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Gap Year

A “gap year” is the period of time between the end of your undergraduate education and the start of health professional programs. Depending upon your own circumstances, this may in fact be longer than a year. Note that a gap year is not the same as applying to a professional school and deferring your entry to a program.

There could be many reasons why a gap year is the right choice for some pre-health candidates. The gap year can allow an applicant more time to participate in medically-related volunteer and lab experiences, strengthen GPA or MCAT scores, pay down debt, work on becoming a stronger candidate, or simply take a break. Some applicants must take a gap year if they are not accepted into health professional programs.

Your pre-health advisor can meet with you to decide if a gap year is right for you. The options you have during this year are endless. Your pre-health advisor can assist you in thinking through ways to maximize your gap year experiences to strengthen your overall pre-health application.

When do I decide if a gap year is right for me?

If you plan to apply and go directly into a professional school program, you will be applying beginning the spring of your junior year (some schools will accept applications through your senior year). We recommend you begin thinking about a gap year as early as your first year at Emory. We encourage you to network and explore opportunities for a gap year, it is best to have a plan.

Will a gap year hurt my application chances?

While there are never any admission guarantees, for many students, the Gap Year can make you more competitive by diversifying your experiences and perspective.

Do students usually go straight to medical school/graduate school, or do they take gap years?

The Gap Year is becoming more and more common. Medical and other healthcare professional schools appreciate diverse experiences and maturity, and the gap year can provide that for students.

Are there post-bac programs I can enroll in during my gap year?


For a list of AAMC post-bac programs, click here:

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