Recommendations and Letter Collection Service
Applying to medical or dental school will require recommendation letters from faculty and supervisors who know you well enough to provide a thoughtful evaluation of your academic, research, service, extracurricular or other professional experiences. Individual medical and dental schools vary in their requirements for letters of recommendation; thus, it is important to plan ahead for the application process.
Most medical and many dental schools require or prefer a Committee Letter (referred to at Drexel as the University Recommendation) from the undergraduate institution if available to the applicant. Note that the application deadline to apply for the University Recommendation is February 1, 2019 for the 2020 application cycle. Applicants who receive the University Recommendation will still need to get a recommendation letter from a professor who taught the applicant in a science class; up to two additional recommendations will be accepted as part of the University Recommendation / Committee packet. Requests for submitting more than four letters total in the University Recommendation / Committee Packet will be considered on a case by case basis, especially for applicants to MD-PhD programs.
Applying to medical or dental school without the University Recommendation
If you are not eligible for or not selected to receive the University Recommendation, or if you choose to bypass the University Health Professions Committee, you must have individual letters from science professors and other recommenders. You will need to review the recommendation letter policies at the medical and dental schools where you intend to apply to learn their requirements.
Common requirements for applicants without a University Recommendation/Committee Letter
- For applicants who do not have a University Recommendation/Committee Letter, medical and dental schools often require recommendation letters from two science professors. Often these letters need to be from professors who taught the applicant in a class.
- Some medical and dental schools may also require a third letter from a professor who taught the applicant in a non-science class.
- Many osteopathic medical schools require a recommendation from an osteopathic physician whom the applicant has shadowed.
- Dental schools will usually require a letter from a dentist whom the applicant has shadowed.
- Depending upon the criteria at individual schools, applicants may be able to submit some additional recommendations such as letters from work/volunteer supervisors, physicians shadowed, etc.
- Medical and dental schools generally limit the total number of recommendation letters that they will accept. Each school’s policy is usually provided on its admissions office’s web site; note that the AADSAS dental school application is limited to a total of 4 recommendation letters.
It is strongly recommended that students and alumni meet with the Pre-health advisor in the winter term prior to the summer that they will be applying to medical or dental school to discuss issues regarding the medical and dental schools' requirements for letters of recommendation.
When should I ask for letters of recommendation?
You should contact faculty and other supervisors in the early spring of the year that you intend to apply to medical or dental school. You should allow 4-6 weeks for recommenders to write their letters. Medical school application services open in May and the dental school application service opens in June, and a suggested deadline for recommenders to submit their letters is June 30.
What is veCollect?
veCollect is a letter collection system for Drexel students and alumni who are applying to medical and dental schools. Students and alumni can register without authorization, but the accounts will not become activated until they are reviewed and approved by the Pre-health advisor. Once activated, the users need to read through the veCollect information for applicants and watch the video tutorials to learn about the required steps for using the system. The veCollect system will be available to medical and dental school applicants beginning in the February prior to the summer when they will be applying to medical or dental school.
Do I need to use the veCollect system?
Only recipients of the University Recommendation are required to use the veCollect system.
Students and alumni applying without a University Recommendation do not have to use the veCollect system. Each application service (AMCAS, AACOMAS, TMDSAS, and AADSAS) has options for recommenders to submit their letters directly to the common application service.
In some instances, applicants without a University Recommendation / Committee Letter may be better served by not using veCollect. Recommendation letters submitted to veCollect are uploaded in the summer as a single pdf file (letter packet) to medical or dental school application services. For the AMCAS allopathic application, this single packet of letters prevents applicants from targeting individual letters to specific medical schools. Applicants without a University Recommendation/Committee Letter may want to have their letters sent directly to AMCAS and then individually assign letters to different medical schools based on each medical school’s requirements.
Currently AACOMAS, TMDSAS, and AADSAS do not have options to direct letters to specific schools; however, submitting individual recommendations may be more efficient than submitting a letter packet.
Students and alumni can send questions about options for submitting recommendations to the Pre-health Advisor Mary Beth Davis. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Confidential or non-confidential? Should I waive or retain my right to view my letters of recommendation?
According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as FERPA, an individual has the right to inspect and review letters of evaluation written on one's behalf. Medical and dental schools prefer confidential letters, and admissions committees may give confidential letters "greater weight."
Note: For letters submitted through the veCollect system, medical and dental schools will know which letters are confidential and which are not because, for each recommender, you will need to complete a form indicating whether or not you retain your right of access to the letter.
Individual recommenders may ask applicants for the waiver form prior to agreeing to write the recommendation. The Steinbright Career Development Office does not provide waiver forms for letters that need to be submitted directly to application services. Currently AMCAS does not provide a FERPA waiver whereas AADSAS and AACOMAS currently have FERPA statements in the electronic request.