Pursue master's before med school?

Hi all. I’m new to the forum and learning a lot.

I am a Junior, working on a BS in microbiology. I’m 33 and my background is high school dropout and 15 years of IT work, five of those in management. I spent three years in community college to get to this point (I had to take a remedial year getting my math up to speed), but I am holding a 3.78GPA and loving every moment of school.

My advisor has suggested that I might have a stronger case for medical school if I complete a MS in microbiology, particularly since my community college experience may be judged unfavorably. While I really enjoy microbiology, I am fixed on the goal of medical school and don’t want to put it off unless there is a significant advantage.

So, any experiences to share? I suppose I could simply apply for both medical school and graduate micro and see which comes through, but is there any risk applying for different programs at the same school?

Hey, the past Surgeon General of the United States Richard Carmona was a high school drop-out and had only attended a community college before he entered UC San Francisco’s medical school.


Welcome to OPM, Bill. Glad to see you here and hear that you’re looking around - there’s a lot of great information on the boards.

Does your CC offer Bachelor’s degrees, or are you now attending a University? Assuming the latter, where will your science courses be coming from?

I transferred to university this year. I took all the basic science and math through calc in CC - inorganic and organic chem, bio, physics, psych, geology, astronomy, etc.

However, since I am pursuing a BS in micro, I will be taking about 70 additional credits of science this year and next at the university level, including undergrad research next year if all goes as planned.

I would have thought that would be enough, but my advisor is really fixated on my age and CC experience. Her exact logic is difficult to pin down, but it appears she believes med schools only take so many students of my “advanced age” and that I am likely to be competing against people who already hold more advanced degrees.

I can see her logic to a certain extent but:

  1. 33 is not old

  2. I would guess most “advanced age” applicants don’t hold advanced degrees (I don’t, don’t think many on here did either)

    Have you gone to any of the medical schools you’re interested in and asked them this question?

    I think their perspective would be another valuable piece of information for you before you spend another chunk of time in degree pursuit when maybe you won’t have to.

    Last, your GPA is solid. Keep that up at the university level. I would think that would speak volumes more than an advanced degree but again, I’ll defer to those who’ve already traversed this trail.

You can do something about your grades (from here on out), you can do something about your MCAT, you can pursue the best LORs possible, arrange impressive research experiences, etc. etc. You can’t do anything about your age and an advanced degree doesn’t change it or hide it. I disagree with your advisor. Work on what you CAN change and don’t sweat the rest of it.


Hi: Not sure why no one responded yet. I agree with your advisor. The Masters makes you look like a serious student given your HS past. But you’ve proven urself as a hard worker and committed in other ways so continue to move forward!

I agree with your advisor. The Masters presents you as a serious student, although you’ve proven your stability in other ways since HS. Keep reaching!