St. Mary's College of Maryland

General Resources: Post-Bac vs. Masters

Here are some basic considerations for postbac programs and master's programs. For personalized guidance, talk with an advisor or an admissions officer to help you decide.

Characteristics of a health sciences post-bac program...

  • Designed for students with a bachelor's degree who need an extra step before entering medical/professional school.
    • This could be due to low GPA, rejection from all professional schools, etc.
    • Postbacs are often specialized (i.e. medical postbac, dental postbac, physical therapy postbac, etc).
  • Helpful for students who need to finish prerequisite courses before applying to medical/professional school.
  • Streamlined specifically to help you get into medical/professional school.
  • You take (essentially) upper division health sciences classes. The information from these courses should help you later on in medical/professional school.
  • Oftentimes your GPA from your postbac will factor in to your undergraduate GPA. That means that if you perform well in the postbac, your St. Mary's GPA will actually appear higher on your medical/professional school application.
  • Some schools grant you a second bachelor's degree or some other certificate upon completion of the program, but not always.
  • If, by the end of the postbac, you decide that you no longer want to pursue medical/professional school, the credentials from the postbac will not help you much. Only consider a postbac if you absolutely know that a career in healthcare is right for you!
  • Here is a listing of HSAC recommended post-bac programs.
  • Here is a great resource for postbac information, arranged by field.

Characteristics of a masters' program...

  • The programs will not be geared solely toward people who hope to get into medical/professional school, like postbacs are.
  • Instead, you will want to pursue a Master's degree in a hard science, such as Biochemistry or Physics.
  • You will receive a Master's degree upon completion of the program, which gives you a fallback in case you still don't get into medical/professional school on your second try.
  • You also might consider a Master's program if you have doubts about pursuing a medical career. Pursuing a Master's degree in a field that is interesting to you may open up other possibilities, like medical research or an opportunity outside of healthcare that suits you better.
  • Having an interesting background and credentials may make you more appealing to medical/professional schools.
  • You will have the opportunity / be required (depending on the program) to do research. This could give you an edge on other applicants, or potentially give you insight into different aspects of health science / medicine.

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