community college vs. university

I am currently in the Army. I am 36 y/o and I am a nurse. I am premed but I am trying to take my pre reqs at a community college. I have not seen in any Med school that there is a requirement that the hard sciences come from a university. Will they be ok with community college?

Rangerbroad, if you do a search through the forums you will find a lot of discussion regarding this topic. I think the general consensus is to attempt to take the courses at a university. You will find that different medical schools look at courses done at community college differently. I believe DO schools are more willing to accept students who have courses from community colleges than are MD schools. Of course you will find exceptions. My recommendation would be to contact the med schools in which you’re interested and ask them directly.

Best of luck!

  • MD2B2010 Said:
Rangerbroad, if you do a search through the forums you will find a lot of discussion regarding this topic. I think the general consensus is to attempt to take the courses at a university. You will find that different medical schools look at courses done at community college differently. I believe DO schools are more willing to accept students who have courses from community colleges than are MD schools. Of course you will find exceptions. My recommendation would be to contact the med schools in which you're interested and ask them directly.

Best of luck!

All I can say is that it "all depends." Some schools might not approve, but others might. I'm actually taking all of my prereqs at the community college level, but I do plan on taking some upper levels in the university. I personally feel that, for me, I'm going to get a better education by doing it at the CC level. Smaller classes, more direct contact with the professor, etc.

You need to do what you have to do...a lot of it will be reflected in your MCAT. If you can get a better foundation in a CC and it shows in your MCAT, that might be the better option.

The idea of being in a class of 300, and not be guaranteed a spot in a lab for that same semester, is enough to have me taking the prereqs in the CC.

Thank you very much for the responses. I will maintain my plan then.

I was told that medical schools admissions look at pre requisite courses from universities more favorably than courses from CC; however, they take a closer look at the overal picture. Particularly, an undergrad GPA greater than 3.5 and MCAT score of 30 or greater are convincing factors. I will be starting pre-requisite clases this fall. I am taking all required classes at a community college.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree with a decent GPA, community college credits probably won’t cause as much of a concern for AdComs. On the other hand, if you had terrible grades through college, or you have not completed a bachelor’s degree, you make yourself a far, far less competitive candidate if you take your prereqs at a community college.

For example: you have a bachelor’s degree in, oh, biology - because you really thought you’d do that whole med school thing way back when. You have a BCPM GPA of, uh, 2.3 because it just didn’t work out. Don’t kid yourself that community college prereqs are going to help you because they are not.

On the other hand, if you have a bachelor’s degree in history with a 3.8, a smattering of BCPM courses with a respectable 3.3 or 3.4, then you probably can do the prereqs at a CC.

Everything is context. There is no one right answer for everyone.


Hi All!

I just went through the admissions process having done all my prereqs at a community college. I had to do this because I needed to work full time and could not afford to take courses at the local 4-year school. (If it helps to contextualize my comments, I can tell you that I have a 3.5 GPA from UVA and a 29 on the MCAT).

Anyway, I did find that it was a problem with schools. I ended up being waitlisted at EVMS (upper third) and admitted to VCOM. I’m really excited to be starting school next month, and I was grateful that VCOM was willing to see my potential past my CC prereqs and take my specific circumstances into account. EVMS partly took these into account (i.e. the interviewed me and put me in the upper third of the waitlist). However, I had a conversation with the dean about it 2 weeks ago, and he told me that taking my prereqs at CC was a problem, even though, he said, “we understand that people do things for different reasons,” etc., etc. The bottom line is that they DO care even if they like to pretend that they don’t. I would argue that this constitutes economic discrimination in many ways, but ultimately you have to play their game, I suppose. Your MCAT may help you, but prereqs at a CC is a definite handicap, and you want as few handicaps as possible in this cutthroat process. So, Idalyn, I would say that its ok to take some of your classes at a CC, but definitely see if you can afford to take one or two at a 4-year school.

Hope this was helpful to someone.

I hope you don’t feel this is too prying, but did you have a 4.0 for the CC prereqs? (If not, what was your CC gpa.)

How about your overall science/math gpa? What was your u/g major?

Knowing those things would also help contextualize your comments, because while I don’t doubt you are very intelligent (you got into VCOM!), from an adcom point of view, a 3.5 gpa with a sociology major may be different from a 3.5 gpa/physics major. While 3.5 is good, it’s still a little lower than average for med school, right?

No, I don’t mind at all. I opened myself up to that by posting here and giving personal details in the first place. I got a B in one of my prereqs, but the rest were As (not sure what GPA that is–my CC had no B+s or A-s, just solid letter denominations).

My major was English/American studies (which, at UVA–and hopefully I don’t sound defensive–is not easy or equivalent to majoring in sociology), and I’ve been working as a manuscript editor for a well-known medical journal for the past few years, with lots of volunteer experience in EMS.

I actually think 3.5 is about average for medical school. Plus, they take into account what school you went to. You’re right, though, its not amazingly high or anything, but if you look at the statistics its midrange.

Oh yeah, one other thing…my point is definitely not “why the hell did no other schools let me in, I’m so awesome!” My point to everybody starting down the road of premed prereqs is simply that it is unlikely that your record will be perfect when it comes time to apply, so give yourself all the advantages you can. The process is unpredictable and your experience will certainly be different than mine, but it might help to take at least 1 or 2 prereqs at a 4-year institution (just to prove to adcom that you can). And in closing, DEFINITELY take an MCAT prep class. I didn’t (again with the working full-time thing) and I really think it would have helped. In fact, its almost a handicap not to do it because you know everyone else is.

First, congratulations on your acceptance! I’m sure that some schools will have more of a bias against CC prereqs. Had you taken any advanced sciences classes at a University? I would think that might curve some of that bias if upper levels are also taken.

But it stands to reason that if one wants to attend specific schools, it might be a good suggestion to contact that school to find out their stand on this and what they would recommend if CC’s are your only choice for prereqs.

Again, best of luck at VCOM!

Thank you! I can’t wait to get started.

You make an excellent point. I think your plan of taking some upper-level bio at a university achieves the same goal. And no, I never took any advanced sciences as an undergrad–I had no idea I wanted to be a doctor then, and avoided the premed crowd like the plague. I also absolutely agree with your earlier comment (even though many adcoms might not) that you can sometimes get a better education with more professorial attention at a CC. My organic chemistry teacher was awesome, and actually cared if her students learned the material! Amazing!

A few quick comments

1)i concur fully with all above, particularly with Mary Renard’s example of how a CC may or may not fit well with an applicant

2) Whatever path you choose, it up to you to create a narrative that is coherent, concise, and compelling that will make it apparent why CC was chosen

3) If you do choose CC, you should extremely well in those classes

4) as was suggest, take an MCAT class. Over 75% of med schools consider GPA and MCAT the top two factors in applicant selection. So u should consider MCAT to be at least worth a prep class. And since many OPM members have “grade baggage” the MCAT can be your best friend in this process

Yup, it’s “their ball, their game, their rules.” Any way in which you fall outside the usual parameters for applicants is likely to cause you to undergo greater scrutiny. OPMs by definition are already outside the usual parameters - CC credits put you that much further outside. There’s not a thing you can do about this, so if anyone is in a situation where CC is the only way to go, just know that you are automatically making it harder for yourself and you will need to be doubly determined to make your application a strong, compelling one.


As an example - something from UC Davis Medical School website:

Important for Community College Students:

If you complete all of your premedical requirements at community college, it may be in your best interest to take several upper-division science classes at the four-year institution to which you transfer. Performing well in upper-division science courses further demonstrates your ability to handle the rigorous science-based coursework found in medical school. If you are not a science major, it may still be important for you to take additional science courses beyond the minimum requirements to further support application to medical school.

Speaking of UC Davis, I actually talked to their admissions office and asked, “How can someone who takes some pre-requisites at a community college and has a degree in liberal arts strengthen their application?” (I took about half of my pre-reqs at a CC and the other half at a 4 year). They told me that 20 hours of upper level science classes does a great job showing that you can handle more difficult classes and that you’re committed to the process. I think its really important when you consider who your competition is.

Like it or not, as non-trads, we have to compete with young bright things with degrees in bioengineering and other hard sciences. Upper level sciences are a good ways to show that you have the same academic chops that your competition does. In addition, being a non-trad, by nature, makes you more interesting.