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Medical School Admissions, Explained

Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program

A Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program offers students the opportunity to fulfill the pre-med requirements after finishing college and is an optional aspect of the medical school admissions process.

The AAMC provides a searchable database at http://services.aamc.org/postbac/ that gives information on all of the Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program options available in the United States. Many different forms of post baccalaureate premedical programs exist, but most programs fall into three general categories:

1. Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program for students who have never taken pre-med classes

These programs are aimed at students who majored in the humanities in college or desire to change careers into medicine. They are generally full-time, one-year programs but some part-time programs do exist for students who need to juggle work and academic commitments. Most of these programs offer undergraduate, non-degree certificates upon completion of coursework.

2. Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program for students who have al ready taken pre-med classes

These programs are often referred to as “GPA raisers.” They tend to be geared toward students who have already taken some or all pre-med coursework but wish to increase their GPA. These types of programs also work well for former premeds or science majors who have taken a long absence from school and wish to refresh their knowledge. Such programs often mix entry-level and advanced science coursework to fulfill the pre-med requirements. Most of these programs offer undergraduate, non-degree certificates upon completion of coursework.

3. Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program – Special masters program

Special masters programs target students who have already taken pre-med coursework and wish to raise their GPA through taking higher-level science classes. Special masters students often take the same classes as first-year medical students and receive a master’s degree at the end of the one-two years.

Unlike medical schools, post baccalaureate premedical programs vary greatly in their admission requirements. Some have no minimum GPA and take almost any applicant who can pay tuition. Others are as competitive as top medical schools. Since no centralized application service exists, applying to a post baccalaureate premed program requires researching the requirements of each school individually and then filling out each program’s application.

Students should discuss their post baccalaureate premedical program options with a pre-med advisor, particularly if the intention is to fullfil one or more of the prerequisites for medical school.

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Welcome

As you well know, academics are a huge part of the medical school admissions process. This Academics Bucket is filled with items weighed by the medical school admissions committees when assessing your readiness to excel academically in medical school. These include: GPA, MCAT, undergraduate/graduate school strength, course strength, and major. I am often asked, “What GPA and MCAT do I need to get into Harvard Medical School.” I always answer, “It depends.” Many pre-meds think it takes a 4.0 GPA and 45 MCAT score to get into medical school. They are wrong. Pre-meds with 4.0 GPAs and 45 MCAT scores used my consulting services after they were NOT accepted to medical school. Sure, you generally need good grades and a decent MCAT score to get into medical school, but there is no exact GPA or MCAT score that guarantees admission. Medical school admissions committees look at a pre-med’s "whole package" when deciding who gets into medical school. Great grades and MCAT scores, a top-20 school pedigree, upper level classes, and a challenging or unique major are not enough to get into medical school. You need to be well-rounded and stand out among the other 40,000 applicants.