A student research peers into a microscope.

The Process

Most health profession programs utilize a central application service for admissions. You need to do your research to determine which application service you will be using or if you will be applying directly to the program. Depending upon the health profession, the application will open 12-15 months before actually beginning the program. 

Many health professional schools use a “rolling admission” process, which means they review applications as they "roll" in. Schools are not waiting until the deadline to review applications. Submit your applications far in advance of deadlines, and make sure that all required materials (transcripts, test scores, letters, etc.) are also submitted. Often, applications will not be processed until all materials are received.  

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Early Decision

Many health profession schools use Early Decision as part of the admission process. It is advised to speak to a health professions advisor if you are considering this option. If you select Early Decision on your application, you are committing yourself to that one program. If you are admitted, then you must attend. If you are denied, then you may designate additional programs on your application, but later in the admission cycle.   

Application Fees

Application fees will vary by application service and institution. For applicants who may have financial difficulty, many programs may be willing to reduce costs or waive application fees. Don't be afraid to ask!  There may be formal programs that will offer these types of reduced costs as well.

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Personal Statements and Essays

The personal statement and essay section of the application is where you can tell your story about why you want to become that type of health professional. You want to be able to distinguish yourself from other applicants. You may also address hardships or challenges that have influenced your educational choices.  

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Secondary Applications

Most health professions will use secondary applications or supplemental applications as part of the application process. This is your chance to display to the individual programs why you want to attend their school. Be sure to pay attention to secondary application deadlines, as they tend to have a quick turnaround! If you miss the deadline, then you will not be considered for that program.

Transcripts

Admissions professionals utilize the undergraduate college transcript to verify your degree and GPA, as well as to ensure that you have completed all the required academic coursework to enter their program.  Make sure to check the requirements of the application service and/or individual program--many applications require a matching form to be included with transcripts.

Illinois students and alumni can order transcripts through the Office of the Registrar.  Most applications require official transcripts from all institutions of higher education that you have attended, so be sure to order transcripts from community colleges or other schools where you have earned college credit.

If you plan to utilize the University of Illinois grade replacement policy, please note that both course enrollments and the grades appear on the transcript and most health professional application services will not honor our grade replacement policy. You are required to list all courses and grades EXACTLY as they appear on the official transcript when filling out health professional school applications.

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Letters of Recommendation

Most, if not all, applications will ask you to submit letters of evaluation or letters of recommendation. Make sure you choose individuals who will be able to provide examples of your abilities and personal qualities. Please note that the University of Illinois does not do committee letters. On average, schools require a minimum of three letters of recommendation with at least two coming from faculty or instructors who have taught you in a graded course.  Other letters may come from supervisors or health care professionals with whom you have worked, volunteered or shadowed.  

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Admission Exam

Almost all health professional schools require completion of a standardized test as part of the application. The common ones you will see are:

  • DAT = Dentistry
  • GRE = Audiology, Advanced Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Public Health, Speech Pathology and Veterinary Medicine
  • MCAT = Medicine and Podiatry
  • OAT = Optometry
  • PCAT = Pharmacy

Be sure to pay attention to the registration, dates, and content areas for these admissions tests. There may be a limited number of test dates, so plan ahead. You may need to consider completion of specific courses or timing of the application process when determining the date of your test. Schedule your test with enough time to further prepare and retake the exam, if necessary.

Please note there is no selective reporting. Except for the GRE, all test scores are reported. Do not take the actual test for practice. Doing so could potentially impact how a school views your application.

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Interview

Depending upon the program, an interview may be part of the admissions process. Each school will have a different interview process. Be familiar with the type of interview you may encounter. Be sure you prepare before engaging in an interview.

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