zird00

Calculator Salesman
10+ Year Member
Oct 12, 2007
71
3
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
I have a quick question. Some people will tell you that a Masters degree is no substitute for your undergraduate GPA. Some even say that graduate study is the same as an EC. :eek: Then on another thread you will hear someone advised to do a SMP if they have a low undergrad gpa... which is in fact a Masters degree! So what gives? And what is the REAL story with this situation? Are SMPs looked at more favorably than other masters? Are certain masters "better" than others?:confused:
 

DrMidlife

has an opinion
10+ Year Member
Oct 31, 2006
7,506
2,697
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
...a traditional Masters degree is no substitute for your undergraduate GPA...traditional graduate study is the same as an EC. ...do a SMP if they have a low undergrad gpa... which is in fact a special Masters degree!

Bolded with your answers. Traditional graduate study is not the same as a special/medical masters program. Pick an SMP (such as Georgetown) and look at its description: "...tailored to college graduates who wish to strengthen their credentials for application to U.S. medical schools."

Compare this with a traditional graduate program, such as Georgetown's MS program in biochem/cell-mol bio: "The M.S. program's curriculum reflects the multidisciplinary nature of biotechnology integrating theoretical and lab-based science courses with exposure to the business, bioethical and legal framework in this field, including intellectual property issues, entrepreneurial development, regulatory concerns etc." If this sounds interesting, and your undergrad credentials are solid, and you're in no hurry to get to med school, then there's nothing wrong with doing a program like this before med school.

You would be foolish to do an SMP with the intent of following it with anything other than med school.

You would be foolish to do a traditional masters if med school is what you want, and your credentials for applying to med school are weak.
 

NTF

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2008
1,856
90
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
As far as GPA repair goes SMPs are far superior to Masters because essentially you're taking first year medical school classes.

The downsides of SMP:

1) Expensive
2) Competitive - you're competing against other motivated nontrads
3) If you don't do well, you're pretty much confirming to Adcoms that you can't handle a med school curriculum.

The upside:
1) Many med schools will give you an automatic interview if you complete their SMP. Some schools even offer conditional acceptance.

While opinions differ as to the relative importance of Master's GPA, EVERYONE agrees that your graduate GPA is weighted significantly less than your ugrad GPA. So yes in many cases it is viewed as just an EC (albeit potentially a very strong EC).

Adcoms want to see that you're capable of handling a rigorous hard science curriculum.

Good luck! I'll be rooting for you.
 
About the Ads

DrJD

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Oct 24, 2005
1,581
4
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
As far as GPA repair goes SMPs are far superior to Masters because essentially you're taking first year medical school classes.

The downsides of SMP:

1) Expensive
2) Competitive - you're competing against other motivated nontrads
3) If you don't do well, you're pretty much confirming to Adcoms that you can't handle a med school curriculum.

The upside:
1) Many med schools will give you an automatic interview if you complete their SMP. Some schools even offer conditional acceptance.

While opinions differ as to the relative importance of Master's GPA, EVERYONE agrees that your graduate GPA is weighted significantly less than your ugrad GPA. So yes in many cases it is viewed as just an EC (albeit potentially a very strong EC).

Adcoms want to see that you're capable of handling a rigorous hard science curriculum.

Good luck! I'll be rooting for you.

Hey good info but just wanted to correct a few common misconceptions. You are NOT graded against your fellow SMP students in any of the SMP's that I know of. EVMS, Georgetown, BU, Drexe, etc.... Rather you are graded against the medical school. In theory every SMP student in the above programs could get a 4.0. (Obviously doesn't happen)

Also, very few have a guaranteed interview. Some have things you can do to "gaurantee" yourself an interview ie. Above a 3.5, top half of class etc.

Otherwise spot on... If you have any specific questions about SMP, or the G-town one in particular let me know. I am a slightly non-trad in the G-town program right now.

Good luck!
 

zird00

Calculator Salesman
10+ Year Member
Oct 12, 2007
71
3
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
I thank everyone for their responses. My concerns are coming from the perspective of someone who already has a masters. I do not wish to do a SMP ( nor do I hope I will have to :oops:). So does this mean that SMP degrees will be looked at more favorably than other masters degrees during the application process?

Once again thank you for your responses.
 

gman33

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Aug 18, 2007
2,188
508
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
It's not bad if you already have a MS; it just would have been more helpful if you did a SMP.
If your UG was significantly below average, you would still need to do more work to boost your app. The MS will count for something if you did well, but it won't erase UG problems.
 

NTF

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2008
1,856
90
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Hey good info but just wanted to correct a few common misconceptions. You are NOT graded against your fellow SMP students in any of the SMP's that I know of. EVMS, Georgetown, BU, Drexe, etc.... Rather you are graded against the medical school. In theory every SMP student in the above programs could get a 4.0. (Obviously doesn't happen)

Also, very few have a guaranteed interview. Some have things you can do to "gaurantee" yourself an interview ie. Above a 3.5, top half of class etc.

Otherwise spot on... If you have any specific questions about SMP, or the G-town one in particular let me know. I am a slightly non-trad in the G-town program right now.

Good luck!

Thanks for the corrections! I was speaking too generally and didn't mean to imply that just finishing an SMP guaranteed interviews or acceptances. But I was under the impression that they offered it to some (hence the competition).

I know that Ohio State's SMP (which they call a post-bacc) offers acceptances. From their website:

"The College of Medicine offers conditional acceptances to medical school for the following year to a maximum of fifteen students based upon successful completion of all components of the program. Students may receive University tuition waivers while attending the PBP."

PBP stands for Post Baccalaureate Program
 
Last edited:

zird00

Calculator Salesman
10+ Year Member
Oct 12, 2007
71
3
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
It's not bad if you already have a MS; it just would have been more helpful if you did a SMP.
If your UG was significantly below average, you would still need to do more work to boost your app. The MS will count for something if you did well, but it won't erase UG problems.

To answer these 3 parts I actually have a MSW and my graduate gpa was a perfect 4.0. Mu UGPA as calculated by my school was 3.30 (AMCAS 3.08). And I am doing the pre-reqs as a non-degree/post-bacc student. My ECs are plentiful and I would be happy to list them if you would like but I am not trying to turn this into a WAMC thread. I am still trying to decipher what bearing a regular masters (MS, MA, MSW, MEd, etc) has upon admissions versus a SMP? :confused: Thanks again!
 

DrMidlife

has an opinion
10+ Year Member
Oct 31, 2006
7,506
2,697
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
To answer these 3 parts I actually have a MSW and my graduate gpa was a perfect 4.0. Mu UGPA as calculated by my school was 3.30 (AMCAS 3.08). And I am doing the pre-reqs as a non-degree/post-bacc student. My ECs are plentiful and I would be happy to list them if you would like but I am not trying to turn this into a WAMC thread. I am still trying to decipher what bearing a regular masters (MS, MA, MSW, MEd, etc) has upon admissions versus a SMP? :confused: Thanks again!

Along with completing med school prereqs, the other very important goal for your postbac needs to be getting your cumulative undergrad GPA up. Spreadsheet it out to see how much additional coursework you need to get up over a 3.4, which imho is the minimum cuGPA for comfort for MD schools. And/or you can think about DO schools. And/or you can think about an SMP.

The bearing that your MSW has on med school admissions is a strong extra-curricular activity; it says nothing about how well you'll do in med school. The bearing that an SMP has on med school admissions, if you do well, is a demonstration year of academic prowess in a subset of the first year med school curriculum.
 

dragonfly99

Full Member
10+ Year Member
May 15, 2008
5,089
49
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Agree with drmidlife.
Your MSW makes you a more interesting candidate, and perhaps shows some of your motivation for doing medicine, but it doesn't show whether you can academically "hack it" during medical school and beyond as a physician.

Since you have the low undergraduate GPA (for a med school applicant) the medical schools will look harder at your MCAT score and it will need to be higher. An applicant with a 3.8 undergrad GPA might get away with a 26 or 27 MCAT, but with a 3.1 it's more important to score in the 30's. Also, the schools will look a lot harder at your GPA in your med school prerequisite classes, particular the ones they know are hard, like organic chemistry.

I don't think you need/have to have a SMP, but the SMP's are composed of science classes that are similar or the same to the ones medical students take, so that is why the adcoms like the SMP's. If you go and take physics I/II, chem I/II, and organic chem I/II and 3 biology classes and then you have a 3.8 in those, I think it would make a lot of adcoms sit up and take notice, and they won't care that you haven't done a SMP.
 

LadyWolverine

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 17, 2004
1,682
37
Hiding in your closet
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Another route would be to pursue a "traditional" MS at a school where you will be able to really stand out in your program, and get to know a significant chunk of the faculty who also teach medical students/have input into medical school admissions. While I didn't realize it at the time, just by being very proactive in a small-ish basic science MS program attached to a well-known private medical school, I was able to develop meaningful contacts with faculty members who taught in both the graduate and medical schools. It wasn't difficult to stand out because the program was relatively small, and I was studying subjects that I found very interesting and stimulating (and I'm also kinda loud). I knew several students who were concurrently enrolled in this school's (also well-known) SMP program - most of them were miserable due to the level of competition, and did not enjoy the year.
Instead of stressing my way through my MS, I was able to thoroughly enjoy and learn a lot from the courses I took. While it was definitely challenging, it was possible to maintain a high GPA and also "have a life," which is a bit more difficult, it seems, with SMP. Also, because I took all of the first-year PhD-track courses in addition to a couple of medical school courses, had I decided to pursue PhD instead of MD, it would have been an easy transition with no time lost. Added to that was the fact that we had frequent seminars/meetings/talks with the folks from NIAID, DHS, DHHS, USAMRIID, CDC, DOD, etc., and the career-building connections and recruitment efforts left me with oodles of massively awesome alternative options, should I have decided to forgo/not gained admission to medical school. Hell, those options will likely still be open once I graduate from medical school. I would have had no such options had I opted for SMP instead.
Anyway, my point is that, while I'm sure a SMP is very effective at getting you in to medical school, I believe that a "traditional" MS can be just as effective, if you play your cards right - and I firmly believe that it would be much more enriching than simply "acting out" the first year of medical school in a SMP. The trick is to pick a program where you can truly stand out and become known by faculty who can then write letters, talk to committee members, and otherwise vouch for you as a candidate at their school (and likely others). The easiest way to do this is to choose a field in which you have genuine interest.
The first time I applied to the school I am referencing, I wasn't even offered an interview. After completing my MS, however, I received both an interview and an acceptance at this particular school, as well as a few others. The only changes to my application, aside from a new personal statement, was my MS (with my shiny brand-new graduate GPA to stand in stark contrast to my mediocre UG performance) and some great recommendations from the aforementioned faculty.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
About the Ads
This thread is more than 12 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.