10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 11, 2009
A few questions:

-Do the commonly required 2 science/1 non-science letter have to be from professors who actually taught you in a classroom setting, or could I have my two lab PIs count for the 2 science (one of them I received school credit/grade from)? Does the head of an extracurricular count for non-science, or does it need to be an instructor?

-Would a math professors count as a non-science instructor letter?

-What's the consensus regarding emailing a request for a letter? One person I'm considering has, since the time I took their class, basically begun "teaching" online classes only, so is almost never on campus. However, I feel like he won't recognize me without seeing me (would it be weird to attach a photo?).

-Does it matter at all to if I have letters from instructors in similar fields? e.g., if one letter is from a gen chem instructor, another from an ochem instructor?

-For AMCAS purposes, did you have to give/send your letter writers anything specific (aside from your ID #, when you had it)? How did you show them the requirements (letterhead, etc.), and how to upload it?

-Any consensus regarding having MDs you shadowed write a letter? One I have shadowed every week for 3mos., we have spent a lot of time talking (it wasn't just me silently watching him from afar), and I think he would write a pretty strong letter.

Thanks in advance.


Nov 20, 2009
Boston, MA
Medical Student
- Your PIs as long as they can speak to your academic strength and aptitude for science (and biology) would be okay. But I would check with your premed advisor. The head of an extracurricular is fine for a non-science letter, but I would also check with your premed advisor. Most schools have specific letter writer requirements.

- No, math professors do not count as a non-science instructor letter. But I could be wrong. Again check with your pre-health advisor.

- Email letter requests are okay. Include your grade in the class, any specific details of your interactions with the instructor. Send in your CV, your PS, and an outline of the reasons you are pursuing medicine (if that is not already clear from your PS). Try as much as possible to remind him of who you are. If you had any substantial discussion with him in or outside of class, chances are that he will remember you. But if you were just a very good student, unfortunately, you will be getting a generic "excellent student" letter.

- No it does not matter if your letters come from instructors from similar fields. As long as they have something meaningful, fresh and different to say about you, then you are good.

- Does your school have a premed committee. You should consult them about letter requirements. I only know of a letter request form that you can print out after you have completed the letter write section of the online application. You can forward that to your letter writers and they can upload or mail in their letters. Letters can be uploaded various ways, interfolio, evals, directly to AMCAS and by mail. But I imagine that your school's health sciences advisor would easily handle your letters and sending them.

- Yes, you should have MDs you shadowed write you letters. He should be able to evaluate your character and empathy for pursuing medicine and his words would mean a lot.

Finally, goodluck.