We note that the average age for individuals entering health professions graduate school is approximately twenty-five. Therefore, after completing their undergraduate careers, most students do not directly enroll in health professions graduate school.
If your cumulative averages fall within the range of rejected candidates, you should probably consider two other options: delaying your application, or considering other career options.
You could delay your application so that you have time to take science courses that will hopefully bring your cumulative averages into the range of accepted candidates. Increasing numbers of students have waited until the spring of their senior year (or later) to be evaluated by our Premedical Committee. (Our Committee advises and writes letters for a significant number of alumni every year.) The schools then have senior-year and/or post-baccalaureate grades to evaluate. This would mean that the student would potentially begin graduate school one year after graduating from Boston College.
We recommend that students whose academic credentials are not competitive consider waiting at least until the summer after their senior year to apply. You can avoid wasting significant time and money (application fees), which hopefully will free you up to concentrate on improving your academic performance in the classroom. An excellent senior year and/or strong post-baccalaureate coursework can greatly improve chances for admission.
It can be very advantageous for a student with a modest science GPA to consider enrolling either full or part-time in a post-graduate program. Three options appears below:
Premedical Post-Baccalaureate Programs
There are specific premedical post-baccalaureate programs designed to help students with non-competitive science averages become more-competitive candidates for graduate school. These are usually known as “enrichment programs”. We recommend you access the following websites for information regarding various programs:
AAMC Postbaccalaureate Premedical Programs Database
Post-Baccalaureate Program List (sponsored by Syracuse University).
As you research possible programs, please be aware that some will lead to a Master's degree, while others will not. Additionally, some programs are designed for students who have not taken any of the required premedical/predental courses ("career changers"), whereas others are designed to strengthen the academic background of students who have already taken the basic sciences (enrichment programs). Therefore, it is important that you research your options carefully and apply only to those programs that are appropriate for your background.
Some of the more popular enrichment programs (in no particular order) with B.C. students are listed below. There are many others, so please check the websites above.
Post-Baccalaureate Master's Programs
These ("enrichment") programs are generally designed for individuals who have done reasonably well in their core science prerequisites but whose science averages are not quite competitive. Typically, these programs are organized such that the student takes some of his/her coursework at the associated medical school. A certain number of "places" are usually held at that institution's medical school each year for those students who have done well in the post-baccalaureate program, but you should research each program carefully before deciding to apply. If your grades are not yet competitive, we recommend programs that are primarily coursework oriented, as opposed to research oriented programs. Again, the programs listed below have been popular with BC students, but others may be found by searching the above websites.
- Boston University, M.A. in Medical Sciences
- Case Western Reserve University- M.S. in Medical Physiology
- Commonwealth Medical College (Scranton, PA),Master's of Biomedical Sciences Program (Note: This is a new program as of September 2010.)
- Drexel University, Interdepartmental Medical Science (IMS) Program
- Georgetown University, Special Master's in Physiology
- Loyola University-M.S. in Physiology (MSP)
- New York Medical College, Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences (various master's programs in biochemistry, physiology, etc.)
- Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (Chicago), M.S. in Biomedical Sciences
- Temple University School of Medicine, ACSM-Advanced Core in Medical Science Track
- Tufts University School of Medicine, MS in Biomedical Sciences
- Tulane University, Masters in Cell and Molecular Biology
- University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), M.S. in Biomedical Science
- UMDNJ–Robert Wood Johnson, Master of Biomedical Sciences and Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences
- University of Michigan, M.S. in Physiology
- University of Southern Florida, M.S. Medical Sciences
- University of Toledo (formerly Medical College of Ohio), MS in Biomedical Sciences
Post-Baccalaureate Non-Master's Programs
The AAMC and Syracuse sites (see above) list many full- or part-time programs. Harvard Extension, in Cambridge, and the University of Pennsylvania (Pre-Health Specialized Studies) in Philadelphia. The University of California at Berkeley has also recently started a part-time post-baccalaureate program. If your science average is very close to being competitive, or money/time are issues, you may want to enroll in science courses part-time through an evening or extension school at a nearby college or university.
Post-Baccalaureate Programs for Individuals with Little or No Science Background
The above sites also list more formal programs for those students who have not yet taken the required core premedical courses. Of these ("career changers"), Tufts, Brandeis, Bryn Mawr, Columbia, Goucher, University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins offer programs that have been popular with BC students.
Traditional Master's Programs
You could simply enroll in a traditional masters program (e.g., biology) that would expose you to further science coursework. Given that you are looking to raise your science GPA, we strongly suggest that you look for programs that are more coursework oriented, rather than research oriented.
Public Health Programs
Some students with an interest in societal health issues have enrolled in Master's in Public Health Programs (see the website for the Association of Schools of Public Health) and, upon completion of their degrees, have successfully applied to and been accepted at medical schools. Please be aware that public-health programs vary in terms of the focus of their coursework. Most programs emphasize policy/administration coursework and are therefore not appropriate for individuals whose science GPA's are not competitive for medical / dental school.
If you are considering applying to medical school and choose to delay, you should also reconsider when you plan to take the MCAT see Entrance Exams.
There are other options in addition to the ones listed above. We strongly suggest you discuss your ideas with a member of the Premedical/Predental Office staff. Ultimately, the decision of whether (and how long) you delay is up to you, but discussing the pros and cons may make it easier for you to decide on an appropriate "course of action." Keep in mind that the above programs cost both time and money. They do provide opportunities for you to strengthen your candidacy, but none of them can guarantee admission to health professions graduate school.