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Post-Baccalaureate Health Sciences Certificate Program

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Program description

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 is not ideal for other health sciences programs that do not require many upper level sciences as you will not complete the program requirements.

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.

Applying and matriculating into the program

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. Students cannot begin the program in the summer. All are encouraged to submit complete applications as early as possible.

Undergraduate Admissions
821 W. Franklin Street
Richmond, VA
(800) 841-3638

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.

Please click on the following link to access the post baccalaureate health sciences application.

Minimum requirements for admission into the certificate program

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.

Orientation and placement tests

Students accepted to the program should register for a transfer orientation session before registering for classes the first time. Students who have not taken math courses recently should contact Mark Bassard in the University College Campus Testing Center at (804) 827-8648 and ask to take the online math placement exam prior to orientation. Chemistry placement is conduct through a program called ALEKS. Please contact Debbie Polo,, for more information about signing up to take the placement test. 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 or chemistry are highly encouraged to take the respective placement tests prior to attending an orientation program.

More information on New Student Orientation

How does a current VCU student matriculate into the 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.

Academic requirements

Post-BaccalaureateHealthSciencesCertificateWorksheet 2014-15

Minimum competencies

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.

Core curriculum

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.

Academic standards

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.

Volunteer service

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 Director of Pre-Health Advising in University Academic Advising at the time the application is submitted for graduation from the certificate program. Please note that depending on the desire health care program additional hours may be necessary to be a competitive applicant.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Q:I have transcripts from my undergraduate career. Can I meet with someone prior to being admitted to the postbach program to find out which courses transfer?

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.

Q:Do I have to start the postbach program in a fall semester?

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.

Q:Does the program provide a committee letter?

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

Q:Can I receive counseling before entering the postbach program?

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

Q:If I enter the program, am I entitled to financial aid?

Students must consult with the Office of Financial Aid to see if they are eligible for awards.

Q:What is the percentage of postbach students who are accepted to health professions programs and where do they attend?

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.

Q:Can I matriculate in the program part-time?

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.

Q:What kind of advising is available in the program?

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.

Q:What happens if I do poorly in my coursework in postbach studies?

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.

Q:Why is a 3.0 undergraduate GPA required for admission into 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.

Q:Will a 4.0 in the postbach program or graduation from the certificate program guarantee me admission into a professional program in the health sciences?

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.

Q:From the time a student starts the program, how long does it take to enter professional programs?

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.

Q:What is the course registration process like?

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.

Q:If I am not accepted into the certificate program because I did not meet the minimum requirements for admissions, I missed the application deadline, or I don’t want to go into the certificate program can I take prerequisite courses as a special or transient student?

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.

Q:If the undergraduate certificate program is not a good fit for me what can I do if I am still really interested in going onto graduate programs in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, optometry, or veterinary medicine?

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:

Q:If my grade point average from my undergraduate degree is below a 3.0 but I have graduate degrees in science areas, non science areas, and courses from other institutions where I performed well am I still eligible for the program?

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.

Q:If I applied into the program and want to know the status of my application or I have questions about the application process into the certificate program, who can I contact?

Shanee’ Crews
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Virginia Commonwealth University
804-828-1222, toll free 800-841-3638

Q:Do I have to submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation with my application to the certificate program?

No, when making admissions decisions we put the most weight on your performance in your undergraduate coursework.

Q:Why is attending transfer orientation before starting the program important?

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.

Q:What placement tests will I need and how will they effect me?

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 ( in our campus learning center.