Learn how to craft an effective medical school letter of intent. This blog breaks down the purpose, structure, and strategic nuances of these critical documents with sample letters and expert advice to elevate your medical school application, whether you’re applying to medical schools in Canada or in the US.

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Article Contents
14 min read

What Is A Medical School Letter of Intent? Letter of Intent vs Letter of Interest: What Are The Differences? Letter of Interest vs Update Letter When Should You Write a Medical School Letter of Intent? How to Write a Medical School Letter of Intent Do's and Don’ts for Your Medical School Letter of Intent Medical School Letter of Intent Samples Conclusion & FAQs

What Is A Medical School Letter of Intent?

If you’re applying to medical school, you may have heard of a medical school letter of intent.

A medical school letter of intent is a document that specifically states that you will accept an offer of admission to a particular school, if one is extended, over and above any other schools to which you’ve applied or at which you’ve interviewed (or even accepted).

This is a single letter sent to one – and only one – school: your top choice. Your medical school letter of intent needn’t be verbose; it should be a brief (500-600 word, or roughly 1 page) document.

If you’ve interviewed at a school that is truly your #1 school, writing a letter of this kind allows you to show the school that you are a serious and enthusiastic candidate. Typically, this type of document is prepared and drafted if you have had your interview 1-2 months prior and haven’t heard back or have been waitlisted.

A medical school letter of intent may be especially important if you find yourself in a situation like our student Joe, who was eventually accepted to the New York Medical College, after being waitlisted for a few weeks:

“[I] only had one interview… that's a lot of pressure going into that interview… it really was. I spent my entire winter break of my senior year just preparing… going over the BeMo materials meticulously every day… so after gaining only one interview, I was accepted to New York Medical College after hanging around on the waitlist for a little bit. But it all worked out. Hey, one acceptance is all that matters as long as there's an acceptance in the bunch.” – Joe, BeMo Student, current student at the New York Medical College

If you find yourself in a situation like Joe, consider this the perfect opportunity to write the medical school letter of intent! This blog will help you understand what a medical school letter of intent should look like,  what its purpose is, and the fundamentals of writing a letter of intent that is eye-catching, specific, and persuasive. With the challenges presented by medical school acceptance rates, every student wants to maximize their chances of admission. A medical school letter of intent is a key tool for doing precisely that.

Not sure what to include in your letter of intent? Our expert Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD and graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, explains:

“It can be easy to spot the “CV stuffers”. And these things… that seem like things you just do to pad your CV with. I would highly recommend participating in activities OUTSIDE of academics or medicine as these truly do make you seem well rounded and are amazing opportunities for you to look to for stories, or lessons learned. We love to see people who are passionate about medicine as well as things outside of medicine!” – Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

So while your medical school letter of intent can certainly focus on your academic achievements, but it can be so much more! Let’s dive into what you can and should not include in your letter of intent!

Letter of Intent vs Letter of Interest: What Are The Differences?

A medical school letter of intent and a letter of interest are both accepted ways of communicating your continued interest in a medical school, after you have submitted your primary application. Your primary application will have included your MCAT score and AMCAS or AACOMAS application with all components completed, such as your AMCAS personal statement) You will have completed your secondary medical school essays through the relevant portal and interviewed at your chosen school prior to submitting your letter of intent too.

 There is a lot of overlap in terms of what is included in each of these letters. If you’re anything like our former BeMo student, Moriah, you may have multiple schools on your radar. “I believe I wound up applying to 19 schools... that's a lot of work.” If you’ve applied to multiple schools, you may, at some point, consider sending a letter of interest to your top few. However, sending a letter of intent to one school means you’ve concretely decided on ONE program. In Moriah’s case:

"I decided to go to the University of Massachusetts... I'm originally from Massachusetts, having that support system while I was really busy in med school would kind of be crucial.”

Whether you’ve confidently chosen one school as your go-to like Moriah, or, you’re applying to multiple programs and planning on making a decision later, there are some key differences between the two letters that every medical school applicant should know.

Letter of Interest vs Update Letter

Some applicants may get confused about another purported variation of the letter of intent, namely, the update letter. While some may not recognize the update letter as a distinct category, this document has a purpose and outline other than what you would include in a letter of intent.

An update letter is only about achievements, awards, publications, or other notable changes in your profile since sending your application. A letter of intent includes this information and reaffirms your interest and commitment to the school in question.

When Should You Write a Medical School Letter of Intent?

The medical school application timeline may feel like a long one. A letter of intent is generally written toward the end of the timeline, after applying to medical school and about 1-2 months after your interviews, especially if you’ve been put on a medical school waitlist at your top-choice school (though you may certainly write a letter of intent even if you haven't been waitlisted). For example, our student Ray could send a medical school letter of intent in his case:

“I [was] waitlisted at one and then still waiting for an interview for the other [medical school]. In Australia, I got two interviews so far and I'm still waiting for the third one.” – Ray, BeMo Student

In Ray’s case, if his first choice was the school where he interviewed and got waitlisted, he could leverage his acceptance to try and get the attention of his top-choice school. He could send a medical school letter of intent to update his first choice with this news to see if this affects their decision.

As the letter of intent is meant to declare that this school is your #1 choice, this must be sincere, and the reasoning behind it must be clear and concise. For instance, you should refrain from stating that you're eager to attend one of the easiest medical schools to get into, or a medical school that accepts low MCAT scores. This letter should focus on what you have to offer and why this particular school and program is truly the best, and only, fit for you. (Don’t worry, we’ll share more on how to craft your medical school letter of intent later in this blog).

Later in the admissions season (after you’ve interviewed at multiple schools) you should start drafting your letter of intent. In doing this you can confidently demonstrate that you’ve legitimately considered all the options available to you and that you are certain that THIS school is the one for you. The reason you must wait a bit into the cycle is to show that you have given this serious consideration. So, be sure to only send such a letter after you’ve interviewed; not before.

Declaring your intentions to those making the admissions decisions indicates that you have given full consideration to the options in front of you and demonstrates that you will be an eager contributor to their program and campus community.

Sending a letter of intent before interviewing, or even immediately after interviewing, suggests that you may be making such a decision hastily, without fully and deeply considering all your options, which can reflect poorly on decision makers’ perception of your maturity. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to sit down with an interviewer, your letter will come off as disingenuous.

We can't emphasize this enough: you should not send letters of intent to multiple schools

Medical schools want students who are eager to attend and expressing your enthusiasm and the priority you assign their specific program can go a long way – but it must be genuine. You cannot tell all the schools to which you apply that they are your “top choice.” Not only is this dishonest and unethical, but it will also make for a good deal of awkwardness if you are given multiple offers.

Our own expert, Dr. Sara Kleeb summarizes the ‘need to knows’ of your medical school letter of intent perfectly…

“Your letter of intent must only be sent to your top choice program. It is meant to be sincere, and the reasoning behind it must be concise. It is sent later on in the admissions season, after you’ve interviewed at multiple schools. This way, you can legitimately show that you’ve considered all the options available.”

A letter of intent isn’t a legally binding agreement, but it is a promise, and you must demonstrate integrity and keep your word. This speaks a lot to your morals, trustworthiness, intrapersonal skills and intelligence and your overall character, all of which are taken into account in the medical field.

It may go without saying, but if the school does NOT wish to receive ongoing communication or updates from applicants, then do not send a letter of intent. We recommend that you go through your past communications with the school, as well as any emails they’ve sent you, to see if there is anything indicating they do not want such letters. This is generally rare – most schools are open to receiving updates, but you need to make sure that this is the case, to avoid making a faux pas.

How to Write a Medical School Letter of Intent

1. Tone and Address

The letter of intent should be a well-thought-out, formal letter, not a quick email. You must ensure your letter is grammatically impeccable, that you’ve spelled everyone’s names correctly, and that it is a polished, final product before sending it off. It must also be concise and backed by reasoning. If you’re currently enrolled in a pre-med undergraduate program, consider reaching out to your school’s Writing Center for assistance in ensuring your letter is as clear, precise, and direct as possible. If you’re not currently enrolled as a student, consider calling a local public library, as some may have services that can help you perfect your letter. You can also use our essay review and consulting service to help you develop a high-quality letter.

Your letter should be addressed to the Dean of Admissions or Director of Admissions – you’ll need to look this information up to ensure your letter is addressed appropriately and sent to the correct address. Schools may have a portal for communications or separate email addresses for letters of intent and others, such as thank you letters after a medical school interview, so be sure to confirm the correct one.

Your letter of intent needs to be addressed to the individual making the admissions decision. Avoid starting your letter with “Dear Admissions Committee,” as this is too impersonal. If you can’t find a specific name online, you can call or email the school to find out to whom you can address the letter.

2. Length and Structure

Your letter of intent should be a maximum of one page (typically this means no more than 500-600 words) and should follow the formal structure of a proper letter. Do not send a letter that spans multiple pages. Remember, the person to whom you are writing has hundreds of other duties and, in a sense, you are asking a favor of them in asking them to review and consider your letter. Do not monopolize their time; be concise and to the point.

3. Additional Details

Unless you are required to use the school’s application portal, you can usually type your message into an email or attach the letter as a PDF. Don’t use a specialized format like .pages – ensure it’s an attachment type anyone can open.

In our experience, using aPDF is the safest bet, and this will ensure your formatting stays exactly the way you want it. The email subject line should be your full name followed by “Letter of Intent.” In your letter, ensure you include the date of your interview, and – if possible – the name(s) of those with whom you interviewed (this won’t be possible with a multiple mini interview or some types of panel interview).

Finally, if an advisor, professor, research supervisor, etc., is willing to write or call to emphasize your “good fit” for the school, that is also helpful and usually welcomed.

Do's and Don’ts for Your Medical School Letter of Intent


  • Proofread your document

Your medical school letter of intent is designed to express your commitment to the school. You will need to use formal language to sound professional and trustworthy. Check your letter of intent for correct grammar and be sure to proofread it several times before you submit it. It can help to have an expert read it over for you; they can sometimes catch grammatical errors or make suggestions on what you should revise.

  • Show enthusiasm

To show that you’re committed to the school, you need to show enthusiasm. Use a positive, eager tone when you discuss what excites you about the program you’re hoping to join. Using evidence from your employment, volunteering, and extracurricular history, show that your goals and values align with the school’s.

  • Provide adequate detail

Simply stating that the school is your top choice isn’t enough. You must provide detail that supports your belief that its program is right for you. Talk specifically about what you admire about the school and the values they espouse that fit you well. You may reference the school’s mission or certain aspects of their curriculum.

  • Illustrate who you are

Your letter of intent is a formal, professional document that should enclose your reason for making a written commitment to a school. This means you need to use an objective, straightforward tone to convince the admissions committee that you’re a dedicated candidate. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t reveal your personality – discuss your personal and professional experiences to convey individuality and passion.


  • Repeat information

No doubt you will have included the most relevant details of your candidate profile in other documents like your personal statement and secondary essays. You should avoid mentioning anything you’ve already sufficiently covered in other parts of your application to avoid repetition. Your goal should be to accentuate pertinent details, specifically in terms of updates to your candidate profile.

  • Ingratiate

You aren’t begging for an acceptance in your letter of intent; these letters are designed to communicate your priorities, goals, and preferences as they relate to program choices. While your letter should be persuasive, you should let your experiences and objective facts about your profile do the convincing. Show enthusiasm, but don’t overdo it.

  • Send to more than one school

This has been said elsewhere, but to really drive this point home, we have to say it again: do not send a letter of intent to more than one school. This contradicts the purpose of this document, which is to say that regardless of where else you might get accepted, you will choose their program if they extend an offer.

  • Use more space than necessary

Brevity is typically a rule for a letter of intent. Get straight to the point: state your enduring interest in the program and why you’re committed to taking their offer of acceptance if they extend one. Stick to the paragraph format outlined above and don’t exceed a page. If you go over that preferred limit, it’s a good indication that you have some revision to do.

With all of these tips in mind, it goes without saying that having a second set of unbiased (but professional) eyes help you throughout the process of writing your letter of intent. BeMo student Salma Latuke says:

“I really enjoyed the Letter of Intent review process. My reviewer was great at giving feedback and helped me concisely put myself forward as a candidate!”

If you’d like help preparing your letter of intent, we can help you just like we helped Salma!

Medical School Letter of Intent Samples

Medical School Letter of Intent Sample 1

(533 words)

Dr. John Smith

Director of Admissions

XYZ University

Dear Dr. John Smith

My name is Sally Sparrow, and I am currently applying to XYZ University’s School of Medicine. It was my great honor to visit your campus, learn more about your osteopathy program, and discuss my career goals with Dr. Clara Oswald during my interview on October XX, 20XX. I am writing to inform you that the School of Medicine is my first choice for medical school and to provide an update to my application.

After the interview on your campus, I reached out to Dr. Sarah Jane from your Primary Care department to establish correspondence about my paper on the effects of nutritional deficiencies in postpartum care. She expressed interest in my research and shared some of her own findings from her ongoing study about dietary changes to treat postpartum muscular distention. This fruitful dialogue, and the insight she provided into the kind of research facilities your school offers, consolidated my intention to accept a place in your program, if I am offered one. I would love the chance to work under Dr. Sarah Jane and integrate my bio-medical research with her study, an opportunity I can only avail of at your school. I also deeply appreciate your school’s emphasis on student-based learning, exemplified by your state-of-the-art simulation labs and nutritional cooking kitchens. These facilities will provide the means to develop hands-on skills and receive specialized training that no other medical school offers.

Moreover, your school’s emphasis on nutrition as a treatment method and the use of innovative technologies to advance medical treatments perfectly aligns with my own background in cutting-edge bio-medical research in the area of medical nutrition therapy. I spent two years as a research assistant for a research project investigating the long-term effects of nutritional deficiencies on infertility and hormonal imbalances in post-pubescent females, led by Dr. Harvey Mendoza. This experience helped me develop my research skills, as I completed literature reviews, catalogued samples, interviewed subjects, and implemented data analysis models for the innovative medical treatments Dr. Mendoza was researching. Given my experience in working with the new treatment methodologies and my passionate interest in using the latest technological developments to address holistic patient care, I think I am a perfect candidate for your DO program.

I would also like to communicate a small update to my application materials. In addition to the 2 months of shadowing experience at a psychiatric facility that I mentioned in my primary application, I recently completed 3 months of shadowing experience at the NML Osteopathic Medical Center. While there, I shadowed Dr. Donna Goldberg, an osteopathic physician specializing in internal medicine. I got the chance to closely observe Dr. Goldberg’s implementation of non-invasive treatment therapies and her exemplary use of innovative diagnostic methods to prevent illnesses. The experience of shadowing her confirmed my desire to practice and research osteopathic medicine that prioritizes prevention, as well as cure, of illnesses.

Thank you for taking the time to review this letter. I hope that my application is favorably reviewed, and I can soon become a member of your excellent DO program. If offered a place at your school, I will accept without hesitation. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information from me.


Sally Sparrow


An honest letter of intent can absolutely influence your chances of acceptance – schools want students who are enthusiastic about being there. If you are certain that a specific program is the best for your particular needs, interests, and passions, then consider reaching out and making your preference known!


1. When should I send my medical school letter of intent?

It's best to send your letter of intent approximately a month after your interview. You want to be able to show the Dean of Admissions that you have taken the time to really consider your options, and even though you may have interviewed elsewhere, you are still selecting their school as your number-one choice.

2. Why can’t I send it right after my interview?

Please note that schools do want to see that you have actually thought through which school is your number-one choice. Sending this right after your interview may show that you are being hasty and not really reflecting on the other schools you applied to and interviewed at. So, don’t feel you have to rush and send this in immediately after your interview; rather, really take the time and ask yourself what your number-one choice is and why.

3. How should I send my letter of intent?

Whether you are applying to DO or MD schools, you can email your letter of intent to the Director or Dean of Admissions. In some cases, schools may provide a portal for students to upload their letters instead. Ensure that you check program requirements beforehand. Don’t just send it to info, as it may get lost in the countless emails a school receives every day; take your time to ensure you are sending it to the correct person.

4. Are there situations where it is not acceptable to send a letter of intent?

Yes, first, you should only be sending one letter of intent to your top-choice school. If at the end of the interview season you're not really sure which school you want to attend most, then it's better to not send a letter to any school. Most importantly, do not send multiple letters of intent.

Second, it's important that you check your school's requirements before you decide to send a letter of intent. While most schools accept letters of intent, some schools do not wish to be contacted at all after the interview season. In this case, you must follow the school's instructions by refraining from sending any correspondence.

5. What is so bad about sending a letter of intent to multiple schools?

Everything you do as a medical school applicant will reveal who you are as a person, and whether you're suited to becoming a doctor. Sending a letter of intent to multiple schools is both dishonest and unethical – remember you are giving your word that you will attend a program if you are accepted. Lying in any part of your application materials completely ruins your credibility, integrity, and trustworthiness. Plus, you never know which admissions committee members or deans are connected and may find out what you did. Even if you're not caught, what will you do if you receive multiple offers of admission and don't uphold your promise to attend these schools? Take our strong advice here; do not send multiple letters of intent!

6. Will a letter of intent guarantee me a spot in my top choice school?

Unfortunately, no, but it can certainly improve your chances of admission, and isn't it important to do whatever you can to do just that? The purpose of a medical school letter of intent is to let your top-choice school know that they're your top choice and that you will therefore attend their school if given the opportunity.

It's very difficult for medical schools to determine which candidates will accept their offers of acceptance and which will not. Sometimes, even by accepting waitlisted applicants, schools are left with spots unfilled for this very reason. So, sending a letter of intent may give you a competitive edge over other applicants because you're letting a school know that if accepted, you're a guaranteed student in their entering class.

7. Can I send a letter of intent if I haven't been waitlisted?

Of course! Medical school letters of intent are not only suitable to send if you're on a waitlist, but they can also be sent after your interviews, even before you have received a response regarding admission.

8. I was just about to send a letter of intent and received a rejection. What should I do now?

This can be upsetting, but receiving rejections is a normal part of the application process. First, scrap the draft you were about to send. If you have already received a rejection, you should not send a letter of intent to that school. Instead, you can follow up with the admissions office and seek feedback on why you did not get accepted; some schools provide written or verbal feedback, while others do not.

Next, take the time to think through the other schools you have interviewed at and which would be your first-choice program now; re-draft a letter of intent to that program and send it in a timely manner.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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