Hi again! And... Post-Bacc v SMP?

Hi everyone! Very sorry to have missed this past summer’s conference, but I will be sure not to foolishly schedule a vacation against it next year! In the meantime, I have the usual question about post-bacc work vs. SMPs:

I was planning to apply to med schools this year while I completed an MPH in Boston, but at the belated recommendation of my undergrad pre-med advisor (“you should take higher-level science courses, such as an SMP”) I applied and was accepted to BU’s MA in Medical Sciences/MPH program for this fall.

Now, my cume GPA from undergrad ('02) is a 3.16, and the BCPM is about a 2.6. BU accepted me despite the low BCPM, but that’s probably just because these programs are so lucrative. My question… Is any SMP really going to help if my BCPM is below 3.0?

There was steady upward progress during undergrad (F,C,B,B-,C,B-,B,A,A,A - the A’s being in Biochem courses I took last year), but obviously, that F is destroying my GPA. I know I have to retake Gen Chem to get credit for the F/C, and one med school I spoke with said I need to have completed all of my pre-req work within 4 yrs (so I’d have to retake everything - har har)… but if I were to simply go ahead with the SMP/MPH and retook only GC (and aced the MCAT,etc), would I still be a viable candidate for admission in '08? I have worked in biomedical research for many years, and would like to take higher level science courses and get a masters regardless of application strategies. I just looked into taking post-bacc work at Harvard Extension, but they schedule the GC and OChem against each other, so I would end up postponing my application for several years simply in order to retake these two classes. I know the application is a marathon, not a sprint, but it seems that the only way to improve candidacy to allo is to spend two years pulling up my BCPM >3.0 with undergad work, and then an additional year in an SMP to “show success at a higher level” to excuse my “non-trad” status…

So: Do I need to spend some time improving GPA >3.0 despite “upward trend” before SMP? Or would I still have a chance at allo if MCAT/SMP goes well without taking 8 more undergrad courses?

Thanks, as always!


I asked my advisor a while back about the SMP idea and was told it’s not a bad thing to do but is quite expensive and is not really necessary to get into medical school, unless BU is your top choice. He suggested just taking more upper level science courses. But, each person works differently; an SMP may be just the ticket for you.

Maybe you could defer your SMP for a year and update your prereqs–gen chem, bio, physics, and orgo next year–and concentrate on acing them. Then try applying for '08 admission and see what happens. This may get you where you want to be for a lot less money. BU’s SMP is megabucks, as I recall.

Good luck!

Thanks for the help - the med schools have been less than forthcoming with advice. Yes, BU is absurdly expensive, which is why I am reluctant to jump into an additional masters if I would still be limited b/c of my GPA. However, for financial reasons I would need to go to school full-time, and scheduling conflicts prevent retaking Gen Chem (which is req) and OChem (which wouldn’t hurt) concurrently at HES - which would mean I would need to go 2 yrs simply to retake those classes.

Perhaps I’m being too impatient, but that doesn’t seem to make much sense.

I plan to stay in the Boston area, and I would have done the MPH in Health Law at BU regardless. I don’t mind taking and paying for the additional MAMS if it will help my appliction (and in fact look forward to taking higher-level bio classes), but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing the “big picture”, as it were, and spending $40K to still be stopped at the gates due to the BCPM.

If I can find a way to take both GC and OChem within one year, then I would definitely consider deferring (or reapplying to) the MAMS.

Well, you could take summer orgo and thus finish your prereqs in 12 months. Since you’ve taken orgo before it might not be an unreasonable thing to do, but it’s not for the faint of heart–a year of orgo in 7 weeks, with a weekly exam. You could probably even squeeze in an MCAT in late June. Normally I wouldn’t recommend such a fast track but if you’ve taken these courses before and need to refresh the content and have time for the intensity of the schedule, this might make sense.