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Post-baccalaureate programs

Post-baccalaureate premed programs are meant to prepare students for admission to medical school. For some, their purpose is to allow participants to retake prerequisite courses and pump up GPAs or MCAT scores. For others, perhaps those seeking a career change, post baccalaureate programs provide one-year intensive study in classes that meet medical school requirements: chemistry, biology, physics, math.

Most post-baccalaureate programs offer small class sizes and personal advising. Students should look for programs that have a relationship with a nearby hospital to allow for volunteer experience and internships. Most programs focus on one-year, intensive course loads. But students who wish to take 18 months to 24 months to complete a post-baccalaureate program can find those opportunities as well.

“A post-bac program benefits premeds because it guarantees that they will get the classes required to apply to medical school, typically in 12-24 months,” says DeEttra Mulay of the Scripps College Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program. “In addition, most post-bac programs provide personalized advising for students and a committee letter for medical school applications.”

However, there are a few drawbacks. And as with anything having to do with a medical degree, it involves cost -- both monetary and time.

"The drawbacks are often additional accumulation of debt and delay of beginning the students’ medical education," points out Kathryn M. Spink. She is the Chair of the University Premedical Advisory Committee at Illinois Institute of Technology. "However, most students who seek post-bac or master's programs would not be successful applicants without them."

But so long as a post-bac premed program or a master's program is enhancing a prospective med student's application, says Spink, who is also a Chief Health Professions Advisor at IIT, admissions committees do not frown on them.

Spink points up the crucial features students should look for in a post-baccalaureate program:

  • Is all the coursework students need offered? Including upper level courses in Biology such as Cell Biology and Biochemistry?
  • Is there a knowledgeable advisor for students to speak with?
  • Will students be able to continue with professional development while taking classes?

“Some programs can be costly, but they guarantee course registration, personal advising, and assistance with every step of the medical school application process,” notes Scripps' Mulay.

While Scripps is the women's college of the Claremont Colleges, the Scripps post-baccalaureate premed program is designed for male and female participants. It is geared for students who performed well academically as an undergraduate, Mulay says, but did not take the pre-med classes needed to apply to medical school.

“Admissions committees at medical schools view post-bac applications very positively. They appreciate having students who have life experience outside of the classroom and can bring a different perspective to conversations in the medical school environment.”

More post-bac information

Post-bac admissions vary from school to school but overall require the same things: strong GPAs, solid test scores, great letters of recommendation, and a personal interview that leaves them wowed.

Enrolling in a post-bac premed program can help boost GPAs, improve MCAT scores, and provide the necessary premed requirements.

The timeline and steps to becoming a doctor require a premed plan that could include a post-bac premed program.

The AAMC's post-bac database allows students to search for post-baccalaureate premed programs around the country.

There are as many routes to medical school as there are students. Read first-hand accounts of premed post-bac programs, PhD programs, and beyond.

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