Masters or Straight to Post Bac?

Good morning all,

I have a slight dilemma and some insight/advice would be greatly appreciated!

So like many here, I decided to pursue a medical career after I graduated. I graduated from a public university with a very good standing, however I didn’t do so well my freshman and junior year and ended up graduating with a 2.8 GPA with only the English, sociology, psychology, and Calc I prerequisites to show. That was a year ago (2015) and since then I’ve been working full-time and part-time.

But as I said I decided to pursue medicine as of this year. I’ve volunteered and got my CPR/AED certification, but I have a feeling that is not enough to show academic potential to these post bacc programs (I am definitely in the mindset to give my all to academics). I still want to try applying however in hopes that I can get a chance at any one of the good programs.

However, I’ve been talking to people and some have said that instead of going straight to a post-bacc pre med program, I should instead go and get my masters and once I have a degree (+ a good post bacc GPA to use) I should then apply to the post bac pre med programs and from there, medical school. I’ve weighed out the pros and cons to doing such a plan and here’s what I have:


  • I have a masters or Ph.D. Great potential there.
  • I have a good academic standing thus making me more competetive for applying to post-bac programs.
  • I intend on pursing a masters or Ph.D in Sociology or Social Work and get some research experience.

  • Paying for another degree, plus post-bacc, PLUS medical school is going to weigh heavy on the wallet. But there are loan forgiveness programs (fingers crossed they stick around or get better) and/or a loan repayment program. Or I will win the lottery.

    I want to be in school for the Fall 2017 term. Full-time.

    Currently I am dedicating 2016/2017 to volunteering. I think I will take the GRE sometime in Dec.

    The ONLY other option I’ve thought of is to take all of the pre-requisites as a non-degree student at a four-year university but I’m not sure if that will give me a competitive post-grad GPA.

    Please any advice again, would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

Pursuing a masters because you want a masters degree and the experience that comes along with it is a good reason to do it. Getting a masters degree for the sole purpose of boosting your med school application is a waste in my opinion. I got an MBA years before applying to med school, and I had an interviewer grill me for like 5-10 minutes on why I wanted to go to business school but now medicine (can’t win with some people). Grad school GPA isn’t lumped in with the undergrad GPA, so you would still be at the “below average” range of GPA when it comes to apples-to-apples comparison with other applicants.

The other dilemma is that taking a few prereqs will not bring your overall GPA up that much. Recency of academic success is a good thing, but so is consistent academic performance. School name also unfortunately doesn’t carry much weight, especially if your GPA doesn’t support a strong academic showing on your part (I’m not trying to put you down).

I think you have several different paths, and again, this is purely my opinion.

  1. pursue a masters program, kill it, gain some experience in the field. If medicine is still your calling, finish up the prereqs. Showing some temporal spacing of academics with some “maturity” might gain you some credibility. Cons: takes longer to get into med school
  2. finish the prereqs now. I don’t know what the rest of your record is like, but hopefully you have some exceptional/unique things that set you apart and can compensate for the lower GPA. I would suggest, as I would to anyone since applying to med school is a total crapshoot, having a backup plan in case things don’t fall out in your favor.
  3. take some classes, bump up your GPA, and apply to a formal post bacc program that has a linkage to a med school. I don’t know what the requirements are, but I’ve heard some folks say some places won’t look at you without a 3.0. Definitely do some research into it before going down this road. Cons: Extra time and money

    Again, just my 2 cents, and others are bound to disagree with me.

Thank you very much for your input! As far as masters goes, you are correct that I should be doing it for the right reasons. To be honest, I am trying to find a masters degree that I am passionate about (of course relating to sociology). The back-up plan there would be to get a good job with that degree and save up some cash. However I understand that I need to raise my academic standing.

Option 1: This is looking plausible. Like MAAANNNY ppl who want to become doctors my goal is to help others and I hope all the experience I will gain will help me be a better doctor to patients. However I do want to be in and out since I hear the longer you stay out of school the harder it is to get back in it.

Option 2: Well I am about to volunteer for a government agency program. It’ll be a little less than a year long. But I want to go into a post bacc program because it offers extras like MCAT review and mock interviews (and the linkage you mentioned!) which would be great! However my back-up plan would be to take the prereqs and then hopefully join a research/study for the experience and knowledge.

Option 3: would taking a stats course be okay? And on top of that, is it acceptable to take these courses at a community college?

Also, I recently learned about Public Health/Health Sciences and lately I’ve been looking up getting a bachelors and masters in that. It would kill two birds with one stone if I could figure out how to pay for it haha.

Thank you again for your response. I’m still doing a lot of thinking and research but at least now I have a better idea of what my chances are without extra academics on my record.

How a school views where/when you took a course is really dependent on the school or who specifically at a school is looking at your application (did I mention that med school application feels like controlled chaos?). Some schools don’t accept CC credits, some schools accept CC credits and make no comparison to other forms of education, and some schools accept CC credits with a stated caveat that they are viewed as inferior. Same for online credits.

Some people try to tailor their educational path to what they feel will make them the “most competitive.” I took a different route, in that I had minimal options to pursue in-class prereqs after completing my undergrad. I was working full time with a heavy, unpredictable travel schedule, so I did online courses to knock out the prereqs I could, when I had the time. I scattered 4 courses over about 7 years. My goal was to do what I could, when I could, with the resources I had available, then hope that some schools would look at my application. It limited where I could apply, but I was willing to accept that. It seems like more schools are open to less traditional paths to medicine, so that may work in your favor if you choose to work/volunteer/take cc or online classes. But again, it all feels like a crapshoot. My general advice is to try to do brick and mortar, formal postbacc, check all the traditional boxes to fit the mold. If you can’t do that, then do what you can, when you can, and hope the cards fall out in your favor, because it’s better than the alternative of just giving up.

Killing the MCAT is always a large part of it. And, the rest is stated above, but you will need the pre-reqs either way. And, if you did pursue a science masters/doc candidate, then the tuition and stipend are included if you GRE well. Otherwise, you pay a lot for a masters of non-science. Sociology may vary by state and school as to giving you tuition paid and calling sociology a science. Most people I know in a science based GRE based doctoral candidate position would not be there if they had to pay for it. The hours are long, the courses are time consuming and low credit counts to reach your 48 credits needed, your hypothesis, the main profs labs need supervision, and you must grade tons of papers by lying undergrads who are doing everything to cheat or not get it done on time and then need more time or they??? Whine.

Good Luck, but to really stand out, you need a good MCAT score, and if you were in a state Masters in science, they are very good at taking those people after they have been professors (Phd) or did most of the process., and if you stay within that state’s borders.

Doing pre-reqs and working very hard at maximum MCAT could be the most efficient and effective. MCAT is hard to beat.