A Guide to the Pros and Cons of BS/MD Programs

Padya Paramita

Pros and Cons of BS/MD Programs

If you’re a strong student, have pushed yourself to earn high scores, and engaged in relevant extracurriculars, and you want to become a doctor, we hope you’ve heard of BS/MD programs. Students who are passionate about medicine and know that this is the only career for them should definitely explore this path. But note that it is by no means easy—and it is a BIG commitment. If you’re wondering if this is the correct route, consider the pros and cons of BS/MD programs.

BS/MD programs, as the name suggests, are dual-degree programs that allow students to receive their Bachelor’s degree and immediately join a medical school partnered with their undergraduate institution for their MD. When you’re accepted into college, you have an assured spot at the medical school as well. These programs are extremely competitive. Before you take the leap and make the commitment, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of BS/MD programs.

Pros of BS/MD Programs

  • Less stress as an undergraduate - One of the biggest pluses in the pros and cons of BS/MD programs, is that once you’ve been accepted into the BS/MD program of your choice, you don’t have to spend the majority of your time in college racking up on STEM extracurriculars for the sake of your medical school application. Plus, since you don’t have to check certain prerequisite course boxes, you may even find the time to fit in classes outside the sciences that you haven’t had much chance to explore previously.
  • Availability of resources - Upon admission into one of the combined BS/MD programs, you have greater access to professors and research opportunities specific to the medical field. Depending on the program, you can observe physicians at work and volunteer at the hospital. As a BS/MD student, you can also make a stronger impression than your pre-med peers when applying for medical internships. This is definitely something to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of BS/MD programs.
  • Cheaper Tuition - Since a lot of combined BS/MD programs are accelerated, they provide you with the chance to finish your undergraduate degree quicker. As a result, you spend less money on your education and puts you on track to earn a high income in a shorter amount of time. On a smaller scale, since you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars applying to medical schools, so you also save application money!
  • You usually do not have to take the MCAT - Although it depends on the program you are applying through, you usually don’t have to study or take the MCAT when you’re about to move from undergraduate to the medical school side of BS/MD. This saves a lot of time in your preparation. However, you might have to show your prowess in other ways. For example, though the students at Northwestern’s program don’t have to take the MCAT, they must have a cumulative GPA of 3.70 and a science GPA of 3.55 at the time of graduation from the undergraduate program in order to continue onto Feinberg. 


Cons of BS/MD Programs

  • You might have committed too early - One of the downsides when it comes to the pros and cons of BS/MD programs is that because you’re still in high school, you’re not making as much of an informed decision as college students do when they decide to apply to medical school. While you might not change your mind, you could take a class in college that opens up new career options for you. If you’re not 100% positive about medical school, don’t take one of the very few BS/MD spots.
  • Fewer options - Let’s face it, you have access to a relatively limited number of medical schools when you apply to BS/MD programs. By choosing this route, you would deny yourself the opportunity to go after other programs that may appeal to you. Your track within medicine might change and you could realize that your goals would thrive at a medical school different from your own. If you think you might regret it, don’t apply!
  • You might not make the MD cut - It is often still very difficult to meet the thresholds for getting into the MD portion of BS/MDs! If your program requires you to take the MCAT and you don’t meet the threshold—such as scoring in the 94th percentile required by Case Western applicants—you won’t be accepted into the medical school. It can be devastating to enter college with the belief that you are all set and then find out it won’t work out. So don’t totally rely on these programs for your future
  • It’s EXTREMELY competitive - One of the disadvantages in the case of pros and cons of BS/MD programs is that nothing is guaranteed. You should never apply only to these programs. Brown’s PLME program took 94 students out of 2641 applicants (3.6% acceptance rate), while Case Western’s Pre-Professional Scholars Program in Medicine accepts only 15-20 applicants a year out of a couple thousand! The odds are not in your favor so definitely make sure your GPA and SAT scores meet the cutoffs and you also have safety options.

If you’re applying to BS/MD programs, you have to prepare accordingly. You must present admissions officers at BS/MD programs with top-notch grades, scores, and extracurricular involvement. Since you want to pursue such an intensive field, you must convey your preparation by challenging yourself with the toughest courses such as AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Calculus BC. Weigh the pros and cons of BS/MD programs carefully before deciding what to do and show admissions officers that you’re passionate about your career choice beyond what is just on paper. Good luck!

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