What You Need to Know About When Does Medical School Start

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to medical school but now what? You’re probably wondering when does medical school start?

Unlike high school and college which have start dates towards the end of August and into September the academic year for medical school is a bit different.

You will most likely start medical school in either July or August.

When I was enrolled in medical school we had orientation in midJuly and by the end of the both we were knee deep into our first year medical curriculum which consisted of a healthy does of:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physical Diagnosis

And a few other courses that I have since forgotten.

If I were to estimate roughly 90% of medical schools start during the months of July or August and there's a good reason for this.

When Does Medical Medical School Start Is Affected By The Application Cycle

You do not just apply to medical school on a whim.

Well you could but the results would be disastrous.

Applying to medical school is a year long process which has consequences for when your medical school can actually start.

Normally in the spring of the year applying to medical school applicants take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) along with crafting their Personal Statement for Medical School.

Applicants will then get everything together that they need to apply to medical school inorder to submit their primary application in June.

The summer months will then be spent completing medical school secondary applications.

Then fall, winter and even into spring will be a time of medical school interviews and receiving notifications if you are accepted or not. Please note getting into medical school is extremely competitive where only 60% of first time applicants to medical school are admitted.

Now we are in the spring of the year you will matriculate to medical school and major decisions must be made.

Some applicants will only receive one medical school acceptance and their decision is easy… attend the medical school that accepted them. But what happens if you’re an applicant who has multiple medical school acceptances?

You have a decision to make.

Because all newly admitted applicants holding more than one medical school acceptance must notify American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) and the particular medical school of their decision to matriculate by May 15th. You must then withdraw your acceptance from other medical schools at this time too.

There’s then a lot of movement with medical schools as they work to finalize their incoming class.

Some applicants were placed on a waitlist and as other newly admitted applicants finalize where they are going to matriculate the medical schools begin to finalize their incoming class or move people off of the waitlist and offer them an acceptance to medical school.

What is noteworthy is that an applicant can get a notice from a medical school leading up to the first day of orientation that they can matriculate. Meaning sometimes students cannot get their medical school financial aid together and are unable to enroll or students will want to delay their matriculation to medical school by a year resulting in an open seat that needs to be filled at the last minute.

Ultimately, the medical school wants to have a full student body because that is lost tuition over the next four years if a seat goes unfulfilled.

Did you know that once medical school orientation begins medical schools cannot add more applicants/students to the incoming class.

Orientation Affects When Does Medical School Start

Medical school orientation can last anywhere from one to two weeks and afterwards your medical school starts.

Typically with the application cycle outlined this only leaves room for orientation to take place at:

  • Very end of June
  • July
  • August
  • Early September

With medical school classes starting immediately thereafter.

As you can see this schedule strongly influences when does medical school start where classes typically commence in July and August with a select few medical schools starting in June and September but this is outside the norm.

International Medical School Start Dates

Everything shared to this point has focused on medical schools in the United States including:

  • Allopathic (MD)
  • Osteopathic (DO).

Things are a bit different for international aka Caribbean medical schools and their start dates.

Obviously they are not regulated in the same way as medical schools in America so they have more leeway in their medical school start dates.

These Caribbean medical schools typically have three start dates available to students:

  • Summer
  • Winter
  • Spring

There is no clear rationale for having multiple start dates other than it giving medical school applicants more options of when to enroll in medical school without having to wait an entire academic year.

However, a side effect is that there are multiple cohorts of students at different points in the curriculum whereas in America each medical school year is at the same point.

I think one reason for the multiple medical school start dates is that let’s say you are applying to medical school in your home country and you do not get admitted. You now have the option of starting at an international medical school within weeks instead of months. Plus, this would be very helpful for recruiting purposes by giving students more enrollment periods.

A Review of When Does Medical School Start

To answer when does medical school start is pretty straight forward with most American medical schools having a uniform start date of July and August. This is due to a standardized medical school application cycle within the medical community that leaves very little wiggle room for varying start dates.

However, international medical schools are given a lot more leeway in their application process which allows them to offer multiple medical school start dates.