Student looking at book

Deciding to apply to health professional program is a big decision. You will especially want to give yourself plenty of time to complete the application process.

Start creating your timeline now, by mapping out the following elements of your application. One great way to do this is to use a Health Program Action Plan to start getting organized. 

Pieces of a Typical Timeline:

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Determine what prerequisite classes and/or recommended courses you need in order to apply. You can check the prerequisites for U of M programs directly from our website. Otherwise, be sure to contact each school to make sure you know their requirements.

Admissions Test

Determine if you need to take an admission test (i.e. GRE, MCAT, DAT, PCAT, etc). Learn when and where the tests are administered. Register early, if applicable.


Understand each school's application process and deadlines. Many programs, such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and public health have centralized application services. Be sure to double check application deadlines. It is always a good idea to submit your application prior to the application deadline, as many programs will review applications as they arrive.

Personal Statement

Determine if the program you are applying to requires a personal statement. Complete the Personal Statements for a Health Program online workshop, which includes a review of your draft statement by a Pre-Health Student Resource Center consultant. If you are a UMN student, you can also use the Center for Writing’s Student Writing Support as an additional resource.

Letters of Recommendation

If your application requires letters of recommendation, consider people such as faculty members, work supervisors, your academic advisor, internship or volunteer supervisors - in other words, people who know you well and who could assess your potential for a career in healthcare. Be sure to give them several weeks in advance to prepare your letter. 

Learn more about letters of recommendation, for both the applicant and for letter writers

Direct Patient Care Experience

All health professional programs strongly recommend work or volunteer experience in a direct patient setting such as a hospital, clinic, pharmacy, nursing home, assistive living environment, or other setting.

Some programs, such as the Program in Physical Therapy at the University of Minnesota, require such experience. Direct patient experience gives you the opportunity to shadow specialists in different areas, learn about the broad scope of work in a discipline, and make connections to mentors. Plan to apply for volunteer positions as soon as your schedule permits and you can make a solid commitment to it. 

Do not wait until shortly before you submit your application to gain relevant experience!