Postbaccalaureate Pre-Medical Program
Portland State University's Postbaccalaureate (Postbac) Pre-medical Program provides the coursework, advising, and opportunities needed to meet a wide range of different student needs.
The program can be a good fit for:
- Individuals who already have a Bachelor's degree but are lacking the specific science prerequisites for allopathic or osteopathic medical school
- Postbac students who have completed many of the prerequisite courses but are aiming to improve their GPA.
Postbac students who prepare for medical school at PSU apply broadly to medical school and many applicants are accepted to schools across the nation each year; see the "Student Success" section for more information on schools accepting PSU students.
The timeline for completion varies based on the individual student’s previous preparation. Approximately two years is a common timeline for those without significant prior coursework in the sciences. The two year timeline allows for a balanced (though still challenging) schedule as well as more time to gain clinical exposure, demonstrate long-term service in the field, and include study time for the MCAT. It is possible to further expedite the completion of pre-med courses with previous math coursework or utilizing summer accelerated sequences. Postbac students will work with their pre-med adviser to determine a course plan that works best with their goals.
Accelerated Plan: Postbac students who wish to complete the core science sequences (follow the link and click on Pre-Medicine) for medical school in one calendar year must already have appropriate math background (through college level pre-calculus) before beginning the program in the summer term. They complete the accelerated General Chemistry sequence in the summer term and continue through the regular academic year (Fall/Winter/Spring) with the Organic Chemistry, Principles of Biology, and General Physics sequences. With the current version of the MCAT, it was not uncommon for students to complete these sequences and then take the MCAT and apply to medical school in the summer. They then pick up any remaining prerequisites in the year in which they are interviewing. For example, Genetics and Biochemistry are commonly completed in the interview year.
Upcoming changes to the MCAT in 2015, however, which include increased coverage of Biochemistry and Genetics, may impact this timeline. In order to gain a stronger understanding of these topics, we would recommend completion of Biochemistry and Genetics courses prior to taking the MCAT. To learn more about the MCAT changes, go to AAMC 2015 MCAT. Students will meet with a pre-medical adviser to determine the specific course plan that works best for them.
Record Enhancers: Individuals who have completed some or all of the basic prerequisites for medical school but wish to finish them and/or enhance their academic record with additional classes are also welcome to apply to PSU to participate in PSU’s Postbaccalaureate Pre-medical Program. Students work with a pre-medical adviser to develop a course plan. However, before applying to the program and meeting with an adviser, such individuals should review the available science coursework offered at PSU to get a sense for whether it will meet their needs (for example, individuals who wish to take extra upper division coursework should check to see if PSU offers plenty of courses that they have not yet taken). Course descriptions are available in the Bulletin and the terms when they are typically offered are listed in the Course Planning Guide.
The PSU Postbac Pre-medical Program is loosely structured. Postbac pre-medical students take courses alongside undergraduate students; we do not have cohorts of postbac pre-medical students. This is not a certificate program. Instead, many postbac students easily earn a second degree in Science as part of their postbac experience (see "Applying to PSU" below for more information). We expect students to drive their own experience in the program, to work with an adviser to develop an individualized academic plan, and to proactively seek assistance with other preparatory efforts from a pre-medical adviser. To participate in our program is to take pre-medical coursework at PSU, to become engaged in relevant activities, and to take advantage of the well-developed advising services we have in place for pre-medical students, which includes one-on-one advising, workshops, and a range of different relevant events. To schedule an appointment with a pre-medical adviser, please contact the CLAS Advising Center at 503-725-3822.
Coursework and Other Preparation
Courses: The prerequisite courses for medical school are listed on the PSU Pre-Medicine Worksheet (scroll down the list of programs at the Pre-Professional Programs page to find the worksheet). Note that at PSU, science sequences only begin in the fall term (or are offered in an accelerated format in the summer term). The only exception is General Chemistry (it has both a Fall term start and a Winter term start). Portland State also offers Genetics and Biochemistry (both required by OHSU School of Medicine) as well as a variety of other relevant upper division courses such as Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology, Immunology, Neurophysiology, Quantitative Analysis, and Physics in Biomedicine. In addition, PSU offers an Intro to Pre-Med class, an Art of Being a Physician course taught by an MD, an Introduction to Osteopathic Medicine course taught by a DO, a wide selection of Public Health Education courses, and more.
MCAT Prep: PSU does not offer a comprehensive MCAT prep course. Portland State students either study on their own or take an MCAT test prep course from one of the multiple test prep companies offering courses locally.
Volunteering & Shadowing: There are a wide range of exciting and relevant volunteer opportunities available in the Portland area. We provide referrals and spread the word about volunteering, research, and healthcare job opportunities as we hear about them but do not "place" students in such positions. Position openings that we learn about are promoted via the Pre-medicine Listserv. Students are added to this listerv once they visit for an advising appointment. Students are also encouraged to apply proactively to various organizations listed on the Clinical Exposure Sites worksheet, available in the CLAS Advising Center.
Applying to the Postbac Pre-medical Program
Admission to the program is based on admission to the University (there is no separate application for the program). Applicants submit an online postbaccalaureate application. After creating a login, select POST-BAC Domestic as your student type from the drop down menu. If you prefer to submit a hard copy of the application instead of submitting the online application linked above, you can find it here.
BEFORE COMPLETING THE POSTBACCALAUREATE APPLICATION, READ THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
On the application, in addition to designating that you are pursuing the pre-med (PMED) program, it is strongly recommended that you indicate that you are pursuing a second degree in the interdisciplinary major called, “Science,” even though that is not your primary reason for coming to PSU. There are two reasons for this:
1) Most postbaccalaureate pre-medical students end up inadvertently completing a second degree in Science, simply by preparing for medical school. Contact a pre-medical adviser to learn more about how the coursework you take as a postbaccalaureate pre-medical student applies toward the Science major.
2) Most postbaccalaureate pre-medical students are using financial aid and require longer than 12 months to complete the prerequisite coursework for medical school. Postbaccalaureate students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree are often eligible to receive aid for longer than 12 months, whereas those who are non-degree seeking are not eligible to receive aid for longer than 12 months.
If you have already identified another major (such as Biology) that you intend to complete while pursuing pre-medical studies at PSU, you are welcome to list that major on your application instead of the Science major.
Resources for Applying:
- If you have questions about financial aid for postbac students, please contact the Financial Aid Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-725-3461.
- You can learn more about the postbaccalaureate admissions process here.
- We have rolling admission at PSU, but you can find priority application deadlines here.
- Once you apply, please be sure to review the postbac checklist.
- If you have questions about admission, tuition, or residency, please contact the Admissions Office at email@example.com or 503-725-3511.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are admitted close to the beginning of the term in which you intend to start the program, you may not be able to get into the classes you need, as they tend to fill quickly.
Academic Advising for Postbac Pre-medical Students
Prospective postbac pre-medical students are welcome to meet with a pre-medical adviser (Kimberly Felipe, Joan Jagodnik, or Melissa Yates) during drop-in advising or via an advising appointment (available to prospective students during non-peak periods). Once enrolled, postbac pre-medical students are expected to regularly visit their pre-medical adviser for an appointment and to utilize drop-in advising as needed. Students are encouraged to schedule their appointments with the same adviser each time for relationship development, consistency, and efficiency. To schedule an appointment with a pre-medical adviser, please contact the CLAS Advising Center at 503-725-3822.