Should I Get a Second Degree or Just Take More Classes?

Session 110

Our student this week is questioning if she should delay graduation vs studying for another degree. She’s trying to raise her GPA to be more competitive.

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement will be out in 2018. Go to and sign up to be notified when it comes out!

We take questions from the Nontrad Premed Forum and answer them here. Go over to our forums page and sign up to be part of our community.

Our poster for today is asking whether or not they should apply to a second degree or just stay in school longer.

This is actually a very common questions that comes up among nontrads, especially for someone who is pseudo-nontrad – still in school but made a last second decision to enter medical school.

[01:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I’m currently in my last year of Biology and have recently decided to apply to medical school. My GPA is not as high as I want to be. When applying to the school I’m in right now, I had one year worth of transfer credits. So I entered basically in the second year of my program and spent four years in this program, pursuing prerequisites to graduate from the Biology program as well as pursuing many psychology courses due to personal interest.

I decided a couple of weeks ago to apply for a second Bachelor’s Degree to both increase my GPA and to pursue my interest. This way, if I stay longer as an undergraduate, I can explain it to the medical school committee that I was pursuing two degrees. Rather than staying longer in my current program of five plus years to take more courses to increase my GPA. I have contacted a couple of schools. Some of them say that they count all undergraduate course grades into account when calculating cumulative GPA. Some say they only take into account grades from one degree.

I don’t know what to do after finding this out. Should I still pursue the Psych degree or should I graduate later with only one bachelor’s degree?”

[03:05] Do Schools Only Look at One Degree?

When you enter the information into the application services, every grade goes in. It’s not separated by degree or anything else. Credits are put in there. Fails, pass/fails, withdrawals, etc. Everything goes in.

It sounds you’re taking the second degree to avoid the question of why it took you so log to graduate. And that’s not a problem either. You could technically graduate now and just take more classes afterwards. This is considered a postbac. And you can do this after already getting your first degree.

[04:20] Doing a DIY Postbac

As a non-degree-seeking postbac student at a large university, this could pose a challenge for you since schools will usually give preference to degree-seeking students. That said, there are ways around this by claiming that you’re going to get a second degree, then you drop out afterwards. So it’s a cat and mouse game as a do-it-yourself postbac.

[04:45] Prepare Well

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. Take the classes you need. Raise your GPA as much as you want. Do well on the MCAT. And apply to medical school. Write your personal statement. Check out Ryan’s personal statement book and get notified when it comes up.

Prepare for interviews. And also check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. Know how to impress medical school admissions committee for you to get in.

[05:15] Get Your GPA Up

After four years of school, that denominator is so big. You have so many credits that they needle doesn’t move much when you take more classes. If you’re at a 3.3, trying to get at a 3.4, it’s probably not worth it. Check if you have a strong upward trend. If so, you might not really need more classes.

Lastly, if you have questions about your nontraditional journey to medical school, go to the Medical School HQ Forums. And if you’re a nontrad premed, go check out its Nontrad Premed Forum. Join the community and ask a questions. Collaborate, not compete.


The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview

Nontrad Premed Forum

Medical School HQ Forums

[email protected]

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