Undergraduate Post-Baccalaureate Health Sciences Certificate Program

The KHS Department is excited to offer a post-baccalaureate health sciences certificate. The Certificate in Health Sciences is designed for students who have already received a baccalaureate degree in a non-science area and wish to pursue their undergraduate pre-health sciences requirements at VCU.

The certificate program assists students in becoming more competitive for admission into professional degree programs such as dentistry, medicine, osteopathic medicine, optometry, physical therapy, pharmacy, optometry or veterinary sciences but it does not guarantee admission into any program. Depending on the types of courses students complete prior to enrollment in program, the certificate can take one to three years to complete with either full- or part-time study.

Students who have completed the science prerequisites for a professional program they are interested in attending and need to enhance their academic credentials should consult with their pre-health advisor from their undergraduate institution and consider applying to the premedical sciences graduate certificate program.

APPLYING TO THE PROGRAM

Students should apply for the program through the Office of Admissions as a post-baccalaureate certificate student.

  • Fall admission deadline: March 1st
  • Spring admission deadline: November 1st

Applicants must submit transscripts to the Office of Admissions. Upon receipt of transcripts, courses that can be awarded as transfer credit will be determined by VCU transfer center.

ADMISSION CORE REQUIREMENTS

Application is competitive and candidates must have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. four-year institution with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. The program is not offered to students pursuing entry into nursing school or other bachelor's degree-granting professional programs.

MINIMUM COMPETENCIES

Before starting on the core curriculum, students must complete or transfer equivalent courses with grades of B or greater for MATH 151, BIOL 151, BIOZ 151, BIOL 152, BIOZ 152, CHEM 101, CHEZ 101, CHEM 102 and CHEZ 102. If students have not already completed the minimum competencies at another institution, they are strongly encouraged to complete these courses at VCU. Students must have completed all chemistry courses within five years of the time they begin the program in order to apply them toward the minimum competency requirement. 

ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS

The core portion of the program requires a minimum of 25 credit hours in mathematics, statistics, chemistry, biology or physics. All courses must be at the 200-level or above. At least three of the courses must have a laboratory component.

Students can transfer a maximum of 11 credit hours toward the certificate program’s core curriculum and must have earned at least a B in all courses transferred. Students should consult with a pre-professional health advisor to determine the most appropriate courses to transfer.

Courses may not be repeated after gaining admission into the certificate program. Failure to maintain the minimum GPA of 3.0 will result in formal dismissal from the program.

>>Find out more about the curriculum.

FINANCIAL AID

Funding for the program is based on undergraduate financial aid formulas. Scholarship money to support students is very limited. Students are strongly encouraged to minimize work commitments while taking courses in the program. Students should consult Office of Financial Aide and the tuition calculator for more information about finances.

>>Find out more detailed information on finances.

VOLUNTEER SERVICE

Students accepted into the program must perform at least 50 hours of volunteer service in the VCU Health volunteer program or a private health care setting. Volunteer hours must be documented and submitted to the student’s pre-professional health advisor before graduation.

For admissions and other detailed information, consult the program’s academic advisor: 

Seth Leibowitz, Ed.D.
slleibowitz@vcu.edu
804.828.1761

Frequently Asked Questions

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

A: This is one of two, structured, undergraduate certification programs in the state 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. 

Q: Who should apply to the program?

A: Students who have completed non-science degree programs (history, women’s studies, psychology, business, ect) who want to pursue professional level training programs to become physicians, dentistry, ect

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

A: It depends on whether or not you did well in the sciences and how many you took.  If you took general chem and biology and earned grades of B or above then 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 Dr. Seth Leibowitz, slleibowitz@vcu.edu

Q: My undergraduate cumulative GPA is below 3.0, can I still get into the program?

A: 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 cum 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 Dr. Seth Leibowitz, slleibowitz@vcu.edu

Q: I see precalc (math 151), 2 intro general chemistry (chem 101, chez 101, chem 102, chez 102), and 2 intro biology courses (biol 151, bioz 151, biol 152, bioz 152) are required to earn the certificate.  Should I take these before starting the program or while I am in the program?

A: Either way is fine! It's advisable to take your chemistry courses without disruption of time and to take all of these at a 4-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 non degree 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.

Q: Why does my undergraduate degree have to be from a U.S. Accredited Institution?

A: 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..

Q: Which health professions will this certificate prepare me for?

A: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Podiatry, Physician Assistant Studies, Optometry, Physical Therapy, Veterinary Medicine

Q: Does the program provide any kind of guarantee/early admission to professional programs on the MCV Campus

A: 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.

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

A: 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 CERTThe AAMC website has a clearinghouse of all the certificate programs in the country. 

Q: How much does the program cost?

A: Check the VCU tuition calculator site for specific information.

Q: Does the program provide financial assistance?

A: Yes, you have access to undergraduate financial aid. You can find out more about financial assistance on the VCU financial aid website.

Q: Can I attend part-time?

A: 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 3 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! 

Q: What can you tell me about the healthcare experience requirement?

A: 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

Q: How do I apply for the program?

A: Through office of undergraduate admissions. Fill out the application for transfer student admission.  Note the deadline for fall admissions is 3/1 and deadline for spring admission is 11/1

Q: How does it work once I get accepted?

A:  You will be connected to the program director, Dr. Leibowitz,  He will work with the transfer center to evaluate any courses that can transfer in, make sure you take the appropriate math and chem placement tests, and then meet with you to create an academic plan

Q: What are the classes like?

A: You will take your classes with our traditional aged undergraduate students. You will have access to campus learning center academic support services, professor’s office hours, and our student postbach club to help you along the way! 

Q: Is there test prep services available?

A: We have just started an MCAT prep program through the Department of Physics! 

Q: How can I learn more about the program?

A: We hold monthly information sessions for prospective students.  See flyer for dates, times, and registration.