How Do Med Schools View Longer Undergrad Degrees?

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Session 261

Your undergrad took an unconventional path, so how will med schools view your slower academic progress? What about your med school application?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.

Don’t forget to check out Mappd. It’s the new technology platform that I co-founded. Since its beta launch back in August of 2020, we now have over 1000 students using it every day to track their progress to medical school. They also use it to get feedback and help navigate their progress to medical school. Go sign up for a free two-week trial today!

Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey. Please also check out

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

[02:53] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I took three and a half years to finish an Associate Degree in Nursing right after high school. Then, after about 6 years, I went back to college to get a Bachelor’s in Cell and Molecular Biology. Only 11 out of all the nursing courses were counted towards the biology degree. I finished 2 years of coursework for this program and went out of the country due to personal issues. Now, I’m planning to go back to finish the degree and I have about 47 credit hours left. How will AMCAS and AACOMAS classify my over 5 years of undergrad course work (Not to mention I still need about 2 more years to finish the Bachelor’s degree)?”

[03:36] Tell Your Story, Own Your Truth

This is a very common question, especially for students who are on a delayed schedule or the slow rollers in the academic world. And at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. There will be some questions, especially if you’ve never really taken a full course load. That will be the biggest concern.

“Whatever the reason, there are a lot of students who take this delayed path to get a degree.”Click To Tweet

If you have strong reasons for why you have taken such a protracted and prolonged journey to medical school, then you can easily tell your story and tell the truth. 

A lot of students ask these questions because of fear that the truth will hurt them. But unless it’s something really bad, your truth is your savior. Tell your truth, tell your story. Tell your specific reasons for delaying down this path because those reasons are specific and unique to you. And that is your story. So don’t fear telling your story and really owning the path that you’ve been on.

[05:41] Your Coursework

AMCAS will basically give the credit hours that are typically considered freshmen credit hours. And if the credits you’re taking are still considered freshmen credit hours, then mark it as freshmen, even if it’s your third year of school.

Therefore, your best friend during this journey would be the instruction manuals that go with AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS.

“Nontraditional students aren't in a very structured four-year timeframe. So look at what AMCAS would consider as credit hours.”Click To Tweet

Now, if you did graduate, then most of that coursework, if not all, will be considered postbac coursework. But if you haven’t graduated, and you’re just racking up credit hours everywhere, you’re going to have a very big senior credit hour total. So read the instruction manuals.

[07:26] How Your Prolonged Journey Will Be Seen by the AdCom

'Don't worry about how your prolonged journey will be seen by the medical schools because your journey is unique to you.'Click To Tweet

I did a podcast once with a student named Fernando that was Episode 285 of The Premed Years Podcast. Fernando had 10 years of an undergraduate journey until he was finally set on this path to becoming a physician. He did his work and got in at multiple acceptances. So don’t worry about your specific journey.

Your story is driving who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing is going to be more important than all of that. 

[08:24] Final Thoughts

'The instruction manuals are your friend.'Click To Tweet

I don’t think enough students read the instruction manuals. But you really have to understand what the application services want and need and what those nuances are. Don’t skip out reading the instruction manuals because there are lots of details in there that will ultimately help you with your application and prevent you from making very common mistakes.


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Nontrad Premed Forum

The Premed Years Session 285: Hear How This Immigrant Got An Acceptance to an Ivy League!