Do you dream of becoming a doctor? If you’re set on going to medical school, then a combined BS/MD or BA/MD program might be for you. The majority of these combined programs allow motivated high school students to go right from undergraduate to medical school without having to go through another application process.
While there aren’t a ton of spots available in combined programs, there are schools throughout the country that offer them. Before getting to the list, let’s review what these programs entail and the pros and cons of them for high school and young undergraduate applicants.
What Are Combined BA/MD and BS/MD Programs?
Combined programs allow students to earn a Bachelor’s degree, either a Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) or Bachelor’s of Science (BS), and then proceed directly into a medical program for their Doctor of Medicine (MD). Because students are already accepted to medical school, they can forego the typical medical school admissions process near the end of undergrad.
Instead of applying separately to medical school, they would just go through one major admissions process at the end of high school or, occasionally, a condensed application process early in college. Programs that ask students to apply after first getting admitted to the college are typically referred to as early assurance programs.
Students in combined programs commit to a specific college and medical school or network of schools. The medical school is usually part of the same institution or a partner school in the same region or college network. For instance, the SUNY and University of Texas systems, along with the Eastern Virginia network, offer students some choice of medical schools within their connected or partner colleges. On the other hand, students in Boston University’s combined program would attend BU for both undergraduate and medical school.
While combined programs offer students early assurance, some still do require that applicants take and do well on the MCAT. Students must also maintain a certain GPA as they work their way through their required college classes. Many offers are conditional on the student's undergraduate and testing performance.
Most combined programs are the same length as non-combined ones - eight years. In other words, most students in direct medical programs will still go to college for four years and then to medical school for four years. There are a few that offer accelerated programs, though, by compressing the amount of time spent as an undergraduate. These programs may be seven or even six years.
For example, Drexel University College of Medicine offers both an eight-year combined program and seven-year combined program. It has an eight-year BA/MD program and BS/MD program for students majoring in Biomedical Engineering or Engineering. It also offers a fast-tracked seven-year BA/BS/MD program for students who major in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Psychology, or Engineering. Most schools have either an eight-year or an accelerated program, while others, like Drexel, offer both choices depending on your field of study as an undergraduate.
Before taking a closer look at accelerated programs, let’s go over some of the pros and cons of combined medical programs for students.
Pro: you'll get to impress people by adding MD after your name whenever you sign it. Con: you might not be able to watch shows like Grey's Anatomy anymore because of all their medical inaccuracies.
Pros of a Combined Program
Applying to medical school is a competitive and stressful process, so the major pro of getting into a combined program means that you won’t have to go through that! You’ll be able to rest easy and focus on your academics with the knowledge that you’ve already been accepted.
A combined program allows you to commit to medicine in your academic and professional path. You’ll spend the next years of your life working toward your goals and ultimately will graduate with your MD.
Not only will you have a steady educational and career path, but you may also benefit from the stability of studying in one school or system of schools. You’ll get deeply immersed in the community and get to know the professors and facilities well.
Finally, in addition to offering students a stable and challenging program in their chosen fields, many combined programs also offer scholarship money. Because they tend to be extremely selective, direct medical programs often offer financial aid to the highly achieving students who get in.
Of course, there are also downsides to think about for combined medical programs. Let’s consider some of the cons of committing to a six to eight-year program.
Cons of a Combined Program
Most combined programs involve eight years of intensive study. While they eliminate the hurdle of a stressful med school application process down the line, they also demand a huge commitment from high school students. Your goals may very well shift as you grow and gain new experiences in college. Combined programs call for a great deal of dedication and commitment from young students whose aims may change as they grow older.
Of course, dropping out of the program is always an option if your goals change. If you do drop out but later change your mind and decide to apply again to med school, you might end up stuck at a school that wasn’t initially your first choice or find yourself lacking required courses. On the flip side, if you switch your major from pre-med to something else, you might have to add more semesters as an undergrad. Plus, giving up such a selective program that you worked hard to get into would almost certainly be a stressful and nerve-wracking ordeal!
Another potential con of some combined programs is the commitment to the same location for eight years. Some students might be ready to experience a new city after undergrad, but they’ll have to stick around for another four years. Some combined programs involve relocation to a partner school, but most take place within the same university.
Just as combined programs limit your choices in terms of medical schools and location, they also typically don’t offer as much flexibility in curriculum. While your fellow students may discover different fields or participate in study abroad, your own course schedule may not allow for as much exploration.
This kind of intensive, structured program may be a pro for some students and a con for others. Just be aware that combined programs call for a big commitment at a young age. Carefully consider whether you’re ready to make that leap.
Before checking out the full list of schools, let’s take a moment to go over accelerated programs and how they’re unique.
Accelerated programs take an already intense track of study and send it into hyperspeed.
What Are Accelerated BA/MD and BS/MD Programs?
An accelerated program is a type of combined program that is shorter than the typical eight years. Most are seven, but there are a few as short as six years.
Usually, the undergraduate portion is shortened, rather than medical school. These programs may combine two required classes into one or have students attend year-round by taking intensive courses throughout the summer.
As with combined programs, students will move directly from undergrad into a medical school program to which they’ve already been accepted. They might just be a little younger than their peers. In addition to the considerations discussed above, what are some pros and cons specific to accelerated combined medical programs?
Pros of an Accelerated Program
As a combined program, an accelerated program shares all the pros discussed above, such as the opportunity to get early acceptance to medical school and commit to a field of study that you’re passionate about. The shorter time, furthermore, means that you can enter medical school and earn your MD even faster, giving you a leap ahead into your profession by a year or more.
Because these programs are shorter, they may have a lower cost than the traditional eight-year path. Note that accelerated programs are by no means easier than non-accelerated ones. Rather, they’re usually even more challenging because they compress the same amount of material and requirements into a shorter amount of time. If you’re a high-achieving and motivated student, then an accelerated medical program may be just the kind of challenging and intensive experience you’re looking for.
Cons of an Accelerated Program
The accelerated nature of these programs means that they demand even more of a commitment from applicants, who are often young students who haven’t yet graduated high school. Accelerated programs are a huge challenge and commitment, and they offer even less flexibility and room to explore than the eight-year combined programs.
If you commit to an accelerated program, not only do you have to be absolutely sure about your decision to earn your MD in a shortened period of time, but you also have to be prepared to miss out on some normal undergraduate experiences. As someone studying on the fast track, you won’t have as much time to explore, spend time with friends, or perhaps study abroad. These experiences can be very enriching parts of college, so you should think about whether you’re ready to limit them right off the bat.
Accelerated programs often require students to study year-round, limiting the potential for summer jobs, travel, or internships. They can be grueling, combining already tough classes like Organic Chemistry I and II into the same semester. The risk with an accelerated program is that the stress and pressure could turn you away from a path which you’d otherwise have enjoyed if you took the usual, slower route.
Finally, because the program is shorter than others, you need to do your research to make sure it’s as high quality as others. Whether you’re committing to a combined or an accelerated program, you should do extensive research to ensure that you’re committing the next six to eight years of your life to the best program for you.
Check back soon for our comprehensive guide on how to apply to combined medical programs. For now, read on to peruse our full list of the country’s BS/MD and BA/MD programs.
Choose a medical school already! Your cat is tired of playing patient.
BS/MD and BA/MD Programs: The Full List
Below is our most updated list of BS/MD and BA/MD programs in the U.S. We’ve divided the list into combined programs that you apply to as a high school student and early assurance programs that you apply to after you get accepted to or enter undergrad.
Some schools have several programs within them, and their programs might be six, seven, or eight years in length. You can click on the name of each school to learn more about its combined medical programs and admissions process. Note that there are a few combined programs on the list that are only available to state residents or require that students become a state resident once they matriculate as an undergrad. These are marked with an asterisk.
Combined BA/BS/MD Programs for High School Applicants
You can apply to these combined programs as a high school student and get guaranteed admission to medical school. To keep the offer valid, you’ll have to take required courses and maintain a certain GPA. Despite your guaranteed admission to medical school, you might still have to take the MCAT for some of these BA/MD or BS/MD programs.
*State residents only or state residents preferred
So your preferred program wants you to wait and apply as an undergraduate? I guess your pets can put up with this doctor-patient make believe game just a little longer.
Combined BA/BS/MD Programs for Undergraduate Applicants
The following schools offer programs that you apply to once you’ve already been accepted as an undergrad. They might ask you to apply immediately after you get in or as a freshman or sophomore. Again, you can click on the name of each school to read more about its BA/MD programs and BS/MD programs and admissions process.
* State residents only
Now that you’ve seen the full lists of combined medical programs, let’s review some points to consider if you’re deciding whether or not to apply to a BS/MD or BA/MD dual degree program.
A combined medical program isn't exactly "until death do us part," but it's still a big commitment! Make sure you're ready to make it.
Deciding on a Combined BA/MD or BS/MD Program
Applying to college requires a lot of research, and applying to a combined medical school program requires even more. When you agree to a dual degree program, you’re not just committing to a school for four years of undergraduate. You’re committing six to eight years of both undergraduate and graduate education.
Because of the nature of this commitment, you must carefully consider your reasons for wanting to attend medical school. Make sure that you understand the program’s requirements and feel comfortable pursuing an intensive track of study in the same city for the foreseeable future.
Combined programs are very selective, and they tend to expect applicants to have some experience, perhaps through an internship or volunteer work, in the medical field. This first-hand experience working in a medical setting or shadowing doctors will also help you determine whether an MD is the right degree for you.
If you feel ready to commit to this path, then you should focus on putting together the strongest application you can. Demonstrate your passion for the field through your essays and experiences, and show admissions officers that you have the maturity and drive to pursue your pre-med and medical degrees in their combined program.
If you decide that a combined program’s the right path for you, then you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the assurance of a guaranteed medical school acceptance. Of course, you can probably only relax for a moment. Then it’s back to work!
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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.