On this page:
- Program Description
- Applying and Matriculating into the Program
- Minimum Requirements for Admission
- Orientation and Placement Tests
- How Does a Current VCU Student Matriculate into the Program?
- Academic Requirements
- Academic Standards
- Volunteer Service
- PostBach List Serve
- Frequently Asked Questions
The post-baccalaureate health sciences certificate is designed for students who have received a baccalaureate degree and wish to pursue their undergraduate pre-health sciences requirements at VCU. The program is designed for those students who have few or none of the prerequisites they need to enter doctoral level programs in physical therapy, pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, osteopathic medicine, optometry, or veterinary sciences.
This program challenges students to complete more intense science and math course work than the prerequisites and maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average. The certificate program assists students to become more competitive for admissions into graduate level programs in the health sciences, but it does not guarantee them admissions into any program.
The certificate program will not be of help to someone who has already taken science and non-science courses and wants to improve his/her credentials because of low grades.
Those completing the certificate are expected to achieve competency in introductory and more advanced level science courses and will gain health care experience. Students can learn about healthcare program admissions requirements and strengthen their credentials through advising, student-run club activities and seminars.
Depending on the types of courses a student completes before entering, the certificate can take between one and three years to complete with full- or part-time study. Students are advised on how to progress based on prior math and science coursework, work and family constraints and other factors that could affect the time frame to completion.
Students apply for the certificate program through the Office of Admissions. Students wanting to enter the program in the fall must submit completed applications to the Office of Admissions by April 1. Students wishing to enter in spring must submit completed applications to the Office of Admissions by November 1. All are encouraged to submit complete applications as early as possible.
821 W. Franklin Street
To be eligible to start the certificate program, applicants must submit transcripts to the office of admissions verifying that they graduated with a baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year institution. Upon receipt of transcripts, courses that can be awarded as transfer credit will be determined by the College of Humanities and Sciences.
To be considered for admissions, candidates to the Post-Baccalaureate Health Sciences Certificate Program must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. four-year institution and must present a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) from the degree-granting institution.
Students must also submit their applications by the stated application deadlines posted by the Office of Admissions.
Students accepted to the program should register for a transfer orientation session before registering for classes the first time. Students who have not taken chemistry and math courses recently or who have never taken a general chemistry course should contact Mark Bassard in the University College Campus Testing Center at (804) 827-8648 and ask to take a chemistry placement exam prior to orientation. For those entering the program in a spring semester, the placement tests recommended above should be taken and then the student should call (804) 827-8648 to schedule an advising appointment.
Those who have not taken a pre-calculus math course should take the online math placement test prior to attending an orientation program.
Current students who plan to enter health care programs in fall 2007 or later can enter the program provided they have a VCU cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
Current students need to submit a formal application at the Office of Admissions.
Before starting on the core curriculum, students must show minimum competency by completing or transferring in equivalent courses with grades of “B” or above for the following: MATH 151, BIOL 151, BIOZ 151, BIOL 152, BIOZ 152, CHEM 101, CHEZ 101, CHEM 102 and CHEZ 102. Students must have completed all chemistry courses within five years of the time they begin the program in order to apply them toward the minimum competency requirement.
The academic requirements for the certificate are as follows: a minimum of six undergraduate courses or 25 academic credit hours in mathematics, statistics, chemistry, biology or physics. All courses must be at the 200 level or above. At least three of the courses must have a laboratory.
A maximum of 11 credit hours can be transferred towards the core curriculum of the certificate program. All students must have earned a minimum grade of “B” in all course work accepted for transfer. All course work accepted for transfer must be from an accredited institution.
Students should consult with the pre-health sciences advisors to determine the most appropriate courses to meet their educational and career goals.
Course will be selected from the following lists:
Courses in math and statistics
MATH 200 Calculus with analytic geometry
STAT 210 Basic Practices of Statistics
STAT 314 Applications of Statistics
Courses in biology
BIOL 218 Cell Biology
BIOL 301 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy or BIOL 205 Human Anatomy
BIOL 302 Animal Embryology
BIOL 303 Bacteriology or BIOL 303 Bacteriology
BIOL 308 Vertebrate Histology
BIOL 311 Animal Physiology or PHIS 206 and PHIZ 206 Human Physiology
BIOL 310 Genetics
BIOZ 310 Genetics Lab
BIOL 445 Neurobiology and Behavior
BIOL 455 Immunology
BIOL 524 Endocrinology
BIOL 530 Human Genetics
BIOL 540 Molecular Genetics
FRSC/BIOL 438 Molecular Biology
Courses in physics
PHYS 201 General Physics – I or PHYS 207 University Physics -I
PHYS 202 General Physics -II or PHYS 208 University Physics – II
Courses in chemistry
CHEM 301 Organic Chemistry I
CHEZ 301 Organic Chemistry Lab I
CHEM 302 Organic Chemistry II
CHEZ 302 Organic Chemistry Lab II
CHEM 309 Quantitative Analysis
CHEZ 309 Quantitative Analysis Lab
CHEM 303 Physical Chemistry
CHEZ 303 Physical Chemistry Lab
CHEM 304 Physical Chemistry
CHEZ 304 Physical Chemistry Lab
CHEM 305 Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences
CHEM 310 Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design
CHEM 320 Inorganic Chemistry I
CHEM 403 Biochemistry
CHEM 404 Advanced Biochemistry
PHTX 400, Drugs and Their Actions
While matriculating, all students must maintain a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average. Courses may not be repeated after gaining admission into the certificate program. Failure to maintain the minimum grade-point average will result in formal dismissal from the certificate program.
All students accepted into the program must also commit to at least 50 hours of volunteer service in the VCU Medical Center Volunteer Program or a private health care setting. Volunteer hours must be documented on the voucher and submitted to the Office of Pre-Health Sciences at the time the application is submitted for graduation from the certificate program.
The PostBach list serve is owned and maintained by the director of pre-health sciences advising. The purpose of the list is to publicize all activities relevant to postbach students who are taking the prerequisites to enter graduate level programs in the health professions. All postbach students who have VCU e-mail addresses and have matriculated in the program are automatically added to the list each spring semester. From this site, subscribers who are not automatically added can visit the archive list of VCU list-serves, scroll down to POST-BACH-PRE-HEALTH STUDENTS and self subscribe: http://lists.vcu.edu/archives/postbach-pre-health-students.html.
Question: I was an undergraduate science major and completed many pre-requisite courses for medical, dental or pharmacy school and did not perform well in them. Will this program help me?
This program is not designed for students who already have completed the pre-requisites. It is a program for those who have few or none of the pre-requisites and wish to complete courses not yet attempted. Professional programs want to see progress in graduate level course work if you already attempted undergraduate course work but have not performed at the “A” or “B” level. It is recommended you consider the VCU Pre-medical Health Sciences Certificate Program in the graduate school if you have taken the prerequisites for your health profession of choice but lack the competitive grades necessary to enter gradate level programs in the health sciences.
Students should attend orientation the summer before they matriculate in the program. This gives the advisor an opportunity to look at all transcripts and placement test data before making course suggestions.
No, it can be started in fall or spring. You should apply and attend New Student Orientation or receive advising the semester BEFORE you wish to enroll.
A committee letter is provided to students who complete 25 hours or more in the program before they apply to health professions programs and maintain the minimum GPA of 3.0 in the program.
Other requirements to obtain a committee letter
Postbach students will meet with their advisors at orientation. We cannot offer helpful information until we have the appropriate placement test and transcript data, which is only obtained at the time orientation is held. Those who have questions prior to attending orientation can e-mail Dr. Seth Leibowitz, program director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students must consult with the Office of Financial Aid to see if they are eligible for awards.
Because the program requires high academic standards to participate, the majority of those who finished the program in the past three years have been accepted to health profession programs of their choice.
Institutions that have accepted students from our postbach program include VCU School of Medicine, VCU School of Dentistry, VCU School of Pharmacy, Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Cornell Medical School, East Tennessee State School of Medicine and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Students can do some semesters in the program with part-time study. It is strongly recommended that postbach students take a minimum of two semesters of full-time study before they make application to professional programs. Professional programs expect to see postbach students in rigorous courseloads of full-time study in the sciences before they make application.
All students matriculating in the program will be assigned a counselor. Students can schedule appointments with their advisor through our portal program, myVCU, and are encouraged to meet with their counselor each semester before they register for classes.
Students who do not perform well in postbach coursework are at a serious disadvantage in the application process to professional programs in the health sciences. Occasionally professional programs are willing to be lenient about poor performance in undergraduate course work but expect outstanding academic performance in postbach coursework. If students fail to maintain the minimum academic standards described above, they will be dismissed from the postbach program.
Professional programs want students to present around a 3.5 cumulative GPA when they apply for admission. We have found that students with higher undergraduate GPAs perform better in postbach coursework. We have also found that the program will not enhance or offset poor undergraduate academic performance.
No. Admission into a professional program requires strong test scores, health care experiences, a compelling personal statement, outstanding interviews and strong letters of recommendation. A student must possess all these qualities to be a competitive applicant.
Most take three years. It can be longer or shorter depending on the coursework transferred into the program. Advisors will establish a timeframe with students upon meeting with them during an orientation program.
Registering for classes the first semester in the program can be very difficult and stressful. Students typically have to obtain many of their classes during the five day add/drop period during the first week of classes. Don’t give up hope! After the first week of classes, most students work things out without a problem. Only instructors can grant overrides into closed classes, and students are encouraged to see them for permission to enter classes if they are closed on the system. After that, students in the postbach program are entitled to priority registration, so future semester registrations are much smoother.
Our science courses and some student services students receive while in the certificate program are in high demand and we are restricting access to courses and services to students who are in the certificate program or degree programs that require the courses for graduation. Special students will have an increasingly difficult time being able to register for science courses. In addition, graduate level health science programs are familiar with our certificate program and success rates of students enrolled in the program and look for certificate seekers as they make difficult admissions decisions.
If you were a science major in undergrad or your GPA from undergrad does not meet the minimum 3.0 to enter our certificate program, this does not mean you cannot enter a career in the health sciences. It is in your best interest to be in a certificate program that has a proven track record of getting someone with your undergraduate credentials into graduate level programs in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, physical therapy, and veterinary medicine. Your best resource to help you find the best program for you is your pre-health office from the school where you obtained your bachelors degrees. The pre-health advisors at your alma matter have worked with students in similar academic situations to identify certificate programs that fit well with student’s career goals, academic profile, and life situations.
If you possess a bachelors degree in any type of science including biology, chemistry, ect you should look into the graduate certificate program on our MCV campus. More information about this is available at:
There is a clearinghouse of postbach program on the American Association of Medical Colleges website at the link below:
We find medical, dental, pharmacy, physical therapy, optometry, and veterinary schools are most interested in the GPA you earned from the institution where you received your bachelors degree and are less interested in coursework from other schools even if that coursework is at a more advanced level then your undergraduate coursework. The 3.0 undergraduate GPA is a minimum requirement for admission because this fits into the goals of our program and it is the minimum GPA where we have seen students start our program, successfully complete the requirements, and gain admission into graduate level programs in the health sciences.
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Virginia Commonwealth University
804-828-1222, toll free 800-841-3638
No, when making admissions decisions we put the most weight on your performance in your undergraduate coursework.
Its important because in addition to the advising, you need an opportunity to take placement tests before taking math and chemistry courses, and gain a full orientation to the university. Advising appointments scheduled prior to transfer orientation are not a substitute for orientation and they are discouraged because it does not give advisors an opportunity to evaluate placement test and data from previous coursework, making it difficult to advise students appropriately.
Regardless of the courses you took prior to enrolling in the program, we want you to start off with a math and chemistry placement test and have the results of these tests recorded before coming for advising. This is because advisors need a most recent indicator of your skill level in these subjects before suggesting the appropriate biology, chemistry, math, and physics courses. Even if you took chemistry and math and got A grades in them your performance in these courses 4 or 5 years ago does not give advisory any indication on where your skill level is in these areas at the present time. These placement tests will be set up for you at orientation and are administered by Mark Bassard (email@example.com) in our campus learning center.