Carnegie Mellon University

Committee Process

The HPP Committee Process is a pre-application program that helps prepare applicants for applying to health professions schools. The process includes a comprehensive two-part information workshop, one-on-one planning meetings with the HPP Director, Q&A applicant panel discussion, the committee interview, and preparation of the committee letter.

The pre-health committee interview is a vital part of the pre-health committee's evaluation of an applicant because it gives the committee a chance to hear the applicant contextualize one’s motivations and readiness for a career in medicine as a reflection of one’s experiences and education. Committee interviews run from early March to late June, the timing of which depends on an applicant's readiness. Each interview committee consists of three faculty:

  1. A faculty member selected by the applicant
  2. A faculty member selected by the HPP office
  3. The HPP Director

The committee conducts a video-recorded 60-75 minute practice interview whereby the committee explores various aspects of the applicant’s readiness, including one's motivations for pursuing a career in health care, exposure to clinical medicine, academic readiness, research and leadership experiences, as well as one's record of service experiences. Committees provide targeted feedback and critique during the interview, assisting students in improving their oral presentation of their application. Following each interview, the HPP Director, with assistance from the committee, drafts a customized evaluative committee letter that is subsequently uploaded to the appropriate application system on behalf of the applicant. 

In order to participate in the HPP Committee Process, applicants are encouraged to attend the information seminar (winter) and panel discussion (late spring); however, they are required to meet one-on-one with the HPP Director, ideally no later than April 1st, to review the requirements for the committee process and schedule a committee interview. No later than one week prior to your scheduled committee interview, applicants must submit a completed HPP Application Packet (see Apply --> Required Forms) to the hpp office (

Committee Letters are written in the order of committee interviews. Once the committee letter is written, approved and signed by the committee, committee letters will be uploaded to application systems starting in early July (committee letters are NOT required for you to submit your primary application). Anticipate about a 3-5 week turn around for committee letter writing.

Wondering who to pick for your pre-health committee interview? Any facutly, in any department, and many staff members are eligible to participate on HPP mock interview committees. It is ideal that you and this person know each other well enough that you both are comfortable working together. Based on who you select, the HPP office identifies the second member to complement the student's chosen member to help provide a rigorous yet comprehensive mock interview. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the HPP Director to further discuss a strategy for creating the most effective interview experience.

In choosing your committee member, consider picking someone who:
  1. is compassionate, energetic, and engaging,
  2. will ask you challenging questions to help push you outside your comfort zone,

  3. will provide valuable feedback to help you identify areas to strengthen for real interviews.

Q: I've picked my committee member, now how do I coordinate with my committee member to serve on the pre-health mock interview? 

A: 1st) Work with the HPP office to identify a few possible dates and times to conduct your mock interview. 2nd) Share those dates with your selected committee member - once the two of you find a date and time that works, confirm with the HPP office to officially schedule your interview.

While you do not need to be fully prepared for the committee mock interview, applicants are strongly encouraged to reflect upon their HPP packets, including their personal narratives, lived experiences, academic experience, research, service, and shadowing. Other things to consider and think about:

  • Your strengths and weaknesses - be prepared to offer examples
  • Area of medicine you think you might like to practice and why
  • Transformative experiences and observations from your clinical experience
  • Research training: why did you join the lab, what was the project, what did you do, what did you learn and why is it relevant or important?
  • Be prepared to discuss some of the highlights and challenges/difficulties of medical practice
  • Think about other topics such as:
    • the importance of vaccinations and other aspects related to vaccines
    • why might people choose not to get vaccinated: religion or other reasons
    • the opioid epidemic and how physicians are involved
    • why is DEI important for medicine
    • what role does AI play in the future of medicine
    • what is the difference between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide
    • how do you make difficult decisions or resolve conflict
    • what is the difference between doctor and PA and NP
    • what is the difference between MD and DO in medicine
    • what is the difference between DMD and DDS in dental medicine
    • how have you been challenged
    • how will you enhance diversity in medicine
    • what were your favorite and least favorite classes in college...and why
    • what would people close to you say about you
    • a time when you failed
    • your personal interests and passions outside school
    • what is wellness, mental health, physical health...
    • Plan B
    • Public health
    • COVID-19 and how the different vaccines work in providing immunity
  • We will also explore strategies for answering scenario-based questions that require quick analytical thinking, creativity, sound judgement, and effective communication skills

What is the CMU HPP committee letter: The CMU HPP Committee Letter (CL) is an evaluative letter that holistically assesses an applicant's application materials, letters of recommendation and personal statement. The CL serves to provide health professions schools an introduction to the applicant, an evaluation of the applicant's readiness for medical training, and an endorsement that the applicant was an active member in good standing with the CMU HPP.

What goes into the committee letter: In preparing for the committee interview, pre-health committee members holistically review all components of an applicant's file, including the HPP Application Packet, individual letters of recommendation, MCAT/DAT exam scores and the personal statement. The pre-health committee interview is a vital part of our evaluation because it gives the committee a chance to hear the applicant contextualize one’s motivations and readiness for a career in medicine as a reflection of one’s experiences and education. Following the interview, the HPP Director writes a draft of the CL that is shared with the committee for review and finalization.* 

Should I register for a committee interview - YES!!! All CMU pre-health students are encouraged to participate in the committee interview process, even if they opt out of the committee letter service.

Which health professions programs require a CL? - none

Which health professions programs prefer to receive a CL - many Allopathic and Osteopathic medical schools, particularly in the northeast region. Many dental schools also like to receive a CL but it is not required. Many Vet programs do not accept CLs - they prefer individual letters of recommendation.

Once the CL is written, reviewed and signed by all committee members, the CL is scanned with all of the individual letters of recommendation to create one .pdf CL-packet known as the "Committee Letter." The CMU HPP office then uploads the "Committee Letter" to the appropriate application service on behalf of the applicant. In the online application, applicants 1) indicate the HPP Director as the author and 2) select "Committee Letter" from the drop down menu for "letter type."

CL submission to application services begins roughly in late June - NOT in early June when the online application submission goes live. It is the goal of the HPP office to have CLs uploaded by the end of July, but submissions can be delayed if there are issues with the committee interview or delays in receiving an applicant's documentation or MCAT score.** 

*Depending on when an applicant sits for the committee interview, it can take between 4-6 weeks for the committee letter to be finalized, signed and uploaded to the appropriate application service.

**CLs will NOT be put in the queue for writing until the MCAT or DAT score is received, regardless of when the interview took place. I.e., if you interview in April but take a June MCAT, your CL will not be written until the MCAT score is received in July, possibly resulting in a CL submission in late July or August.

Who is a re-applicant?
In the eyes of the CMU HPP, if an applicant submits a primary application, completes at least one secondary application yet is not successful in a given application cycle, they become a re-applicant in a subsequent cycle regardless if they apply to the same or different health professions schools. 
Why didn't I get accepted?
Some applicants, for various reasons, are not successful in gaining admissions to a health professions school on their first attempt. Schools look for strong indicators of future success, such as a GPA, sGPA, and MCAT/DAT, depth and breadth of clinical experience, evidence of a commitment to service over time, research, and strong/supportive letters of recommendation. Unsuccessful applicants need to reflect on one's application to identify areas of weakness.
Am I ready to re-apply?
CMU re-applicants are still eligible for advising resources through the HPP; however, before moving forward with a new application, the re-applicant is required to meet or speak with the CMU HPP Director many months in advance of the next cycle start date to coordinate resubmission of the applicant's documentation. To be prepared for re-applying, remediating any deficiencies or issues in one's application, well in advance, is critical. Re-applicants also needs to re-write every section of the application - copying and pasting from an old application strongly discouraged.