What is a Post-Baccalaureate?

A post-baccalaureate program—or post-bacc—is a program completed after graduation from college. Students can enroll in a post-baccalaureate program with a variety of goals: to complete a second BA/BS degree, to attain a graduate certificate, or to complete prerequisite courses for admission into medical school or other graduate programs. Most post-baccalaureate programs take one to two years to complete.

[ RELATED: The Prerequisites for Medical School ]

The Benefits of Post-Baccalaureate Programs

Most commonly, students choose to attend a post-baccalaureate program because they did not complete the prerequisite science courses required by most medical schools. Perhaps you wanted to focus your undergraduate studies in a different discipline or you didn’t know you wanted to pursue a medical career in college. Post-baccalaureate premedical programs allow you to focus solely on medical school prereqs, and often on an accelerated timeline since you are not juggling other courses like you had to in college.

Some individuals that were pre-med in college and completed all medical school prereqs still choose to enroll in a post-baccalaureate program to improve their chances of getting into medical school. A post-bacc program can give you the opportunity to improve your transcript—you can retake classes you took as a pre-med in college to raise your grades.

In addition to completing medical school prerequisites, post-baccalaureate programs offer the following benefits:

  • Continued Pre-Med Advising

    You’ll likely be paired with a pre-med advisor in your post-baccalaureate program. Post-bacc advisors specialize in helping students prepare for medical school—your advisor will get to know you on an individual level and help you throughout the med school application process.

  • Flexible Scheduling

    Most post-bacc programs allow you to choose whether you want to study full-time or part-time. Most full-time programs are 8 months to 1-year long, and part-time programs tend to take 2 years to complete.

  • More Time to Get Volunteer, Clinical, or Research Experience

    Some post-baccalaureate programs have volunteer experience built in to the curriculum. You can also use the extra year or two to build on your clinical or research experience to strengthen your medical school application. Having some sort of clinical experience on your application is an unwritten rule.

  • Medical School Linkage Agreements

    Some post-baccalaureate programs are affiliated with—or housed in—a medical school. Though you are not always guaranteed admission into a specific medical school if you complete their post-bacc program, you can still become very familiar with the culture of the school and build relationships with faculty members, potentially giving you a leg up on other applicants to the same institution.

    It’s worth noting, though, that some post-baccalaureate programs with linkage agreements do guarantee conditional admission into the affiliated medical school based on your performance.

  • MCAT Prep

    Since the goal of post-bacc programs is to prepare students for admission to medical school, MCAT test prep classes are often included if you haven’t taken the MCAT yet or want to raise your score.

How Do I Find a Post-Baccalaureate Program?

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has a database of post-baccalaureate programs. You can search for programs by state, focus (e.g., “academic record enhancers” or “career changers”), and whether the institution is public or private. The directory also includes schools that have post-bacc programs for students that are interested in health professions that do not require medical school. 

How Much Do Post-Baccalaureate Programs Cost?

Post-baccalaureate programs can be expensive. Most post-bacc programs cost somewhere in the range of $20000-$40000. Financial aid is offered by many, though you may have to take out loans. Not all post-bacc programs are eligible for federal aid—be sure to speak with the financial aid offices of programs you are considering to see if they are eligible for federal student aid. If you do take out federal unsubsidized loans, keep in mind that the interest on the loan will begin to accrue immediately and will continue throughout your medical school career.

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