Post-Baccalaureate Information

Post-Baccalaureate Information

The words 'post-bac' are used a lot in conversations about dental school preparation. 'Post-bac' stands for post-baccalaureate and refers to coursework completed after a bachelor's degree is earned. This coursework is taken with the specific intention of dental school preparation. The most common reasons that students engage in post-bac coursework are to change their careers to dentistry or to academically enhance their dental school application. Students who are considering post-bac coursework should consult with an academic advisor about whether or not it is needed to be a competitive applicant.  

Academic Enhancing Post-Bac Coursework 

Students who do not have a competitive undergraduate GPA are often encouraged to engage in 'academic enhancing' coursework BEFORE applying to dental school.  This coursework, taken after a bachelor's degree is earned and closer to the time the student hopes to apply to dental school, is more indicative of recent academic capabilities.  For the academic enhancing coursework to have the best impact within the application, students should be earning high A grades in all of their academic enhancing courses, regardless of how they decide to take post-bac classes. 

Academic enhancing coursework can be taken in one of three ways: 

  1. Science-based master's degree program 
    Science-based master's degree programs are exactly what they sound like: a set of science classes (biology, chemistry, physics) that lead to a master's degree upon completion. The master's degree must include science courses in the subjects of biology, chemistry, or physics because those are the subjects used to calculate the science GPA on the AADSAS application. Many dental schools review both the science and cumulative GPA on applicants' applications when considering whether the applicant should be invited for an interview. 

    Many students choose to apply to and complete a science-based master's degree because the degree program is designed to provide a deep dive into a topic area they are interested in. Examples of science-based master's degrees include the Master of Science in Basic Medical Sciences offered by the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Master of Arts in Biology offered by Oakland University.  
  2. Post-bachelors certificate program 
    Some universities offer post-bachelor certification programs designed specifically for students who want to enhance their professional school applications. While these certificate programs do offer coursework, the courses available are not always taught at the graduate level (above 7000-level). Certification programs often also include experiential learning opportunities and test preparation. One great example of a post-bachelor certification program is Albion College's Post-Baccalaureate Certification in Pre-Medical Studies
  3. Non-degree seeking coursework as a post-bachelor's student 
    Another way prospective applicants can demonstrate improved academic ability is by taking undergraduate science courses after earning their bachelor's degree. When choosing this option, students should plan to complete 20-30 credits BEFORE submitting their dental school application. The courses taken to make up the 20-30 credits should be brand new to the student (not repeats) and taken in the biology, chemistry, or physics departments so dental schools can see the grades reflected in the applicant's science GPA. The PMHSC recommends working with a pre-dental advisor to discuss course options and availability when selecting this route.  

Current WSU pre-dental students should schedule a one-on-one appointment with a pre-dental advisor to learn about which of the options above makes the most sense for their dental school preparation.  

Career Changing Post-Bac Coursework

Students who earned a bachelor's degree that included little to no science coursework but are interested in applying to dental school should work with a pre-dental advisor to plan career-changing post-bac coursework. This means that the student will work with the advisor to put together a plan that includes the coursework needed to meet dental school prerequisites and prepare for the DAT.  Students who are pursuing career-changing coursework at WSU should begin their journey by attending a Pre-Dental Information Session. After attending, a one-on-one pre-dental academic advising appointment can be scheduled to begin working on a plan of work.