Those Who Earned a Master's

This was my first year applying and after interviewing I’ve been placed on hold at both schools I interviewed at. The last interviewer mentioned my low undergraduate GPA from years ago and said they see it hindering me, even though I completed a “do it yourself” post-bacc and made straight A’s. They mentioned me getting a master’s degree with the sole purpose of proving to the admissions committee that I could put in the work. I didn’t ask at the time what kind of master’s degree I should pursue (was too tripped up by their comments to think on my toes about a master’s degree). If I don’t get in, the school will tell me what my low points were, however, they are not willing to discuss this until their class is full and it’s certain I’m not in - which could be early summer, long after deadlines for masters programs have passed.

My question is, for those who completed master’s degrees with the sole purpose of getting into medical school, what did you get your master’s in? I doubt I will be able to get into a hard sciences program and would feel dishonest writing a statement of purpose indicating I want to do research for the rest of my life when really I want to be a physician. There is an MBA program nearby, which would allow me to keep my job and go at night… but is this just a step in the wrong direction? Would an MBA even matter to them? If what it takes for me to get into medical school is quitting my job and going full-force into a science graduate program then I’m willing to do it. I just am looking for options and directions on where to go. Any input would be much appreciated.

Well I am sad to hear.

It seems quite a trip to go for a master, plus I am sure it is not needed.

Can’t you instead try to take some upper level classes and do well (if the point is to prove you can do well, based you pre-reqs, it seems you can), I really don’t get the master thing.

How about your MCAT, could you improve it?

And your Extra curricular activities, maybe get an additional strong LOR or two?

I can’t believe that the only issue would be the GPA, otherwise, why invite you in the first place? I would say wait and see, work on your app for the next cycle, and perhaps broaden your “horizon”, try more schools. You will also get some valuable feedback from the schools where you are waitlisted. I would not rush and go for a master just yet.

I have read some posts where folks didn’t get invited the first year, interviewed on the second but waitlisted and accepted on the third year (and I don’t remember that they went to go get a master). So keep it cool. You were invited, this means your application is already not bad. You just need to tweak it, tighten the bolts (work on your essays…) and you will probably get in.

Good luck (my opinion is by no means an expert one).

Thanks for your input. I too feel it would be a waste to get a master’s, but since that’s what the interviewer suggested I am looking into it. My MCAT was decent. My overall undergrad gpa isn’t really budging. Even 28 hours of straight-A pre-reqs only bumped it up about by about 0.1. Maybe I am just poor at interviewing. Maybe waiting and seeing is the best option. I just can’t stand not being able to work to fix what needs to be fixed!

Maybe you’ve considered this already, but perhaps they were talking about SMPs? Like this one at Georgetown:

You’d be taking classes with MS-1s and be graded on the same curve (at Georgetown, not sure about other SMPs.) Also take a look at the SDN Guide to SMPs:…

The officer was likely referring to SMPs. Georgetown is one. There are quite a few others. If you are wait-listed, you can do the Tulane ACP. cp.cfm

SDN has a whole list of SMP programs. Perhaps one is in your area and could work for you.

28 credit hours seems a bit low for a post-bacc. At the formal one I am in you need 38 hours to get the committee letter for the program.

There are some schools with programs that are like postbacc, but you’ll end up getting master’s degree in something. That’s what I’m doing right now. After I graduate, I’ll get masters in biomedical science. They let you take many upper bio classes which I think is a definite plus on transcript…

I’m in an MS program right now that exists in a graduate school within a major medical school. if there’s a functionality in place here that lets you contact me privately, do so and I’ll tell you where. Anyway, my plan with getting into an MS program was that I’m interested in getting an academic degree that’ll lead me to a career as a physician scientist. I made no bones that I want to be a doctor, and I discussed in my statement how this would be useful in my medical career- both the research experience as well as the additional academic knowledge of biomedical science. I also talked about a few hot topics in biomedical research that I have interest in as well.

My suggestion is not to go to XYZ State and get a degree in Biology. You might end up getting research in entomology or biostats or evolution or whatnot. Go to a medical school with a graduate division and see what they’re offering. Most everything there’s going to be clinically relevant. This is what I’m doing now. I have profs who also teach in the medical school, I have the opportunity for shadowing and volunteer work in the hospital, and I can join “Medical Specialty XYZ Interest Group” student organizations for various medical specialties- Ob/Gyn, Emergency Medicine, Radiology, etc.

Of course, take my advice with the caveat that I’ve yet to see if my plan will work, so I may be heading myself into a career at the bench rather than one in the OR. Also, the reactions I’ve received to this are mixed. Some of my friends (various professionals) told me that an MS will prove I can handle medical school. An assistant dean for my current program told me straight up that few medical schools if any will care at all about graduate work (which seems to fly in the face of the advice you were given by an interviewer, oddly). And the scuttlebutt on a number of the internet’s more popular “I want to go to med school” forums is that ADCOMs weight an academic Master’s degree about as heavily as they would weight an extracurricular. So on this question, opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, and a lot probably stink. Which opinion is accurate? I’ve no idea.

  • kaylee Said:
There are some schools with programs that are like postbacc, but you'll end up getting master's degree in something. That's what I'm doing right now. After I graduate, I'll get masters in biomedical science. They let you take many upper bio classes which I think is a definite plus on transcript...

I'm sure you know this, but I'll state it explicitly for everyone's edification.

Do note one important distinction: there exist both Master of Science in Biomedical Science, and Master of Biomedical Science. The names are very similar but have a world of difference in where they'll get you.

A Master of Science in Biomedical Science (MSBS) is a traditional academic master's program. They usually go 2 years just like an MS in anything else. This is generally used by people seeking a career at the bench. This isn't bad for helping you get into medical school. But it's also not designed for it.

A Master of Biomedical Science (MBS) is a pre-professional program similar to a post-bac. They usually last one year and the idea is that they mimic the first year of medical school. In some schools, you actually might sit in some of your classes alongside medical students. Also, these programs will help you with the application process: they'll review your statements, they'll write you a committee letter, etc. These schools often have astronomical acceptance rates for students then getting into medical school. The downside is that this degree will distinctly not help you get employment or a higher degree (PhD) afterward (as told to me by the directors of a few such programs I contacted).
  • dnelsen Said:
The officer was likely referring to SMPs. Georgetown is one. There are quite a few others. If you are wait-listed, you can do the Tulane ACP. cp.cfm

Be aware that Tulane has tons of applicants. I applied last year noticing it was a rather large program (30-something students, IIRC). I was the #110 on the second of two waitlists.

hold it, hold it, hold it…

the first thing to do, is call the schools that you were waitlisted on and see if they can tell you where your application fell short. You may be surprised to find out that they will tell you that it was not your grades but rather your interview. Or they may tell you that you should take a couple of more credits or do more extra curriculars.

Being on the waitlist is not the end. Keep in touch with these programs and show interest. Many schools have been known (mine included) to pull people from the waiting list during orientation or even after the first week of class.

Don’t jump to conclusions and think it is your academic performance. Call the schools first and find out. If it is your grades that are keeping you out then a masters might be the way to go. However, NOT an MBA and NOT an MPH.

The schools wants to see that you can handle the upper level science courses. These are things that an MPH and an MBA will not give you. Your best bet is an M.S… There are several schools that provide a masters program that are direct feeds into their medical school program. My school has one such program. The program is a Masters in Biomedical Sciences and it pretty much is a feeder to the medical school.

But if you prefer to stay in your own area, do a Masters in Science in Biology or the like, and do really well to show that you can handle the rigors of the upper level courses. But an MPH and an MBA will not cut it and you will have spent time and money on something that not help you get into medical school.