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How to Choose the Right Pre-Med Post-Bacc for You


Embarking on the journey to medical school is an exciting yet challenging endeavor. For many college students who may not have pursued a traditional pre-medical track during their undergraduate years, a post-baccalaureate program can serve as a vital bridge to medical school. However, with more than 200 post-bacc programs available nationwide, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. In this blog post, we’ll explore key factors to consider when making this crucial decision.

Consider Your GPA and Academic Record

To start, evaluate your academic record to date. This can help determine whether you should choose a post-bacc certificate or a special master’s program. Are you missing prerequisites, but otherwise on track in terms of GPA? You will likely want to consider a certificate program that covers the science courses you need, and you may even benefit from a do-it-yourself post-bacc.

Does your science GPA fall below requirements for the schools you’re interested in? A special master’s degree program may be a better option, because the graduate GPA you’ll earn will show more evidence of an upward trend in your academic achievement. (You can learn more about how a post-bacc affects your overall GPA in our previous article, “How Does a Post-Bacc GPA Impact My Medical School Application?”)

Consider Your Career Goals and Dream School List

Next, determine your overall career goals. Most post-bacc seekers will be interested in pursuing admission to an MD program, but others may be more open to other avenues, such as a DO program, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or even clinical research. Some post-baccs are “pre-health” programs, with courses and advising designed to be open to more students beyond aspiring MDs. There are also a limited number of post-baccs aimed at other health professions, such as pre-dental school post-baccs.

Then, of course, there are linkages. If you’re interested in attending a specific medical school, look for post-bacc programs that have linkages with that school. You can receive preferential consideration for admission to your school of choice if you successfully complete the post-bacc. Just bear in mind that there are trade-offs to linkages: for example, you may have to agree to apply only to the linked school in the year after you complete your post-bacc. If you don’t get in, you’ll need to wait until the following year to apply to med schools again.

Consider Your Schedule

When will you be able to attend class? Many students need to work while they study, and that can be difficult in some formal, on-campus post-bacc programs, especially master’s programs. Fortunately, there are more options for working students than ever. These include:

  • DIY post-baccs: Take courses one at a time with a local university and choose classes that fit your schedule.
  • Part-time post-baccs: Some schools offer evening and weekend classes to help you balance work, life, and school.
  • Online post-baccs: Yes, online post-baccs are real. Some may require you to visit campus on occasion—make sure you talk to an admissions advisor about this before you commit.

Consider Your Extracurricular Needs

Many post-bacc programs offer additional support for students. If you haven’t been able to take advantage of career advising while you were an undergrad, for example, look for a post-bacc that specifically offers this. You can also find post-baccs that provide:

  • Clinical experience or research opportunities
  • MCAT coaching
  • Tutoring or mentorship
  • Guest speakers and medical school visits
  • Specialized career advising and support for students from underrepresented backgrounds

Also remember to factor in your preferences regarding climate, urban or rural setting, and proximity to family and support systems.

Consider Your Finances

While it’s a myth that there’s no financial aid for post-bacc programs, do your homework on the finances. If you used federal student aid to earn your bachelor’s degree and you’re considering a post-bacc that is an undergraduate certificate, make sure you aren’t close to your borrowing limit before enrolling—this could leave you in a position where you have to rely on more expensive private loans.

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