The B.S./M.D. vs. The Pre-Med Track

Many high school students tell us that they want to be a doctor. They love a particular field of science, are engaged by math, bioengineering or another discipline. Their goal is to move along a pre-med track while exploring other areas of interest in a broad-based liberal arts curriculum.

A very narrow subset of these students, however, know right now that they absolutely want to be physicians. They may apply to a number of B.S./M.D. programs, where students are simultaneously admitted to an undergraduate college and medical school. Undergraduate work is generally done before medical studies begin, although there may be some overlap with some initial contact and coursework with the medical school while taking undergraduate courses.

Length Of B.S./M.D. Programs

To stay in the program, there are often requirements, such as maintaining a certain GPA, or, as with some schools, obtaining a certain MCAT score. The programs, for the most part at present, tend to be seven years, so there is not a significant acceleration advantage. Six-year programs are not as common, and there are some programs that take eight years – the same amount of time it normally takes to complete a bachelor’s degree as well as a four-year medical degree. The chief advantage, then, is knowing that you are in a program.

What It Takes To Be A Successful B.S./M.D. Applicant

The desire to attend a B.S./M.D. program goes beyond the general thought process that a student is engaged by science and probably will end up being a doctor. The students who pursue a B.S./M.D. path normally have years of significant research experience, may have co-authored a paper in a medical journal, have attended and participated in medical conferences, have worked as EMT’s and/or have volunteered hundreds of hours in hospitals.

In other words, attending a one or two week medical-related program for high school students with physician job shadowing, some cursory research work and belonging to a health professions club in school is not the kind of experience that will garner serious consideration from the combined college-med school admissions committees.

At IvySelect, although we are often approached by students and parents who think this is the appropriate path, we generally advise against applying to B.S./M.D. programs unless students fit the proper profile.

Beyond the deep level of interest in medicine and research that must be manifested by the student, as described above, there are a number of other criteria that come into play. The student needs to exhibit maturity beyond their years – with a sophisticated sense of compassion, an understanding of why he must be a doctor and how she will contribute to the medical profession and society.

This sense of understanding is beyond the usual thought process of high school students who may have a casual or even serious but not profound interest in becoming a doctor. Someday, they desire to be a doctor. But that absolute sense of urgency present in successful B.S./M.D. candidates is not there yet for the pre-med student on the more traditional path.

Grades, particularly in the sciences, and stellar standardized test scores (e.g., we’ve been told by an admissions officer that although a student should have a 2200+ SAT for admission to the combined B.S./M.D. program at Boston University, that’s just the minimum. In general, applicants post a 2300 SAT or better to be seriously considered for their program). Note, too, that admit rates to B.S./M.D. programs are often very, very low. These programs are often more highly selective than getting into an Ivy League school, with miniscule admissions percentages.

Working With IvySelect On B.S./M.D. Applications

Some students who work with us may apply to 2 or 3 of these specialized programs along with applying to other programs that are solely undergraduate focused. Other students may apply to a full range of B.S./M.D. programs (8-10, or more). For the latter group in particular, we advise them in advance that it takes an exceptionally large amount of work to apply, as there are often many more essays than if they apply to regular undergraduate programs. In some cases, we have helped students with 8 or more essays to a given B.S./M.D. program!

Due to the workload involved, our fees are higher for applicants to B.S./M.D. programs.

We will also assist students with interview prep for this type of program. Although interviews to general undergraduate schools may often be informational, or, while evaluative, not play a significant role in college admissions decisions, it is a totally different matter for B.S./M.D. programs. As interviews are a vital part of the medical school admissions process, it should come as no surprise that it is a critical part of the B.S./M.D. process.

At IvySelect, our independent educational consultants are here to help with every aspect of the B.S./M.D. process, from evaluating whether it is a good fit for the student, to identifying programs, to assisting with applications and essays. As B.S./M.D. specialists, we will help you make your best case for admission to these highly selective programs.