If you’re trying to boost your profile for med school, you might consider a post-baccalaureate program. But what does post-baccalaureate mean? We’ll cover everything you need to know below.
If you’re a pre-med looking to boost your med school profile, you may consider a post-baccalaureate program. Perhaps you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-science subject and need to complete prerequisite course requirements. Or maybe you’ve been rejected from med school and need to strengthen your application before reapplying.
If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. So, what’s a post-baccalaureate program, and how much does a post-bacc program cost? We’ll review these programs, weigh the pros and cons of enrolling, and review post-baccalaureate requirements.
We’ll discuss everything you should consider when choosing a program, how to apply, and provide a short list of post-bacc programs for med school you can use to evaluate your options.
So, what are post-baccalaureate programs? These programs support your transition to med school after graduating college. Their purpose is to strengthen your application and help you become a more competitive candidate during a gap year. Think of a post-baccalaureate program as a stepping stone to medical school.
Post-baccalaureate programs are typically one to two years long. They may award a master’s degree, a certificate, or no degree or certificate at all. Some programs offer undergraduate credit, while others offer graduate credit.
There are four main post-bacc program types. For allopathic schools, these are:
Your post-baccalaureate experience depends on the program. There are over 270 programs in the AAMC post-bacc database. You can search for programs that match your needs and goals.
Post-bacc programs for academic record enhancement are for pre-med students who believe their academic standing isn’t as competitive as they’d like it to be. These programs help students boost their academic stats, such as GPA and MCAT scores.
You should enroll in a program for undergrad coursework if you’re unsatisfied with your undergraduate GPA. Graduate programs only affect your graduate GPA, not your undergraduate GPA. The AMCAS application separates your undergraduate and graduate GPAs.
Post-baccalaureate programs for career changers are designed to help non-traditional students prepare for med school. Typically, these students hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-science subject and decide to become a doctor after college.
Post-bacc programs for career changers help students complete prerequisite coursework. These programs also provide additional support to meet medical school requirements, such as studying for the MCAT and CASPer. Students may also receive medical school application support.
Post-bacc medical programs for minority students and underrepresented groups can help these groups gain acceptance into med school. The AAMC defines underrepresented groups as the following:
“Underrepresented in medicine means those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population.”
If you belong to an underrepresented group, this post-bacc program may be right for you.
Post-bacc programs for disadvantaged groups in medicine exist to help economically and educationally disadvantaged students. This applies to students who come from low-income families or have faced societal hardship that negatively impacted their educational and professional opportunities.
In addition to allopathic post-bacc programs, there are special master’s programs and osteopathic courses.
SMPs are for students interested in getting a graduate degree. While post-bacc programs are designed for students to fill application gaps, SMPs exist to enhance applications. Students enrolled in SMPs generally meet med school requirements but want a competitive edge.
Because SMPs are graduate-level coursework, they don’t affect undergraduate GPA.
Osteopathic post-bacc programs are affiliated with osteopathic med schools. These programs are similar to those above; however, they emphasize osteopathy, not allopathy. The AACOM has a list of post-baccalaureate programs at over 20 osteopathic schools.
It’s worth mentioning that there may be an overlap between program types. For example, programs for underrepresented groups may also be academic record enhancers or career changers. You must research and look for programs that best align with your circumstances and goals.
If you’re wondering what a post-baccalaureate program can do for you, there are several benefits. We’ll discuss them below.
Pre-health advisors help you prepare for medical school and provide guidance based on where you are in the application process. They help schedule classes, manage application timelines, and provide additional resources.
These are called post-baccalaureate linkage programs. Some of the best programs are affiliated with medical schools. While enrolling in a linkage program doesn’t guarantee acceptance, it’s beneficial to know the ins and outs of the campus, faculty, mission, and environment.
Many programs include built-in volunteering opportunities. This can help you gain relevant experiences to discuss in your medical school interview and the AMCAS work and activities section.
You’ll have extensive networking opportunities with faculty, staff, colleagues, and mentors. Because many programs are affiliated with medical schools, renowned lecturers and professors often give presentations and network with students.
Program lengths vary, but you can check out part-time or online options to accommodate your schedule. Just be mindful of any limitations of part-time and online programs.
For example, if you need to improve your GPA but a part-time or online program doesn’t factor that in, it may be best to look at full-time, on-site academic enhancement programs.
Post-bacc programs are a great way to complete prerequisite coursework in less time (accelerated coursework). If you’re a non-traditional student or didn’t complete all required science coursework/labs, then the accelerated path may be right for you.
These programs also help you prepare for the MCAT. If you’re unhappy with your score or haven’t taken the test yet, post-baccs give you more time to study. Additionally, MCAT prep classes are often built into post-bacc curricula.
While post-bacc programs have pros, there are other factors to consider. So, let’s explore several of them.
Simply put, more education means more money. Consider your finances and financial aid options before deciding to accrue debt on top of possible existing student debt and the future cost of med school.
If your goal is to improve your undergraduate GPA, ensure the program you choose impacts your undergraduate GPA, not your graduate GPA. The primary difference between post-bacc and master’s programs is that an SMP will give you a graduate-level degree but won’t impact your undergraduate GPA.
Because your goal is to boost your profile, you may feel tremendous pressure to achieve the highest marks and gain the best relevant experiences. This may cause burnout before you even get to medical school, so prioritize self-care and ask for help when needed.
If your goal is to obtain credentials, apply to the programs that provide them. For example, if you want to improve your academic credentials with a graduate degree, an SMP may be the ideal choice for you compared to a post-bacc certificate or diploma.
To decide if you should enroll in a post-bacc program, consider how you want to improve your application and your circumstances:
Because there are various types of post-baccalaureate programs, application requirements vary. You’ll have to follow the specific program’s application requirements and recommendations.
General post-baccalaureate requirements include:
Ensure you check program websites for more information on specific post-bacc requirements and to determine how to apply.
The best post-bacc program for med school is the one that aligns best with your needs, goals, and circumstances. However, there are many excellent programs for you to consider; these five programs have impressive linkages and are renowned for their high-caliber instruction:
This table breaks down what you need to know about each of them:
We’ve outlined several answers below to help you further understand post-bacc programs and how you can get into one.
The AAMC’s post-baccalaureate database is a valuable tool. You can filter your search results to yield public, private, undergraduate, or graduate programs. Additionally, you can select:
Part-time post-bacc programs are less common than full-time programs. Part-time programs mean more time to complete the program but also limit your options for enhancement. For example, part-time programs aren’t beneficial for improving your undergraduate GPA.
There’s a correlation between acceptance rates and successful completion of post-bacc programs. Most schools report an increased acceptance rate of post-bacc students, likely due to improved GPAs and MCAT scores and more experience in relevant extracurriculars such as medical shadowing, volunteering, and research.
There are advantages to applying to the post-bacc program offered by your preferred med school. For example, applying to their post-bacc program makes you more familiar with the application process and timelines. That said, you should also apply to other post-baccs that match your needs.
Cost varies greatly depending on the school and program length. Some programs can cost upwards of $10,000 per term when you add fees and other costs. Check with programs, and speak with the Student Financial Services office to review your options.
The main difference between master’s vs. post-baccalaureate programs is that the former contributes to your graduate GPA while the latter can boost your undergraduate GPA. Most students enroll in SMPs to enhance their profile: they’re happy with their undergraduate GPA and have met medical school requirements.
How much a post-bacc can raise your GPA depends on how well you perform in your classes. Acing your classes can raise your GPA by a few tenths of a point: for example, from 2.8 to 3.1.
Compared to medical school, post-bacc programs are generally easier to get into. However, top programs are still selective. You’ll need to produce stellar application documents for your best shot at admission.
Post-bacc programs typically range from one to two years.
Getting a post-bacc certificate shows medical schools you worked to address gaps in your candidacy and can take the initiative to learn and grow. A post-bacc certificate is worth it if you’re worried about your candidacy, are a career changer, or feel your GPA and test scores aren’t competitive enough for the med schools you’re applying to.
A post-bacc program can help you raise your undergraduate GPA, further your education, change gears toward a medical career, and help strengthen your medical school profile.
Post-baccalaureate programs are a great option to bolster your application before applying to med school. If you want to improve your GPA, gain relevant experiences, or prepare for the MCAT, post-bacc programs can help you reach your goals.
Consider your circumstances and reflect on your medical school readiness. Do you see gaps in your application? Are there areas that need improvement? Have you completed all requirements? These questions will help you determine whether a post-bacc program is right for you.