5 year med school program

Has anyone done med school in 5 years as opposed to 4? I am interested in spending more time with my 2 year old son than I think med school will allow and the school I am accepted to does not give deferals very often. They do however have a five year program that splits the first year into two years. I am wondering if this would be a good idea or if it would be better to just get it over with. My big concern is that less classes will not necessarily equal more time. It will just mean more time on the classes that I have. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

jblue, take it. You will NOT regret it. I am doing the Barry U BMS program and I am taking all first year courses. I think taking the 5 yr option would be very good for you. You are not under as much pressure, you can see your child AND you are IN.
It really makes it easier.
At Arkansas, they have over 90% or something in that area, opt for the 5 yr plan.
good luck.

Thank-you so much for the reply. I just talked to the admissions department and the woman said that only specific people are allowed into the five year program and it is based on academic need so if they think that you are going to struggle than you would be a candidate for the program. Based on my MCAT etc. I would not be a candidate. Ugh!!! I really thought that program was going to be the answer for me. So, it looks like it will be deferal or start in August. I am still going to ask to be in the five year anyway and maybe they will make an exception. Thanks again for the reply.

MSU-CHM has an extended program that allows you to do the four years in five. In almost all cases this is the first year extended over two, although I think there are a few rare cases where the second year is spread over two. The combination of classes is pretty flexible and individualized. I know many people doing it, and I don't believe that there is any real requirement to get into the program. I know that some people signed up for it as soon as they were admitted, while others decided it during the first few weeks of school. Others have had life situations throughout that have made it a more reasonable option. No one things twice about it, it isn't considered a negative thing here. Sorry that I can't speak to other schools.

I'd recommend making a point in your request of emphasizing the impact of mothering on your academics and that therefore your MCAT will not accurately predict your academic needs; this seems like a very reasonable basis for an exception within the framework of the school's logic. Also, see if you can find other med students who are already there who are also parents, who can talk through the specifics of your school's program and how it will affect your parenting and vice versa.
Good luck!

The five year program is fairly popular here at UNECOM. There is no fixed program as to how it works, but basically, the first two years (coursework) are spread over 3. It does allow for a bit more relaxed academic schedule and more time with kids. I believe the tuition is pro-rated appropriately too. The down sides? One year longer to get through… which is a concern for seriously Olde Phartes like me (47) and more time to forget the early stuff before boards.
Basically though, it is a very viable option. Go for it if it works for you

I didn't even see in the literature that Arkansas had the 5 year program! Thanks,Kathy

Thank Dave, he told me about it and I just relayed the info…

Hi there,
I want to post a warning about 5-year programs. They are great if you need the first year to adjust to the pace but often you are held to a higher standard than the folks going through in 4 years. For example, just to pass a course, you have to beat the mean not just receive a passing score. If the mean on an exam is 95 and you get a 94, you have failed that course and would be out of medical school. The next warning is that if you fail out, you will face very difficult battle getting re-admitted.
The next problem with the five-year programs is that the second year which is more intense for the four-year folks will be doubly intense for you as you have been doing an abbreviated schedule. Sure it is nice to have extra time to spend with your family but you need to beware of other requirements that may come along with the abbreviated schedule. Getting those higher grades in medical school is ,by no means, a given entity and sometimes passing by one point can save your career. With the five-year programs, you loose that cushion.
While the five-year programs sound pretty good and may fit your planning, look at all of the requirements for those programs. Another problems that the five-years often have is fitting in with the class that is coming behind them. After you have bonded the first year with the class that you entered with, you will be graduating and doing second, third and fourth-year with another class.
Just a few things to keep in mind with the 5-year plans. Are they better than no medical school at all? Yes, if a 5-year conditional acceptance is your only acceptance than take it and run. Just be prepared to work even harder than the 4-year folks at some schools. GW, UVa and Howard being the three that I have the most experience with.

Hey there,
Just one comment/correction to add to Natalies comments. At MSU-CHM, the 5 year program doesn't have a higher standard for test passing then the 4 year program. The standard is whatever the course administrator deems passing for all students in the college. Of course, since we are P/F, there isn't that sense that someone has an unfair advantage because they are taking less courses. Also, in the way the extended program is typically done at CHM, the first year is spread into two. Since we make a major curriculum switch after first year from lectures to PBL, EVERYONE is making a transition to an entirely different learning style (per the second years, it is much more enjoyable). Extending was/is a fairly popular option in my class, and was done for a variety of reasons- desire to do research, family concerns, academic concerns- and is considered a perfectly legitimate option.
The bonding with the class issue is very real. Several of my closest friends and study partners are extended, and I will miss them much next year. Of course, I can only speak for my school, and what I've seen. I'm not even sure how MSU-COM runs their extended program. But if you are seriously looking for place to do an extended program, I wanted to let you know that some schools are more relaxed about their extension programs.

My thought on GWU is that it is NOT subject to those standards. I asked specifically about that and was told the opposite. There are schools that require it, NSUCOM being one of them and it is a BMS program. However, I know that UMiami and USF do not apply that higher standard.
Just an FYI.

actually GWU does have a different standard for its 5-year students, it’s just not as nasty as the one Nat described. This is from the GWUSOM website:
“To continue beyond the first year, five-year program students must achieve grades not lower than one standard deviation below the mean for all medical students in each course of more than two credits.”
All of us who’ve busted our butts to be at the top of the class in our prereqs read this and go, “well, so what? I can certainly do that!” To which I say, don’t be so sure. I was at the top of my class in all my prereqs, and i got a conditional in biochem (that’s definitely >1 S.D.) and barely passed gross anatomy; I am pretty sure I was way more than one standard deviation below the mean on that one too. To the extent that a passing score was defined in terms of S.D., I believe it could be as much as 2 S.D. but don’t quote me on that, I honestly don’t remember the specifics.
Now, with respect specifically to GWU, I do believe that a 5-year student who runs into trouble with coursework would have the same option as a 4-year student, to make up work in summer school. I did remedial work in biochem for the first few weeks of the summer; had I outright failed it, I would’ve had to do a lot more intensive, all-summer repeat (ugh).
Med school is different. Do NOT assume you’ll be the kick-ass student you were to get in. (she says with great humility) I would definitely agree with everything Natalie has said.
Not a kick-ass student, but a survivor…

The discrepancy in interpretation on “5-year plans” comes from how different schools perceive them. In the course of applying to get in and working with other med students, I have learned that medical schools can see the “5-year plans” from vastly different perspectives. Some schools, only offer them to matriculated students who get into academic trouble – KCOM does it this way, but that is actually being changed…see below. So, if a student fails a course, but not so badly that they are dismissed, but sufficiently badly as to not be offered remediation - then they are offered a 5-year, extended plan.
Some schools offer 5-year plan contingency addmissions. These are for students who they feel have the potential to succeed as medical students & physicians, but who they fear will need some additional assistance to make it through. Not always, but frequently, students with disadvantaged backgrounds are offered these - like educated on a reservation or something of that sort.
There is a third dispostion, the one JP refers to, where the school simply offers to extend the entire curriculum over 5 years – the only example I know of for certain: Univ of Arkansas. There are no different or higher standards…they just expand the full med school experience ove 5 years in lieu of 4. More detail was given during my interview day & once you are admitted, you are simply given a 4 vs 5 year option - your call. In fact, they said that their 5-year plan is so popular that they were considering dropping the 4-year option all together.
KCOM is undergoing a curriculum revamping engineered by the new Dean. One of the things he wants to bring on board is moving from a punitive 5-year plan to an open option one much like what the Univ of Arkansas already has in place. He feels that there is simply too much info to master in 4 years & that a 5 year program would improve retention & comprehension.

I'm at Meharry Medical College. They offered me an option for a five year plan. They knew I had a child on the way. I spoke to some of the first year instructors they encouraged me to go the five year route. My child was born the first week of School 11lbs 2oz, C-section. I basically had to stay home for the first two weeks of school and take care of my wife. The five year plan allowed me to do this. I was only missing the first couple of weeks of Gross A Not Gross A + Biochem. The five year plan has given me more time for my family, but it has not been a night and day difference between my workload and the four year students workload. Most of the four year students are single, don't own a home, etc. Also, the five year students at Meharry take an extra year of Physical Diagnosis which has been a great asset on all of my preceptorships. Drawbacks would be that I took Gross, Histology, Neuro two years ago so my memory of these is a little weak. As I approach my Step 1 exam prep I will have to hit these a little harder. I also had to watch many of the four year students that I had started with move into the clinics while I suffered another year in the basic sciences. As far as Residency program views of the Five year student, there are several senior five year students from Meharry that matched into some competitive fields this year ie. ENT, Optho, OB/GYN. Overall, it was a good choice for me. For my wife and child it was the best choice. An extra year getting through med school is not much in the scheme of things. One last thing, if you start as a four year student and find that you are struggling most medical schools will work with you to make sure you graduate even if it takes an extra year. Good luck!

I am starting at Meharry this fall and am trying to get into the five year program there. I am not sure if they will let me in. I was told that there were a set number of spots and that they usually only let their postbacs in. Did you have any academic requirements that were different than people in the four year program? Also, was class attendance mandatory? I am just trying to figure out ways to spend more time with my son and give myself a more flexible schedule. Skipping class and studying on my own came to mind. Thanks!

Hi all. I thought I would reinvigorate this old thread from 7 years ago and present it to a contemporary audience’s scrutiny as I am now in a situation where I soon have to make a decision as to whether or not to take an extended (5-yr) curriculum (EC) or regular (4-yr) curriculum (RC). I am at T minus 4 weeks till med school starts and I just met with the block I director to discuss pre-emptively choosing a 5-yr option. The director then presented me with the pros & cons of extended vs regular curriculum. The EC is exactly as epidoc described in the above posts.

Pros: 1. class grades tend to be higher; 2. USMLE step 1 scores tend to be higher; 3. 1st time USMLE step 1 pass rates are better; 4. EC students are less stressed. 5. EC students have time to pursue pre-clinical electives, community service work, or research they would not otherwise have time for.

Cons: 1. Covering the cost of attendance for an extra year of med school. Since the tuition is prorated and the number of books/school supplies fixed, I will not incur additional school expenses, but will incur an extra year’s worth of living expenses that will not be covered by my 4-yr HPSP stipend; 2. structured board preparation & review will be required rather than just recommended (I see this as a plus); 3. loss of continuity with the matriculating class. Since I am old enough to be the parent of most of my future classmates, I highly doubt I will “bond” with or befriend anybody in school so it matters little to me that I will be parting ways with my matriculating class after the first year.

Neutral: the school has not been able to detect any issues with an extended program affecting residency selection.

My block director thinks I should at least give the regular program a try with a full course load for a week or two, then decide what I can handle. So is my director right? Should I just “man up” and jump in with both feet next month and do the 4-yr RC? Or, should I keep the training wheels on and do the extended program? Is my apprehension justifiable after being out of school 9 years?

Your apprehension is definitely justifiable.

I think it is within reason to start on a four year plan and then to judge after a couple of weeks whether you believe you will be able to handle it. The problem I see with this is that you may feel entirely comfortable the first few weeks as the classes may still be covering material to which you’ve already been exposed to some degree.

I have seen multiple students change from the 4 to 5 year track, almost exclusively because of academic difficulty. Unfortunately this kind of leaves them with a double “ding” as they will have fail(s) on their transcript plus will have the extended schedule on their application. In hindsight, of course, most say they wish they had opted for the extended program before they were too far into the semester to do well in any course.

I wouldn’t be too concerned with matriculating with the class you came in with. Many students end up doing different things between their basic science and clinical years and graduate with a “new” class–you will undoubtedly have people you start with who will graduate with you in five years because of their own schedule changes. The people I’ve spoken with who are on the 5 year track generally just become closer to the class who matriculates the year after them as that is the class they will end up doing many courses plus their clinicals with.

Congrats on your acceptance and best of luck as you progress forward in a month!

Hi all,

This thread got me thinking - what medical schools offer a 5 year extended education option/program? I’ll start a list here. Please add any schools that you know of!









Université Laval

Quebec City, Quebec


UIC offers it as well. I took the option so I could work and have been at my job full-time since last year. I took 1/2 the courses last year and the rest this year.

There are no grade requirements except Pass.

I am very thankful my school offered this. The economy has really affected us. The first year is in another city far away so we’re living apart, and my husband was laid off for a while and, although found a different job, the hours and pay are significantly less. Student loans just don’t help cover everything.