Intro and Post-Bacc question

Hello everyone. I was excited to stumble across this site. Thanks to the admins for creating it.

My name is Eric and, like many of you, I have no background in medicine, but I intend to be a doctor. Currently, I am 30 years old, have a bachelor’s degree in international business and have spent most of my adult life running two small travel companies here and in Europe. Of course, now I have set my sights on medicine.

So here’s the question. I have researched several post-bacc premed programs, but I would like to know if any of you had any thoughts on the benefits of doing a post-bacc program vs. taking the prereq courses on my own. (I searched for old topics, but didn’t find any that addressed this question.)

Money is obviously a big issue and some of the post-bacc programs don’t even have any link with consort schools. I have heard med students say both that it is definitely worth it, while others say just to buckle down and get the prereq’s done independently. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance. Hope everyone’s having a great day.


As you suggest, you’re going to hear many varied comments on this. Keep checking the forums because I think this has been discussed numerous times, most recently in the past couple of months.

My own take is that a post-bacc program is completely unnecessary. More often than not you will be able to do the coursework for much cheaper without the formalized program, and find at least the same level of support. I am uncertain as to how the linkages work, but from what I’ve gathered from others you are not guaranteed a spot in the med school even when linkages exist. I would say to do your research and really find out what you’re going to be getting for the extra money that you will be paying to attend a formalized program. Also, before making your decision make sure that you will, in fact, be able to get the courses you want in the timeline and order you would like to given you don’t choose to do a formalized post-bacc program.

I did them on my own and it worked fine for me. Because I worked on campus, I was able to keep my job and complete my pre-reqs in about two years. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

I did a formal postbacc and recommend seriously considering one for a few reasons.

  1. Every year you don’t waste on prereqs represents future income. From a cost-benefit standpoint, there is a significant reason to start medical school as soon as possible (this is assuming you can get the grades and MCAT score to keep your application competitive). So I would say to do an established 1 yr postbacc program with linkages, but it may be too late to get into such a program for this year. Second best option is to do a 1yr postbacc w/o linkages at a well-regarded school (see #2 below)

  2. Name brand of your school does matter, especially at the top medical schools. A postbacc coming from Columbia or USC is going to be regarded differently as someone coming from a state school or worse, a community college. This is not to say you can’t get into a great medical school after a do-it-yourself postbacc. But statistically, you are much more likely to get into med school if you do a formal postbacc, their percentages are between 75%-95%. In my mind I wanted to do everything I could to maximize my chances, and I considered formal postbacc tuition as a 40k fee to increase my chances of gaining med school admission.

  3. The other plus of a formal postbacc is most pretty much guarantee that you will get the classes you need when you need them. This is not always the case at state schools.

Great responses. Thanks for the varied insights. They are appreciated.

I have looked into it further and this week I am contacting the med schools in my state to see if I hear directly from them what they think about these programs.

I have boiled it down to one program, which is a state school (University of North Florida) and has no linkages. But it would cost the same as taking the prereq’s at a local university. The UNF post bacc program ( has advising and volunteer services as well as other helpful features, but I haven’t decided if these aren’t things I could arrange on my own.

So, now it’s more specific–state school post bacc program, no linkages, $130/credit hr–does it seem worth it?

Another consideration for me is that after being out of college for nine years I wonder if being in an organized program might be better to get me back into academic life.

Thanks again everyone.

Well, I’m in the “take a post-bacc” camp for 2 reasons. First, I was unable to get my prerequisites on my own, as I could not get into the classes I needed when general registration opened (at ANY school close enough for me to drive to). Also, even if I had registered as a biology major to get earlier access to registration, it would have taken me 2 years to complete the courses due to the requirement of taking general chemistry prior to organic chemistry.

But I think my post-bacc program not only helped me with timing (I did gen chem I and I with lab in 2 shortened summer semesters (9 weeks total - ack!), but provided a lot of other benefits to support my medical school application.

The medical director of the program assisted in arranging medical shadowing experiences. The academic director assisted many students to get research experience. The program included a seminar on the health care system which lasted the whole year and gave us a lot of discussion and information on issues which will affect us in practice, and which we were also prepared to discuss in medical school interviews. We got committee letters for our application. Throughout the year we had special sessions with the staff (the director had worked full time in medical school admissions for 20 years), walking us through each step of the application process. They were willing to review our application essay for the main AMCAS and AACOMAS application. We had a group KAPLAN class scheduled to fit within our course schedule for MCAT prep. The program hired a tutor for physics and for organic chemistry to give us additional help when needed. They did mock interviews with each of us - with feedback afterwards. Now I can’t vouch for all post-bacc programs, but I certainly felt the money was worth it for the great preparation I got. And the school is well-respected and programs were perhaps more willing to consider me based on the institution. That’s my input. I particularly needed the medical school admission counseling - I think I might have done med school post undergrad, 25 years ago, if I had understood the process better and knew what I should do to prepare and what I needed to do when.


Hi Eric,

I am currently a postbac at Columbia and definitely think a postbac program is the way to go over just taking the prereq courses. Here are my reasons why:

  1. Advising, advising, advising. I know that you mentioned you could possibly arrange advising on your own but I think that this would be difficult. A postbac advisor knows the ropes and can give you specific guidance and feedback. You receive significant support throughout the entire application process.

  2. The organization and sequence of the program makes things a lot easier than just figuring stuff out on your own.

  3. Many programs, including the one at Columbia,also helps set us up with volunteer, research and shadowing opportunities that are vital to medical/dental school applications.

  4. Another perk of some programs (like Columbia again) is that you have the opportunity to link to medical schools which cuts down the application time and costs. You start medical school the fall after you finish your postbac program rather than spending an extra “gap year” applying and interviewing.