Post-Baccalaureate Programs, or Post-Bac Programs, provide an alternate entry into postgraduate programs for students who have already obtained an undergraduate degree. You may consider an additional step between St. Mary’s and medical/professional school if you were not accepted the first time around, or if your GPA and/or MCAT scores are too low for you to be a competitive applicant. Post-Bac programs are not for everyone, so it is important to make sure that pursuing a post-bac will be a good fit for you in your progress toward professional school. Keep in mind that post-bac programs are not the same as master’s programs, and both kinds of program has its advantages.
Deciding the best path for you
- Reflect on your own circumstances– your financial situation, your professional goals, etc.
- Talk to HSAC advisers.
- Talk to admissions officers at the school(s) you were rejected from. They are typically happy to accommodate you and give suggestions for improvement.
- Talk to admissions officers at the medical/professional school would ideally like to attend. Their recommendation will, then, be directly pertinent to you and your academic/career goals.
- Figure out if you are missing prerequisites for medical/professional school. A post-bac will make sure you have all the prerequisites, whereas a master’s may not (depending on the program you choose).
Post-Bac vs Master’s Programs
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, 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 what are essentially upper division health sciences classes. The information from these courses will 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!
Characteristics of a Master’s Program
- The programs will not be geared solely toward people who hope to get into medical/professional school, like postbacs are.
- You will 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.
- 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.
- Depending on the program, you will have the opportunity or be required to do research. This could give you an edge on other applicants, or potentially give you insight into different aspects of health science / medicine.
Program Searches and Information
- American Association of Medical Colleges
Includes listing of post-bac programs with specific admission requirements. Not included in this listing are other programs where students may enroll as non-degree students.
- Syracuse University: Postbaccalaureate Program Information Page
“… lists programs for minorities or individuals under-represented among health professionals; …for people who have completed few, if any, of the science courses required; …non-degree granting programs that are listed by schools/counselors having support staff able and willing to provide the proper advice and support; …and degree-granting
programs that differ in some respects from the standard graduate programs in university science departments.”
Programs with a pre-med focus
- The Johns Hopkins Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
The Johns Hopkins Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program gives college graduates and professionals the opportunity to take the required courses for admission to leading medical schools. Designed to meet the needs of diverse and talented individuals, this program is right for you if you have excellent academic records in undergraduate and/or graduate school, have never applied to medical school, and have the ultimate goal of entering the medical profession.
- Post Baccalaureate Program
Brandeis University (Waltham, MA)
- Post-baccalaureate Program[currently not accepting applications]
Brown University (Providence, RI)
- Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program
Columbia University (New York, NY)
- The Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program
Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA)
- Health Careers Program
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
- Master of Science in Medical Science Program
Indiana University (Indianapolis, IN)
- Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate Program
Mills College (Oakland, CA)
- Postbaccalaureate Premedical Graduate Certificate
Notre Dame de Namur University (formerly College of Notre Dame, Belmont, CA)
- Postbaccalaureate Program
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
- Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Certificate Program
Scripps College (Claremont, CA)
- Post-baccalaureate Premedical Studies
State University of New York (Stony Brook, NY)
- Postbac Premedical Program
Tufts University (Medford, MA)
“The Tufts program is uniquely positioned to accommodate a variety of health-related career goals. The Health Professions Adviser will help you develop an individualized program of study, chosen from a wide range of course offerings. This flexibility allows our students to pursue careers in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, osteopathic medicine, optometry, podiatry, or as a physician assistant or nurse practitioner.” – Tufts website
- Postbaccalaureate Reapplicant Program
University of California (Davis, CA)
“The UC Davis School of Medicine offers a comprehensive, structured post-baccalaureate study program designed to assist educationally and/or socio-economically disadvantaged* reapplicants in gaining acceptance to medical school. The program consists of an intensive summer MCAT preparatory component and an upper division science curriculum component.” – UC Davis website
- Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program
University of California (Los Angeles, CA)
Programs with a Health Sciences and/or Research Focus
- Patient-Oriented and Translational Research Option
Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN)
Note: this program offers a “hands-on” application of medical research and is open to undergraduates, recent graduates, medical students, PhD and MD/PhD students, and postdoctoral research associates
- Dietetic Internship Program
University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)
- Post Baccalaureate/Graduate School Preparation Program
Villanova University (Villanova, PA)
“Villanova offers a very flexible Post Baccalaureate program for people who already have a four-year bachelor’s degree and need specific
undergraduate courses to prepare for graduate school.” – Villanova University website