Frequently Asked Questions

Certificate in Health Sciences

Why is this program a better option than taking prerequisites elsewhere?

This is one of two, structured, undergraduate certification programs in the commonwealth of Virginia. It provides students focused advising services, tutoring, academic coaching and other helpful resources. The MCV campus offers most of the professional programs students want to pursue and students are invited to participate in medical shadowing and other special opportunities. For adult students we have evening and summer classes. We also offer a comprehensive range of human based biology courses. The program has been active since 2005 and has a successful track record of promoting students into professional level training programs.

I see precalc, two intro general chemistry and two intro biology courses are required to earn the certificate. Should I take these before starting the program or while I am in the program?

Either way is fine. It's advisable to take your chemistry courses without disruption of time and to take all of these at a four-year school so it's in your best interest to plan accordingly. If you want to take these courses at VCU prior to starting the certificate you can take them as a nondegree-seeking student. If you take these at another school prior to coming to VCU, the transfer center website is an excellent resource for checking on transfer course equivalencies. Unless you take the courses at VCU, we cannot advise you on the courses to take prior to admission to the certificate program.

I have taken prerequisite science courses at my undergraduate institution, does this make me a non competitive applicant for the program?

It depends on whether or not you did well in the sciences and how many you took. If you took general chemistry and biology and earned grades of B or above, you can take the 300 and 400 level sciences in the program. If you already took these intro courses and more advanced courses and received grades lower than B, this program won’t help make you a competitive applicant. If you are not sure whether the program is a good fit for you, email all your undergraduate transcripts to Seth Leibowitz, Ph.D., at

My undergraduate cumulative GPA is below 3.0. Can I still get into the program?

Professional level training programs are very competitive to get into and it is best to apply with a high cumulative and science GPA. If you took sciences previously and your undergrad cumulative GPA is below 3.0, you stand a lower chance of getting into this certificate program. If you are not sure whether the program is a good fit for you, email all your undergraduate transcripts to Seth Leibowitz, Ph.D., at

Why does my undergraduate degree have to be from a U.S. accredited institution?

This is because most professional schools require a bachelor's degree from a U.S. accredited school. If you do not have a bachelor's degree from a U.S. accredited school, you can apply into one of our bachelor programs and pursue this while declaring one of our pre-health advising tracks.

How much does the program cost?

Check the VCU tuition calculator site for specific information.

Does the program provide any kind of guarantee/early admission to professional programs on the MCV campus?

No, admissions to professional programs are very competitive. Students need to apply with outstanding grades, high test scores and a strong resume of health care experiences.

What should I do if I find this program is not for me but I still want to pursue entrance into professional training programs?

Don’t give up! Your best resource is your undergraduate, pre-health advisor. They will know pathways students from your undergraduate institution have taken to be competitive applications to professional school. VCU does offer a credential enhancing program called CERT. The AAMC website has a clearinghouse of all the certificate programs in the country.

Can I attend part-time?

This is a decision you want to make in concert with the program advisor. Typically students can start their first semester or two part-time but this decision often requires follow-up summer study. When students reach the 300-level sciences, most are encouraged to take at least three sciences during a fall or spring semester. Professional programs assess your ability to adjust to the rigor of studying science at the graduate level so the more sciences you can take during any given semester, the better your application will look.

What can you tell me about the health care experience requirement?

To graduate with the certificate, students must get a minimum of 50 hours of health care experience. The clinical setting where students choose to volunteer, shadow or work is flexible and there are resources available for students who need assistance getting a placement. 50 hours won’t make students competitive for admission into professional school. Students are strongly encouraged to gain more health care experience prior to making application.