After submitting your medical school primary application and secondary application, or after attending medical school interviews, there are two ways to express your continued excitement about joining your top choice programs—the letter of interest and the letter of intent. A letter of interest for medical school is an excellent yet noncommittal way of letting an admissions committee know how enthusiastic you are about joining their program.
Learn more about the medical school letter of interest, including the differences between a letter of interest and a letter of intent, how to write a letter of interest, and letter of interest FAQs.
Letter of Interest vs. Letter of Intent
Both a letter of interest and letter of intent should include the reasons why you love the medical school, why you are qualified, how you would specifically contribute to the student body, etc. The difference has to do with the level of commitment you’re expressing.
A letter of interest is akin to a Valentine’s Day card. You can send a letter of interest to as many programs as you like, as at no point in a letter of interest do you commit to attending the program if you’re offered acceptance. A letter of interest should include why you’re excited about attending the program and why the program should be interested in having you attend—just make sure you don’t make any sort of commitment.
A letter of intent, on the other hand, signifies your commitment to attend the program if you are accepted. For this reason, a letter of intent should only be sent to one program. A letter of intent is you giving your word to a school that if they accept you, you will attend that program. If you break your word or give your word to multiple schools, it’s a very bad look.
Schools care about both of these letters because of what it means to the school’s prestige and matriculation yield. Out of the students they accept, the higher the number of acceptances in return, the better it is for the school’s ranking and exclusivity.
If an admissions committee views two identical candidates and only one has sent a letter of interest or intent, they will likely give preference to the candidate who did, as they demonstrated a stronger interest in attending that program. If they’re considering two identical candidates and one has sent a letter of interest and the other has sent a letter of intent, they will very likely choose to accept the latter.
Learn more about what differentiates a Letter of Intent vs. Letter of Interest.
How to Craft a Letter of Interest
There are a few important components that make up a letter of interest. It’s important that you keep the letter formal while clearly expressing why you’re interested in attending the school, why they should be interested in accepting you, what you feel you can specifically contribute to the student body, and any relevant updates. A letter of interest should be concise, so keep it to one page or less.
A letter of interest must include:
- A thank you to the admissions committee for their consideration
- A review of what you specifically like and appreciate about the program
- Any relevant updates to your experience, academics, or extracurriculars
- How your updates relate to what the program offers
- What you hope to contribute to the program
- A conclusion that reiterates how much you appreciate their consideration
1 | Make Your Letters Specific to Each School
Since you may send several letters of interest and follow a template, it’s imperative that you take the time necessary to tailor each letter to the program you’re writing to. Admissions committees receive thousands of letters of interest, so they know how to spot a generic letter.
Do ample research into the various offerings of each of the programs so that you can be specific about what you will contribute to the student body, curriculum, extracurriculars, or initiatives. Clarity and specificity are key in making sure your letter doesn’t sound generic.
Share reasons why you will make a good fit, whether that’s because of your experience, research opportunities, the values of the school, etc. This doesn’t have to be a significant challenge; after all, you know why you want to attend the program.
2 | Share Updates on Significant Accomplishments
Don’t be afraid to flaunt your accomplishments. Now is not the time to be humble or downplay all that you’ve achieved since sending in your primary and secondary applications or interviewing at the school.
Have you won any new academic honors? Were you chosen to sit on a committee? Did you publish an important article? Highlight your accomplishments, and if there were any weaknesses in your application, mention all of the ways you have strengthened those areas. Have you acquired more volunteering hours? Joined another extracurricular activity? Devoted more time to research? If you have achieved anything that makes you a more attractive candidate, mention it.
3 | Use it as an Opportunity to Stand Out
Take the letter of interest as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the crowd, as it may be your final opportunity to connect with your top schools before they make a decision. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, and don’t hold back when speaking about how excited you are to attend the program. Admissions committees want to see enthusiasm, excitement, and dedication, so let your passion shine through.
Use your uniqueness to your advantage. If you’re funny, don’t be afraid to put a humorous spin on the letter—just keep the jokes clean and refrain from using any self-deprecating humor. Now is not the time to be modest. Just like you did with your personal statement, find a narrative that will help you stand out.
This could be your final chance to sell yourself to your top schools before they decide the future of your medical education. Save the last-ditch efforts for your letter of intent, but if you’ve received offers from other schools, you may want to mention it in your letter of interest. Highlight the fact that even though you’ve already been accepted to other schools, you’re still more interested in attending their specific program.
4 | Carefully Edit and Review
While a letter of interest can certainly improve your odds of acceptance, sending a poorly crafted, informal letter that’s rife with spelling and grammar mistakes is a surefire way to ensure rejection. Proofread your letters of interest carefully. Utilize editing apps like Grammarly and Hemingway Editor, but don’t rely on these alone, as spelling and grammar bots lack a human being’s understanding of context.
As you’re reviewing, watch out for any generic language that doesn’t convey anything new or useful or doesn’t specifically relate to the program. Ask trusted friends, family members, or mentors to review your letters, and make sure your reviewers understand they need to be as harsh as possible—because the admissions committee certainly will be.
Medical School Letter of Interest FAQs
How Many Schools Can I Send Letters of Interest to?
You can send a letter of interest to as many schools as you applied to, but it could be difficult to deeply research so many different programs. Sending a generic or rushed letter of interest is worse than sending no letter at all.
However many letters of interest you choose to send, make sure that each one is a quality letter that includes the elements we outlined above.
Can I Send a Second Letter of Interest to the Same School?
Yes, you can send multiple letters of interest to the same program, but it is not required. You might send a second letter of interest if a significant amount of time has passed without receiving any reply to your first letter.
You might also send a second letter if there have been any important updates to your academic or clinical experiences or any changes to your qualifications that could make you a more appealing candidate. Or, you might send a second letter of interest if you have been placed on the waiting list and haven’t received any update to your status.
Can You Send a Medical School Letter of Interest Before Interviews Begin?
Yes, you can send a letter of interest before interviews begin, but not before submitting both your primary and secondary applications. If it’s been a month or two since you submitted your secondary application and you haven’t heard anything or have been waitlisted for the program, it’s a good idea to send a letter of interest to remind the admissions committee of your candidacy, enthusiasm, and qualifications.
How Long Should a Letter of Interest Be?
A letter of interest should be no longer than one page, with one-inch margins, and written with 11-point font or higher. Keep in mind that admissions committees have to read thousands of these kinds of letters and essays, so the more concise and unique you can make yours, the better.
Maximize Your Impact
Med School Insiders offers thorough and effective editing and advising services to maximize the impact of your letters of interest and letter of intent. We’ll help you make all of the right decisions to reach your full potential.
Learn more about our suite of services designed to get you accepted at your ideal medical schools.