service. Prior to that January, any student or alum may have letters sent to HPA for storage. Learn more.

Interview Reports

Students and alums may read reports submitted by past applicants to prepare for interviews, and submit reports after participating in interviews. Current students may log in with their netID; alums should contact HPA for access. Access interview reports.