Masters vs postbacc?


Im currently entering my 4th and final year of undergrad and my goal is to get into a california med school. as of now, my gpa is what one would call “not competitive” to say the least and my MCAT is scheduled in less than two weeks and Im not expecting to rock it.

So i was planning on taking an alternative route to get into a cali med school. i think a masters in public health program or a postbacc would best suit my goal. but i dont know which one to do though.

i would very much appreciate anyone who can tell me details, typical admission requirements, deadlines, and pros and cons of both the mph programs and postbacc programs.


If your GPA is not competitive, a Masters program won’t help it. AMCAS does not count graduate-level classes towards either GPA. A post-bacc will do more for you here.

I also would reschedule the MCAT if you don’t feel like you’ll do well. You don’t want to take it for practice, and if you’re not looking to apply for 2010, there’s no rush.

you only want to take the mcat once if at all possible. so if you’re confident you won’t do your best, i strongly suggest you postpone it to a date when you think you can. maybe after you’ve been thru a bit of postbacc?

AlwaysAK, I would agree with the others regarding your MCAT timing. I think you it may also help to figure out why you feel you’re not going to do well. If it’s an issue of not being prepared for the material, then postponing might work well. If, instead, it’s because of test anxiety, I’d consider getting some help with this before taking the exam. If it’s a matter of feeling that you know the material inside and out but just aren’t performing well on practice exams, there’s a resource I can hook you up with on strategies for taking exams. It’s a group that provides individual (one-on-one) instruction centering around HOW to take the test–they’ve got some good strategies. Just drop me a note on here if you’d like their info.

P.S. If your situation allows, consider branching out your geographic location for medical school. Not knowing your circumstances, I don’t know whether this is even a possibility, but it can provide you a chance to explore another region of the country if you’re up for the experience. I think the reality is CA schools are very difficult to crack with mediocre grades/MCAT.

Watch out - the majority of post-bacc programs (where you take the pre-med requirements) will not accept students who have already gone as far as Organic Chem. I was in the same boast my senior year, and tried to take additional advanced science classes to eke my GPA up after I couldn’t get into a post-bacc, before realizing it wouldn’t help and had to do a special Masters (or wait a few more years until my prereqs expired… which probably would have gotten me in sooner, as it stands :P).

It’s unfortunate, because the SMP is far more expensive and doesn’t improve your chances all that much (the UG BCPM matters far more), but when I tried in the early 2000’s the post-baccs really were just for career-changers and not “GPA repair”. They may have changed over the years, in which case I say go for it, but don’t bother with an MPH. If your science grades aren’t competitive enough, the adcoms really aren’t interested in anything extra that’s not science (and even though I have an MPH in Epidemiology, public health is not science! :P)

A Master’s in Public Health does not help if you don’t have a very solid BCPM GPA already. Public health is considered “soft science” and doesn’t make you look more competent to AdComs in med school. You have to have the hard science stuff down.