M.Sc. graduate, low undergrad, Canadian--- would a post-bacc or SMP be useful?

CanadianMaple

5+ Year Member
Mar 18, 2010
16
0
91
Status
Hello everyone! I'm a first time poster but a long time lurker here. This is a great place for useful information and obtaining advice and support from fellow members. You guys are doing a great job here!

So I've basically summed up my situation in my post title. I have a few things going against me in applying to American schools- being Canadian is one of them. I applied to a few schools- was waitlisted before interview at Howard (MD) last year and am waitlisted for an interview at AZCOM (DO) this year. Things don't look very promising and I am therefore planning my next step in my course of action.

Seeing that I already have a M.Sc. (graduated last year), I am wondering how schools would regard me going back and doing some undergrad in a post-bacc or doing another masters with an SMP. I know there are some varied opinions on this as I have read through some of the posts in some of the threads on here. I should perhaps call up individual schools but any insight would be appreciated.

In terms of post bacc vs. SMP, what would be the best option for me as someone who has an undergrad (3.05 cGPA, science 2.97) and a masters (3.9-4.0 GPA, depending on scaling systems). Also keep in mind, my masters was a thesis-based masters where I only had to take 2 courses. Therefore my masters would not help me undergrad GPA-wise. My MCAT is a 27P which I am planning to re-write.

I am new to these post-bacc and SMP programs in the U.S. as there are no such programs in Canada. In Canada, I am contemplating doing a 2nd undergrad, but for me personally, it would feel like I'm moving back instead of progressing, and schools may look at this unfavourably. Correct me if I'm wrong, but post-baccs and SMPs are not full degree courses i.e. it wouldn't award you a degree, and therefore this may be a better route to attempt to improve my poor undergrad.

So this is my situation and I would appreciate any information and insight. In reference to my undergrad GPA, I just have to say that apart from taking a rigorous program, there were some personal issues combined with a hopeless attitude (i.e. accepting mediocre marks because that 'was good enough' at the time) that translated into a poor GPA. I went on to do a M.Sc. which I luckily got into and which totally changed my perspectives. I am really driven and have a love for research and medicine and hence would ultimately like to have a career as a clinician-scientist. Anyways, that's for down the road if I ever make it! I just wanted to mention this because I am truly motivated and will put in whatever it takes to get there.

So would you suggest a post-bacc or a SMP for someone who has a poor undergrad and a good masters? And for whichever one is more favourable, what schools would you suggest I apply to? I am looking at programs at Rosalind Franklin (70% acceptance rates to their med school!? True or not?), EVMS, UPenn, Tulane and Brown.

Thanks in advance for any help!
 
Jul 28, 2009
143
1
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Seeing that I already have a M.Sc. (graduated last year), I am wondering how schools would regard me going back and doing some undergrad in a post-bacc or doing another masters with an SMP. I know there are some varied opinions on this as I have read through some of the posts in some of the threads on here. I should perhaps call up individual schools but any insight would be appreciated.


They won't really care that you took post-bac classes now. Lots of older non-traditional applicants who majored in liberal arts didn't take premedical courses in college in their 20s and are doing it now and applying to medical school in their late 20s, 30s, even 40s


In terms of post bacc vs. SMP, what would be the best option for me as someone who has an undergrad (3.05 cGPA, science 2.97) and a masters (3.9-4.0 GPA, depending on scaling systems). Also keep in mind, my masters was a thesis-based masters where I only had to take 2 courses. Therefore my masters would not help me undergrad GPA-wise. My MCAT is a 27P which I am planning to re-write.


Based on your current undergrad GPA, I would use a two pronged strategy - hit it with both post-bac courses and an SMP. I think you should probably re-take a few of your premed courses as a post-bac. This will not only push up your undergrad GPA but will also replace your old grades for DO schools (DO schools have grade replacement policies). Hopefully, that will push your science GPA up above 3.0 and then you may want to consider applying and doing an SMP. Get at least a 3.5 in your SMP. Definitely reatke the MCAT and aim for 33+.

I am new to these post-bacc and SMP programs in the U.S. as there are no such programs in Canada. In Canada, I am contemplating doing a 2nd undergrad, but for me personally, it would feel like I'm moving back instead of progressing, and schools may look at this unfavourably. Correct me if I'm wrong, but post-baccs and SMPs are not full degree courses i.e. it wouldn't award you a degree, and therefore this may be a better route to attempt to improve my poor undergrad.

Post-bacs would not award you any degree, but most SMP would award you a Master's degree. I know Canada uses a slightly different system, but there were a few past canadian students in my SMP who got accepted to Canadian schools after the program. I personally don't think doing a 2nd undergrad is useless at all so long as it helps push up your GPA and make your application more competitive - the alternative is that your application would remain uncompetitive if you have a sub 3.0 sience GPA

So this is my situation and I would appreciate any information and insight. In reference to my undergrad GPA, I just have to say that apart from taking a rigorous program, there were some personal issues combined with a hopeless attitude (i.e. accepting mediocre marks because that 'was good enough' at the time) that translated into a poor GPA. I went on to do a M.Sc. which I luckily got into and which totally changed my perspectives. I am really driven and have a love for research and medicine and hence would ultimately like to have a career as a clinician-scientist. Anyways, that's for down the road if I ever make it! I just wanted to mention this because I am truly motivated and will put in whatever it takes to get there.

Like I said, I think the best thing to do for your would be to go for that 2nd undergrad degree and get 2 or more semesters of A's to push up your GPA. Retake any premed classes that you got below a B and then consider doing an SMP like the one at Cincinnati, Georgetown, Rosalind Franklin, or EVMS (I don't think UPenn or Brown really has an SMP). You'll get in somewhere, but it may take up to 2 years to repair your GPA and make you application competitive enough.
 
Last edited:

klmnop

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2009
857
2
241
First thing I would say is, being canadian you have a ridiculous disadvantage in applying to american medical schools, its unfortunate but its how the system works. I myself went to a canadian school and wished to apply there, and am a canadian citizen, but not a resident, therefore its as if every school is out-of-province for me... also blows. Depending on where you are from, when you reapply I would stick to the schools in your province, and most definitely in canada, only because a lot of american schools allocate less than 5 spots to international students each year.

And i just asked this question about SMP-friendliness for canadian schools for if i wanted to go back when I finish. I am not sure they know much about it or the rigor/purpose of it. And since the application process is different, each schools probably views it in a very different matter.

Depending on what province you are from, there are different choices, and I would contact each canadian school to ask what they look for/evaluate in reapplicants. For instance, I know the Ottawa University accepts like 90% from Ontario, and they only factor in your last three years of work (you should check the number of credits this means). Moreover, they do not require the MCAT, which is very rare but perhaps beneficial to you. So if you were able to complete a few more years of graduate-level, or even continued undergraduate, you could effectively replace your previous GPA completely, and not have to worry about the MCAT.

This is just for Ottawa U though, which happens to be an excellent med school. To apply to american schools as a canadian you would definitely have to stand out both gpa-wise and mcat-wise. So maybe the above two-pronged advice would work, albeit tedious.
 

CanadianMaple

5+ Year Member
Mar 18, 2010
16
0
91
Status
Thanks Looking Glass and klmop for the info and advice, greatly appreciated!

Looking Glass, thanks for suggesting a strategy for how I should perhaps approach things given my situation. While the post-bacc classes would help in replacing/boosting my undergrad GPA, I'm not sure the SMP would be very helpful because I already have a masters and secondly, do SMP grades go towards the undergrad GPA? I will have to do more research into SMP programs.

klmop, I hear ya. As Canadians, we have a terrible disadvantage at U.S. schools and Canadian schools are extremely stringent, not to mention that the process is like a lottery of sorts even if you have amazing stats. It would be definitely useful to find out how Canadian schools evaluate post-bacc and SMP programs. I am planning on emailing/calling various schools to find out. I've given thought to these programs and am beginning to think that it may be best to stay put in Canada and do another undergrad (hopefully a shorter one by transferring credits from my previous undergrad). If you don't mind me asking klmnop, are you a state resident in the U.S. anywhere? Did you do your undergrad in the U.S. and are now planning to do an SMP?

Post-bacc and SMP programs with linkages to med schools like the ones offered at Rosalind Franklin seem to be very attractive. However, given that I am Canadian, would I be treated differently in admissions procedures? I should contact the school and find out. Does anyone have any info or ideas on this though?
 

klmnop

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2009
857
2
241
I actually have dual. I did my undergrad in Canada and I am a resident of Michigan. My GPA left me largely unsuccessful this round so I have applied to and will most likely enroll in an smp this fall... still deciding. Because I am a US citizen I have a distinct advantage and will most likely not do a linkage program, but you should look into this. While the schools will most likely not discriminate you for the smp, the med school does have independent guidelines, and thus you could be one of the few left out.... again, I would call and see. You should also inquire about residency. I am not aware of the international restrictions but UCinci's SMP boasts that you can become an Ohio resident just by attending the program... but probably doesnt apply to you.

That said, I would be very interested in learning how Canadian med schools view SMP's, thus if you are planning on researching this, please share. I would imagine they would view it as graduate coursework, possibly indistinguishable from a traditional masters, but I have no idea. By the way, an important thing to note (from this thread http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=346106 ) is that SMP grades are calculated as graduate coursework in the AMCAS, whereas structured post-bacc is for undergrad. There is also the possibility to continue to do bcmp undergraduate work (not phys, chem, org, and bio) to improve you gpa. this would not be a traditional post-bacc in the sense that you would not be redoing the required core courses, but would be adding to your gpa calculation by doing more undergraduate science work. Whereas post-bacc's are good for improving the required entrance courses, smp's are good for proving you are capable of succeeding in med school courses.
 

CanadianMaple

5+ Year Member
Mar 18, 2010
16
0
91
Status
Hey klmop,

Sorry, haven't been able to post for a while.

You certainly should do an SMP as that would improve your chances at U.S. schools, especially as a U.S. citizen. What programs are you looking?

As you mentioned, I am at a serious disadvantage as a Canadian citizen so I have to be really informed and cautious in relation to my steps in the U.S. I'm still a bit unclear on post-bacc vs. SMP advantages. Post-baccs appear to be for people without pre-reqs (which I already have) but you mentioned that you could take non-pre-req upper year courses to help boost the GPA. To be honest, I really don't know how much of a GPA boost I would get from this even if I do 2 years worth of post-bacc. Maybe I'm saying this because the SMP route seems to appeal to be a bit more, especially those SMPs with host school linkages. And I'm not looking at this as a fast way out (if I ever get there), but rather as a more practical approach. As a Canadian, I'm already disadvantaged in applying to U.S. schools, even if I do one of the better SMPs at Georgetown or Boston. However, with the 'linkage', granted that the school is 'Canadian-friendly', I would think the chances would be better. Hence that's why I'm looking at schools like RFU which has 'linkages' to CMS and because it's relatively 'Canadian-friendly' (as per my post in the RFU BMS thread).

As for Canadian med school evaluations of U.S. SMPs, it appears that they would either regard it as graduate coursework, not regard it at all or evaluate it on a case-by-case basis and then decide what to do (again, see my post in the RFU BMS 2010-2011 thread).

I apologize for my long rant but it'd be great to get some input from fellow post-bacc/SMP applicants with Canadian connections like yourself :).