Last Updated on August 29, 2022 by Laura Turner
Applying to medical school is an arduous process. It takes years of preparation: completing required courses, succeeding on the MCAT, letters of evaluations, pages of applications and secondary applications, and interviews. What you might not realize is that it is an EXPENSIVE process. So how much does it cost to apply to medical school?
We used the Student Doctor Network Medical School Application Cost Calculator to generate a budget for a typical student.
The grand total? $4,139.
Most students spend thousands of dollars in their attempt to get a medical school acceptance. The costs mount quickly, and there are lots of companies out there that will tell you that you must buy their test prep or advising services in order to be successful.
We want you to have the information you need to be the best applicant you can be. With that in mind, we have created a detailed Medical School Application Cost Calculator so you can determine what it will cost you to successfully complete the first hurdle on the way to becoming a physician.
Prepare to Apply
Before you apply to medical school, you will need to take the required courses and the MCAT.
Registering for the MCAT will cost you $320, plus any additional costs required to travel to your testing location.
If you have the option of multiple testing locations in your area, you might want to see which location is best. Taking the MCAT is stressful enough without construction noise or a freezing room.
To prepare for the MCAT, you will likely want to obtain some test prep materials. The price for these ranges from free for Khan Academy videos to over $8,250 for private, one-on-one tutoring services. At minimum, you will probably want to get the official MCAT prep bundle available from the AAMC, which costs about $294.
The next big hit to your wallet will come when you select the schools who will get your application. There are three different school types:
- Allopathic Schools (AMCAS Application), which grant a MD degree: $170 (includes one free school)
- Osteopathic Schools (AACOMAS Application), which grant a DO degree: $195 (includes one free school)
- Texas Schools (TMDSAS), which covers all Texas MD schools because Texas: $185 flat fee for all schools
Depending on what school types you choose to apply to, you will need to pay for one or all of these fees, plus a flat fee per school for every school. This fee is $40 per Allopathic school and $45 per Osteopathic school.
The average number of medical schools that a student applies to is about 15. This number can increase if you are from a competitive state (looking at you, Cali residents) or if you have red flags or low stats on your application. If we use 15 as our benchmark and assume we are applying only to non-Texas Allopathic schools, then there an additional $560, or $40 per school for the 14 schools not included in the initial application fee.
Hidden Application Fees
In addition to these fees, there are a variety of small fees that can add up quickly:
- Committee Letter fee: Your school may charge you for a letter from the pre-health committee commenting on your application
- CASPer test fee: Some schools require this test in addition to the MCAT, and there is a fee to send this test to each school
- Letter Collection Service: Some medical schools require that you use a letter collection service for your letters of recommendation
- Transcript Request Fee: Your school probably charges to send out a copy of your transcript to schools, so you will have to pay this fee for each school that will receive your transcript
Again using our total of 15 applications requiring a CASPer test fee and transcript for each, we get an additional $370.
Once you submit your initial application, schools will either invite you to send a secondary application or reject you outright. Each secondary application will have a fee associated with it that can range from $0 to $135, with the average around $81 for Allopathic Medical Schools and $63 for Osteopathic Medical Schools.
Assuming you receive a secondary from all 15 schools you apply to, it will run you over one thousand dollars to submit your applications.
Once your secondary application gets reviewed, the schools will either extend an interview invite, place your application on hold, or reject you. If you receive an interview invitation, you will need to pay for something to wear at the interview and the travel to and from the interview.
Medical school interviews require professional attire: a suit. You will need to purchase a suit and comfortable matching shoes and get your clothes cleaned after each interview.
There are lots of options for getting less expensive suits, including discount stores and thrift stores (especially thrift stores in wealthy areas), but it will probably run you at least $100. If you get three interviews, that’s another hit for three dry cleaning bills.
Getting to your interview will be another major expense. You will need to get to the medical school for your interview (flying, driving, taking a train or bus, plus any additional costs to get to and from where you stay to the school), eat, and possibly stay overnight for one to two nights. Depending on the distance, this could range from the cost of a subway ticket all the way to hundreds of dollars for a flight and hotel.
If we assume three interviews, all of which require some travel averaging $350 per interview, that’s another thousand dollars.
So adding up the total cost for all those items gets us to $4,139. If a medical school application is in your future, you should start planning now how you are going to pay for it.
There are fee assistance programs available from both the AAMC and AACOM to reduce medical school application costs. The AAMC fee waiver program provides access to free MCAT test prep materials, reduced registration fee for the MCAT, free MSAR access, and free AMCAS application for up to 20 schools. The AACOM fee waiver covers only the AACOMAS application fees. For both programs, eligibility is tied to family income. Note that there is a limited pool of available funds for these programs, so if you qualify, plan to apply early.
In our example, the fee assistance program would reduce our expenses by around $2,285, or around 45%.
Determine YOUR Budget
To estimate your own med school application costs, including customizing these values based on your own application situation, use the SDN Medical School Application Cost Calculator.
This video will walk you through how to use it:
Laura Turner, MS, is the Executive Director of the Health Professional Student Association (HPSA), which publishes the Student Doctor Network (SDN). Prior to working with HPSA, she served for eight years as the Executive Director of SDN. At HPSA and SDN, Laura has been instrumental in providing students with tools and resources to pursue their aspirations in healthcare. Her previous roles include business analyst positions at The Capital Group and product management and marketing roles at software companies Paciolan, Adexa, and MSC Software.
In her current role at HPSA, Laura continues to drive innovation and forge partnerships to better support aspiring healthcare professionals. She is grateful for the opportunity to help countless individuals to achieve their dreams.