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Undergrad Courses Expire?

maikelm

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Hi everyone,

I graduated from undergrad in 2012 and I just finished my masters in public health in 2020. I took the majority, if not all, of my science courses during my undergrad. Do these courses ever expire? I know the MCAT scores expire in 3 years, but I just want some guidance about course expiration.

Best,
Maikel
 

Doctor-S

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Hi everyone,

I graduated from undergrad in 2012 and I just finished my masters in public health in 2020. I took the majority, if not all, of my science courses during my undergrad. Do these courses ever expire? I know the MCAT scores expire in 3 years, but I just want some guidance about course expiration.

Best,
Maikel
Did you already take the MCAT within the past few years?

If not, you might want to enroll in some upper-division science courses to: (1) demonstrate that you have the capacity to successfully complete rigorous coursework, and (2) to help you earn a competitive MCAT score - especially if you've forgotten material that you learned 8+ years ago as an undergraduate student.

In general, courses do not expire for most schools, and you're probably fine. BUT, you should always check the websites of medical schools to make sure your pre-reqs are fully acceptable to each school, both time-wise, and based on AMCAS course classification. Some med schools *might* have a time limit for coursework completed 8+ years ago - so it's advisable to review the website for each medical school.
 
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I graduated from undergrad in 2012 and I just finished my masters in public health in 2020. I took the majority, if not all, of my science courses during my undergrad. Do these courses ever expire? I know the MCAT scores expire in 3 years, but I just want some guidance about course expiration.
My school expresses reservations when an applicant has no earned grades in the last two years. A 2020 degree in Public Health might allay that concern, but personally, I'd worry about an applicant if none of the coursework was math or hard-science heavy. A strong, recent MCAT score would go far to remove that worry.

Schools I've read of that have historically expired prerequisites were Temple, Drexel, Jeff, NYU, Columbia, Cornell, Einstein, and Duke (NB: this is not meant to be a complete list). As @Doctor-S said, you'll need to check websites to see where this is still true. School policies are subject to change over time.
 
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random14

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UMass (if this happens to be your state school) also can have trouble with older coursework. I asked directly and recommend investigating each school specifically. Some of my prerequisite courses were old (>7 years), but I had more recent upper level science courses and a brand new MCAT score. This was no problem at all.
 
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gonnif

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The question of when courses expire have been asked of me in my now 20+ years of helping nontrads. And in that time I have never found a consistent pattern across schools. Some look at 10 years at the limit others want recent academic work if you have been out of undergrad for 5 years. Since the OP has just finished MPH and assuming that grades from original UG are good, then the course work is acceptable . I would concur with @Doctor-S and @Catalystik that some upper-level course work is in order as well as a good MCAT. Speaking of which at some schools MCAT expires in 2 years, others 3. Do not assume it is consistent across schools
 
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maikelm

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Thanks for your help and expertise @Doctor-S @Catalystik @random14 @gonnif !!

Just some things to follow up on:
  • I took the MCAT twice - 2016 and 2017 I believe. In all honesty, the score wasn't very good. I think it was somewhere between 30-40 percentile on both occasions. I know I have to take it again and I plan on taking it in early 2021.
    • My worst sections were CARS. This is something that I have to improve. I will be taking a look at Testing Solutions 90 day program. If you have any other advise, I would appreciate it.
  • I graduated undergrad in May 2016, but I have not taken any intense science course or math course since. I took biostats and epidemiology in my MPH program so I would hope these can be seen as higher level "math" courses.
  • The core science courses were taken between 2014-2016 during my undergrad. I think the information is in my head, but I have to spend time reviewing and studying content. I will be using material that I already have. This includes the Kaplan MCAT 3rd edition books, some Princeton review books, my own text books, YouTube, and AAMC material.
  • The MPH was completed in May 2020. My speciality is Behavioral Sciences and Health Promotion. Essentially, it is behavioral interventions. So, I focused on the biopsychosocial factors and how to reduce and alleviate them. Because of that, a huge portion of my degree was on social sciences and understanding different aspects of the healthcare system to intervene.
  • I live in Pennsylvania and would like to go to medical school in Philadelphia, if possible. I am working at the University of Pennsylvania now and it is full time position. They offer me undergraduate/graduate courses at a fraction of the cost, but I may look at these after I take my MCAT. Initially, I wanted to take courses in the Fall 2020, but then I think it would take time away from MCAT studying. Because I would like to take my MCAT in early 2021, I was thinking to enroll in courses in summer 2021 and fall 2021. Hopefully, at this time, I have a decent MCAT score to get accepted into a program.
Thanks again!
Maikel
 

MyOdyssey

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My school expresses reservations when an applicant has no earned grades in the last two years. A 2020 degree in Public Health might allay that concern, but personally, I'd worry about an applicant if none of the coursework was math or hard-science heavy. A strong, recent MCAT score would go far to remove that worry.

Schools I've read of that have historically expired prerequisites were Temple, Drexel, Jeff, NYU, Columbia, Cornell, Einstein, and Duke (NB: this is not meant to be a complete list). As @Doctor-S said, you'll need to check websites to see where this is still true. School policies are subject to change over time.

So I’m having to take an unplanned 3d gap year due to Covid related delays to the MCAT. If there are no more delays, I’ll be applying to my first cycle when I’m two years out of college.

Would I run afoul of your school’s policy about coursework assuming my MCAT score is at the national average for matriculants.
 
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maikelm

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So I’m having to take an unplanned 3d gap year due to Covid related delays to the MCAT. If there are no more delays, I’ll be applying to my first cycle when I’m two years out of college.

Would I run afoul of your school’s policy about coursework assuming my MCAT score is at the national average for matriculants.

Hi @MyOdyssey

I think having a 3rd unplanned gap year might be more common than we think. Some people take longer gap years actually and then enter medical school. And due to COVID, I think many other students might be in the same boat. As long as you are actively doing things between graduation and to the point of enrolling in medical school, I think you should be fine.

As for your second comment regarding "your school's policy," are you referring to the University of Pennsylvania medical school? In all honesty, I have no idea what their medical school admission is like, but I've heard they choose some of the top candidates. I wish I can provide more advise, but I am not sure myself.

Maikel
 

HouseJC

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Always check the school's policies about how they view older courses as the OP said. Gaps years are perfectly fine, as people need to find themselves and what path is for them. I'm speaking from the POV that this is in theory, my 6th gap year since I graduated my BSc in 2014, but am doing a PhD and hoping to matriculate in 2021.

Ask your self what your story is and make sure this is reflected in your work and activities, P/S, secondaries and interview! Everything should flow :)
 
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MyOdyssey

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Hi @MyOdyssey

I think having a 3rd unplanned gap year might be more common than we think. Some people take longer gap years actually and then enter medical school. And due to COVID, I think many other students might be in the same boat. As long as you are actively doing things between graduation and to the point of enrolling in medical school, I think you should be fine.

As for your second comment regarding "your school's policy," are you referring to the University of Pennsylvania medical school? In all honesty, I have no idea what their medical school admission is like, but I've heard they choose some of the top candidates. I wish I can provide more advise, but I am not sure myself.

Maikel

I'm referring to the policy at @Catalystik's medical school.
 
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So I’m having to take an unplanned 3d gap year due to Covid related delays to the MCAT. If there are no more delays, I’ll be applying to my first cycle when I’m two years out of college.

Would I run afoul of your school’s policy about coursework assuming my MCAT score is at the national average for matriculants.
Let me check my crystal ball.
 

gonnif

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Most schools have no policies listed on their websites

Just a brief sampling of what a few schools say about age of coursework

Columbia
Application Requirements

Please note:
All prerequisite courses must have been completed within 10 years of application. We prefer that prerequisite courses in biology be taken within five years of application.

WCMC (Cornell)

Selection Criteria & Requirements | Medical College
Validity of Courses
To fulfill an admissions requirement, courses must have been satisfactorily completed within 10 years of application. We recommend that one or more advanced science course(s) be completed within five years of application. All required premedical coursework should be completed by January 31 of the year for which admission is sought.

UNC
General Requirements | Office of Admissions
Typically, the prerequisite courses are taken during an undergraduate, post baccalaureate (after college), or graduate degree program. Your grades must be documented in letter-grade format on your transcript and not pass/fail. There is a five-year limit on prerequisite coursework. We begin calculating the elapsed time from the YEAR you graduated from the given program, not the year the course was taken.
Example for clarification

Program completion year (undergrad, post baccalaureate, or graduate)AMCAS cycle begins in May ofYear of matriculation into medical schoolCourse work valid
201520202021Yes
201520212022No

If you are not within the five (5) year limit then you are required to complete one of the choices below before applying to our medical school:
Demonstrate current mastery in the natural sciences by satisfactorily completing a graduate science program in the natural sciences prior to applying – OR –
Complete 30 credit hours of post baccalaureate coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc. to demonstrate mastery within the natural sciences.

Einstein
Course Requirements | M.D. Admissions | Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Course Work Older than Five Years
Applicants who have completed all of their pre-medical course requirements five years prior to the time of application must show evidence of participation in either academic or work experience in the biological sciences. Academic experience should include at least one course in a discipline such as cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, immunology or neuroscience. Work experience may include research in the biological or physical sciences or clinical investigation.

UC Davis
Admissions requirements | UC Davis School of Medicine
Prerequisite courses are recommended to be completed within 5 years and must be completed by spring of the year intending to enroll.
 
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maikelm

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Jan 17, 2017
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  1. Pre-Medical
Always check the school's policies about how they view older courses as the OP said. Gaps years are perfectly fine, as people need to find themselves and what path is for them. I'm speaking from the POV that this is in theory, my 6th gap year since I graduated my BSc in 2014, but am doing a PhD and hoping to matriculate in 2021.

Ask your self what your story is and make sure this is reflected in your work and activities, P/S, secondaries and interview! Everything should flow :)

It seems like you have a different path. Getting the PhD first and then going for the medical degree. One of my coworkers is doing that now actually. He already finished his PhD and is preparing for the MCAT in the future.

Best of luck to you!
Maikel
 

maikelm

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2017
74
14
86
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  1. Pre-Medical
Most schools have no policies listed on their websites

Just a brief sampling of what a few schools say about age of coursework

Columbia
Application Requirements

Please note:
All prerequisite courses must have been completed within 10 years of application. We prefer that prerequisite courses in biology be taken within five years of application.

WCMC (Cornell)

Selection Criteria & Requirements | Medical College
Validity of Courses
To fulfill an admissions requirement, courses must have been satisfactorily completed within 10 years of application. We recommend that one or more advanced science course(s) be completed within five years of application. All required premedical coursework should be completed by January 31 of the year for which admission is sought.

UNC
General Requirements | Office of Admissions
Typically, the prerequisite courses are taken during an undergraduate, post baccalaureate (after college), or graduate degree program. Your grades must be documented in letter-grade format on your transcript and not pass/fail. There is a five-year limit on prerequisite coursework. We begin calculating the elapsed time from the YEAR you graduated from the given program, not the year the course was taken.
Example for clarification

Program completion year (undergrad, post baccalaureate, or graduate)AMCAS cycle begins in May ofYear of matriculation into medical schoolCourse work valid
201520202021Yes
201520212022No

If you are not within the five (5) year limit then you are required to complete one of the choices below before applying to our medical school:
Demonstrate current mastery in the natural sciences by satisfactorily completing a graduate science program in the natural sciences prior to applying – OR –
Complete 30 credit hours of post baccalaureate coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc. to demonstrate mastery within the natural sciences.

Einstein
Course Requirements | M.D. Admissions | Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Course Work Older than Five Years
Applicants who have completed all of their pre-medical course requirements five years prior to the time of application must show evidence of participation in either academic or work experience in the biological sciences. Academic experience should include at least one course in a discipline such as cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, immunology or neuroscience. Work experience may include research in the biological or physical sciences or clinical investigation.

UC Davis
Admissions requirements | UC Davis School of Medicine
Prerequisite courses are recommended to be completed within 5 years and must be completed by spring of the year intending to enroll.

Thanks for these wonderful examples! I can tell that each school has different policies on course expiration. I would agree with what you said earlier that it would be a good idea to see each school's requirements. It seems like I have to plan head when I am applying to some school. I am hoping the fact that I just finished the MPH that I wouldn't have to take many more science courses. However, I may consider them to broaden my knowledge before medical school starts (hopefully).

Maikel
 
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