pursue a masters?

When people say that you should take advanced science classes in a do-it-yourself post-bacc, does that mean undergrad courses only, or also graduate level courses? If graduate level courses are more advanced and will better prepare you for med school, what about pursuing a masters degree? Will an MS degree with research add favorably to my admissions package? I know that is probably a longer route particularly if the normal pre-reqs are needed to do well on the mcat and meet admissions requirements. However I have some time until I can quit my job and go full time to school, and I see some additional potential advantages -

  1. taking an MS program at the local state medical school will give me good exposure to prof’s there and potential high-impact LOR’s

  2. if med school doesn’t happen I have something to move forward with for a PhD or other direction

    The MS program I am looking at is 5 hours a semester, and so I could take at least 1 other pre-req course concurrently. Any thoughts on this? Is it better just to focus on the undergrad pre-reqs and higher level undergrad courses?

For whatever reason, Masters’ degrees are usually not looked on especially highly by Adcoms. While the level of the science is undeniably high, I believe that there are concerns about grade inflation. Either way, the general advice I’ve seen around here is not to rely on masters programs to strengthen your perceived academic qualifications.

If you still need your undergrad pre-reqs and still need to prep for the MCAT, I would recommend you definitely focus on that. You may be able to take some really interesting upper-level stuff as an undergrad, as well - I was able to take a grad level Molecular Neuroscience course, which was simply fascinating.

Good luck with it!

The most ideal courses to take to prove you can handle medical school are actual medical school courses. There are quite a few medical schools that will allow you as a non-degree seeking student to take the very same courses that the first and second year medical students are taking (with the most notable exception being Gross Anatomy Lab because are there only so many people you can fit around a cadaver).

In your situation though, I’d probably just stick with finishing and mastering the premedical prerequisites, then look at which advanced level courses or programs to pursue next. Maybe after finishing your basic prerequisites, you might want to jump right in and attend a SMP at a medical school (like Georgetown and Drexel) where you take classes alongside actual medical students. You might also want to consider a program getting an MS in Biomedical Sciences (like what KCOM and LECOM have) where you take some medical school courses and some graduate courses.

From my interview experience at KCOM, I believe KCOM does believe in those who have done well in some graduate-level biomedically-related courses or have done well in getting a biomedically-related master’s degree. I met a few students while there who by their own admission had marginal GPAs and MCATs. They said they were able to tip the scales in their favor with their graduate coursework. Acutally, there was one in my interview group who was a graduate student in KCOM’s MS Biomedical Sciences program. I felt he had a major advantage over the rest of us because he had already developed a yearlong rapport with everyone I saw him with. Heck, I needed to ask him where the nearest bathroom was when we were stuck out somewhere in between the main building and the cadaver lab.

Also, I know a surgeon who was dismissed from college after 3 years of poor grades. He returned to college after serving 3 years in the military. It took him two years to get his bachelor’s degree, but he knew he wasn’t competitive enough for medical school then. So he went ahead and completed another two years in school to earn his master’s degree in exercise science. He entered medical school two months after earning his MS degree.


I have to strongly concur to focus on doing well on the pre-reqs. Besides getting grades, these courses are the basis for the MCATs. You can supplement these with upper-level undergraduate courses if want

That said, there are a few programs (as mentioned earlier) that are master’s level but specifically for Post-Bacc.

However, as was also said previously, taking masters simply to improve grades, show ability to do higher work, etc, is questionable. Take a masters because you are interested in the field and would want to pursue it in some fashion. Schools like to know what your motivation is and also that you are planning to finish it. For example, I have an MA and originally studied under a medical sociologist from Columbia Medical School. I may consider an MPH, not because it would help me directly into getting into medical school but because I am interested in the field and would strongly consider it (my former professor keeps trying get me into PhD for medical sociology).

Of course, as was also previously noted of someone returning to masters after military service and poor initial college, it depends on your situation and overall plan.

To sum this “on the other hand” passage, figure out what you have, what you need, the best way to get there, and how it fits your life.

Thanks everyone for your advice and wisdom. I am thinking of getting the masters in Biotechnology and focus the research part on proteomics and bio-informatics. I am very intrigued by this field and want to learn more. I recognize that grades in an MS program will not impact my undergrad GPA - I am also taking pre-reqs now to help with that as well as prepare for the MCAT.