From India to the US: Do I Need a Bachelor’s or a Postbac?

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OPM 292: From India to the US: Do I Need a Bachelor's or a Postbac?

Session 292

This international student hopes to attend med school in the US. Will their coursework suffice, do they need more coursework in the US, or will a postbac work?

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.

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.

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

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[01:52] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Hi everybody. I have some points to be answered. I am an Indian student currently pursuing a bachelor’s of engineering from Indian University and thought of applying to the U.S. med school. I would be getting around 3 GPA when converted from Indian Standards to the U.S. GPA standard.

I am getting this low grade because during my first year I got in an accident and got an implant in my right leg so it screwed my results for the first year. 

What should I further do to get my GPA better: postbac program or an MS in biomedical Sciences? I am also willing to do various certificate courses that are conducted in India that will help me increase my GPA. 

Should I consider doing another undergraduate degree from the U.S.? I am also doing a bit of research type with my professor in India. Would that help me?”

[03:05] The 90-Hour Rule

The biggest hangup here is that the far majority of medical schools typically have a 90-hour rule, which means they require 90 hours of credits from a U.S. based undergraduate program. Some require 60 hours.

It may also be graduate but it depends on the school. The caveat is go check with the schools you’re interested in. But 90 hours is the general rule of thumb that we throw out as an advisor. Now, to get to that 90 credit hours, you’re basically doing another degree. And so, a one-year postbac is not good enough for that although there may be a few exceptions to that.

'The general recommendation for everyone coming from overseas with an overseas degree is you should probably just repeat your undergrad degree here in the States.'Click To Tweet

This is true if you are an international student who did your undergrad overseas. And this is the same for U.S. citizens or U.S. residents who go abroad to do their undergraduate coursework.

There are certification bodies out there that will take your transcripts and convert it and certify it as a GPA here in the U.S. system. But the general rule we tell students is just come here, do your degree here, and start your life here, if that is your goal.

[05:30] Why Medical Schools Want U.S. Credits

'The norm is medical schools here want U.S. classes, which helps them understand your academic ability.'Click To Tweet

You have to prove to medical schools that you are academically capable of doing well in medical school. Unfortunately, international credits don’t give enough confidence to medical schools because it doesn’t give them enough background on what those courses are. They don’t know how hard the classes were or whether there were strict regulations around testing.

Hence, they’re going to want to see U.S. credits for the most part. And anyone coming from an international school, will very likely need to just come here and take more classes. And for some, that may mean just repeating your undergraduate degree.

A lot of people want to come to the States to study medicine. We don’t have the best health care system, but we have a great education system for training doctors. So get your credits and apply to medical school if that is the ultimate goal.

[07:08] Would His Research in India Help?

Ulimately, research definitely helps and it’s good to have it in your application. It’s one of the most overrated parts of an application, but if you’re interested in doing it, great. However, I personally don’t think anything you do in India is going to help you get into school here in the U.S.


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