If you’re a high school student or have just started college and you’re already sure that you want to pursue a career in medicine, you might want to consider a program that combines your undergraduate education with medical school. According to the AAMC’s 2018 Medical School Graduation Questionnaire, approximately 97% of students complete their undergraduate degree before pursuing their MD, but 2.6% pursue a joint baccalaureate-MD. So even though it’s not the most common path, it’s worth learning more to see if it’s right for you.
What are baccalaureate-MD programs?
Combined baccalaureate-MD programs are typically formed through a relationship between a medical school and an undergraduate college located in the same geographic region or university system.
These programs are rigorous with their accelerated course schedules and requirements, but they offer many advantages for high school and early college students who know they want to pursue medicine. Depending on the specific program, these benefits may include automatic acceptance into medical school, early clinical exposure, a reduced number of years to complete one or both degrees, and the potential to save money in medical school application costs.
What are the requirements for these programs?
Each program is unique, but undergraduate academic requirements typically include successful completion of prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, physics, English, mathematics, and social science courses as well as a minimum grade point average (GPA) and standardized test scores. Calculus and foreign language courses are also frequently required; a computer science course is sometimes recommended. Official admission to the MD portion of the program may occur immediately or after a student completes a prescribed number of semesters with a minimum GPA. In some programs, students are not required to take the MCAT exam; in other programs, a minimum MCAT score must be attained to progress through the program.
If I’m interested, what should I do next?
If you’re a high school student, talk with your school counselor about the programs that may be a good fit for you. If you’re a college freshman or sophomore interested in these programs, speak with your pre-health advisor. You can also read about what it’s like to be in one of these combined programs from an undergraduate student and from a medical student.
You can learn more about preparing for medical school and baccalaureate-MD programs in the Official Guide to Medical School Admissions. For more information on individual programs, see the Medical School Admission Requirements™, specifically the About section for baccalaureate-MD programs. Each year, new programs are being developed, and many are aimed toward creating an option for students who are traditionally unrepresented in medicine.