Formal post bacc vs. second bachelor's vs. Pre-requisites on my own

Hi all!

I am a brand new registered member though I have been following the site for some time!

As a little background, I am currently finishing up my bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. I am doing my clinical internship at a hospital so I have a ton of direct patient contact experience, as well as experience attending and presenting at interdisciplinary meetings and working with the rest of the medical team to determine appropriate treatment options for patients from the music therapy perspective. I have always been interested in medicine but ultimately decided I did not want to give up music and decided to combine the two fields and go into music therapy (that is a short version of that story!). While I love the work I am doing as a music therapist, working at the hospital helped me realize that I want to combine music and medicine but from a physician standpoint and not the other way around. Yay!

I have searched through the site and looked at the different paths people are taking but I still had a few questions.

A formal post-bacc program seems to be sometimes unnecessary and expensive and there are other ways to go about getting the pre-requisites for med school. However, I am nervous about planning out the pre-requisites on my own and wonder if I should apply to some formal post-baccs.

Another option I have thought of is a second bachelors degree. One of the state schools in my area offers a second bachelors degree in Biochemistry which would cover all of the pre-requisites in a more formal setting and would be cheaper than a formal post-bacc. Does anyone have any experience with a second bachelors degree or is this a waste of money?

And if I were to do it on my own, any tips on how to best plan out the pre-requisites?

I am sorry if these questions have been answered a million times but I couldn’t find the correct type of information I wanted! Thank you so much for your help!


The ultimate choice is yours, but I would try to weigh all of your options and pick what will work best for you. I chose to go for a 2nd degree in Biochem/Biotech. 1) it gave me a back up i was interested in if med school didn’t work out. 2)It was waaaayyy cheaper than the formal post bacc I was accepted to. 3)I was actually able to complete my pre-reqs faster than the post bacc, plus take upper level biochem classes that truly helped me in my first year of med-school.

However, I actually took the MCAT a year sooner than I thought I would and scored what I needed to get in a year earlier than plan and did not finish the 2nd degree, so I technically did a do it yourself post bacc.

The downside of what i did, was that I had to do everything on my own, which meant working out my schedule in the most effective way (which was faster, and more flexible than the post bacc)and I did not have any formal support from the university pre med counselor. (wouldn’t see me because of my low u/g GPA) My Bio prof, and my physician mentor would turn out to be amazing guides through the process and I would not have gotten through the application process without them. So, if you do go the route, find out what pre-med support you will get from your university, and if none, seek out a mentor and/or professional guidance (wish i would have done the latter, although everything worked out and I am exactly where i wanted to be all along, it was more stressful than it needed to be, hindsight being 20/20) Welcome to OPM and best of luck on your journey.

Welcome! We are so glad you came out of the shadows.

I second what CelticDoc says here. Having a guide or mentor of some kind can be extremely important when navigating this process. I did my pre-reqs on my own, and I had no counsel. It was tough, but my OPM friends got me through.

The upside to declaring a 2nd bachelors degree, even if you have no intention of finishing, is that it allows you to apply for financial aid. Keep in mind, however, that I think any $$ you borrow now may impact how much you can borrow later. (I think there is a cap).

I only took the bare minimim pre-reqs (as a “non-degree seeking student”), and I just paid for it as I went…but I had tuition reimbursement through my company, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it that way otherwise.

On the other hand…A formal post-bacc is definitely a structured, highly supportive environment, and many of my peers on this forum have been happy with their experience.

Bottom line? Know thyself. If you need the structure and guidance of a formal program, then that’s what you should do. If you can get it done on your own, then that’s fine too. There isn’t a wrong way…just a way that’s better for you personally. Just know that you don’t have to actually finish the 2nd bachelors to get into med school…if you go that route and change your mind.

Best of luck!

Great advice already posted by others. Some of your decision will rest on what’s available in your area if you’re tied to it (“informal” post-bac options which would likely be cheaper than a “formal” post-bac). I would also investigate carefully from among your “informal” options what support (if any) you might get from the premed advising office, as others have pointed out. This also includes getting a premed committee letter, if this exists at any of the institutions you’re considering. As a degree candidate you may be eligible for it; as a “special” non-degree student you may not–it depends on the institution. Just another thing to consider.

The good news is that you have really valuable experience as a music therapist, and med schools will find that both compelling and interesting. Send me an email if you have further questions about the post-bac route since I know all of those options extremely well, having directed two post-bac programs.

Best of luck to you!


I agree with celticdoc2016’s comment on “know thyself.” I will tell you my experience with it.

I returned after 8 years out of school, getting a Social Science BA at that. I listed out the premed requirements, plus a few extra courses so I could do PA should my opinion change. The trick is identifying classes you need and assembling the pathways to them regarding prerequisites.

i.e., for the most common Premed of 2 chem, 2 bio, 2 O Chem, 2 Physics:

-> Gen Chem I -> Gen Chem II -> O Chem I -> O Chem II I skipped into chem and did OK, but it was a miserable semester.

Gen Bio I -> Gen Bio II

Gen Physics I -> Gen Physics II

Identify how to knock them out; prioritize Chem since it generally takes 4 semesters. (I did summers too.) I did them between two community colleges as an undeclared student and then one of my state’s major universities as a returning grad student. It was a lot cheaper than the advertised postbac.

Thank you all for the great information and support! The only formal post-bacc program in my area is pretty expensive so I think I am going to do the “informal” route.

I am setting up a meeting with an adivsor at a local school to see what my options are ie. declaring or not declaring a major, what supports they have for applying to med school etc. Thanks for the great questions to ask them!

OK Old Pre Meds…I am so excited I can hardly contain myself after reading this thread. I’ve been on here a while too, and had no inkling that a second Bachelor’s degree could be an option for obtaining pre-reqs. I decided to research it, based on this thread. I am stunned, and so excited I can barely stand myself at the moment!!!

The University, right here in this town I live in, Offers a BS in Chemistry - PreMedical. The curriculum for the program has all the pre-reqs, plus some courses I think would be invaluable ( Biochemisty, Genetics). Based on my previous transcipts, it would not be a problem to transfer in. They require at least 37 credits to be taken at the school for graduation with the degree. I figure, I will need 3 semesters of work to get everything I need and meet the requirements for the degree. They do have a committee as well. Now the real shocker - They have a financial aid calculator on the site. Even as a non-trad living off campus, Tuition, room and board, fees, etc. would be fully covered by aid. The cost of tuition for an in-state resident is half of what I would’ve paid at a SUNY in New York State. I would only need to come up with 1200.00 out of pocket. I could walk away with another degree, a committee recommendation, and very little expended in terms of student loans. Holy Koan Batman!! My commitment to NHSC ends in October. I could be in school in January…here, and not have to move, and not have to stress aid…AND further research reveals multiple scholarships and grants for returning women who are MY AGE - I can even get one from AARP!!! Old Pre Meds saves the day!! Again!!!

That is such fabulous news, Vicki!! Wohoo!!



Have you taken any of the chemistry courses yet? I’m a little confused. Maybe this was just my school, but don’t you need to have taken the “General” or “Intro to” Chem classes before you take the more advanced electives? I assume you’d have to take a few upper level chem courses for the degree. I can’t figure out how that would be done in just three semesters (plus the other premed prereqs).

Be careful about biting off more than you can chew. A full load of science courses is no walk in the park–especially if you’re shooting for A’s across the board!

I have enough credits in all other areas to transfer in as a Junior. No, I have not even had the most BASIC chemistry courses, but their course sequence for the major starts with the lower level courses - Gen Chem I and Gen Chem II. They have a Biology requirement, which my 25 year old courses meet, but I have a GOOD aptitude for Bio, so I am looking at the requirements, and the course sequence, and can see how I can “balance” each semester with things that would be VERY hard, and some things that will be very easy ( or at least courses that I have some degree of aptitude for.) Since I would matriculate, the funding issue disappears, and I am delighted at the generosity of the State of Maryland towards its’ residents. So as long as I am fully matriculated and degree seeking, even if it takes me 4 or 5 semesters, it still ends up being the most AFFORDABLE option that is fully funded. Since I live in the same town as the University, certainly summer sessions are an option as well. I would probably be in the same boat in a Post Bacc, taking several hard sciences all at once. I just have not been able to figure out a way to actually fund a post bacc, but this is an option that is fully fundable. Again, part-time out of my own pocket is NOT an option…Just roll up your sleeves, drink another cup of coffee, and DO THE WORK…is how I see it!!