How Will Grad School Affect My Chances of Getting In?

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Session 12

Today on the OldPreMeds Podcast, we talk about the impact of grad school on your medical school application. Specifically, we cover the implications of applying to medical school with withdrawals on your grad school transcript. 

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

As always on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum.

This student is in a graduate program right now, but they want to go to medical school. And they’re asking about what choices are going to enhance their med school application and minimize the negative impact of how they handle this graduate program in progress. They have a couple scenarios here that I’ll run through.

First, they could leave their grad school that they’re in, leaving the semester transcript blank. They’d save money that way. The bad thing about leaving early for this person is it makes them look confused, like a serial quitter, because they’ve had other struggles in the past, too.

Second, they could finish the semester and withdraw later if they were doing terrible. But if they have W’s on their transcript later, again they have that appearance of quitting and confusion.

Or third, they could commit to finishing all of it. It might look better because they would have completed all the classes, but it would be costly. I think a lot of it comes down to money for this student. They’re struggling with their financial situation, which a lot of nontrads do because they’re juggling family and full-time work while trying to finish classes.

[Related episode: Will Withdrawing from a Class Hurt My Med School Application?]

How Does My Graduate GPA Affect My Medical School Application?

Medical schools generally look at your undergraduate GPA for admissions. Grad school grades usually do not have a major impact upon acceptance to medical school. Hence, having good grades in grad school won’t enhance your application with a few exceptions, such as:

  • Special Master’s Programs
  • A few traditional hardcore science Master’s programs—but these are usually marketed and listed as Special Master’s Programs.
Grad school grades usually do not have a major impact upon acceptance to medical school. Click To Tweet

The unfortunate thing is that, as the poster suggested, it can look bad to quit your program now that you’ve started, since it could suggest lack of commitment. Medical school and residency is a long, difficult process, so it requires a great deal of commitment. Medical schools want applicants who will remain committed to the path when it’s hard.

What are Special Master’s Programs?

They are a form of postbac that differs from just taking the prereq classes. You take a year of science classes, and often you are taking them with medical students. Doing well in an SMP can help demonstrate that you can handle a medical school course load. They serve as a stepping stone for acceptance into medical school; some of them have linkages to a medical school.

The AAMC does not regulate SMPs or dictate exactly what they need to do, so you have to look into the programs individually. Be sure to investigate:

  • What the program is going to do for you
  • The cost
  • Their success rate or placement into medical schools

[Related episode: When You Should Consider a Special Master’s Program]

The 32-Hour Rule

Some medical schools only look at your last 32 hours of your coursework (including grad school or postbac coursework), and they don’t include any earlier coursework into your GPA calculation. This can be a big help for a lot of students. So if that sounds appealing to you, look up which medical schools use the 32-hour rule for calculating GPA.

[We discuss the 32-hour rule more in Session 3 of OldPreMeds Podcast.]

Major takeaway from this episode:

Look at the entire picture your application paints. Yes, quitting your program can suggest you might lack commitment, but that doesn’t mean nobody has gotten into medical school after quitting a graduate program. Can you explain why you started and why you’re quitting this particular program?

Don’t assume that one part of your application is going to make or break your entire application.

Don't assume that one part of your application is going to make or break your entire application.Click To Tweet

Links and Other Resources


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