Professional School Application Hub

Take control of your professional school application process! While Purdue's Pre-Professional Advisors are always here to help you through this process, we know that it is important for you to be empowered with knowledge about how your application works. The more you understand about the process and what to expect, the less stressful it will be and the more you can strategize for a successful application.

Please note: we're still adding to this section. While a lot of useful general information is here and the medical school application tab is complete, we still need complete the other fields and add more fields. Please keep checking back.

The big picture of how applications work

Please keep in mind that some differences exist between application depending on the field you want to go into. We note these in the field specific areas in this section of our website.

Basic Overview

  • Work on your undergraduate degree in a major that fulfills your curiosity while also taking any required courses.
  • Toward the end of your junior, senior, or super-senior year (depending on your specific timing), take any required aptitude test you might need for your field.
    • MCAT for medical school, podiatry, and some anesthesiologist assistant programs
    • DAT for dental school
    • OAT for optometry school
    • PCAT for some pharmacy programs
    • GRE for many other programs such as public health, genetic counseling, some PT, OT, PA and vet schools
    • PA-CAT for some PA programs
    • LSAT for law school
  • Apply in the spring/summer of your junior, senior, or super-senior year (or fall senior or super-senior year for law school). Some of you will be applying as alumni and we are here to help you too!
  • Most of these applications will be a web-based common application. Once it is sent out to the schools, individual programs may require additional information. This is called a secondary or supplemental application (usually only on the healthcare side of the application process).
  • For healthcare fields, interviews follow in the fall and early spring.
  • File for financial aid as soon as you can--you don't have to wait to be admitted. You can always turn down the funding if you end up not needing it.
  • Start in a program in the following late summer/early fall if admitted. This means that typically you start applying almost a year before you would begin in a program and about 15 months from the time you take an aptitude test.

Application for most programs is through a web-based common application called an application service. Numerous application services exist for various fields. While they vary slightly, they collect similar information from applicants.

List of the Application Services and their corresponding fields.

Typical information collected through application services

  • Demographic information: age, parental level of education, etc.
  • Education: list all of the colleges where you have college-level credit
    • Typically you will need to print a form at this location for each from which you have college credit. This is a transcript matching form. This will need to be signed and provided to the Registrar's Office at each school to be sent along with your Official Transcript to the application service. (Read more on this in the Order Transcripts section.)
  • Your aptitude test scores. (Your application can often be processed without this score).
  • A list of activities you have been involved in including volunteer, work, shadowing, research, awards, scholarships, etc. Applications have categories you use to classify the activities. You will also need to estimate the time period you were involved in the activity and the number of hours. You will provide a contact person in case they need to verify your participation.
  • A semester-by-semester list of every college course you have taken. This needs to match your official transcript. Some applications offer a service allowing you to pay additional fees to have someone enter these materials for you. We DO NOT recommend this. Take your time and make sure this is completed correctly.
  • A legal disclosure stating that you have not been in trouble with the law--read this carefully. You want to be honest in all things on your application. If you have something in your background that makes you unsure of how to answer this, it is typically better to disclose this  information on your application. You are always welcome to discuss issues with Pre-Professional Advising or you could discuss it with the Student Legal Services.
  • Your personal statement (application essay).
  • Your letters of evaluation/recommendation. (Your application can often be processed with your letters).

Application Costs: You will need a credit card to submit your application. You pay an initial application fee that includes one school, then each additional school you apply to will incur an additional charge. 

Application Processing: From the time you submit your application, it will take some time before it arrives at schools. It typically takes 2-4 weeks for it to be checked before it can be sent out to schools. For some applications, such as the MD application (AMCAS), there is a waiting period at the beginning of the application period during which no applications are sent out to schools.

Common Processing Issues: An incomplete section, not having your transcript, not being able to match your transcript to your application because the matching form was not sent with your transcript, or coursework that does not match your transcript are the most common reasons for processing issues. This means the Application Service will need to contact you, figure out the problem, then they will put you at the back of the line to go through the process again.

You will also need to read the instructions for your application to determine how well it handles cutting and pasting. Many of the applications do not do this well or have only certain software from which you can do this. You are often better off typing directly into the application, copying it and checking in a word processor then fixing any issues on your application directly.

For many of the healthcare applications, your application is a 2 step process.

The initial application through the online common application is called the PRIMARY application.

It is processed and sent to the schools you indicate on your application.

When the schools receive it, they often ask for additional information. This is the SECONDARY or SUPPLEMENTAL APPLICATION.

Secondary Applications may include (depending on the school):

  • Additional forms including a Dean of Students form (see below)
  • Legal Disclosure Forms
  • Academic Honesty Disclosure Forms
  • Requirements that you fill out an online graduate school application at their university
  • Some schools may want a copy of your official transcripts
  • A photo of you (typically a small passport style photo--not a glamour shot)
  • Almost always more money is required--typically $50-$150

Dean of Students Forms

Some schools request a Dean of Students Form. You only fill these out if and when they are required of you. The school will provide a form that you take to the Dean of Students Office in B-50 Schlemann Hall. They will fill it out and return it to the school for you. This form basically verifies whether you were in good social and academic standing at Purdue.

If you ever had to meet with the Dean of Students Office because of a policy infraction such as drinking in the residence hall, or because your roommate was caught with alcohol, or because you were accused of letting someone cheat off of your homework, etc. then these matters may well show up on this report. It is much better that schools hear about these things from you.

Knowing something happened in your past does not mean you won't get in. What matters is what you learned from the circumstances. Ethics matters in professional fields! It is always better to disclose something than for them to find out about later.



  • In the primary application you will find a check-box for Advisor Release.
  • This provides a small amount of information on your application to the Pre-Professional Advising Office.
  • This does not provide access to your academic advisor or to other advisors on campus.
  • This box is usually located near the part of the location where you list the schools you attended.
  • We cannot see your entire application. We basically see your name, that you applied, typically where you applied, your overall GPA, and in some of the systems, your overall aptitude test score.
  • This information does help us with advising future applicants!
  • PLEASE CHECK THIS BOX. We NEVER SHARE identifiable information with others.

It is important to carefully research where you will apply and to apply strategically. We often see students applying to a huge number of schools. This is not improving their chances of being admitted and is costing a lot of money.

Do your homework and apply smart! Finding program information.

A well chosen 6-10 schools is sufficient to provide a breadth of opportunities without spending a lot of money.

Things to Consider:

  • Where do you want to live for a several years?
  • Do you thrive in large cities? What about rural areas? What setting do you like?
  • How far away from family do you want to be? Remember to factor in travel costs to a program.
  • Consider cost of living in your choices.
  • Consider safety in your choices.
  • State schools often have a mandate from their state to accept a certain percentage of in-state students. You need to know what your opportunities are at a state school if you are not from that state. Don't apply there if they accept very few out-of-state students.
  • It may look appealing to apply to a school out of the country since you never had time to study abroad, but that can pose enormous problems with licensure. Discuss this with us first.
  • Consider a dream school or two.
  • Include your state school--even if you don't want to go there, they are the most likely to accept you.
  • Include some private schools--they don't care where you are from.


Early Decision Programs are offered at some schools. Policies differ but typically you apply to only that one school and if you are admitted you must attend that school.

The Advantages:

  • Knowing early where you will be going and being able to plan where to live and get your life in order.
  • Costs savings on applications.
  • Less stress on applications.
  • In the case of IU School of Medicine--the opportunity to choose your campus.

The Disadvantages:

  • If not admitted, schools may be informing you later in time making your application to other programs delayed.
  • Some schools may not consider funding you as you are already committed to going there.


Applying to professional school is expensive. Plan well ahead for these expenses and discuss them with the financial powers in your life.

  • Fee assistance is available if you qualify for it. All of our Career Guides in the Careers section of our website for links to Fee Assistance Programs.
  • Typically you do have to submit a Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form which means that most fee assistance is only available to US citizens, permanent residents, DACA students, and those here with official asylum status. Your FAFSA Checklist.
  • Every school has a financial aid office. Talk to them if you are struggling financially and don't qualify to use the fee assistance program. See if they can offer other suggestions.
  • This Application Expense Example uses a medical school application to illustrate how quickly application costs add up.
  • Pre-Professional Advising is happy to talk to you about strategies for controlling your application costs.

Holistic Review is a term that you often see referred to as part of the application review process. But what does it mean?

Holistic review means that the admissions committee considers each applicant individually and balances their academic metrics (GPA and test scores) with their experiences and other attributes. This is all viewed in combination to consider how the individual might contribute value to the class and as a professional in the field.

In simpler terms, it means that they don't just look at your GPA and test scores, but you do often need a certain level of GPA and test scores before they will look at all the other aspects of your application. Schools have to know that you can succeed academically in their program. They have years of data on how well people have done based on algorithms combining GPA/aptitude test scores. Once you pass that bar, then they can really dig into other things.

As for GPA, schools are very careful with GPA. They will look at it semester by semester, year by year and overall trends. They may have core courses, science GPA, and other aspects that they look at as well.

Holistic Review is also mission-based. This means that it differs at each school. If that school is looking for practitioners focused on working in rural settings and you specifically mention your love of working in urban settings, you probably won't be a good candidate at that program even if you have great academic credentials. Why? Because you don't fit the mission of the program. Similarly, if you have never participated in research and have no interest in it, applying at a school that focuses on research might not work well either. Make sure you fit with the mission of the school.

You must obtain a transcript from ALL colleges where you have college-level credit.

Pre-Professional Advising does not handle transcripts. You are the only one with access so you must order them from the Office of the Registrar.

You will be required to send an Official Transcript. This is one that has not been handled by the student or has been sealed by the Registrar in an envelope with a stamp across the seal.

Application services have a transcript matching form that you print and sign once you have started your application. This is typically located in the online application in the section where you list the colleges you have attended. Your transcript has a much better chance of being matched with your file if that form is sent with your transcript.

To order your Purdue transcript as a Current Student

  • Log in to MyPurdue
  • Click on the Academic Tab
  • In the bottom left corner click on Order Official Transcript
  • Request that they send a Paper Copy (although Purdue offers electronic transcripts, we are not a registered sender with the application services)
  • Attach an electronic version (PDF) of the application service's transcript matching form

To order your Purdue transcript as a Former Purdue Student

  • Use the e-transcript link to set up an account to order your official transcript.
  • Be sure to attach the transcript matching form
  • Request that they send a Paper Copy (although Purdue offers electronic transcripts, we are not a registered sender with the application services)
  • Attach an electronic version (PDF) of the application service's transcript matching form

Additional information on sending Purdue transcripts

If you have college credit from other schools, you will need to contact their transcript offices and determine the correct processes of sending transcripts along with the matching forms.

You can take a number of steps to prepare for interviews.

  1. The first is to pay attention to current events and to information from your field. Follow professional sites in your area. What are they lobbying for? What are the big news items? What kind of research is hot? What issues are impacting providers in the field? These are issues that can come up in interviews.
  2. Email and request a list practice questions specific to your field. We have numerous practice questions for various fields that we can provide you.
  3. Practice electronically with Big Interview. Set up an account on Big Interview and record yourself answering interview questions. This is a great way to see if you say "umm" too much or play with your hair without realizing it.
  4. If you have questions about answering any of the Big Interview questions and want feedback on your recording, you can email us about setting up an Interview Debrief appointment.

Read more details on how to do all of this in the Learning Center--Interviews Section.