Please note that CSULB does NOT have any formal post-bacc Master's or certificate programs. A list of post-bacc programs in the U.S. is available from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a post-baccalaureate program?
- Are there different types of post-bacc programs?
- What should I look for in a post-bacc program?
- What are the requirements and costs?
- Will my chances of being accepted to professional school improve if I complete a program?
- Is a post-bacc program for me?
A post-baccalaureate (postbac/post-bacc) program is for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree, and are interested in a health professions career. Programs vary in length, but generally range from 1-2 years.
There are two different types of post-bacc programs. These programs target different populations of students. These students need either to finish prerequisite courses and/or need to improve their academic standing for a more competitive application.
A student may have decided to pursue a health professions career later in their undergraduate career or even after they already graduated. For these students, they would look into a career changer program. Career changer programs are geared to students who have completed little or no premed/health career science requirements. Students will take lower-division prerequisites required for admissions, such as general chemistry and biology. Career changer programs are typically two year certificate programs:
Academic Record Enhancer
Students may have also completed their prerequisite science requirements but need to take more additional sciences to strengthen their science GPA. These students would look to academic enhancement programs. Students will not retake general science courses they have already completed. Instead, they will take upper-division science courses. These are typically one year certificate or Master's programs:
First, looking into whether you want to go into a career changer or an academic enhancement program.
Next, decide whether you want to do a structured or unstructured post-bacc program:
- A structured program has a set curriculum that is taken in a specific order. They may offer more support services for students seeking to apply to professional school.
- An unstructured program is more flexible with courses taken, with individual students planning out needed coursework. Unstructured programs may function like Open University at CSULB, with students being able to sign up for classes if spots are available.
Post-bacc programs differ in services provided to students. In some self-contained programs where everything is done within the confines of the program, tutoring may be offered. In other programs where students rely on services outside the program, students may have to use college or university tutoring services. Post-bacc students need to have a realistic self-appraisal of their strengths and weaknesses and seek postbac programs that will address their weaknesses and enhance their strengths. As such, those students who need tutoring should seek programs that make it a point to provide tutoring within the program.
Assistance with Application to Health Profession Programs
Typically, a structured program, whether a career changer or enhancement, will work closely with each student as she or he embarks on the application process to a health profession program. This likely will include a letter of recommendation, advice about the timing of the application, writing the personal statement, and selection of schools. Unstructured programs may also offer these services.
Some post-bacc programs have formal agreements with medical schools that guarantee an interview or admission, provided that postbac students maintain certain standards (GPA, MCAT, etc). These linkages may also allow students to apply or be accepted into medical school earlier in the process than the typical cycle. Students usually have to apply for the linkage program after admittance to a post-bacc program.
Just as with a student's undergraduate career, they should also look into extracurricular activities such as clubs/organizations, research opportunities, volunteer opportunities, etc.
Please look into individual program websites for details. However, typically, programs require applicants to submit a formal application (including essays), application fees, two letters of evaluation, official transcripts, and possibly standardized test scores. Some programs with more open admissions policies may only require an application, an application fee, and official college transcripts. Some special Master's programs may require that students submit MCAT scores as part of the application process.
Post-bacc programs may be competitive to get into. These programs want to accept students they believe have a strong chance of admittance to a health programs program. Therefore, programs may have minimum GPA or GRE/MCAT requirements to apply.
Post-bacc programs vary in cost, ranging from $15,000 to $40,000.
This depends on how you perform in your post-bacc program. Simply completing the courses will not give you the edge in the competitive application process. Students should attain high grades and a well-rounded profile for a better chance of gaining admission to medical school.
This is up to you and your specific application profile. Where do you need to improve on your application? Do you need to raise your GPA and have demonstrated that you can now do well in science coursework? These are the types of students post-bacc programs target.
If you need to work on your extracurricular activities, gain more experience, etc., then it may be better to take a gap year to work and gain experience instead. If you have questions or want to discuss whether a post-bacc program is right for you, please come into HPAO during drop-in hours or make an appointment with the Health Professions Advisor.
Is Postbac for You?
Unsure if a postbac is the right fit? Watch Is Post-BACC for You [VIDEO], presented by the University of Texas Health Professions Office, to help you decide.
Please include your student ID number in all email correspondence.