I have a low gpa, and have retaken chem 1, chem 2, and physics 1. My current GPA is a 3.07 and I am a rising psyhcology senior. I am very involved and volunteer at 2 free clinics, am an intern at my local hospital, and have been involved with research since my sophomore year. I wanted to go into psychiatry after medical school, but I’m not sure if I can even get in. I was going to take a gap year, and take the mcat after graduating. What can I do to raise my gpa during my gap year? Or should I consider doing something else?

I would be grateful for any and all advice, thank-you!


I’l be blunt. I wouldn’t bother taking the MCAT because right now your GPA will keep you out of medical school–both allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO).

Does your current GPA include your original grades in chem & physics? Both AMCAS and AACOMAS do not allow grade replacement even if your college does. What is your GPA and sGPA with all your college grades (original & retaken) ?

Your only hope for med school is an intensive post-bacc program to improve your GPA. You need to take 8-12 courses of upper level BCPM classes, ace them all, then score high on the MCAT if you want medical schools to take your application seriously. Ideally, you should do your post-bacc at a SMP (Special Master’s Program) but your current GPA is probably too low to get admitted to one.

If you are not currently & consistently acing your upper level science (BCPM) classes, I’d consider finding another career path.

BCPM=biology, chemistry, physics, math

If you want to pursue something in the mental health field–

psychiatric social worker --requires a MSW + supervised internship + licensing exam
See; https://socialworklicensure.org/types-of-social-workers/psychiatric-social-worker/

rehabilitation counselor
See: https://explorehealthcareers.org/career/mental-health/rehabilitation-counselor/

community health worker
See: https://explorehealthcareers.org/career/allied-health-professions/community-health-worker/

licensed professional counselor (LPC/LCPC/LMHC)–requires a master’s degree + supervised internship + licensing exam
See; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licensed_professional_counselor

Also if you’d consider earning a nursing degree (and there are fast track BA–>BSN programs), you could work a a psychiatric nurse.

State agencies (think child welfare offices) will hire BA degreed individuals to serve as case workers/case managers for mental healthcare issues. (Some states may require additional training or education.)
See: https://study.com/articles/Child_Welfare_Case_Worker_Job_Description_for_Students_Considering_a_Career_as_a_Child_Welfare_Case_Worker.html

To get a broader view of other healthcare-related professions, this website is very helpful—https://explorehealthcareers.org

I don’t have much to add to @wayoutwestmoms feedback. If you are at a highly selective school like WashU you might still have a small window for med school (assuming the 3.07 GPA includes all of the classes that you retook).

Also, many of the potential jobs @WayOutWestMom highlighted have relatively low pay, so if you have undergrad debt and/or would need to take out debt to earn a master’s degree you have to factor that in. For example, a beginning state agency child welfare worker makes $25K in many states, without a lot of growth opportunity. Lastly, I would suggest getting feedback from your college advisor and/or school’s pre-health advisor/dept.

@WayOutWestMom: Is OP qualified for a PA program ? Can a PA work in a mental health unit ?

@Publisher My understanding is that the GPA standard for PA programs as well as different therapy programs (ex. OT, PT, Speech) are a good bit higher than the OP’s. In addition many PA programs look for 2 years of medical-related work expereince (ex. my D’s friend has been working as an EMT and is planning to apply to PA programs next year). I don’t think any of them will get the OP close to the field of psychiatry.


Though they generally aren’t required, there are residencies for PAs who want work in a particular field. Psychiatry PA residencies are available. See: https://www.paschoolfinder.com/cat/postgraduate-pa-residency-program/

However, as @happy1 has said, the OP’s GPA is probably too low to get admitted to a PA program. ( A ~3.5 GPA is typically required.) Plus PA programs require anywhere from 500 to 2000 hours of paid hands on health care experience–which the OP doesn’t have.

NPs (nurse practitioners) can also specialize in mental health care, but that would require a BSN + nursing experience in order to enter a DPN, followed by a fellowship in mental health care.

Do you think this would be a good post bacc?

It appears to be rigorous program, but 100% online is non-ideal since you’ll need LORs from your instructors and the program when you apply to med school. It’s harder to make the needed connections with 100% online classes.

The hybrid program (partly on campus, partly on-line, http://health.usf.edu/medicine/graduatestudies/ms_anatomy) or on campus option (http://health.usf.edu/medicine/graduatestudies/preprofessional) would be better choices.

Thread on SDN about this program. https://■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■/threads/usf-msms-2018-19.1294798/#post-19636124

The program requires a GRE or MCAT score as part of your application. Admission is competitive.
In 2016, the accepted applicants had:

However, I can’t find any information about the program’s success record in placing students into med school.