Harvard Medical School Secondary Essay Prompts

These are the secondary application essay prompts for Harvard Medical School. To put your best foot forward and maximize your chance of an interview invitation, visit our secondary application editing page.

2018-2019

1. If you have already graduated, briefly (4000 characters max) summarize your activities since graduation.

If you took time off between undergraduate and medical school, describe the experiences you had during that time. For each experience, explain how this helped you grow and become a better medical school candidate, which is the most important goal of the gap year in the admissions committee’s eyes. Focus on the lessons you learned and skills you gained during the time off. Do not repeat what is in your primary application. This is a key to all secondaries.If you use a prior experience from the AMCAS primary (which can be difficult to avoid given the nature of some secondary questions), try to adopt a new angle or describe a different aspect of the experience than has been presented before. Consider using an anecdote to spice up the answer.

2. If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine.(4000 character maximum)

If relevant to you, choose an aspect of this prompt which is particularly unique for you and helps define you as a person. Brainstorm how these unique traits affect your personal values and influence your desire to be a physician. One strong way to answer this question is describing how these traits will help you interface with diverse populations during your practice of medicine. It may be helpful to use examples or specific stories which exemplify this trait and demonstrate a lesson learned. Specifics always make an answer more compelling and convincing than generalities.

3. Our interview season runs from mid-September through January. Please indicate any significant (three or more weeks) restriction on your availability for interviews during this period. If none, leave blank.

Answer as appropriate based on your personal situation.

ESSAY FOR APPLICATIONS TO THE HARVARD-MIT DIVISION OF HEALTH SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY (HST)

Instructions: The HST MD program draws on the combined resources of Harvard and MIT to provide a distinct preclinical education tailored to preparing students for careers as physician-scientists across the full spectrum of disciplines including biological, physical and engineering sciences. HST classes are small, commonly include graduate students and have an emphasis on quantitative and analytic approaches, centered on understanding disease mechanisms and preparing students to solve unmet needs in medicine ranging from novel diagnostics and therapeutics to applications of ‘big data’ and systems engineering as they relate to healthcare. Please focus on how your interests, experiences and aspirations have prepared you for HST (rather than identifying specific HST faculty or research opportunities). Limit your comments to the equivalent of one page of single spaced text with a font size of 10 or 12. (4000 Char)

The key to answering this question is not to focus on specific opportunities in terms of labs or research projects you are interested in at Harvard. The admissions committee knows that HST MD program applicants are well-versed in the research opportunities available to them as this is one of their primary focuses. Instead, focus on your background and experiences which have led to your desire to pursue this training. Do you have experience with technology, start-ups, business, engineering or other disciplines? If so, describe them in detail and how they influence your current career goals. Paint a picture of your prior experiences and your intellectual and professional interests which inform your desire to gain skills which will help you drive medical innovation. Also consider discussing prior experience with population data and epidemiology or research that help you understand trends in medicine, gaps in care or unmet systems needs.

MD/PhD

1. Briefly list your research interests/areas; use keywords only. This information is not binding. (100 character limit)

This prompt has a very limited amount of characters and asks for keywords so be succinct and list your topics of research interest.

2. Please list publications, indicating for each whether it is published, submitted/under review, or in preparation

This prompt is self-explanatory. List prior publications as requested.

3. For PhD’s in the social sciences only, please complete the following and upload where indicated:
Statement of Purpose:

Describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen program of study at Harvard. What experiences led you to your research ambitions? Concisely state your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Briefly indicate your career objectives. Your statement should not exceed 1,000 words. Health Policy applicants should indicate the concentration(s) and policy area(s) of interest.

The key here is to tie your interests in another discipline outside of medicine to your desire to be a doctor in a cohesive and intelligent story. You likely have a compelling reason to pursue such in depth study in an alternative field, so be sure to clearly explain that. Show how that training will complement your skills as a doctor and help you achieve your career goals.

Please see Program Details to determine whether the program to which you are applying requires a writing sample, CV, or other documents. Please follow departmental requirements on type and size of writing sample. Unless noted, writing sample is limited to 20 pages.

Research the program which you are applying to in addition to the medical school and provide answers to prompts as appropriate.

2017-2018

D. If you have already graduated, briefly (4000 characters max) summarize your activities since graduation.

E. If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine.(4000 character maximum)

F. If you are re-applying, briefly (4000 characters max) summarize your activities since your previous application.

3. Our interview season runs from mid-September through January. Please indicate any significant (three or more weeks) restriction on your availability for interviews during this period. If none, leave blank.

HST Only: The HST MD program draws on the combined resources of Harvard and MIT to provide a distinct preclinical education tailored to preparing students for careers as physician-scientists across the full spectrum of disciplines including biological, physical and engineering sciences. HST classes are small, commonly include graduate students and have an emphasis on quantitative and analytic approaches, centered on understanding disease mechanisms and preparing students to solve unmet needs in medicine ranging from novel diagnostics and therapeutics to applications of ‘big data’ and systems engineering as they relate to healthcare. Please focus on how your interests, experiences and aspirations have prepared you for HST (rather than identifying specific HST faculty or research opportunities). Limit your comments to the equivalent of one page of single spaced text with a font size of 10 or 12. (4000 char)

2016-2017

1. If you have already graduated, briefly (4000 characters max) summarize your activities since graduation.

2. If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine.(4000 character maximum)

Disclaimer: The information on this page was shared by students and/or can be found on the medical school’s website. Med School Insiders does not guarantee the accuracy of the information on this page.

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