You want to apply to medical school, but as you do a competitive analysis of your application, you realize your GPA isn’t your strongest point.
If your GPA is low compared to the average medical school matriculant GPA, enrolling in a post-baccalaureate or special master’s program is a great way to strengthen your application.
These programs are also great for students who didn’t follow a traditional pre-med undergraduate path. Pre-medical students take many science courses, so if you switched majors late or didn’t major in a science field, you may be missing out on some important prerequisite classes.
A post-baccalaureate certificate isn’t the same as a bachelor’s degree, but it’s still helpful because it lets students learn more about specific topics needed for med school. You’ll also be able to get hands-on experience in that area.
Knowing your MSC Score can help you understand where you stand among other applicants and how medical schools may evaluate you. The MSC Score Calculator can help you find out.
A master’s is a graduate degree program. These programs are best for students who graduate with excellent grades and are ready for graduate-level coursework.
A post-baccalaureate program is a certificate program. Postbacc programs are designed for students who have already completed their undergraduate degree and want to enhance their academic records before applying to graduate programs.
Post-bacc programs are sometimes referred to as special master’s programs, educational enhancer programs, or career changer programs.
|Graduate level courses||Undergrad level courses|
|Graduate GPA||Enhances undergrad GPA|
|Thesis portion||No Thesis portion|
|Federal and State financial aid available||No Federal or State financial aid|
|Part of an established education program||Credit hours can be earned for science courses without program guidance|
There are many benefits of enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program. First and foremost, these programs allow you the opportunity to improve your academic record. If your GPA from undergrad was lower than you would have liked, a post-bacc can greatly increase your chances of acceptance when applying to med school.
You can technically complete post-bacc coursework DIY-style, choosing a la carte courses, but it might be easier to join a program. Let’s look at more of the benefits of joining a post-baccalaureate certificate program.
Many post-bacc programs include MCAT preparation courses. This is a great perk if you haven’t taken the MCAT yet or want to improve your score.
Many post-baccalaureate students use this time to improve their volunteering or research experience. Post-bacc programs are a great way to find and participate in more extracurriculars to strengthen your medical school application.
Clinical rotations will give you first-hand experience shadowing physicians and working with patients — experiences that will be invaluable once you’re in medical school. Plus, real-life experience in a clinical setting can be very influential when writing a compelling personal statement when you’re ready to apply.
After completing your undergrad, you’re probably looking at ways to support yourself financially. Post-bacc programs are structured with this in mind. You can find programs of different lengths and formats: full-time or part-time, in-person or online, one year or two, and day or night classes.
Many of these programs are somewhat flexible regarding which supplemental courses you must take. For example, if you took calculus as an undergrad, you won’t have to retake it and can instead take an elective course.
You will probably appreciate the streamlined coursework post-bacc programs offer if you catch up on missed prerequisites. Classes won’t take as long to complete.
Post-bacc programs have good relationships with medical schools, so they often bring in lecturers and health professionals you usually wouldn’t meet yet. This could expose you to career paths you hadn’t considered before or even potential mentors for later on.
Many post-bacc programs are affiliated with specific medical schools. Attending one of these programs can help you become familiar with an institution and give you an edge when you apply to med school. We’ll take a closer look at linkage programs later.
Post baccalaureate work can give your med school application a competitive edge. Let’s do a simple thought exercise from an admissions committee point of view to see why a special masters and post-bacc program may be so appealing:
All other things being equal, an adcom will select applicant B. Why? That applicant has proven they can handle medical school classwork, while it’s unclear if applicant A can. A strong post-bacc GPA can make up for a weaker undergraduate GPA.
These ubiquitous programs are common for many premeds along the premed journey. However, the 2 significant downsides of pursuing post-bacc coursework are time and money.
Because some programs are different, weighing out the pros and cons and choosing a program that fits your needs will be essential.
Career Changer programs are specifically designed for students who have decided later that medicine is what they want to do. For instance, this might work for a person who was in the finance world for years and now wants to jump into the world of medicine.
You will essentially take the usual pre-med course load, minus any classes you’ve already taken. This usually includes:
These programs are great for those who are switching careers for a number of reasons, most importantly providing a basic structure to follow. You can typically finish in 18-24 months.
Academic enhancer programs allow you to prove to medical schools you have the intellectual stamina to get through the first 2 years of medical school.
These programs are for those students who took most or all of their pre-med classes in college but had less-than-stellar GPAs, or students who don’t already have the appropriate prerequisite science courses for a school of medicine.
You might consider an enhancer program if your GPA is 3.60 or below or you don’t have the necessary prerequisites.
These programs benefit students who weren’t accepted to medical school the first time or want to enhance their academic records before applying. In these programs, students typically enroll in graduate-level classwork.
You’ll find a lot of educational enhancer programs that have varied and exciting coursework, including topics like:
There are subsets of academic enhancer programs that will even put you directly side by side in the same classes as first-year medical students. We believe these programs help medical school admission committees look past less-than-desirable grades in undergrad.
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SMPs are master’s programs, so they won’t impact your undergraduate GPA. As we discussed earlier, this is graduate school coursework. SPMs often focus on health sciences and are still geared toward helping students prepare for medical school.
Specific courses vary by program, but SMPs assume you’ve already taken the prerequisite courses to get into medical school.
So, why choose a specialty master’s program? These programs allow students to pursue an education that will inform their medical careers. Additionally, a second set of official transcripts — provided you maintain good grades — will boost your academic record and show admissions committees you have what it takes to perform well.
Linkage is a formal agreement between a post-baccalaureate premedical program and a medical school (or several medical schools, of which you can typically choose one). This agreement enables highly qualified students with a strong interest in one of these schools to accelerate the application process (i.e., apply while still in the post-bacc program).
A linkage may guarantee an interview at a particular school, but remember, an interview isn’t equivalent to an acceptance. That said, many medical schools take a substantial number of their students who perform well in their postbacc programs. This can be an excellent opportunity for someone who shines during their postbacc year.
It also eliminates the gap year; you can start medical school in the fall of the year you graduate from your post-bacc program. This means that you can start sooner, instead of waiting another year before med schools can evaluate those grades.
|Post-Bacc Program Name||Linkages/Affiliations|
|Agnes Scott College||Mercer University School of Medicine|
|Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||Albany Medical College, New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine|
|Arizona State University||Students complete their capstone projects at health care sites such as Mayo Clinic, Banner Health and Arizona Department of Health Services.|
|Arkansas Colleges of Health Education||Arkansas Colleges of Health Education|
|Barry University||Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM), Orlando College of Osteopathic Medicine (OCOM) & Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine (POD)|
|Benedictine University||Marian University, LECOM, AT. Still University, Ponce School of Health Sciences|
|Bethel University||Bethel University – Physician Assistant Program|
|Boston University School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences||Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Bryn Mawr College||Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Boston University School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences|
|California Northstate University (CNU)||California Northstate University|
|California Northstate University, College of Health Sciences||California Northstate University College: Medicine, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Psychology, Graduate Studies|
|California State University, Los Angeles||Western University of Health Sciences|
|California University of Science and Medicine||CUSM MD|
|Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine (CUSOM)||Campbell University|
|Case Western Reserve University, Master of Science in Medical Physiology||Cleveland Clinic Foundation, University Hospital Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center|
|Master of Science in Medical Physiology||Cleveland Clinic Foundation, University Hospital Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, Louis Stokes VA Hospital of Cleveland|
|Case Western Reserve University Master of Science in Applied Anatomy||University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Louis Stokes VA Hospital of Cleveland|
|Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland Clinic Foundation, University Hospital Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, Louis Stokes VA Hospital of Cleveland|
|Case Western Reserve University Master of Arts in Bioethics and Medical Humanities||Cleveland Clinic Foundation, University Hospital Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, Louis Stokes VA Hospital of Cleveland, Neighborhood Family Practice and Hospice of the Western Reserve|
|Case Western Reserve University||University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Louis Stokes VA Hospital of Cleveland|
|Case Western Reserve University Master of Science in Nutrition||University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Louis Stokes VA Hospital of Cleveland|
|Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science||UCLA|
|Chatham University, Master of Arts in Biomedical Studies (MABS)||West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Chatham University Master of Physician Assistant Studies program|
|Cleveland State University and Northeast Ohio Medical University NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health Postbacc||Students attend CSU in Cleveland, OH during 2-year postbacc portion and are granted provisional admission to NEOMED in Rootstown, OH, pending completion of all requirements at CSU. Students may not work full-time during regular academic year.|
|College of Science & Technology (CST); Temple University||Lewis Katz School of Medicine, George Washington College of Medicine, PCOM, SUNY-Downstate, Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine|
|Colorado State University||Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM). RVUCOM has guaranteed up to 6 positions annually to applicants who have graduated from our Master’s program.|
|Columbia University Irving Medical Center||Narrative Medicine – Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer – Irving Center for Clinical Research – Mailman School of Public Health – Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center – New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center|
|Creighton University||Creighton University|
|Des Moines University||Des Moines University|
|Drexel University College of Medicine Intensive Medical Sciences (IMS) Program||Drexel University College of Medicine, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (New York); (Drexel Undergrads ONLY: international students eligible for IMS and Drexel MD)|
|Drexel University College of Medicine Drexel Pathway to Medical School (DPMS)||Drexel University College of Medicine MD Program|
|Drexel University College of Medicine Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (IHS)||Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, Salus University Doctor of Optometry & Doctor of Audiology programs|
|Drexel University College of Medicine Master of Biomedical Studies (MBS)||Drexel University College of Medicine, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (New York), (Drexel U. Grads ONLY: international students eligible for MBS and Drexel MD)|
|Drexel University College of Medicine Evening Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical (PMED)||Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine|
|Drexel University College of Medicine Master of Medical Science (MMS)||Drexel University College of Medicine, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (New York), (Drexel Undergrads ONLY: international students eligible for MMS and Drexel MD)|
|Eastern Mennonite University||program has a number of articulation agreements with various professional health programs including osteopathic, optometry, physician assistant, and podiatry. For more information http://emu.edu/ms-biomed/post-emu-study/|
|Eastern Virginia Medical School||Eastern Virginia Medical School|
|Elms College Postbaccalaureate Premedical Studies||Marywood University, Western New England College of Pharmacy, LECOM DO, Dental, Pharmacy|
|Elms College Master of Biomedical Sciences Degree Program||LECOM DO and DENTAL, WNEU Pharmacy, LECOM Pharmacy, Marywood PA, Assumption PA|
|Florida Atlantic University Post-Baccalaureate Medical Certificate Program||Florida Atlantic University|
|FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine||FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine|
|Furman University||University of South Carolina School of Medicine – Greenville|
|Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth||Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Graduate Programs in Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, VT|
|George Mason University/Georgetown University||George Mason University Georgetown University|
|George Washington University||GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences|
|GeorgeSquared GeorgeSquared Advanced Biomedical Sciences Graduate Certificate||Georgetown University Medical Center, George Mason University|
|Georgetown University MS Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences (IMHS) Program||Georgetown University Biomedical Graduate Education, Georgetown University Medical Center|
|Georgetown University Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate Program||Georgetown University, George Washington University, New York University, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson and the University of Pittsburgh|
|Goucher College Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program||University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago Pritzker, University of Michigan, Alpert (Brown), George Washington, Weill Cornell, Stony Brook, Univ. of Maryland, Hofstra, Univ. of Pittsburgh, NYU|
|Heritage University Master of Arts in Medical Sciences||Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (PNWU-COM)|
|High Point University Masters of Science in Biomedical Sciences||High Point Univeristy’s Graduate Programs in Physician Assistant Studies, Dental and Oral Medicine, Physical Therapy|
|Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai||Cooper Union|
|Keck Graduate Institute||Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, Harvey Mudd, Scripps College, and Claremont Graduate University|
|Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine||LECOM Erie, LECOM Seton Hill, LECOM Bradenton|
|Larkin University Masters of Science in Biomedical Sciences||Clinical Shadowing available through Larkin Community Hospital|
|LaSalle University Postbaccalaureate Premedcial Certificate Program||Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine|
|Lawrence Technological University||Lawrence Technological University PA Program|
|Lewis University||Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine|
|Loyola University Chicago||Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine|
|LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health||LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine|
|Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine||Marian University|
|Marymount Manhattan College Biology Post-Baccalaureate Program||Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Touro College of Pharmacy.|
|Medical University of South Carolina Master of Science in Medical Sciences||Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine|
|Midwestern University Master of Arts in Biomedical Science||All Midwestern University Professional programs: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, podiatry, optometry, veterinary medicine, physician assistant, physical therapy, cardiovascular perfuion|
|Mills College Postbaccalaureate Program||Linkage Agreements: Western University of Osteopathic Medicine|
|Quinnipiac University Graduate Biomedical Sciences||Frank Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University|
|Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences||Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science|
|Rutgers University New Brunswick Postbaccalaureate Prehealth Program||Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School|
|Saint Louis University Medical Anatomy & Physiology Certificate Program (MAPP)||Saint Louis University|
|Saint Xavier University Post baccalaureate Certificate in Medical Science||Ponce Health Sciences University, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, A.T. Still Osteopathic School, Midwestern School of Pharmacy|
|Saint Xavier University Master of Science in Medical Science||Ponce Health Sciences University, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, A.T. Still Osteopathic School, Midwestern School of Pharmacy|
|Salus University Post-baccalaureate Program in Health Sciences||All Salus University graduate & professional school programs: Optometry, Audiology, Blindness & Low Vision, Occupational Therapy, Speech Language & Pathology, Physician’s Assistant, Orthotics & Prosthetics & Biomedicine programs|
|School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University Premedical Graduate Health Sciences Certificate (CERT) Program||VCU School of Medicine, VCU School of Dentistry|
|Scripps College Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program||Scripps offers linkage affiliations with University of Michigan, George Washington School of Medicine, Hofstra Northshore LIJ, University of Pittsburgh, Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine|
|South Dakota State University Human Biology||Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines University|
|Southern Illinois University Carbondale Master of Biomedical Science||Southern Ilinois University School of Medicine|
|Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Medical and Dental Education Preparatory Program (MEDPREP)||Southern Illinois University School of Medicine|
|Stanford School of Medicine REACH (Racial Equity to Advance a Community in Health)||Stanford|
|SUNY Upstate Medical University MedPrep Academic Enhancement MS in Medical Technology||SUNY Upstate Medical University|
|Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Graduate Medical Sciences, M.S. in Biomedical Sciences||Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine|
|The Ohio State University MEDPATH Post Baccalaureate Program||The Ohio State University College of Medicine|
|The University of Iowa Master of Clinical Anatomy||The University of Iowa|
|Thomas Jefferson University Postbaccalaureate Pre-Professional Program (P4)||Linkage agreement with Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine|
|Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine MS in Interdisciplinary Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences||Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine|
|Touro University California MS in Medical Health Sciences||Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine|
|Tufts UniversityPost Baccalaureate Premedical Program||Linkage Agreement: Tufts School of Medicine, BU School of Medicine, UMass Med and University of New England COM linkage; Joint Acceptance with Tufts Dental School.|
|Tufts University School of Medicine MS in Biomedical Sciences (MBS)||Tufts University School of Medicine|
|Tulane University School of Medicine One Year Masters in Pharmacology Program||Tulane University Tulane University School of Medicine|
|Tulane University School of Medicine One Year Masters Program in Physiology||Tulane University|
|Tulane University School of Medicine Structural & Cellular Biology ~ Masters Degree Program ~ MS Anatomy||Tulane University School of Medicine|
|Tulane University School of Medicine One Year Master of Science in Molecular Medicine||Tulane University Health Sciences Center|
|Tulane University School of Medicine Two Year Master of Science in Molecular and Cellular Pathobiology||Tulane University Health Sciences Center|
|Tulane University School of Medicine One-Year Masters Program in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology||Tulane School of Medicine|
|UCLA Extension Pre-Medical and General Science Studies Certificate||UCLA|
|University at Buffalo, State University of New York Masters Program (SMP) in Biological Sciences||University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine|
|University of California, San Francisco UCSF Interprofessional Health Post Baccalaureate Program||UC Berkeley Extension|
|University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine Master’s in Pharmacology with emphasis on Preclinical & Clinical Drug Safety||Cincinnati Children’s|
|University of Connecticut Pre-Medical and Health Professions Post-Baccalaureate Program||UConn School of Medicine, UConn Health Center|
|University of Delaware Premedical Post Baccalaureate Certificate Program||“Strong relationships with regional and international medical/health profession programs of study.”|
|University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of MedicineʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program||University of Hawaii at Manoa|
|University of Louisville Postbaccalaureate Pre-medical Program||University of Louisville School of Medicine|
|University of Michigan Medical School, Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS) Postbac MEDPREP Program: Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program||University of Michigan Medical School|
|University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Pre-Professional Program||Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine|
|University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine Master of Biomedical Sciences||University of the Incarnate Word|
|University of Vermont Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program||University of Vermont College of Nursing & Health Sciences|
|University of Vermont Master of Medical Science||University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine|
|University of Virginia U.Va. Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program||Linkages with George Washington University School of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine|
|Virginia Commonwealth University Undergraduate Post-Baccalaureate Health Sciences Certificate Program||VCU, College of Health Professions, School of Dentistry, School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy|
|Wake Forest University Graduate School, Biomedical Programs Biomedical Sciences MS – Pre-health Pathway||Wake Forest School of Medicine (MD program and PA program)|
|Washington University in St. Louis Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program||Case Western Reserve University College of Medicine,University of Michigan Medical School.|
|Wayne State University PreMedical Post Baccalaureate Program||Wayne State University School of Medicine Office of Diversity and Inclusion|
|Western University of Health Sciences Master of Science in Medical Sciences||Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, College of Dental Medicine, College of Pharmacy, and College of Podiatric Medicine.|
Post-bacc program tuition varies by school, but you can expect to pay $10,000-$30,000. Remember, because post-bacc programs are not degree-seeking programs, Federal and State aid will not apply.
Pick programs based on the curriculum you enjoy, the tuition, their other opportunities, and their location. Online programs offer the most flexibility and tend to be the most cost-effective.
Some questions you may want to ask before deciding include:
On your medical school applications, it’s normal to apply to 25+ schools But for post-bacc programs you do not have to apply to nearly as many — just 4-5 should be more than enough.
If you’re considering applying to medical school, enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program is a great way to make your application stand out.
The cost can certainly be steep, but the benefits are great, too. By taking advantage of everything a post-baccalaureate program offers, you could set yourself up for success in both your application process and your future career as a physician.
We can help you through the medical school admissions process from start to finish — and greatly increase your chances at acceptance!
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