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.

Our office has collected data on growth years for the two most recent application cycles (2022 and 2023); 80% of applicants in the 2022 Cycle and 77% of applicants in the 2023 Cycle took at least one growth year, with the average number of years being slightly above two for each cycle. Of applicants that matriculated to medical school in the 2022 Cycle, about 80% of them had taken at least one growth year; 62% of dental matriculants had taken at least one growth year.

According to the 2023 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 73.2% (out of 14,500+ self-reporting respondents). In the 2021 and 2022 cycles, that percentage was about 69% and 71%, 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 2023 MSQ, click here.

2021 (%) 2022 (%) 2023 (%)
Worked at another career 49.2 51.1 51.6
Worked to improve finances 41.1 40.2 39.7
Continued coursework to fulfill prerequisite requirements 13.8 13.0 11.3
Pursued graduate studies 23.7 22.1 20.5
Worked/volunteered internationally 8.1 7.4 7.0
Worked/volunteered in research 46.4 46.8 48.5
Helped fulfill family obligations 24.1 24.3 23.9
Number of respondents 10,742 10,900 10,750
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