Considering a Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program

Answers to common questions about pre-medical post-bacc programs and how to decide if a doing a program is right for you.

What is a postbaccalaureate premedical program?

The term "postbaccalaureate” describes programs that begin after you’ve completed an undergraduate degree and are designed specifically to support the transition to a professional school, such as a medical school, as well as enhance an applicant’s competitiveness for admission. There are several types of programs which are designed to address a particular need, such as academic record enhancement, career change, MCAT® exam prep, as well as programs for underrepresented students.

Will a postbaccalaureate program improve my chances of getting into medical school?

It depends on how successful you are in the program and how you’re able to articulate what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from the experience. If you do well, you’ll demonstrate successful completion of premedical requirements, as well as a continued commitment to your goal of a career in medicine. If you have the opportunity, take upper-level coursework to show that you can handle advanced material. According to Grace M. Hershman, director of Postbaccalaureate Premedical Programs at Temple University School of Medicine, “Competition for admission to medical school is intense, so performing extremely well in a rigorous premedical postbaccalaureate program will demonstrate to medical school admissions committees that you are able to sustain a high-level of academic achievement.”

How do I find the program that’s best for me?

It’s a good idea to talk to your pre-health advisor or the admissions offices at the medical schools you’re interested in about whether a postbaccalaureate program would enhance your application. If you have a specific weakness, look for a program that addresses it. You can search by program type in the AAMC’s free Postbaccalaureate Premedical Programs database.

What are the financial considerations involved with this type of program?

Postbaccalaureate programs can be expensive and may require you to finance the cost of the program through loans. If you borrow unsubsidized federal loans and continue directly from the program to medical school and residency, remember that interest from these loans will continue to accrue throughout your education and residency and can result in substantial education debt. If you are not able to borrow federal loans for the program, you may need to borrow private loans, which work differently than federal loans. To review the differences between federal and private funding, review this FIRST fact sheet.  You can also speak to the financial aid officer at your school or the institution you plan to attend to learn about financing options and the financial implications that may be involved.

How long does it take to complete a program?

There are several different types of programs. Most range from one to three years depending on full time or part-time enrollment, and the type of program (non-degree granting or degree granting).

What degree will I get after I complete the program?

Degrees awarded vary by program. Some offer a certificate of completion while others offer a master’s degree. There are advantages to seeking programs that lead to a master’s degree, especially if you decide ultimately not to pursue medical school. The AAMC’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical Programs database reports on degree information for each program listed

What are “affiliations” or “linkage agreements?”

When researching programs in the AAMC’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical Programs database, the “affiliations” row describes any health professions program or medical school that has a relationship with a postbaccalaureate program. Some profiles may mention a linkage agreement with an institution. In this case, there may be an agreement for conditional acceptance into a medical school based on your performance in the program.

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