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Top 7 Most Diverse Pre-Med Post-Bacc Programs

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This past autumn, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced that the first-year medical school classes of 2021 weren’t just unusually large–they were also the most demographically diverse group ever. This is welcome news at a time when American medicine is focused on improving health care inequities among people from different ethnic backgrounds. It is also facing up to its history of failure to support medical students from underserved and minority backgrounds–for example, an April 2021 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported that the number of Black male doctors actually declined over the period from 1978-2019. 

Indeed, looking closely at the AAMC’s numbers from this year’s class reveals that while the percentage of matriculants from underserved backgrounds has risen, the actual numbers of students amount to only a few. For example, the number of new medical students who were Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders grew by 6.3% from 2020 to 2021, while the raw numbers show that the total number of students rose from 80 to just 85.i “A diverse and all-inclusive health care workforce,” the authors of the NEJM study note, “remains aspirational.” 

Pre-med post-bacc programs aim to play a role in making that aspiration more real. Many of the programs we track have increasing access to medical education for students from underserved backgrounds as part of their mission. Here are the top 10 most diverse programs according to reported data about student backgrounds.

#1 Ponce Health Sciences University – 100% diverse students

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Medical Sciences
  • School Location: Ponce, Puerto Rico, US
  • Linkages: Ponce Health Sciences University MD program
  • Minimum GPA/Science GPA: 2.7/2.7
  • Description: The PHSU MSMS program aims to help promising bachelor’s degree graduates equip themselves for medical school, medical research, and other professional schools in the health sciences. From its base in Puerto Rico, PHSU attracts many diverse local and mainland U.S. students, particularly those from Hispanic and Latino backgrounds. PHSU recently opened a campus in St. Louis, Missouri, which means students will be able to pursue the MSMS there, too.
  • Program Site: https://www.psm.edu/school-of-medicine/msms/

#2 Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science – 96% (HBCU)

  • Program Name: Enhanced Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Pre-Medicine
  • School Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Linkages: CDU-UCLA Medical Education program
  • Minimum GPA/Science GPA: 3.2/2.8
  • Description: CDU is one of the nation’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). It offers this post-bacc certificate to career changers, re-applicants, and record improvers. The program features intensive MCAT coaching and, for students who successfully complete the program, a guaranteed interview with the CDU-UCLA MD program. It’s a one-year, full-time program based in Los Angeles.
  • Program Site: https://www.cdrewu.edu/com/PBPMProgram

#3 Morehouse University School of Medicine (HBCU) – 94%

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Medical Sciences
  • School Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Linkages: Morehouse MD Program
  • Minimum GPA/Science GPA: Accelerated program 3.6/3.5, two-year program 3.0/2.8
  • Description: Morehouse is another of the nation’s four HBCUs and offers an MSMS with a two-year standard track for improvers and career changers, or a one-year accelerated track for advanced students. The program features extensive mentorship and coaching, with courses that address issues such as systemic racism and impostor syndrome. In addition to equipping graduates for MD programs and other professional schools in the health sciences, the Morehouse MSMS also prepares them to act as mentors to high school and undergraduate students considering careers in medicine.
  • Program Site: https://www.msm.edu/Education/GEBS/MSMS/index.php

#4 California State University – Los Angeles – 93%

  • Program Name: Post-Bacc Certificate Program for Pre-Health Professionals in Biological Sciences
  • School Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Linkages: n/a
  • Minimum GPA/Science GPA: 3.0/3.0
  • Description: Cal State LA’s post-bacc certificate program is pitched for record enhancers who want to improve their competitiveness as applicants for health professional schools. The program features a high degree of flexibility; students can choose 18 credits of coursework from a wide range of undergraduate-level electives (but note that the program only allows you to re-take a maximum of six credits of classes you’ve already completed during your bachelor’s degree). This lets students develop themselves in specific areas of strength and weakness, from clinical research to immunology.
  • Program Site: https://www.calstatela.edu/academic/biol/certificate-program-pre-health-professionals-option-1-biological-sciences

#5 Florida International University – 91%

  • Program Name: Graduate Certificate in Molecular and Biomedical Sciences
  • School Location: Miami, Florida
  • Linkages: Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at FIU
  • Minimum GPA/Science GPA: 3.0/3.0
  • Description: FIU’s two-semester graduate certificate program consists of eight master’s-level courses for record enhancers who want to advance their understanding of clinical science before applying to medical school or another health professional school. Students also receive extensive advising to improve their professionalism and other non-academic aspects of their record. The program has linkages with FIU’s own MD program at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine—students who complete the program while on a wait list for HWCM can receive guaranteed acceptance if they meet all academic and professional requirements.
  • Program Site: https://medicine.fiu.edu/academics/certificate-in-molecular-biomedical-sciences/index.html

#6 University of California at Irvine – 87%

  • Program Name: Biological Sciences School Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program
  • School Location: Irvine, California
  • Linkages: N/A
  • Minimum GPA/Science GPA: 3.0/3.0
  • Description: UC Irvine’s post-bacc certificate program is designed specifically for career changers and non-science majors who need to make up science prerequisites, gain research and clinical experience, and work with advisors to prepare to apply to medical schools or health profession schools. The program offers quarterly workshops with health professionals, peer tutoring for basic science courses, and an extensive range of research opportunities with UCI science and medical school faculty.
  • Program Site: https://www.bio.uci.edu/undergraduates/postbacc-premedical-program/

#7 St. Thomas University – 86%

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Health and Medical Sciences
  • School Location: Miami Gardens, FL
  • Linkages: Ponce Health Sciences University MD program
  • Minimum GPA/Science GPA: 3.0/3.0
  • Description: The MSHMS at St. Thomas is designed to help record enhancers show medical and health professional schools that they can handle the rigors of a first-year medical school curriculum. The program offers two tracks that align with different career goals: Cell and Molecular Biology for those focused on research careers, or a Health and Medical Sciences track for students who want to practice in a health profession. Students also receive test prep for the professional school entrance exam of their choice (e.g., MCAT, DAT, etc.)
  • Program Site: https://www.stu.edu/science/programs/ms-in-health-medical-sciences/

Find the Right Post-Bacc Program for You

We hope this article has offered you some insight into the post-bacc programs that have the most diverse student populations. You can read more about how post-baccs contribute to health workforce representation in our previous article on the subject, or start researching the right program for you in our site listings. Good luck!

i https://www.aamc.org/media/57761/download?attachment, p.12

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