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Letter of Interest & Letter of Intent Medical School Questions Answered

Written by Jack Westin on Nov 26, 2019

Applying to medical school is a difficult, painstaking process for a number of reasons. Aside from the significant academic challenges, volunteering, and attending interviews, one of the hardest parts is the waiting game. A significant amount of applicants are put on waiting lists for the medical schools they apply to. If you are on a waiting list, know that you are not alone, as some medical schools put up to half of their total applicants on these types of lists. 

During this waiting period, it’s important to send a medical school update letter to the schools you applied to with any change in your grades, honors, as well as any new activities or jobs you have undertaken that might make your application more appealing. 

This should be done through either a Letter of Interest or a Letter of Intent.

Although a letter of interest and a letter of intent are terms sometimes used interchangeably, there is a key difference between them. 

What is a Letter of Interest for Medical School?

A letter of interest should convey with great specificity why you are interested in attending the medical school in question. Note what interests you about the culture of the school, their research opportunities, and the offerings and programs specific to the school. It’s also important to highlight what you as an individual would contribute to the school, and how you would enrich the culture and the students. Don’t forget to thank the admissions officers for considering your application. 

It’s similar in a way to applying for your first job. It’s not enough to drop off a resume; you must also call after a few days or a week to show your initiative. In the phone call, it’s important to demonstrate why you’re specifically interested in working there, and what you have to offer.  

Can I send multiple letters of interest?

Yes. You can send a letter of interest to each school that has put you on a waiting list as long as you are still interested in attending. If a couple of months pass and you don’t hear anything back, you could send another letter of interest to the same school, but only if you have meaningful updates. Don’t restate what was in your previous letter. Since you are only expressing your enthusiasm for joining the medical school, rather than stating your intent to join the school should you be accepted, you can send multiple letters of interest to as many schools you like. 

Do you sign a Letter of Interest?

Yes, you must include your signature on a letter of interest. 

What is a Letter of Intent for Medical School?

A letter of intent is much the same as a letter of interest, with one key difference. With both letters, you must thank the admissions officers for their time and consideration, emphasize your very strong interest in attending the school, how specifically you would contribute to it, and mention any academic or job-related updates you have since your secondary application. The key difference in a letter of intent is that you commit to enrolling in the school should you be accepted. A letter of intent clearly states that the school is your explicit and only choice. Consider it a promise to the school. 

Medical schools that receive a letter of intent will consider it more seriously than a letter of interest. Medical schools want to ensure they have a high yield rate, so promising to attend if you are accepted shows you are already committed to the school. 

A letter of intent should only be sent after you have heard back from each school you applied to. 

Can I sign multiple letters of intent?

No. The letter states that the medical school is your top choice, and you can only have one top choice. 

How long is a letter of intent good for?

If you have not been accepted or rejected, and the medical school has not communicated with you after a month or two, you can send an additional letter of intent, highlighting any new updates or accomplishments since your previous letter of intent. We do not recommend sending more than two letters of intent. 

Can you back out of a letter of intent?

It’s important to wait until you have been interviewed by multiple schools before you send a letter of intent. Do not send a letter of intent if you’re still waiting to hear back from your actual school of choice. Only write a letter of intent if you are fully committed to attending the school should you be accepted. It is unethical to commit to a school and then back out. 

How legally binding is a letter of intent?

A letter of intent is not legally binding, but it is unethical to send letters of intent to multiple schools. It’s a terrible way to start your career as a doctor. 

Do you sign a letter of intent?

Yes, you must include your signature on a letter of intent. 

Letter of Intent Resources

Letter Of Intent Medical School Reddit

If you’re looking for extra advice from other students who are going through the medical school application process or already have, check out the Reddit PreMed subreddit. The PreMed subreddit has 86,000 subscribers, with hundreds of those subscribers online at any time. There you’ll find specific advice on writing a letter of intent from other students. 

💡 Learn How Top Students Use MCAT Reddit to Score Well.

Build A Medical School Application That Stands Out

A medical school application has many moving parts that make the whole process confusing, tedious, and time-consuming. Whether it’s writing a letter of intent, choosing what schools to apply to, or writing a personal statement, we’ll guide you through the entire process. We help our students reach their full potential on every aspect of their application.

Our team of editors and advisors (including Jack) have years of experience and are ready to help you overcome any challenges that may stand in your way.

Join the Waitlist for Medical School Admissions with Jack Westin.



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