Letters of recommendation for med school are typically submitted along with your AMCAS application. A good letter of recommendation highlights your academic or professional achievements.

A great letter gives the admissions committee at your dream medical school deeper insight into the person you are and the doctor you may become.

How Many Letters Will You Need?

Medical School Letter of Recommendation

In most cases, schools request a minimum of three recommendations: two from science professors and one from a non-science professor or an extracurricular supervisor. Unless specifically instructed not to send additional letters , competitive applicants commonly send as many as six recommendations, including those from additional academic sources, clinical mentors, supervisors in extracurricular activities, and research sources.

Pre-Medical Committee Letter

Some schools request that you send your recommendations in the form of a pre-medical committee letter, which is either a letter written by the undergraduate pre- med committee specifically recommending you, or a letter that summarizes comments made by various committee members about you. If your school does not have a pre-medical committee (or you are a non-traditional applicant not officially affiliated with a university), you will typically need to submit a minimum of three letters of recommendation from individual sources instead.

Getting a Great Letter of Recommendation

Here’s a quick overview of how to choose the right people to write your medical school recommendations and ensure you get the right message across.

1. Start Early

Professors are busy! You will want to ask for letters well in advance of deadlines. If you are applying as an undergraduate in college, start asking for letters in the winter of your junior year.

getting a great medical school recommendation letter

2. Identify your recommenders

Current professors and doctors with whom you work or volunteer are your best choices. But former professors and doctors with whom you've worked in the past are fine, too. (If you're applying to osteopathic schools, you must have a letter from a DO.) The best recommendations come from people who know and honestly like you as a person.

3. Be professional

It’s natural to feel anxious about approaching prospective recommenders, especially if some time has passed since you've worked with them. But professors and doctors are used to receiving this kind of request, and most will be happy (even flattered) to write a recommendation on your behalf. Courtesy goes a long way in these interactions. A sincere thank-you note at the end of the process, not matter what the outcome, is essential.

4. Help them help you

Fantastic letters come from recommenders who can write about your specific traits and talents. Provide them with a copy of your CV or résumé, a personal statement, and any other materials that will remind them about what you've achieved. Also let them know which medical programs you're applying to and why.

5. Understand the process

If you apply directly from undergrad, you likely have access to pre-health or pre-med advising, and your letters will be handled by that office. They will copy and send your recommendations to your list of schools. If you are a returning adult student, you may have to take care of all the requests and letters yourself.

6. Follow the instructions

Read directions carefully. If an admissions committee asks for a recommendation from a premedical sciences professor, sending a recommendation from a psychology or sociology professor instead will count against you, even if you suspect that the recommendation will be stronger.

Med School Recommendation Letter Advice for Non-Science Majors

Not a science major? Below are some common letter suggestions for humanities, social science, and other non-medically related disciplines.

Humanities or Social Science Majors

  • 1 recommendation from a biology professor
  • 1 recommendation from a chemistry or physics professor
  • 1 recommendation from a humanities professor
  • 1 recommendation from a humanities professor of an advanced-level course in your major 
  • 2 recommendations from other sources, such as supervisors from lab/clinical work or extracurricular activities

Non-Medically Related Science Majors (computer science, engineering, math, etc.)

  • 1 recommendation from a professor of a medically-related science class, ideally biology
  • 1 recommendation from a professor of an advanced-level class in your major area
  • 1 recommendation from a humanities professor (may be an intro-level humanities course)
  • 3 recommendations from other sources, such as supervisors from lab/clinical work or extracurricular activities

Want to get an edge over the crowd?

Our admissions experts know what it takes it get into med school. Get the customized strategy and guidance you need to help achieve your goals.

Med School Admission Counseling

Read More