post bac pre med programs- which ones work and which ones are full of it?

So after doing about as much research that can be done from my desk at home, its become apparent that some select post bac premed programs have extremely good intentions in preparing their students for med school, while others seem to provide the bare minimum for you to just wander through and cross your fingers in hopes of getting in.

does anyone have some real suggestions/recommendatio ns as to programs that aren’t over hyped and realistic? programs that exist with intent and not just for the sake of having a program to suffice. I used AAMC’s website in finding the programs, then researched them from there.

what’s better, grad or undergrad?

certificate or credit only?

is having affiliations with med schools important? does that even add a helpful edge?

how bout some other things such as location?

environments conducive of learning without distraction?

to be honest, I’m open to anything anyone wants to say about these programs in general, subjective or objective. I’m just looking for input of any kind. I’ve got till the fall semester to at least have an idea. So I’ve got my work cut out for me. thanks guys. I love this website.

Is there a reason why you’re intent on post-bacc programs? Because many of us have done a do-it-yourself “postbacc” that worked just fine.



search in these forums and you’ll find many discussions on post-bacc programs. Not much new information can be added that hasn’t already been posted. Basically, just find a reputable local university, preferably one that will write a committee letter for you and aggregate your application materials. Work really hard and make the highest possible grades, and prepare really well for the MCAT. Formal post-bacc programs don’t add much to this mix and they tend to be rather expensive.

I myself am doing a “do-it-yourself post-bacc” like Mary suggested. By that I mean enrolling at a local university and taking all the required courses. (Avoid community colleges if at all possible)

When I had started down this path, I didn’t give the “formal post-bacc” option too much thought as these programs don’t exist in abundance here in Michigan.

Here are some hypothetical differences between either a formal / informal post-bacc

  1. The Crowd: Yes, if you go the informal route you will be surrounded by immature “young adults” who have no common sense whatsover, although you can learn to tolerate this. A formal post-bacc might have an older more work-force experienced crowd.

  2. Specificity: The formal post-bacc might be more attuned towards the needs of an older pre-med, whereas the advisors in a normal university might be more focused towards giving advice to normal undergraduates. In my opinion this is overrated, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a 22 year old undergrad or a 30 something, you need to demonstrate the same set of positive achievements .

  3. Conferring of a Master’s Degree: I guess this is a plus on paper if the post-bacc awards a degree or certificate, but adcom’s will probably figure out that it’s associated with a post-bacc.

    Having said that, I do know people who have succeeded in going either the formal or informal route. It’s just that in my opinion, after doing the cost vs quality vs flexibility analysis, enrolling at a local university seemed like the better choice for me at the time.

thanks for the posts guys.


I guess for my situation I’m trying to redefine my didactic abilities, seeing how I don’t feel what I did in college is what I am truly capable of. However, I’m not really old I guess, just more of the non-traditional route. So theres a real gray area between my previous college years and now- no distinguishing “I’m older and wiser now” line that I’ve crossed. Yet in my heart I’m a different person. So basically, I was under the impression that going to a post bac program showed dedication to making those changes and not the whole “grab bag” approach to getting pre reqs done, some of which I’ve already had and am retaking once again. But please, by all means enlighten me, if this isn’t what these programs stand for I’d like to hear an outside opinion seeing how the only impression I’m left with is after talking on the phone with these places and basically getting a “our program is great pep talk.”


I think Mich state is the only one that has something of a post bac program right? I live in Mi too and thats why its a big leap if I go somewhere cause its going to involve a lot to make it happen. but I don’t care I just want to make sure its worth while. Whats your “rate of speed” with classes? 2 or so a semester? do you work?

thanks everyone, your comments are more helpful than you know.

I personally am a fan of the do-it-yourself route. It offers a lot more flexibility and is usually considerably cheaper than a formal program. I don’t know that a formal program shows more dedication. If anything, I would think that doing it yourself shows a lot more dedication because it’s up to you set your own pace and goals. If you have already taken some of the pre-reqs, you may find that you aren’t even eligible for many formal programs as the exclude anyone who has previously taken those courses. Still others set relatively high GPA’s as entrance requirements, making it virtually impossible for someone with a poor ugrad GPA to get in. They do this because they want to tout that they have a high acceptance rates to medical schools, so they want to accept people that they think have the best chance of getting in.

There are pros to formal programs, some mentioned above. Usually they provide a lot of advising and assistance in guiding you through the process, help with the application, MCAT preparation, letters of recommendation and some even offer med school linkages. However, non-trads are still usually eligible for pre-med advising and services at regular universities.

Many formal programs are extremely competitive, not only to get into, but throughout the program (especially those with linkages). It can be much harder to stand out among such a cohort than to stand out amongst the regular undergrad crowd in the do-it-yourself approach.

I don’t think doing it yourself is a “grab bag” approach. On the contrary, it takes a lot of time and dedication to lay out an appropriate course, schedule the right classes, and do well in them each quarter/semester. My impression from talking with admission people has been that they generally don’t regard a formal post-bacc any higher than doing it yourself, as long as you do it well. This is probably more true in areas of the country where there formal programs don’t really exist. Along the coasts where these programs are abundant and med school competition is more fierce, they may have a different view and a formal program may be more advantageous.

Good luck with your decision.

I did it myself, scheduling around my job and lucky enough to stay employed while working on my pre-reqs. It worked very well for me and I’m in my second year of medical school right now.

Of course, it’s important to get stellar grades while doing this and take great care to make sure you take the correct pre-requisite courses (make sure they’re the ones for science majors, for instance), with labs, and generally dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. But it can save you a bunch of bucks that you’ll need later for med school.


You ‘look’ like a business dude; so my suggestion to you is more conceptual & prompted by the title of the thread you chose.

Your chosen thread title implies that it is the program, be it pre-formed or self-designed, that yields the desired result - a passive process, if you will. However, reality is quite diametrically opposed. Reconfigure your title, and the paradigm in your mind, to see this as you can & will make this work independent of where you choose to go. The place you choose can aid in your actively engaged process, but it is non-the-less a sub-factor in a process centered on you. This is a much mmore active concept - one in which you take ownership.

Sounds a bit zen…I swear I have not been imbibing!

Dave, doesn’t this just translate into “You get out of the program what you put into it”? :slight_smile: (No matter what the “reputation” of the program…)



  • In reply to:

I think Mich state is the only one that has something of a post bac program right? I live in Mi too and thats why its a big leap if I go somewhere cause its going to involve a lot to make it happen. but I don't care I just want to make sure its worth while. Whats your "rate of speed" with classes? 2 or so a semester? do you work?

Sorry for the late reply.

I had heard about the MSU program, but that would have required relocation for me as I live 90 minutes from E. Lansing, I felt that for post-bacc that would have been a bit excessive.

I took 3 classes / semester and 1 spring class, and started about 1 year ago exactly. Done with prereqs after this semester. By prereqs I mean the 1Y Bio, 1Y GChem, 1Y Orgo, 1Y Physics. Getting ready for June MCAT and also applying at the same time. During this time I worked part time 15 hrs/week (my employer was flexible) as a lab assistant, and did volunteering at a hospital as well. I had considered sticking to my full-time job while doing this, but for me it was either/or since my old job required over 90% travel.
  • jcolwell Said:
Dave, doesn't this just translate into "You get out of the program what you put into it"? :-) (No matter what the "reputation" of the program....)




I may be out of turn as this is my first post, but I for one am leaning more heavily toward a “program” for financial aid purposes. I currently work in finance and can’t maintain my current work schedule and take courses at a reasonable pace. I think a program that offers financial aid would work better for me as I could use the financial aid to pay current expenses and workm a part-time job to pay off my undergrad loans at the same time. At least it makes some sense in my head…

Actually, I doubt that doing a formal program will gain you a significant advantage as far as financial aid. The federal student loan program allows you to borrow money to take courses that are pre-requisites for a professional program. This is how I financed my pre-reqs. The downside is that you are only eligible for 12 months and it is very difficult to complete the pre-reqs in that amount of time, especially with the chemistry requirements.

If you haven’t maxed out your undergrad aid (in either dollar amount or credit hours), you may be able to re-enroll as a degree seeking undergrad and get additional loans that way. Another option, if you have good credit, are private educational loans which generally have fewer restrictions than federal loans.

The one way in which I can see a formal program helping you get more financial aid that you could get on your own is if it is a Special Master’s Program, because of the different eligibility rules for graduate level courses vs. undergrad courses.

Investigate your options thoroughly - formal programs are usually more expensive than taking your pre-reqs through a local university. There are some advantages to formal programs, but I don’t know that ability to get financial aid is one of them.

  • In reply to:
The one way in which I can see a formal program helping you get more financial aid that you could get on your own is if it is a Special Master's Program, because of the different eligibility rules for graduate level courses vs. undergrad courses.

Just a side thought generally about master's programs. Unless you are doing a specifically post-bacc/special masters program or a masters in a field that your are currently in, you be better off sticking w/UG level. In addition to usually the less expensive credit costs at UG, there is ome thought that masters degree taken to simply bolster you resume/application is not viewed favorably by adcoms.

So then what abouy smp programs?

It’s up to you. Where do you want to go to med school? What are your resources? What are your responsibilities? Going against the grain here I would do a formal post-bacc somewhere like Columbia if I could, give it my all, work no other jobs, have no obligations other than me, get a 35 on the MCAT, 4.0 post-bacc, and get into Johns Hopkins. Sounds really cool to me.

I’ll give you my example to further muddy the waters about your many options. I’m actually in a formal pre-med post-bacc, but it’s almost by default. There is no other 4-yr college within reasonable distance at which to finish the pre-reqs (after a year of CC). It’s very cheap, and I got a half scholarship. The support and advice are lovely. It’s not high-powered, the fellow students are somewhat young, small classes, but perhaps not as academically rigorous as I would like. So, yes, it’s a post-bacc, but perhaps not what you would think of.

There are many ways to cobble your pre-reqs together. If you plan well, one way doesn’t appear to get you farther than another. Many four year colleges will take you on just as if they had a post-bacc program, advisors and everything, if you show up and ask. I think that the key is that you want to be on the “inside” with the pre-med advisor(s), and be a strong advocate for yourself so that you get appropriate support for your med-school application. Either way you need a solid plan and a solid advisor.

In answer to your question, the programs don’t “work” or “not work.” It’s you. Your grades. MCAT scores. Interviews and personality.

If you really want to do the formal post-bacc, I would visit the school, see if it’s a good fit, talk to the students. I believe that after you fully research your options, the right path for you will sort of bubble up to the top, and you’ll know what to do, what feels most right to you.

Good luck.

(Long post. Forgive me if it sounds preachy.)

While I’m working on the med school apps the first time around, my sister just spent the last two years, first research post bac pre med programs and then applying (and waiting…) She’s from northern new england and wanted to stay there, so she stuck to programs in Mass, Vermont, Connecticut, etc. She narrowed her search to three outstanding programs that filled the prereqs, prepared for the MCAT and didn’t break the bank. The University of Vermont at Mont. was of course the most economical, but with the medical school right there, admission to the program, above a 3.5 average and 30+ MCAT guaranteed you endorsement to the University’s medical school. The other 2 programs she was most seriously considering were at Tufts and Harvard. Both schools had identical endorsements attached to their programs. She was accepted to Harvard and not Tufts, go figure. She’s 29 now, and was a C high school student, B/B+ college student who graduated after 8 years with her undergrad and taught middle school for a three years. Completely different type of candidate and they loved her.