Helpful Information for Applying to Graduate School
Admission to graduate professional health programs is highly competitive, and admission criteria varies considerably between disciplines and even among programs. If you plan to apply to graduate programs, your advisor may be able to help you ensure that your undergraduate coursework and extracurricular experiences position you well for your applications. Your advisor can also help you understand the admissions requirements, explore career options, and help you make the choices that best correspond to your personal and professional goals.
Majoring in Allied Health Sciences, either under the Standard Plan or under one of our four areas of concentration, can prepare you for admission to a variety of graduate-level professional programs including those listed below.
- Medical School
- Dental School
- Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- Pharmacy School
- Physician Assistant
- Physical Therapy
- Nursing (accelerated BS and MSN programs)
- Occupational Therapy
- Orthotics and Prosthetics
- Public Health
- Health Promotion and Health Education
- Healthcare Administration
- Education (K-12, health)
The Department of Allied Health Sciences offers graduate degrees in several disciplines as well as four post-baccalaureate program options. You can also check out the UConn Graduate School for a full listing of graduate programs available at the University.
What coursework is required for graduate professional health programs?
The majority of graduate professional health programs have required pre-admission coursework and expect these courses to be completed with a grade of a B or better. The Allied Health Sciences major is flexible to incorporate most (if not all) graduate program admission coursework into your plan of study. Your advisor can assist you in selecting courses that will generally meet graduate professional health program admissions requirements, but you should consult directly with your program of interest for specific admission requirements and criteria as these vary considerably depending on your intended program of study and discipline.
What is a competitive GPA for graduate professional health programs?
Admission to a graduate professional health program is very competitive. While students can graduate from the Allied Health Sciences major with a 2.0 GPA, graduate health programs typically require a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. However, to be most competitive, applicants should strive to have greater than a 3.0 (i.e. 3.3 or higher). Additionally, most graduate health programs will also calculate a science GPA; competitive applicants should strive to have greater than a 3.2 science GPA. Students should consult with the program they seek admission to for specific GPA and other admission requirements. Note that, when calculating the science GPA, many common application systems and graduate health programs include all graded attempts (including grades for initial and repeated courses). Therefore, we strongly encourage you to keep this in mind when deciding to repeat a course.
What if I need to repeat a course required for admission to graduate health programs?
To be most competitive for admission to a graduate health program, you should complete all admission coursework with a grade of a "B" or better. Therefore, it is generally advised (but not mandated) that you repeat any admission coursework where you have earned less than a "B." While most undergraduate transcripts will only factor credit-bearing attempts into your GPA, some graduate programs and almost all common application systems (e.g. PTCAS, CASPA, OTCAS, etc.) will include all graded attempts in calculating your science GPA. Some individual programs may recalculate using only the credit-bearing attempts. We advise that you consult with your specific program(s) of interest to understand individual policies on repeating required admission coursework.
When considering whether or not to repeat a course, here are some helpful hints:
- To appreciably affect your GPA, you will need to have significant improvement in your final grade
- A transcript with many repeated courses will make you less competitive for admission
In general, you should strive to earn a "B" or better in all courses, but especially on courses required for graduate health program admissions. This will help you avoid the need to repeat courses.
What other preparation should I have to be competitive for graduate professional health programs?
Graduate health programs look for applicants who bring a varied background both personally and academically. They want to “see” evidence that a student went beyond taking just academic coursework to prepare for graduate education. Engaging in extracurricular activities demonstrates to graduate admissions committees that an applicant is able to work as a team member, has leadership skills, communication skills, time management skills, etc; qualities that a health professional should possess. To this end, we strongly suggest that students engage in extracurricular opportunities while an undergraduate student. In fact, some graduate programs (e.g. Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy) expect (and in some instances require documentation) that an applicant has experience in direct patient contact in their profession. Below are examples of extracurricular opportunities but students should be creative when preparing for graduate admission:
- Volunteer, Internship or employment (if possible) in the profession
- Research (expected of some programs. e.g. Medical School)
- Meet with a representative in the Center for Career Development for internship program opportunities
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), EMT or other professional certification
- Student Activities/Organization experiences (with leadership role if possible) at UConn or community-based
- Volunteerism (i.e. Global Brigades, Collegiate Health Service Corps, etc.)
- Club participation (i.e. Allied Health Sciences Club; Pr-Med/Pre-Dent Society)
- Learning Community participation
- Sport participation
How should I approach writing my personal statement?
The personal statement is a key element in your application for graduate professional health programs! Some of these tips may help get you started.
How do I go about obtaining letters of recommendation?
Programs will vary on what they require for letters of recommendation, so don’t assume that all programs are the same within a health discipline. Some will require completion of recommendation forms; others may ask for open-ended letters to be sent directly to the program/institution or uploaded to a common application system (e.g. PTCAS, CASPA, OTCAS, etc.). Still others will require composite letters from a committee (e.g. AMCAS, AADSAS, etc.). Be sure you understand what is asked of you and follow all directions. Further, please allow time for the recommender to write the letter. Allowing 4-6 weeks advance notice is a minimal recommendation window. Having said that, what is common is how you approach requesting letters of recommendation. Check out some helpful Dos and Don'ts of Recommendation Letter Requests.