A special master’s program, or SMP, can enrich a student’s journey to medical school. Special master’s programs with linkage to medical school are becoming increasingly popular with premed students as these can be an opportunity to gain more research experience, clinical exposure, and increase your GPA, all things that can help increase your medical school acceptance chances. In this blog, we will discuss what the SMPs are, their benefits and disadvantages, and how to choose the right program for you.

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3 min read

What Are Special Master’s Programs? Pros and Cons of Special Master’s Programs vs. Postbaccalaureate Programs Special Master’s Programs: Admission Requirements SMP Personal Statement Samples Conclusion FAQs

What Are Special Master’s Programs?

Special master’s programs (SMPs) are graduate programs that aim to increase students’ chances of getting admitted to professional schools, including med schools. SMPs also expose students to experiences necessary to succeed in medical school. Not only do these programs allow students to increase their knowledge of a field by taking relevant graduate and professional level courses, but they can also help bolster other medical school requirements, such as GPA, research, and clinical experience.

Essentially, special master’s programs are designed to bolster your chances of getting into a med program and help make your medical school application stand out.

There are SMP curricula that consist of courses that are taken alongside professional school students. This means that you will be exposed to the same courses and materials as medical school students. Medical school admissions committees will take notice that you already have experience in a medical school classroom setting. This is your chance to show the admission committees that you have what it takes to be a successful medical student.

Will a Masters or PhD Help You Get Into Med School? Watch this video:

Pros and Cons of Special Master’s Programs vs. Postbaccalaureate Programs

Main Benefits of Special Master’s Programs

There are many advantages to enrolling in a special master’s program, as they can greatly benefit your medical school application and your chances of getting into your top program. The key benefit of an SMP is that it mirrors the first year of medical school by immersing you in coursework related to the medical sciences and allows you to gain important clinical hours for medical school and premed research experience.

Disadvantages of Special Master’s Programs

Consider some of the cons of a special master’s program before applying, too. Some of the main disadvantages would be the added cost of your education, lengthening how long it takes to become a doctor and the fact that an SMP isn’t a guarantee of med school admission. Be sure to factor in the cost of an SMP when you think about medical school costs.

Special Master's Programs with Highest Medical School Acceptance Rates

Special Master’s Programs: Admission Requirements

Before applying to any special master’s program, be sure to review the admission requirements. These can vary a bit by program, but they are quite similar to medical school application requirements!


Special Master’s Programs Personal Statement Samples

Click here to see some SMP Personal Statement Examples!


Conclusion: Are Special Master’s Programs Worth it?

Some premeds rush into applying for alternative programs after they get a medical school rejection letter. If you have a specific weakness on your med school application, a master’s program may help you address it, but it may also simply distract you from preparing to apply to med school for the following year. If you are not sure whether an SMP is right for you, you'll have to consider the strength of your application without the completion of an SMP. If you feel that your metrics are average or below average, then an SMP can be a good option. It's important to balance any weaknesses with both the cost, competitiveness, and time required to complete an SMP.

Remember that wanting to get into medical school is not reason enough to pursue any course of graduate study. If you are only attending a graduate program to help you meet an end goal, you will not enjoy it and will likely not end up performing well enough for it to benefit you anyway. For this reason, whatever studies you pursue are ones you feel passionate about and will actually want to complete.


1. I want to choose an SMP affiliated with a medical school. By completing my degree, do I have an advantage to get into this medical school?

Enrollment and successful completion of an SMP may qualify you for an interview at the affiliated medical school if you meet the requirements, and some programs guarantee conditional acceptance to a medical school as long as GPA, MCAT, and other requirements are met.

2. How do I look for Special Master's Programs?

You can use this AAMC directory to find postbaccalaureate programs and SMPs that suit your needs.

3. Do I need to submit my MCAT scores?

Your MCAT score is not a requirement for the majority of SMPs and many programs will accept GRE scores instead.

4. If I choose to attend SMP, when should I apply for medical school?

If you want to attend medical school right after completing your SMP, the best time to apply to med school is the summer before your last SMP year. 

5. Is it easy to get accepted into an SMP?

No, SMPs are quite competitive as they are often attended by the same students who seek to become physicians. Some SMP programs only admit students that were on a medical school waitlist.

6. Do SMPs have shadowing and laboratory opportunities?

Yes, the majority of SMPs are designed to provide you with opportunities in the medical field by giving students chances to shadow in internal medicine clinics, have clinical exposure in pediatric clinics, and even in emergency departments.

7. How is my graduate work evaluated by medical schools?

You need to check with each individual program how your graduate or post-baccalaureate work is evaluated.

8. How Long Does It Take to Complete SMPs?

Generally, thesis master’s degrees take two years to complete, and coursework-based programs take about one year to complete. Each program’s curriculum is unique, but each can help students build up areas of their medical school applications that are lacking.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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