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Writing a Medical School Letter of Intent or Letter of Interest

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You’ve put in the effort and passed the tests, and now it’s time to pick the school where you would like to earn your doctorate. This degree, and where it’s from, will define you as a professional in the medical field. Your decision will determine your residence and area of specialty. It’s not to be taken lightly. There are two ways to move forward and convey your level of commitment to your school of choice, either with a letter of intent or a letter of interest. While these letters can help boost your chances, miswriting them may hurt your chances of being accepted.

What Is a Letter of Intent?

The letter of intent acknowledges your commitment to join a school’s doctorate program. Writing a letter of intent is something you shouldn’t decide lightly. If you were to write and then rescind it, you’d decrease your chance of being accepted.

The letter of intent will state your intentions and explain why you’re a good fit for their school, given its curriculum, academic environment, student population, and culture. Most importantly, it will explain what you bring to the school and how you can enrich the program. Be sure to include any work experience you have and how it would make you successful in this particular program.

You should only send a letter of intent to your first-choice school. You should send it one month after your interview if you’re placed on the waitlist or haven’t received a response. It is acceptable to send a second letter of intent if two or more months have passed since your first letter or if you have purposeful updates to share.

The overall goal of the letter of intent is to inform the school that you’re the best fit, that they are your number-one choice, and that you’ll accept any admission offer they might give you.

What Is a Letter of Interest?

A letter of interest, although similar to a letter of intent, serves a different purpose. A letter of interest expresses your interest and excitement about the school’s academic programs, offerings, and environment without making a commitment to that school. In a letter of interest, you should define how you would fit within the school’s program and what you would bring to it. Not only are you expressing your interest in their program, but you’re also sharing why the program should be interested in having you attend.

Medical schools appreciate letters of interest from future students. The school admissions officers believe that if you have taken the time to compose a letter of interest, then you’re strongly considering their program.

In some instances, you may feel the need to send a second letter of interest, although this isn’t required. Reasons you may consider providing another letter of interest to the same medical school program include:

  • A significant amount of time has passed without any reply from the school. This letter would be to express your continued interest in their program.
  • There have been important updates to your academic or other experiences to share with the admissions board. Changes in your qualifications may entice schools to offer admittance.
  • You’ve been placed on the waiting list and haven’t had an update on your status from the school. Again, this letter would express your continued interest in their program while on the waiting list.

A letter of interest should include the following parts:

  • A statement of thanks for considering you for their program
  • Details of why you value the program
  • Updates to any academics, experience, and extracurricular activities
  • A connection between your updates and their offerings
  • What you will bring to the program
  • Conclusion of thanks for considering your application

What’s the Difference Between the Two Letters?

While both letters express your level of interest in your school of choice, the main difference between the letter of intent and letter of interest is the level of commitment. As stated before, you should send the letter of intent only to one school, your top choice, while you can send a letter of interest to many schools to express your interest in them.

Why Write Either of the Two Letters?

Taking the time to write either letter will express your interest in the top schools on your list. It’s worth your time to research medical schools, find the ones that best fit your academic and professional goals, and use these letters to reach out and introduce yourself. It will help you to obtain an interview, find a school that meets your needs, and become proactive in your education. Writing either letter will also allow you to make a connection with the admissions committee. They have now put a face with your name. Did you know that 50% of interviewees are placed on waitlists! Don’t let that be you!

When Should You Write Either Letter?

The opportune time to write a letter of intent is after the waitlist letters have been sent out. The purpose of the letter is to pick your number-one school, so you don’t want to write a letter of intent to your second choice before realizing that you were accepted at your first choice. This aspect makes timing your letter a little tricky. It’s hard to take back a letter of intent and may reduce your chances of admission. However, sending a letter of interest at an earlier time would be a great option.

Sending letters of interest and update letters are different entities; these can be sent out at any time. However, sending too many letters of interest or update letters can also weaken your application, so plan accordingly.


Making the final choice for medical school is an important decision. Taking the time to research the school that will meet your professional and academic goals will ensure you’ll be successful on all levels. Then you can aid your decision by writing letters of interest to the schools you want to pursue. If you’ve already decided on your dream school, then write your letter of intent. For more information on increasing your chances of admission at the school of your choice, check out Spark Admissions. We offer a variety of counseling packages to prospective students at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

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