BS/MD and BA/MD programs are highly sought after by aspiring doctors. If you know that medical school is in your future, you may want to start planning now to take advantage of these selective, yet beneficial pathways to med school. Read on to learn more about BA/MD and BS/MD programs to find out if they may be a good fit for you.
What are combined degree pre-med programs?
Combined degree programs offer students a more efficient pathway to following a pre-med or medical school track throughout their post-high-school education. For most programs, students will apply during their senior year in high school. If they are accepted into the program, they will be reserved a spot in both an undergraduate institution and medical school, on the condition that they continue to meet all program requirements once accepted.
This provides a streamlined pathway for students to earn an undergraduate degree (typically a BS or BA degree) and a doctorate degree (typically MD or DO) if all program requirements are met. Each program is unique and is generally governed by an articulation agreement between two schools, or the program is designed for students to complete both their undergraduate work and medical school at the same institution.
Some combined degree programs offer reduced timelines, such as completing an 8-year program in only 7 years. Other programs offer special scholarships, reduced application requirements, or waived testing requirements for qualified students who are accepted into the program.
Is a combined degree program right for me?
Combined degree programs can save students thousands of dollars off the cost of a traditional medical school pathway. Since combined degree programs are typically reserved for promising students who demonstrate both capability and aspiration for the medical field, many partner institutions also incorporate specialized learning opportunities to further cultivate the educational experience.
To qualify for these highly specialized programs, students must meet multiple application requirements, including test scores, GPA requirements, written essays, and personal interviews. The application process is can be highly competitive, with many programs typically accepting less than 10% of applicants each year.
A combined degree program may be right for you if:
- You are confident that going to medical school is your ideal career pathway.
- You can demonstrate academic excellence through your GPA, standardized test scores, or both.
- Your preferred medical schools have articulation agreements with undergraduate partner institutions.
- You have teachers and other professional associates who can write letters of recommendation confirming your high academic performance and interest in the medical field.
- You are looking for ways to reduce the overall cost of your medical school education.
Types of combined degree programs
If you’ve always dreamed of becoming a doctor and know that medical school is in your future, applying to a combined degree program could be worth your effort. But not all combined degree programs are equal, so it’s important to research carefully before investing the time and effort to apply.
BS/MD programs & BA/MD programs
With a BS/MD or BA/MD program, you will complete either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree at an undergraduate institution, then transfer seamlessly to medical school to complete your Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.
Sometimes the undergraduate institution and medical school are part of the same larger university, while some combined pre-med programs are arranged through articulation agreements between different universities. Some programs allow you to choose any undergraduate program to earn your Bachelor’s degree, while other programs are extremely regimented and specify an exact undergraduate degree to maintain your qualification for medical school.
BS/DO programs & BA/DO programs
With a BS/DO or BA/DO program, you will complete either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree at an undergraduate institution, then transfer seamlessly to medical school to complete your Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. DOs are full-fledged licensed physicians with a focus on using the body’s natural healing abilities without a heavy focus on treatment with prescription drugs. You can find more info on the differences between MDs and DOs here.
Since DO programs are not quite as prevalent in the United States, there are not as many BS/DO or BA/DO programs available to aspiring medical students. However, these combined degree programs are comparable to their BS/MD or BA/MD counterparts. Before applying, you should check the requirements, timelines, and benefits to make sure the program is a good fit for you.
Pros & Cons of combined medical degree programs
Combined degree programs can be a wonderful opportunity to secure a coveted spot in medical school and solidify your plans for the future. But these programs aren’t a perfect fit for everyone. Before investing the time to compare programs, choose a pathway, and fulfill all the application requirements, spend some time weighing the pros and cons of combined medical degree programs.
Pros of combined degree programs
- Acceptance to some programs includes scholarship money.
- Programs may provide pathways to earn two degrees in less time, which saves money on tuition and fees.
- Your spot in medical school is guaranteed, so you won’t have to spend time during your undergrad program applying to medical school.
- Some programs provide an MCAT waiver – no MCAT required to get into medical school!
- Many programs offer additional development opportunities as part of your acceptance into the program.
- Acceptance into a highly competitive combined degree program can be a great resume builder for residency applications.
- You begin to build professional relationships with people in the medical field earlier in your college career.
Cons of combined degree programs
- Programs are highly competitive; most combined medical degree programs have acceptance rates less than 10%.
- In many cases, extremely high SAT/ACT test scores and GPAs are required for consideration.
- Some programs require exclusive commitment; if you accept a spot in the program, you are not allowed to apply to any other medical schools.
- Additional application paperwork, written essays, and personal interviews are usually required as part of the application process.
How to get into a BS/MD or BA/MD program
Landing a coveted spot in a BS/MD program begins early in your high school career. As part of the application process, you’ll be asked to provide complete transcripts of your entire high school curriculum, so the first step is to earn good grades throughout high school. You’ll also need to study and take the SAT or ACT during your junior year or early in your senior year so you can have those scores on file and ready to submit with your applications.
Most applications for BS/MD programs are only open to high school seniors, and many application deadlines are scheduled for October – December during a student’s senior year. There are rarely exceptions or extensions on these application deadlines, so careful planning is critical.
Some programs also require that you fill out multiple applications – a standard application for admission to the undergraduate institution and a secondary application to the specific combined degree program. In some cases, you may also need to apply for admission to a school’s honors college to qualify for the program.
Many applications require one or more written essay responses, and you may need to submit letters of recommendation from one or more of your professional or academic contacts. Most schools require all parts of your application to be submitted together, so allow for plenty of time before your submission deadlines to gather the necessary application materials.
What BS/MD or BA/MD programs are available?
There are many BS/MD and BA/MD programs available for students who want to enter medical school. Colleges also form new partnerships and articulation agreements regularly, so new programs may become available each year. Likewise, schools may choose to end programs due to lack of funding, fewer available spots in the medical program, or a variety of other factors, such as the impact of the pandemic. While program information changes regularly, we’ve gathered the most up-to-date information on BS/MD and BA/MD programs that are currently accepting applicants for the Fall 2021 cycle and beyond.
BS/MD programs with American University of Antigua
American University of Antigua, in partnership with two highly qualified undergraduate institutions, offers students the opportunity to land a spot in medical school through BS/MD pathways.
One program offers students the unique opportunity to earn three degrees – an Associate of Science (AS) degree, Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, and Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. Students accepted to the program will complete their first two years of studies at American International College of Arts and Sciences – Antigua (AICASA). These two years provide an excellent foundation for medical school, and students who complete the program will earn an Associate of Science (AS) in Health Sciences at the end of those two years.
After transferring to American University of Antigua (AUA), students will complete two years of pre-clinical work and earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree from AUA. The program culminates in 2.5 years of additional clinical rotations, which can be completed at a variety of partner medical schools in the U.S., Antigua, or other international locations, when a student then earns the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.
Students who prefer to study in India can also complete two years of undergraduate work at Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), followed by 2 years of pre-clinical training at AUA and 2.5 years of clinical rotations at various partner institutions. Through this pathway, students will earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree and a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from AUA.