Second Bachelor's or Non-Degree?

Hello everyone.

I’ve just been lurking for a while but now I have a new question.

I just graduated from college in 2010 with a degree in philosophy and have now decided to go back to school to pursue medicine either as a PA, nurse or doctor.

I’m currently taking biology I and chem I at a community college but find the courses severely lacking in difficulty and am really hungry for a challenge.

Right now, I’m in Minnesota, but will most likely be moving back to Chicago in the fall. I will be applying to Northeastern and University of Illinois at Chicago. My question is whether I should apply as a second bachelor’s student and drop out when I have my requirements or as a non-degree seeking student.

This is only an issue for me because I am scared that I won’t be able to get into the classes I need as a non-degree seeking student (this was the case at the University of Minnesota which is the root of my worries). However, I’m equally as scared of the possibility that there will be a black mark on my transcript or other such notes indicating that I did not complete a second bachelor’s.

Has anyone attempted a second bachelor’s and dropped out in the middle? If so, was there any indication on your transcript? What would you guys suggest I do?

Sadako -

I haven’t gone that route, but a lot of the OPM’ers here have. THere is no problem with not finishing a second bachelor’s. That’s a common strategy to get into the classes you want. I also have read posts about 2 post-bacc premed programs in Chicago. I know one is at Dominican University…don’t remember where the other one is. Hopefully some of those folks will chime in.


Register for classes however it works best for you to get the courses you need. I registered as a non-degree student and had no trouble because non-degree students actually registered after graduating seniors. However, at many schools, non-degree students register dead last. There should be no indication on your transcript that you “dropped out”. In any case, it doesn’t matter. You already have a degree, and as long as you have the pre-reqs and do well in them, that’s what adcoms care about.

Hi, and welcome to OPM. I’m in Chicago as well, so welcome (in advance) to the Windy City!

I don’t know much about Northeastern, but I do know that UIC is a good school. I have a friend doing her pre-med courses there now, and she loves it.

As Kate mentioned, the Chicago area also has several formal post-bac programs, in case you’re interested in going that route. I’m doing a formal post-bac at Dominican University, which is in the Western suburbs. There are also formal post-bacs at Northwestern University, IIT, and Loyola University. So there are four total. A formal post-bac is not necessary, by any means, it’s just another option.

Best of luck to you, and keep us posted on your progress!

In my own experience, I opted as a Bio major instead of a non-degree seeking student. I will not actually complete the degree though. As you mentioned, a non-degree seeking student registers last (even after a freshman with zero credits) at my school. If you’re applying for financial aid, this may affect you as well, but I’m not 100% sure. You may also want to check if your school requires students seeking a degree to work with their respective department for academic advisory oversight. I haven’t had to yet but I’m still taking my intro level courses. My school’s admissions office answered a lot of these questions for me. They even told me about registering as a degree-seeking student even though I’m not pursuing the degree.

  • 2old4med Said:
They even told me about registering as a degree-seeking student even though I'm not pursuing the degree.

Wowza, they actually said that? That's kinda awesome!

I too have opted for a second bachelor’s degree (at least on paper). This was the only way I could get the necessary financial aid, and is what my adviser suggested even though she is well aware I may not complete the degree (though depending on where/when I apply I would like to if possible). There are no post-bacc programs in my area, so I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter, but even if I had I would have preferred going the route I am, it is giving me considerable more time to make sure I am prepared for the MCAT and to do a lot of networking with other pre-med students and get some good teacher referrals. Best of luck.

I am finishing up a long, long second bachelor’s degree.

The reasons I chose this route were:


  1. easier to get classes than a non-degree post-bacc student.

  2. cheaper to get classes than a non-degree post-bacc student.

  3. can work toward getting a degree for “time served” rather than a certificate or nothing at all but coursework.

  4. open to scholarships and grants and other opportunities that are denied to non-students.

  5. can keep taking more courses if you mess up the one’s you have already taken [sigh . . .:frowning: ]

  6. Can use your new degree to get jobs if med school is not working out (hopefully, I won’t have to go that route, but it is a possibility)


  7. takes longer but at my advanced age, saving a few years probably won’t make any difference in the mind’s of AdComms.