A Beginner’s Guide to 7-Year Med Programs
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If you’ve done your research on premed studies, then you’ve probably heard of seven year medical programs. Seven year med programs, more generally known as combined BS/MD programs, are alternative medical school admission routes.
The standard path to medical school consists of spending four years at an undergraduate institution, followed by taking the MCAT, completing medical school applications and interviews, and finally, gaining medical school admission. Combined BS/MD programs bypass this traditional path by offering conditional acceptance to medical school to high school seniors.
Conditional acceptance is not guaranteed acceptance. Instead, it means that certain conditions must be satisfied in the undergraduate years in order for the medical school offer to still be valid. The good news is that these conditions are usually not very stringent. Generally, combined medical programs require students to maintain a certain GPA (~3.5+) and score above a certain percentile on the MCAT. However, some schools have no MCAT requirement at all, meaning that students are not expected to take the exam. This is a very attractive reason to apply to these combined medical programs, simply because the new MCAT, lasting an arduous 6 hours and 15 minutes, is such a difficult part of the traditional medical school admission process.
Although these programs are often referred to as seven year med programs, not all the programs are seven years long. Many are eight years and some are just six, which means only two years to be spent in undergrad. Most students find the six and seven year programs especially enticing. The road to becoming a physician is both a lengthy and expensive one, so saving even one year is incredibly appealing.
Combined med programs are distinguished not just by their duration but by other specifications as well. For example, some programs only consider applicants from the local state, while others give special consideration to students from rural areas.
Some of these programs might be geared towards a fairly specific student group, but all of them do share the same basic structure. All combined med students go through either two, three, or four years of undergrad, followed by four years of medical school. In the undergraduate years, students are required to take a certain set of classes, which, more or less, resemble the typical pre-medical classes. But, unlike traditional premed students, combined med program students are often encouraged to explore a wide variety of undergraduate majors. This flexibility is often hailed as another attractive characteristic of seven year med programs.
As was mentioned earlier, combined BS/MD programs employ GPA and (sometimes) MCAT requirements to ensure that students do not slack off as a result of their conditional medical school acceptance. Fortunately, the required GPA is not as high as the average GPA of accepted medical school students. In other words, the average GPA of accepted students to a particular medical school might be 3.75, while the GPA that the program requires its students to maintain is only 3.5.
Another common characteristic of most combined med programs is the added benefit of additional resources. These resources can come in the form of specialized medical undergraduate advisors who can help with course selection and other aspects of academics and ECs, a perk most traditional premed students wouldn’t have access to. Also, many programs offer research and internship opportunities very early on, a great way for students to gain more medical and clinical exposure.
Believe it or not, there are nearly 100 combined med programs, so it’s definitely possible to find one that’s a good fit for you. If you want a complete undergraduate academic experience, then perhaps Boston University’s Seven-Year Liberal Arts Medical Education program is what you’re looking for. If you want to study at one of the nation’s best engineering schools, then maybe you should consider applying to Case Western’s Pre-Professional Scholars program. If you’re not sure what kind of program you’re interested in, then refer to this blog post of our top 25 combined BS/MD programs to help you decide.
If you are one of the fortunate students to be offered a spot in a BS/MD program (most are extremely competitive!), you will experience a multitude of benefits: less stress as an undergraduate, more academic flexibility, saved time and money (depending on the program), and no MCAT (also depending on the program). If a combined medical program sounds like the right fit for you, it’s important to start preparing as soon as possible, as spots in these programs aren’t easily secured.