Growth Years

Growth years set students up to take purposeful time between the end of their undergraduate career and the start of health professional school. This is becoming the pathway for the majority of medical and dental matriculants nationally. The amount of time one takes prior to matriculation to professional school is dependent on one's own circumstances. To learn more about the difference between a growth year timeline and the “traditional” timeline, as well as factors of consideration when deciding on taking a growth year or not, visit our website here.

If you have decided that a growth year is right for you or you are strongly considering a growth year as an option but are not certain what opportunities you want to pursue with your additional time, explore this page to learn about different ways to bolster your candidacy.

According to the 2021 Matriculating Student Questionnaire, conducted by the AAMC, the percentage of medical students who have taken at least one growth year before beginning their professional education is almost 70% (out of 15,500+ self-reporting respondents). In the 2019 and 2020 cycles, that percentage was about 65% and 66%, respectively. This reflects the current and growing popularity of growth years, and how they set up the majority of students and applicants for success.

To view a breakdown of what matriculants did during their time off between graduating from undergraduate education and pursuing professional education, please review the table at the right. Percentages may not sum to 100% as multiple responses are allowed. Note: not all rows included in the original table compiled by the AAMC are included here.

To review all information published by the AAMC in the 2021 MSQ, click here.

2019 (%) 2020 (%) 2021 (%)
Worked at another career 53.3 48.5 49.2
Worked to improve finances 38.5 39.8 41.1
Continued coursework to fulfill prerequisite requirements 13.7 13.5 13.8
Pursued graduate studies 23.0 23.2 23.7
Worked/volunteered internationally 11.9 9.7 8.1
Worked/volunteered in research 45.4 47.8 24.1
Helped fulfill family obligations 22.2 21.8 24.1
Number of respondents 9,853 11,028 10,742
Strengthen your academics
Ensure a solid MCAT/DAT score
Gain more clinical experience
Engage in additional service activities
Seek strong letters of recommendation
Don’t rush your applications
Do some self-reflection
Join the majority of applicants