One-year vs two-year post bacc?

Hi folks. First-time poster here.

I’d love to get some opinions on an issue…

I’m 37, just recently returned to school and am finishing up a BA in psychology. During my studies, I became interested in neuroscience, and want to attend med school with the ultimate goal of entering the field of psychiatry or neurology.

I have two (only two) pre-med courses thus far: Bio 1 and Gen Chem 1. I’m looking into formal (and informal) post back programs, as are so many on these forums, and having made some inquiries, I know that I’m okay with having these two classes under my belt, but that any more would interfere with post-bacs’ scheduling etc.

So, my question is this:

• I can either graduate this may with a “regular” psych degree, and try to enter one of the post backs that starts in the fall (NYU and USC are both options) — these generally seem to be two-year programs…

  • OR - I can stay on at my school (Occidental) and finish the “neuroscience-within-psyc h” track, which would add an anatomy class, a neurobiology class, and possibly a biochem course. Then, maybe, I could try for one of the one-year intensive programs (á la Bryn Mawr, Scripps etc…)…

    Do you think it would be advantageous in the long run to have these extra courses under my belt? Again, these courses would not interfere directly with any post-bac’s program (I’ve asked).

    Or do you think I should just jump ahead into a fall program?

    Thanks all.

Neurobio and anatomy aren’t really on the MCAT and will be covered in med school, so they don’t really benefit your med school application. Biochem is also covered in med school, however, is a required class for a few programs (prior to application). The upper-level classes don’t fulfill the general bio requirements, so you’d still have to take gen bio 2. My advice would be finish your BA in psych and do the 2 year post-bacc. I think you’ll appreciate the extra time to spend studying physics (instead of cramming it into a 1 year post-bacc program).

(my two cents)

I would not take the pre-reqs in an accelerated year. Stick with the two year. I’m studying for the MCAT now and it’s crazy the amount of material that one needs to have down COLD in order to start to manipulate the question to ask exactly what you are looking for.

Plus, to reiterate what Greg said. The upper levels do not count for much. Better to get the degree and then take you time and do as best as you can in your pre-reqs.


I strongly concur with the two previous posters.

  1. there is a hard-to-kill myth that premeds must somehow in a biological sciences major and that this will improve their chances to medical school. In fact, any major is acceptable as long as you have the prereqs and do well.

  2. the upper level neuro/bio courses you mention serve no primary function to medical school app or MCAT. Time, money, and resources would be better spent preparing directly for either the prereqs and the MCAT.

  3. I am not a fan of one-year postbaccs. They either start in June with a summer of general bio, general chem, and lab, which for students who have been out of school a while may be a killer way to begin. Or they end with a summer session of organic chem and upper level courses plus a late MCAT, which puts most students late in the application cycle

    in sum, I would finish your current degree, then work on either a formal or DIY 2 year timeline PB

Thanks a lot, everybody. Great advice.