Retaking prerequisites vs. starting a masters program

Hello, I was wondering if I can get some input on what to do (I’m kind of in a sticky situation) I graduated in December 2020 with a BA in English and biology but my cgpa was a 2.9 and sgpa even lower. I had a lot of problems going on in college so I thought I would revamp myself and still continue pre med. I took some elective courses at a community college and got all As which brought my cgpa to over 3.0. I actually just started the MS in biomedical forensic sciences at Syracuse university. I’m taking this program solely because I think it will help me for med school. However, looking at the costs and finally settling in to Syracuse, I strongly feel this is not right for me. I’m wondering would it be a good idea to just withdraw from tge out gram and just retake my pre reqs at a local 4 year college? I have not taken the MCAT yet but my practice scores are around 508. Taking the orecreqs would also be cheaper (this masters program is 70k but retaking prereqs would be 20-30k) but I don’t know how much of an advantage this masters program will give me. Also for a little background, I have over 2000 clinical hours, strong volunteer experience, mediocre LORs (because if my bad pre req grades which are all Bs and Cs) and no laboratory research experience, only basic. I would seriously appreciate any input since I just started first week of classes so if I do withdraw from this program, the faster the better. Thanks in advance!

Is the only reason you are doing the MS in biomedical forensic science, to get into med school? If so, yes, I would withdraw. And whatever path you take, you are taking a big risk spending that much money when admission is not certain.

Your grade point average starts over at each school, but doesn’t change the previous GPA’s on record. I assume you know that. I gather you are trying to prove your ability now that you are committed, by getting good grades at anything tangentially related to medicine.

Have you considered nursing school, PT, radiology tech, or other health fields? EMT/Paramedic? Physicians assistants programs are very competitive but you could check into those too.

Maybe you should meet with an admissions person at a school you would be interested, whether medicine or not, to assess what might help and also your ultimate chances, before you spend so much money.


Honestly yeah. I didn’t get accepted to any other masters or SMP except for this one. I thought hey forensics will be a good backup plan. But spending 70k on something that’s not certain isn’t sitting right with me. Especially after moving here. The environment and everything is screaming to me this is not it. I’m not happy and my mental health is declining. I do know my GPA starts over at each school and it won’t change my previous grades on file. Would that be better than this tho? And yes I’ve been looking at physician assistant programs but my ultimate goal is med school. I want to exhaust every option before thinking about another route. I was wondering if I can pull some good grades by retaking my pre reqs and then doing a 510+ on the MCAT.

Can you withdraw & get a refund? IME that can be difficult.

I second this. I would drop out of the masters program and reconsider other options.

Why do you want to be a doctor?

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The masters program won’t get you into medical school. I’m not sure that retaking all your premeds at your local 4 yr public college, and getting straight A’s in them, and a high MCAT score, would get you in, but it’s more likely to give you a shot than taking that master’s program would. But again, I’m not sure that even straight A’s and a great MCAT score would do it.

I would consider doing a BA to BSN program, to get your nursing degree, then going straight into a nurse practitioner program. You can get an NP much more cheaply, easily, and quickly, and then be legally allowed to practice independently. It is nowhere near the preparation for practicing medicine that medical school and residency are, but it may be the only option open to you at this point.

I also recommend finding a program that will prepare you for work in the health profession. I think that you are unlikely to get into med school and shouldn’t spend so much $$ on that endeavor. Make an appointment in the advising office at Syracuse even if you decide to leave. Finally, get an understanding of how much money you will get back and how much you need to pay if you leave.


Simply retaking your prerequisites will not erase the grades from taking them previously. When applying to med school, you must put down every college class you have ever taken, including any dual enrollment classes taken in High School.

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Im really hoping I can. On my financial deadlines it says if I drop classes before September 20th, I can get 100% refund on tuition. I was hoping to take today and tomorrow before making that decision. I also signed a 12 year lease so its going be a hassle trying to get out of that.

A priority is to withdraw TODAY unless you cannot get any refund.

For the future, I think you may need to be more flexible.

Why do you want to be a doctor versus other health fields? I mean, I can think of reasons, but what are yours?

I wanted to be a doctor after working as a medical assistant for 3 years. Even before that I had a passion for biology. Now with my mom having cancer and all I feel like my drive and will is just stronger. Of course I have to be realistic and understand that the chances for me are super duper slim. But I really will not be able to live with myself if I don’t try. As a backup I have been think about other health professions such as PA. I have not looked into nursing yet but its also definitely something to consider.

I talked to Touro DO school right now! So they said the same thing, they said if I was going to waste money on a masters then I might as well do an SMP or linkage program or something that allows me to take graduate courses with first year med students. Other wise i can keep taking upper division science courses to show an upward trend in GPA. I did also contact a Princeton review advisor. Im wondering should I wait for Princeton to get back to me or withdraw today. And i want to be a doctor because of my experience in healthcare. I love biology and the human body, always have since high school and I even won a couple of awards for it. However, college was super rough for me, I had family death, coupled with personal and health problems. I want to treat patients and especially people from underprivileged communities. I am originally from Bangladesh and I’ve seen just how devastating lack of proper healthcare can be. I also did a week long mission trip to Honduras that strengthened that desire. I worked as an MA for 3 years too under 6 doctors, that entire experience couples with everything else is why I want to be a doctor.

Thats what I was thinking, do you think just taking more upper division classes at a 4 year and doing well on the MCAT will help? Or should I just aim to do well on the MCAT and try to apply to to SMP’s again? Also for context my cGPA (From both stony Brook and Queens community) is 3.04 and my science gpa is 2.2 (dreadful I know!)

You can take care of people as a nurse, PA, respiratory therapist, radiology technician, etc. etc.

Are you going to withdraw? I hope so!!!

If you had health issues, did you have accommodations through the Office of Disabilities? Noone’s grades should suffer due to health issues. And you could have done a medical withdrawal and had grades wiped clean if health was affecting performance.

Water under the bridge but going forward, keep that in mind. If you studied in the US that is. The law doesn’t apply elsewhere!

Oh of course for sure! Definitely PA’s, nurses, etc they are all great career paths. I guess I admire the autonomy associated with being a doctor and the way they handle complex cases. The autonomy and problem solving aspect really appeals to me. But I definitely will just go into healthcare regardless of my acceptance into medical school. Thats the dream but unfortunately life doesnt work that way sometimes. I didnt know at that time I could withdraw! If I did I wouldve done it in a heartbeat. I don’t mean to get too personal but five days before my freshman year my grandmother passed away and for 2 years I was a very strong anti epileptic medication to treat migraines. That medication was not right for someone my age and heavily affected my cognitive abilities. I am much better now with just one other long term effect. And yes I think I will withdraw! Im on my way to my leasing office now to se if its possible to get out of my lease if the university offers me a refund. I’m also waiting to hear back from princeton review and Syracuse pre health advising.

Also just wantedd to say a quick thanks! I’m literally all alone here with no family or friends so I’ve just been drowning in my thoughts alone. Its really helping me by speaking to everyone on this thread! Thanks :slight_smile:

PM’ed you

You did? Oh no I dont think I received anything!

  1. There is no grade replacement for med school admissions.

This means that even if you do retake your pre-reqs, you’re still going to have to report your original weak grades when you apply for medical school. Both grades must be reported and both will be included in all GPA calculations.

So simply retaking your pre-reqs isn’t going to help your case. You need to show that you have mastered the material in those classes by taking additional upper level bio electives to show that your original poor undergrad performance was a fluke.

  1. Unless the grad program you’re attending is SMP-type masters (which a cursory look at its webpage seems to show it isn’t , a masters won’t help improve your profile for med school. Med school look at your undergrad GPA, not at your graduate GPA.

The general advice given to those who have a weak undergrad performances to take a full course load of upper level bio electives that more closely simulate the difficulty of first year med school classes. And to keep taking those type of classes until you’ve raised you sGPA high enough to be a competitive applicant for medical school. (Think biochem 2, neuroscience, neurochemistry, genetics, immunology, embryology, human anatomy, human physiology, advanced microbiology, etc.)

I would also recommend you delay taking your MCAT since right now, with your current sGPA, you’re not going to competitive for any medical school MD or DO.

MCAT scores are only valid for 2- 3 years (depends on the school’s policy) and your score will likely be invalid by the time you’ve improved your GPA enough to be in range for med school.


Information about SMP programs

The first thing you need to know about SMPs is that they’re a high risk - high reward option.

If you enroll in a SMP and finish in the top 25% of your class and have GPA 3.75 or better, you have a very good chance go getting a med school acceptance. That’s the reward part.

Now the risk part–if you’re not at the top of the class or your GPA falls below 3.75, then you’ve permanently killed any chance for medical school.

SMPs are like trial run for med school. Medical schools only want students who have proven they can succeed at the rigorous coursework that med school entails.

Applying to SMP programs
You need:
—a pretty good GPA (cGPA and sGPA = or > 3.0; many of the better programs require a sGPA = 3.25 )
–a MCAT score (most program require a MCAT score = 500 or higher. )
– LORs from your professors (2 BCPM science professors & 1 non-science professor all of whom have taught you in class. These letters need tp speak to your abilities as a student so letters from a work supervisor or physician won’t do.)
–a personal statement of why you want to be a physician
–ECs that include clinical volunteering or employment, non-medical community service with those less fortunate than yourself, physician shadowing (esp. in primary care fields), leadership roles in your activities, and research experience. (Research is the least important EC and not expected from non-traditional applicants except those aiming for top, research heavy medical schools)

Please be aware that there are LOTS of BAD SMP PROGRAMS out there. Just because a program, calls itself a Special Master’s Program doesn’t mean it will help you get Ito med school. Colleges have discovered that master’s programs which they label SMPs can be big money-makers for the college. It’s just marketing.

The best, most successful SMP programs are sponsored by medical school themselves. Since the cost of a SMP rivals the cost of med school, I would strongly urge you to only enroll in a SMP that is directly associated with a medical school.

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