NYC post-bacc advice

Hello all, I’m in a similar situation to PJ (Finance background)… I’ve been living and working in New York City in Finance for 3+ years and have a strong undergraduate GPA.

Does anyone have any experience/advice on the post-bacc programs located in NYC? I am looking to go back full-time. The four I have identified are NYU, Columbia, City College of CUNY and Hunter College of CUNY. As you can imagine, gathering info on NYU and Columbia is not too difficult, but I’m looking more specifically for insights into City College and Hunter. (Admissions, reputation, placement, course work, professors, support, etc.) Any and all feedback is appreciated.


Zach – I was in your exact position just a few months ago – strong GPA from a top undergrad, finance for 3 years on Wall Street, now starting my post-bac at City College. I looked everywhere, and from what I gathered both from med students, pre-med advisors at my alma mater, and advisors at the particular schools, if you have a strong undergrad record than you don’t necessarily have to go through a formal post bac program. So I turned down the $20K plus NYU and Columbia programs and headed up town to City. Great decision so far – the City science program is surprisingly strong, and I’ve already met 4 post-bac students that have similar backgrounds. I also looked at Hunter, but the Hunter admin office me that City was better for non-trad students because it is bigger, has better fliexible schedules, and your chances of getting into all of you classes is much greater. I applied late, during open admission, and had no problem at all getting all of my courses (Orgo, Physics and Molecular Bio). And best of all, my total bill for the semester is only a couple thousand dollars ($2000 for instate, $4000 for out of state)! And in the past year City has sent post-bac students to Columbia, Harvard, and Penn Med Schools, as well as tons of other great schools.

Have spoken with the Pre-med office, they are surprisingly available and informative. But I would definitely not at all depend on them to define your course of application – you have to be incredibly proactive in that capacity.

The one downside to City and Hunter are that they are city universities, so you do have quite a population of immature students that don’t quite belong on a college campus. But, in the science department I have found few non-serious students.

I hope this helps! Let me know if I can help you with your decision in any way.

Thanks very much for the reply… very helpful. Being saddled with the debt of Columbia/NYU before even entering med school is one of my biggest concerns.

The way I understand it, City does not have a “formal” post-bacc program like Hunter does; is that correct? Do you just do your class planning via a pre-med advisor then, customized to your needs? Is that where you mean you must be proactive in designing your schedule to meet med school requirements? Since you’re in Orgo, I assume you have some science credits already? I’d be starting from scratch.

One other question I have is regarding clinical experience. It may be too early to tell for you, but what types of opportunities/programs does City have for post-bacc students while taking classes? Or are you on your own to seek out opportunities?

Thanks again.

Hi Guys,

I’m in the same boat - looking to go to a school in NYC. After speaking with someone at CCNY, they mentioned there’s no financial aid available for post bacc students…is this true?


Aneeka – there is no CUNY money available for post bac, but there is federal money available – my entire 1st semester is paid for in federal loans, and the rest of my requirements will likely be paid for also.

Zach – no, there is no “formal” postbac program per se, but there is a supportive staff to help you out. Advise – go to the pre-med office BEFORE registering for classes, and bring a copy of your transcript(s). They’ll help you plan your schedule. As far as clinical experience, that has been another short-coming of City – so far I have used my own personal networks to arrange opportunities at Mt. Sinai. The school doesn’t have any formal affiliations to my knowledge. This has been my biggest challenge, but I have met several post-bacs that have had success in securing opportunities.

Aneeka -

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, there are three main ways to obtain money for post-bacc classes. Scholarships are not generally an option.

  1. You are eligible for federal financial aid for up to 12 consecutive months in order to take pre-requisites for admission into a professional program. I had to have a pre-med advisor certify every quarter that the courses I was taking were required for med school admission.

  2. You can apply as a regular undergrad seeking a second degree and are eligible for federal financial aid up to certain limits on total number of hours/quarters/money.

  3. You can apply for private loans through an educational lender. This option requires good credit.

    The second is probably the most preferable way, as it is tough to finish the pre-reqs in 12 consecutive months. Already having a degree, you are unlikley to get an scholarships and your federal aid will likely be limited to loans. Depending on income, though, you may be eligible for pell grants and perkins loans.

    Hope that helps.


Is there a certain “type” of pre-med clinincal experience that is more common or more highly valued than another? I would imagine that any relevant experiences you can come by through volunteering/working in a healthcare setting would be seen as valuable, but I’m just not sure.


Zach, adcoms just want to know that when you say, “I want to be a doctor,” that you know at least a little of what you’re talking about. Whatever sort of clinical exposure you get, the important thing is that you are able to see through the eyes of both the providers and the patients. You want to appreciate the predicament of being a patient - and the challenge of being his physician.

Volunteer and “low-level” clinical jobs may or may not look like they are going to give you this sort of exposure. But regardless of the job description, your challenge is to seek out that exposure, pick the brains of everyone you meet, and make it into a meaningful experience that really gives you insight into healthcare as it’s experienced by real people. Good luck!


I’ve been searching for the right volunteer opportunity and I just found it. I’m in Chicago, so the exact place won’t help you, but I am sure you can find something similar in NY. It’s a free clinic staffed entirely by volunteers. They train volunteers in triage, phlebotomy, and health education.

I would suggest calling the free clinics all over the city, explain who you are and that you want a long-term commitment (because you need to show a decent number of volunteer hours). In a free clinic they will actually need you, unlike a hospital - in this one, I will get the perfect combination of experience with patients, serving an underserved community, and good skills i’ll use forever. I have heard people say that volunteering at a hospital, they just get stuck doing paperwork. Though that may not always hold true, it might be a safer course of action to find a place that is dedicated to non-profit community service - so you can get hands-on experience.

I have also found that clinics and hospitals are in desperate need of translators - so if you speak spanish, or chinese, or sign language or something that might be a useful “in.” I don’t, unfortunately - but i’ve been wishing I did, as I’ve been calling around.

Good luck!

By late summer, City College of New York had no, repeat zero, in-house premed advising in place, for postbaccs or normal undergrads. 20-year-old undergrads were tasked with writing all committee letters for the 2007 entrance applicants.

Go to Hunter.

Another suggestion – if your alma mater has the resources, take your courses at City and use your alma mater’s pre-med board for everything else. I went to Duke, and as an alum we have unlimited access to resources and graduate school boards. So I can take my classes wherever, and have the Duke team mange my application process. I’m thinking several other schools should have this as well…

This is such a fantastic idea, and I wish I’d thought of it last year. I think a lot of undergrad alumni offices will let you have the prereq professors (from postbacc school) send sealed envelopes with your letters to them, to be collated with recommendations from the undergrad institution itself.

There is a difference between working with “the walking wounded” at a free clinic and being around patients who are actually in bed (hospital, hospice, etc.). Do try to balance out free clinic experiences with time in a hospital around patients who are too ill to leave immediately.