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Holistic Admissions

A core element of holistic admissions involves widening the lens through which we view applicants, recognizing and valuing different dimensions that shape each individual. The initiative’s Experiences-Attributes-Academic Metrics (E-A-M) model translates that concept into a useful tool and provides admissions staff and committee members with a shared framework for thinking broadly about diversity, identifying mission-based criteria that take into account the whole applicant, and spark thinking about applicants as future physicians, rather than merely as prospective students.

An integrated holistic admissions process incorporates four core principles at each stage: screening, interview, and selection. These four core principles emphasize the importance of giving individualized consideration to every applicant and provide operational guidance to ensure that admissions processes and criteria are both mission- and evidence-based, promote diversity, and use a balance of experiences, attributes, and academic metrics.


Holistic review is a flexible, individualized way of assessing an applicant’s capabilities by which balanced consideration is given to experiences, attributes, and academic metrics and, when considered in combination, how the individual might contribute value as a medical student and physician.

Four Core Principles


In a holistic admissions process, selection criteria are broad-based, clearly linked to school mission and goals, and promote diversity as an essential element to achieving institutional excellence.


A balance of experiences, attributes, and academic metrics (EAM) is

  • Used to assess applicants with the intent of creating a richly diverse interview and selection pool and student body;

  • Applied equitably across the entire candidate pool; and

  • Grounded in data that provide evidence supporting the use of selection criteria beyond grades and test scores.


Admission staff and committee members give individualized consideration to how each applicant may contribute to the medical school learning environment and practice of medicine, weighing and balancing the range of criteria needed in a class to achieve the outcomes desired by the school.


Race and ethnicity may be considered as factors when making admission-related decisions only when such consideration is narrowly tailored to achieve mission-related educational interests and goals associated with student diversity, and when considered as part of a broader mix of factors, which may include personal attributes, experiential factors, and demographics. Or other considerations.*

*Under federal law (and where permitted by state law)

Resources for Admissions Staff

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Admissions officers are at the forefront of changing the way medical schools select and train students, cultivating physicians of the future. The AAMC offers a variety of tools and resources to help you along the way.

Webinar Recording: Mapping Your Route

This webinar translates core education and legal principles into operational and viable admissions and enrollment-related policies, practices and procedures.