Frequently Asked Questions
- What makes the UC San Diego Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program unique?
- When designing the new UC San Diego Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program, the Advisory Committee studied programs from around the country and identified a number of elements common to the most effective (in terms of medical school admissions) "career changer" programs:
- a cohort-based format
- no more than 30 students per cohort
- strong, experienced advisors with only a few students each
- coaching on application portfolios
The UCSD planning team took these elements and applied them to a "record/academic enhancement" model. Additionally, UC San Diego School of Medicine had a Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program for the past 23 years. This program, which closed in 2013, included many of the key characteristics noted above and focused on academic record enhancement. Hence, building on the success of the previous program, incorporating the attributes of the most successful programs and focusing on strengthening the medical school portfolio, was a natural approach.
- Will there be MCAT Preparation, and if so how much time will be spent on that?
- Yes, there will be MCAT Preparation. This includes intensive, in-person preparation during the summer, followed by online self-preparation interspersed with quarterly bootcamps and the option for ongoing tutoring.
- Will there be volunteer opportunities during the program?
- The emphasis of the Program is on academic record enhancement and MCAT preparation. Pursuit of volunteer opportunities is not generally recommended due to the intensity of the full-time program. Volunteer and/or research opportunities will be time-consuming when added to the coursework required throughout the year-long program. However, students will be able to network with clinicians in the student's area of interest, which may give them an advantage in securing relevant and meaningful volunteer work after the conclusion of the program.
- Will there be research opportunities during the program?
- As with volunteering, outside research is not recommended. The program is time consuming and activities that distract from the necessary focus on classes, homework, and strengthening a science GPA are discouraged. UC San Diego School of Medicine is one of the foremost research universities in the country, so students will have the advantage, following the program, to network with researchers in the student's area of interest. Post-program research is up to each individual student and is not a formal part of the program.
- Why can't I re-take some of my undergraduate lower-division science courses to get a better grade?
- The program is designed to help students demonstrate to potential medical schools their ability to master regular, rigorous upper division sciences courses from a leading science university. Retaking prior courses does not have the same impact. All participants need to have completed the undergraduate science requirements for application to medical school and then take UCSD upper-division biology courses to enhance their undergraduate education. Introduction to Biological Sciences I and II, which are offered in the summer, do provide review and reaffirmation of knowledge from undergraduate science courses.
- What do you mean by a supportive learning environment?
- The Admissions Committee for the program deliberately keeps the cohort small (a maximum of 30) in order to foster a close, personal environment that will help students succeed academically, prepare for and take the MCAT, and develop medical school application portfolios. Additionally, tutoring is available on request, and students are matched with advisors who are involved in clinical and academic medicine and who will assist each advisee in preparing medical school applications.
- What's included in the fee?
- The fee includes all program tuition including upper-division Biological Sciences courses, seminars and workshops, MCAT Preparation, program support services including tutoring, mentors, coaching to help participants develop a medical school application portfolio, and preparation for medical school interviewing.
Living expenses, books, and transportation are not included in the fee.
- Is there financial aid available?
- Federal scholarships, grants, and loans are not currently available for the UC San Diego Post Baccalaureate Premedical program. However, private student loans can assist with program costs. UC San Diego Extension has established a business relationship with UC Approved Lenders. Students can compare loan details including interest rates, repayment options, applicable fees, etc. to help find a lender that best meets their needs. For complete Financial Aid information and to review the Private Lender List please visit extension.ucsd.edu.
Additionally, the program offers a limited number of scholarships that covers the majority of tuition. For more information, please see the Financial Information page.
- Will I have time to work part-time during the program?
- The program is academically intense and demanding. Balancing this with work is is difficult, and therefore working during the program is highly discouraged. The focus of each student needs to be on success in the coursework and strengthening his/her GPA.
- Where is housing near UC San Diego?
- The UC San Diego Housing Office website can be helpful in locating housing near UC San Diego or on the UC San Diego campus. They can also be reached at (858) 534-3670 for an access code for listings.
- Will I be able to access UC San Diego libraries as a student in the Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program?
- Students in the program have access to UC San Diego campus libraries at no cost. Enrollment in the program earns students the ability to check materials out as well.
- What's the difference between UC San Diego Extension and UC San Diego?
- There are several major divisions under the umbrella of the university. The four at UC San Diego are the undergraduate programs, the graduate division, the medical school, and the extension programs. Just as graduate schools serve students seeking academic career development, extension programs serve students seeking professional career development.
Over 60,000 students per year take courses through UC San Diego Extension either online or in-person. UC San Diego Extension is a self-supporting unit of the University and has a 47-year history providing cutting-edge, life-long learning for individuals and organizations. UC San Diego Extension often works in partnership with the schools, departments and divisions of UC San Diego.
The UC San Diego Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program is a partnership between UC San Diego Extension and the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
- Will I have time for a social life?
- Yes, but it may not be as full as it may have been in the past or will be again after medical school. The program is demanding, and students need to be careful to balance their social lives with the academic challenges it presents. As an example of the social life lead by some of our past students, please view the student-made video found here.
- Are any of the courses online?
- All courses are taught in the classroom, although many have online components through services like Blackboard or Ted.
- My undergraduate degree is not in math or science, or I lack applicable healthcare experience. Will this disqualify me from entering the program?
- You won't be disqualified from entering the program if you don't have an undergraduate degree in math or science. However, you must have completed (by the beginning of the program) the traditional prerequisites for medical school including:
Additionally, the following requirements are not held by all medical schools, but many, and so they are strongly recommended.
- two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters of general biology, with lab
- two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters of general chemistry, with lab
- two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters of organic chemistry, with lab
- two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters of physics, with lab
- two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters of English
Also, you don't necessarily have to have applicable healthcare experience to enter the program. However, you should have a sincere interest in medicine which should be expressed through your application essays.
- two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters of math (calculus, statistics, computer science or a combination of the three)
- If I already completed all required courses for med school as an undergraduate, why would I be interested in a Post Baccalaureate Premedical program?
- Students are interested in a Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program for a variety of reasons. Some lack a strong undergraduate GPA and want to enhance their academic record by demonstrating strength in upper-division biological science courses. Other students enter the program to strengthen their medical school application by increasing their MCAT scores, rounding out their science education, writing personal statements and/or practicing their medical school interviewing skills. The UC San Diego Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program offers an opportunity to show prospective medical schools that you are a serious applicant, aside from your undergraduate GPA. It presents a structured, comprehensive approach to strengthening your application.
- Can I use the program to raise my overall undergraduate GPA for applying to med school?
- While raising your GPA is a likely outcome of this program, that is not the sole focus. Rather, the goal is to show prospective medical schools that you are capable of excelling in upper division Biological Science courses at a premier science university - the type of academic rigor found in medical school. This goal is enhanced by doing well on the MCAT through intense study. Students are expected to maintain a 3.5 GPA in the program.
- Does this program provide a direct linkage of acceptance to UC San Diego School of Medicine or any other UC campus and degree program?
- Participating in a UC San Diego Extension educational program does not provide either a guarantee or preference in admission to University of California degree programs, including the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Students interested in applying to UC degree programs should refer to the UC Admissions website or the admissions office of the UC campus they wish to attend for details about the admissions process.
The Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program does have a linkage to Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, an osteopathic medical school.