Pre-Med Programs (Part 2): Combined & Accelerated Programs

Medical Records & Stethoscope

So, of course, with every rule there is an exception. In Part 1 of this post, I reviewed the general course of study for students who consider themselves Pre-Med and stressed that (usually) there are not official “Pre-Med” majors. There are several programs around the country, however, that offer “Fast Track” or Accelerated Medical Programs. These options are usually combined baccalaureate/MD programs. So while you still can’t become a doctor in 4 years (would you really trust an open heart surgeon with only 4 years of medical background?), these programs do shave off a few years of study.

Combined Programs vs. Accelerated Programs

In a regular “pre-med” track, students apply to college as an undergraduate, and then, at the end of their undergraduate studies, apply to medical school. These 2 admissions processes are totally separate. With combined BS/MD programs there is just 1 major admissions process that is completed at the end of high school, so students apply for their undergraduate and medical school programs at the same time. Though there may be expectations and requirements that have to be met to continue on at various points in the program, BS/MD programs don’t require a separate medical school application process. Students flow directly from their BS program into the combined medical school program – hence the “combined degree” title.

Most accelerated BS/MD programs are combined but not all combined BS/MD programs are accelerated, as there are some combined BSMD programs that are NOT accelerated.

Generally, accelerated programs are 6-7 years in length while combine programs run 8-9 years, so accelerated programs actually cut some time off of undergraduate study. While combined programs make the transition to med school easier because the application process (for the most part) is done upon undergraduate entry, they are not necessarily shorter in length.

Program Specifics

Before committing to a program, make sure you learn about the specifics. Some combined programs don’t require students to take the MCAT to continue into the medical school phase while others do. If they do, what score is required to continue in the program? Can you add an extra year of undergraduate study if you choose? These are all things to consider when applying.

The major factor to research with accelerated BS/MD programs is how the program “accelerates” study. In almost all programs, the acceleration occurs during undergraduate study, and the 4 years of medical school is standard. Find out if the program is year round or if classes are combined (Organic Chemistry I&II in the same semester – yikes!). Also, consider course load. Most college freshmen are urged to take a light 12 hour course load their first semester to help them ease into college. In accelerated programs, students will probably be expected to balance a grueling schedule from day 1.

Accelerated programs usually follow a 3 (undergraduate study) + 4 (medical school) OR a 2 (undergraduate study) + 4 (medical school).

Because most of these programs are relatively new and very elite, they only accept a few students each year. To be considered for these programs, students must usually maintain a GPA that places them in the top 5-10% of their high school graduating class, score in the 2200+ range on the SAT or in the 32+ range on the ACT,  and display a strong commitment to the medical field.

Is it right for me?

While medical school may be in your future, an accelerated program is not for everyone. Is an 18 or 20 year old really ready for the maturity and dedication med school takes? It depends. Accelerated BS/MD programs are a serious commitment, and there is probably a great difference between a typical first year pre-med undergraduate student and a first year BS/MD student. These fast track and combined programs are designed for the unique and exceptional high school students who are driven and fully prepared to work in the medical profession. Students who are accepted into BS/MD programs also have to be prepared to commit the next 6-8 years to a single university and city. For some, this level of dedication and stability may not be right.

I Am Applying for a BS/MD Program. How Do I Prove I Am A Perfect Candidate?

In many ways, the BS/MD applications process is very similar to that of any undergraduate program. Stellar SAT scores, a solid GPA, a strong resume, and impressive recommendations don’t hurt. The main difference is proving your commitment to the medical field. Building experiences in the medical field will not only help your resume, they will also help you affirm your decision.

• Shadow a Doctor or Two: Make a connection with a few local doctors and see if you can interview them and shadow them for a day to get a feel for the daily routine of a doctor.
• Find a Summer Internship at a Doctor’s Office: Even though you may not be in the action, real world experience in a medical office is important.
• Volunteer at a Hospital: Most hospitals are always in search of volunteers. By consistently volunteering at a hospital over a summer or throughout high school, you will display both interest in the field and dedication to a cause.

Universities Offering Accelerated/Combined Medical Programs

There are roughly 30 universities around the country which offer combined BS/MD degrees. Some schools that offer these med programs include:
• Baylor University/Baylor College of Medicine in Texas (8 year program)
• University of Miami in Florida (7 year program)
• Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Ohio (6 year program)
•  Tulane in Louisiana (6 year program)
•  Florida State University in Florida (7 year program)
•  Drexel University in Pennsylvania (7 year program)
•  Penn State + Jefferson Medical College (7 year program)
•  George Washington University (7 year program)

For a more complete listing of accredited universities, review this list offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

If you have yet to read Part 1 about general Pre-Med tracks, check it out now!

This entry was posted in Advice for Seniors, College Majors & Programs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Pre-Med Programs (Part 2): Combined & Accelerated Programs

  1. Pingback: Pre-Med Programs: What do I major in?

  2. Pingback: Pre-Law, What do I major in? | College Compass

  3. anonymous says:

    I have a few questions about the bs/md program. If I have a 31 ACT score, do i still have a chance to get into programs where the minimum score is a 32?
    Also, the link to the full list of bs/md programs isn’t working for me so can you give me another link to the website? I have been searching for the full list for years now and I can’t seem to find an accurate one. I want to apply to as many as I can so I have a higher chance of getting in.

    Thank You

    • Calvin says:

      These programs tend to be very competitive, so usually minimum means minimum. You are very close though, so with some extra practice you could probably raise your score to be above the minimum. Test Masters offers a 4 point score improvement guarantee, which you might be interested in. As for the list, you can find a comprehensive list of combined bachelors and med school programs here.

  4. Alvin John V Serranilla says:

    Hey let me just ask if Bio-Med is an accelerated pre med course i would love a fast reply thankyou.

    • Bill says:

      Alvin,

      Your statement is a little ambiguous, so it is difficult to answer. As an area of undergraduate study, Biology is often considered “pre-med,” a term used for students who are completing an undergraduate degree specifically in preparation to attend medical school. Biology is one of the most common types of pre-med backgrounds, but it is not strictly speaking required that you have a degree in Biology to attend medical school (it is, however, required that you meet certain prerequisites to even be eligible to take the MCAT, which is required by most medical colleges. Learn more about the requisites to apply to medical school here.).

      Is “Bio-Med” a specific course or class you are interested in taking? Does “Bio-Med” refer to a specific degree program at a specific university? Information about all of this would be helpful in answering your question. Regardless of this, the short answer to your question is unless this class or program somehow truncates your undergraduate or graduate level studies (shortens undergrad to three years, for example), then no, it is not accelerated in that sense.

      Hope this helps!

  5. delia says:

    I have 118 credits at a university. Ive done bio 1, AP bio, micro, physics 1, med term., algebra, microbio., biochem., some business classes/ med. assisting classes. I know I am all over the place. Majority of all my prereq., for med school is comolete except chem 1/2. Is there universities that have a combine BS/MD for those already holding credits.
    PS. majority of universities will only accept low 60+ credits from a community college. Going directly into a univ. will force me into another 2 years before i can even apply to med. school.
    Thanks in advance for any help.

    • Bill says:

      Delia,

      Generally speaking, entrance into an accelerated BS/MD program is reserved for first year freshman. However, this policy may vary from university to university. If it is something you are interested in, I would encourage you to directly contact the university to which you would like to apply.

      You’re also correct in asserting that most four-year universities will have a cap on the number of credits you may transfer. Unfortunately, if you’re serious about med school this is just something you will have to deal with. There is no easy way around earning additional course credit beyond the maximum transferable credit hours; you will have to take the classes required by your specific degree path (sorry – I wish there was better news on this front).

      Hope this helps!

  6. Angela says:

    Hello, thank you for the great information. One quick question: if I apply for a BS/MD Program, do I have the chance to be accepted into the undergraduate studies of the school even if I am not admitted into the accelerated or combined medical program?Thank you very much!

    • Bill says:

      Angela,

      It would be best to contact the university that you are applying to for specific details like this. However, generally speaking, you would submit two applications – one for the BS/MD program, and one for undergraduate admission.

      Hope this helps!

  7. khalid says:

    Hi:
    I m father of two young boys grade 10 and 11
    They both are keen to become doctor on fast track.
    But I could not find in my state NC,
    Do you know how to get the list and their requirement?
    Thanks
    Khalid

    • Bill says:

      Khalid,

      These types of programs are not very common, and acceptance is extremely competitive. In terms of requisite standards for admission to a program of this type, those expectations will likely be comparable to Ivy League schools (although, of course, these standards may vary slightly from school to school and program to program). You can find a comprehensive guide for Ivy League admissions here: http://collegeadmissions.testmasters.com/ivy-league-admissions-grades/.

      The best thing your sons can do is take the most challenging course schedules available to them, participate in related extracurricular programs (think NHS, Science Club, etc.), and perhaps do volunteer work associated with medicine, like volunteering at a hospital or shadowing a doctor.

      In terms of what is specifically available near you, you might look at East Carolina University’s Assured Admission Program at the Brody School of Medicine. More information on this can be found on their website here: https://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/bsomadmissions/assurance.cfm.

      Hope this helps!

  8. Philip Law says:

    Hello,
    I am writing to ask about the chance of being admitted to one BS-MD program accelerated or not. My son is a junior and took the SAT test twice with score 2070 (640/770/660) and 2 (630/740/740). His projected GPA unweighted will be 3.9. We live in San Francisco CA. Extra curricular activities and volunteer work in senior center (2 summers), shadowing, piano, will be volunteering in summer research. My son would prefer the accelerated program vs the 4+4 program. Do you know which program my son will be competitive enough to get in? Tier 1 schools : Boston University, U of Alabama; Tier 2 schools : Penn State U, GWU, Cooper College of medicine with Usciences, U of Miami, VCU, Hofstra University ; Tier 3 schools : Drexel U, Albany School of Medicine, NEOMED, UMKC, Howard U; new school California Northstate College of Medicine. Does my son need to take he SAT test the third time to get a better score to improve his chance? Please advise. Dad Philip

    • Michael says:

      Hi Phillip!

      In general, these dual admittance programs (BS-MD programs) are highly competitive, so you may want to look into re-taking the SAT and shooting for a slightly higher score. For example, the Drexel BS/MD program writes

      As a point of reference, freshman students admitted to the BA/BS/MD accelerated degree program had an average GPA of 4.05 and an average combined SAT (Critical Reading and Math) of 1538 or ACT 34 composite.

      .

      As you can imagine, programs like Boston University will likely have an even higher average. You may want to contact the individual schools you’re applying to for more accurate average SAT breakdowns, but in general, the higher your SAT, the higher your odds of admissions! Hope this helps!

  9. Sophia says:

    Hello,

    I’m looking for an accelerated program in Psychology (BA/BS) as an international student (I’m not going to stay in US holding a student visa, my goal is to build my life there and start some businesses, so I will request a green card – have no idea if that matters to be more eligible and, consequently, to be accepted in those programs).

    Medical school is my goal and that’s why I need an accelerated program, can’t stand the idea of wasting 4 years in a bachelor when I’m totally conscious that I can handle the pressure of a fast track program.

    I will have to do the pre-meds as well, I don’t know if it’s possible to do a postbac while I’m in the AP or if it has to be done after the AP. Do you know something about it?

    Can you help me out giving me some info about the AP’s? I want to enroll in New York City or Los Angeles colleges, are there any programs like that?

    Right now I’m applying for scholarships (full tuition and fees coverage) and some financial aid, it’s not being an easy process, will see what happens… :-)
    (Sorry for my english, it’s not as good as it should be)

    Thanks for your time!
    Regards from Portugal :-)

    • Michael says:

      Hi Sophia! If you are looking for a list of accelerated BS/MD programs, there is a list here, however keep in mind that these programs are highly selective and that some are only open to US citizens or state residents. If you are set on becoming a doctor, definitely apply to these programs, but don’t lose the forest for the trees! Undergrad is some of the best years of your life, so don’t forget to enjoy the moment; make sure you find purpose in the undergrad years without it just being a means to an end.

      As far as premed classes go, you will likely complete them as part of the accelerated program’s curriculum. Normally, if you are applying to medical school through a regular (non-accelerated or guaranteed) route, you have to take a “core curriculum” of Gen Chem, Physics, Organic Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Statistics, English, and possibly Psychology/Sociology. However, for an accelerated program, the school will likely set a predetermined schedule of requirements, so this will fulfill your premed requirements. Next, you probably will not need to pursue a Post-Baccalaureate degree. These degrees are primarily for individuals who graduated from undergrad but decided later they want to pursue medicine and thus must fulfill the premed core curriculum requirements. If you enter undergrad, through an accelerated program or otherwise, you will not need to pursue a postbacc.

      Hope this helps, and let us know if you have any other questions!

      • Sophia says:

        Hello Michael! You got me wrong or maybe I didn’t explain the situation in the right way. I can’t apply to combined programs because they will request my high school grades, which are not the best (in the GPA scale I have 2.9). My plan is to enroll in the Psychology (BA/BS) and get great grades, so I can use them for the med school application.

        I graduated with my Psychology (BA) two years ago in Portugal, but it’s not accepted by the US colleges because of the huge differences between the education systems. As a matter fact, I don’t agree with the European education system, makes no sense to me getting a 3 years degree where the “semester” concept doesn’t exist anymore, a current semester has only 3 months of course work…it’s so easy to do college today, that’s why Europe has improved the graduation rates. Everybody has a degree. It’s sad. I’m so glad for being one of those who enjoyed the old and better system! Therefore, what I want to say to you is that I already know the whole experience of being a under degree student 😉

        I can’t take a 4 years degree after all I went trough. Do you understand what I’m saying? I reall need to do a bachelor as fast as possible. If there is no accelerated bachelor available without the combined part in NYC and LA, can I take more classes on each year (so I can finish it in 2 years)? I would take more credit hours on each semester and use the summer time to take credits. I know about some US students who did that, actually it’s a usual academic pathway today there.

        About the postbacc, I was really interested on it beacause of the Linkage Agreement. It would be truly helpful in my personal case. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the program I’m talking about.

        Thanks, once again!

        • Michael says:

          Hi Sophia,

          I think I better understand your question now. This situation is a bit tricky, but we can break it down. First, for a full US bachelor’s degree, it would be pretty difficult to complete it in less than 4 years, unless the university accepts some of your foreign coursework as an equivalent. In general, American universities require 120 credit hours to graduate, and most students take 15 credit hours a semester, meaning it would take exactly four years to finish. If you have or are able to take Advanced Placement exams, you may be able to receive credit and cut down that 120 down, but even with AP credit and summer classes, a more realistic graduation time frame in that case would be 3 years; 2 is unheard of.

          However, some US medical schools may not require a full US bachelor’s degree; some require only somewhere around 90 hours completed. In this case, you may be able to just take premed prerequisite courses and hit the 90 hour mark, which may possibly be doable in 2 years with summer classes and AP credits. Keep in mind, however, that GPA is a very important part of medical school admissions, so it would be more beneficial to take more time if speeding up would in any way jeopardize your GPA. Spending three years studying is far more favorable than spending two years, getting a bad GPA, and not being admitted.

          Finally, you may also reach out to medical schools you wish to apply to in order to find out if they would accept a post-bacc along with your foreign BA to fulfill course requirements. Some schools may be more receptive to this avenue, but you may still be at a disadvantage if you go this route. Medical school admissions is highly competitive, and any issue that puts you behind the curve could prove fatal, especially for a non-US citizen applying. The linkage agreements you refer to are not automatic admissions. Rather, they are agreements between schools to give special consideration to those who graduate with a post-bacc. This does not guarantee admissions, and sometimes they do not even guarantee an interview. The school just promises to consider your post-bacc program highly, with nothing else guaranteed.

          • Sophia says:

            Hi :-) ,

            Indeed, you are right about the credits, some colleges doesn’t require a full undergrad. Nevertheless, Cornell University (for example) requires 3 full academic years already made at the time of application. Since I want to expand my options, I have to take the conditions of this university into consideration. The truth is that there are few universities where I can apply myself, will be restricted to Los Angeles and NYC because of my professional life (I have my own businesses, my days are managed between college and professional responsibilities). So on my horizon are UCLA, Cornell, Columbia and NYU.
            I will do everything to meet the requisite of these universities because they are literally the only hope I have to go into medicine.

            With regard to competitiveness is jeopardized due to foreign undergraduate, I’m very careful about it and even if future laws are established for foreign students in order to facilitate their academic lives, I would never take advantage of them because I wouldn’t risk that much. Unequivocally, I prefer to do what’s right and have a fully obtained curriculum at US universities.

            Concerning to the AP’s, I was referring to such credits as a convenient way to do the BS just like I want – I don’t want to rush it in order to impress the adcoms or to finish it quicker with no reason – , requiring more classes per semester and thus ending the degree faster (2,5 years) – I’m used to it, in Portugal each year has 60-75 credit hours.
            As I was told that these courses would get the AP “designation” in the final curriculum, I have to be careful to not follow this procedure with the premed so as to avoid a complete disaster – I’m totally informed that many of the above mentioned universities don’t accept AP’s in premed courses.

            From what I can see Biology (BS) is the best major to take because it allows all the premed, however I won’t choose it since it has some courses that are not “premed” , which are equally difficult as the premed courses, I don’t need to subject myself to that kind of extra stress in this particular time. If I hadn’t a professional life I wouldn’t mind following Biology, because I love all it has to offer.
            What’s more, I have to think about the GPA (like you said) and my daily time management…don’t want to study so much with such pressure at this stage, I intend to make good use of my free time until I achieve the residency program (neurosurgery); the accumulated stress and lack of personal life will become psychological enemies that will kill me inside when I drive in the crazy and strict residency ocean; I do everything to keep a daily healthy balance between the college, my work and my personal life.

            Possibly, I will choose Psychobiology (BS), Psychology (BS) or Neurobiology (BS)(could give me a reasonable background for medicine and residency), will took more credits on each semester in all courses that it’s possible and will make the premed apart from it. In Summer I could take some credits and get ahead with a research.

            The postbac makes no sense if I decide to pursue this academic plan. What they told me (in Cornell) was that the linkage agreement would guarantee me a safe and an automatic admission if I improved my GPA (for example, having a 3.7 in the undergrad and improving it to 3.8 at the end of the postbac).

          • Sophia says:

            Hi :-),

            Indeed, you are right about the credits, some colleges doesn’t require a full undergrad. Nevertheless, Cornell University (for example) requires 3 full academic years already made at the time of application. Since I want to expand my options, I have to take the conditions of this university into consideration. The truth is that there are few universities where I can apply myself, will be restricted to Los Angeles and NYC because of my professional life (I have my own businesses, my days are managed between college and professional responsibilities). So on my horizon are UCLA, Cornell, Columbia and NYU. I will do everything to meet the requisite of these universities because they are literally the only hope I have to go into medicine.

            With regard to competitiveness is jeopardized due to foreign undergraduate, I’m very careful about it and even if future laws are established for foreign students in order to facilitate their academic lives, I would never take advantage of them because I wouldn’t risk that much. Unequivocally, I prefer to do what’s right and have a fully obtained curriculum at US universities.

            Concerning to the AP’s, I was referring to such credits as a convenient way to do the BS just like I want – I don’t want to rush it in order to impress the adcoms or to finish it quicker with no reason – , requiring more classes per semester and thus ending the degree faster (2,5 years) – I’m used to it, in Portugal each year has 60-75 credit hours.
            As I was told that these courses would get the AP “designation” in the final curriculum, I have to be careful to not follow this procedure with the premed so as to avoid a complete disaster – I’m totally informed that many of the above mentioned universities don’t accept AP’s in premed courses.

            From what I can see Biology (BS) is the best major to take because it allows all the premed, however I won’t choose it since it has some courses that are not “premed” , which are equally difficult as the premed courses, I don’t need to subject myself to that kind of extra stress in this particular time. If I hadn’t a professional life I wouldn’t mind following Biology, because I love all it has to offer.
            What’s more, I have to think about the GPA (like you said) and my daily time management…don’t want to study so much with such pressure at this stage, I intend to make good use of my free time until I achieve the residency program (neurosurgery); the accumulated stress and lack of personal life will become psychological enemies that will kill me inside when I drive in the crazy and strict residency ocean; I do everything to keep a daily healthy balance between the college, my work and my personal life.

            Possibly, I will choose Psychobiology (BS), Psychology (BS) or Neurobiology (BS)(could give me a reasonable background for medicine and residency), will took more credits on each semester in all courses that it’s possible and will make the premed apart from it. In Summer I could take some credits and get ahead with a research.

            The postbac makes no sense if I decide to pursue this academic plan. What they told (in Cornell) was that the linkage agreement would guarantee me a safe and an automatic admission if I improved my GPA (for example, having a 3.7 in the undergrad and improving it to 3.8 at the end of the postbac).

          • Michael says:

            Hi Sophia!

            I wouldn’t worry too much about what major to choose, as long as you’ve completed the premed prereqs. Every major, from Biology to Psychology, will have “not premed” classes, and the extra studying required for these classes will pale in comparison to the work done in medical school, even before residency. Maintaining a work-life balance is absolutely important, but there will still have to be significant sacrifices made in order to get into med school. You need to protect your GPA, but that will only happen if you put in a significant amount of studying, especially if you’re targeting competitive programs like Cornell or UCLA.

            I’m not quite sure about the Cornell linkage program, but I am not aware of any linkage that explicitly guarantees a spot in a medical school. You may want to contact Cornell again for more information, as I’m not completely familiar with their particular program.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *