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Another Look at How Post-Bacc Linkages Work


One of the topics prospective post-bacc students want to learn about most when they come to our site is medical school linkages. Linkages are formal agreements between post-bacc programs and specific medical schools which offer students preferential consideration for admission. “Preferential consideration” means different things to different schools, but can include:

  • The opportunity to apply privately to the linked school a cycle early, skipping the “glide year” between finishing the post-bacc and getting accepted to medical school through AMCAS
  • In some cases, notification of provisional acceptance from the linked medical school halfway through your post-bacc program
  • A guaranteed interview with the school if you complete the post-bacc to certain standards (and achieve a certain MCAT score, if the school uses the MCAT to evaluate applicants)
  • Tours, networking events or other opportunities to get to know the linked school better

During your post-bacc, you may also receive tailored advising and support for completing your application to the linked medical school. Linkages can be a win-win for post-bacc programs: they offer students like you a better shot at getting accepted to a specific medical school, and they offer the linked medical schools a pipeline of strong applicants.

Here’s a more detailed look at how linkages work for a few specific post-bacc programs.

Ponce Health Sciences University Master of Science in Medical Sciences

The PHSU MSMS is a one-year special master’s program featuring an interdisciplinary medical sciences curriculum. The MSMS prepares students to pursue admission to many different professional health programs, including medical schools, dental schools, physician assistant (PA) programs, and more. It also equips graduates to pursue academic or research careers in the health sciences. It’s available at Ponce’s main campus in Puerto Rico, at their satellite campus in St. Louis, Missouri, or online.

The MSMS has a linkage with Ponce’s own MD program. Students apply to Ponce in January of their MSMS year, just as they are preparing to take the MCAT, and can have a final application decision by May—two months before completing their master’s program. According to the university, MSMS graduates who have gone on to earn an MD with Ponce have a 100% pass rate for the USMLE Step 1.

Like the MSMS, Ponce’s MD program is now available in both Puerto Rico and St. Louis.

Bryn Mawr Post-Baccalaureate Certificate

The Bryn Mawr Post-Bacc certificate program features linkages with more than a dozen different medical and dental schools around the country. Students can apply to a linked school during the fall of their post-bacc year and be evaluated on their performance to date. The linked school can then offer the student provisional acceptance. If the student completes the post-bacc with the GPA and MCAT score the linked program requires, they can start medical school immediately after completing their post-bacc.

One potential drawback to this approach is that students can only apply to one of the linkage program schools. If the student doesn’t gain acceptance from that school, they then have to wait until the next application cycle year before applying to other schools.

Northwestern University Premedicine Certificate Program

Northwestern’s Premedicine Certificate program is designed mostly for career changers, although it also attracts students fresh out of undergrad who didn’t complete pre-med coursework during their bachelor’s program. It features full- and part-time schedule options, so students can complete the program in 12, 15, or 21 months—convenient for students who need to work.

Linkages for the program include Northwestern University’s own Feinberg School of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Rutgers University School of Dental Medicine. As with the Bryn Mawr program, students can only apply to one of the linked schools during their post-bacc, and early acceptance is conditional based on GPA, MCAT score, and other factors.

Find Your Post-Bacc Program

Linkages are a great thing to look for if you know you’re aiming to be accepted at a specific medical school, but they can be complicated. We recommend reaching out to an advisor at the post-bacc program that interests you for more specific information about how any linkages might work.

Don’t know which post-bacc programs interest you? Browse our directory to find one that meets your GPA, schedule, and location needs—or check out our rankings!

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