Community college can be a great option for some students; especially those limited by finances or people looking to change careers. But you probably want to know…
Do medical schools accept community college credits?
Medical schools accept community college (CC) credits but you’ll also need a bachelor’s degree to be considered. As long as you transfer the credit over (or have an existing 4-year degree), it won’t matter. Your MCAT score is more important.
Of course, the real answer is a little more detailed. So we’ll dive into that in this article.
We’ll also cover:
- Which med schools accept community college credits
- How community college credit “looks” on an application
- What it’s like starting pre-med at a community college
As a med student and career changer myself, I know just how much of an important question this can be!
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
List of medical schools that accept community college credits
Almost all med schools will be open to receiving your application if you gained pre-med credit at community college. But there is one important caveat; you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree.
So, unless you transfer the credits (those you got at community college) to the school you eventually end up earning your undergraduate degree from, you won’t be able to apply for med school.
Granted you do that, you’ll be fine to apply to any school.
Here’s who this most commonly applies to:
- People who’ve already attained bachelors (career changers etc.) but gone back to community college to take prerequisite classes
- People who started out at community college and later transferred to a 4-year college degree
To be 100% sure the school you plan on applying to will accept your community college credit, make sure you carefully check their requirements on the Medical School Admissions Requirements website (MSAR).
Although most will (at least on a case-by-case status), it’s always best to check with them first.
What about the top schools?
Yes, even the top schools will accept community college credits. They have the same admissions policy as all others. Your MCAT, your GPA, and your extracurriculars are what they’re going to pay the most attention to.
Does Harvard medical school accept community college credits?
Here’s what Harvard Med says itself about its admissions policy…
A limited number of required courses taken at an institution other than students’ degree-granting institution may be used to fulfill requirements, determined on a case-by-case basis. Students should make every effort to take the majority of required courses at the institution that will be conferring their degree. Required courses taken as part of a post-baccalaureate program of study do not need to be taken at students’ undergraduate institutions.
Just as I’ve suggested above, they are willing to consider applications from anyone with community college credit on a case-by-case basis.
Note how they urge you to make the effort to do most of your prerequisites at the institution you do your bachelor’s.
Does UCLA medical school accept community college credits?
UCLA follows a similar line to Harvard.
There’s no explicit refusal to accept community college credit as long as you have studied 3 years minimum on your bachelor’s…
Successful applicants will have obtained a Bachelor’s degree from a US or Canadian institution by completing a minimum 3 years of undergraduate coursework…The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA does not evaluate specific prerequisite coursework. Instead, applicants are given the flexibility to demonstrate mastery of competency areas throughout their unique academic history.
UCLA seems a little more flexible. You can expect this from most schools.
Does Community College look bad for medical school?
As for whether community college credits look bad for medical school, there are a few schools of thought…
- Doing prerequisites at community college can look like you’ve taken the “easy road”
- Lab work isn’t as reputable
- They typically lack “pre-med support” (dedicated advisory teams)
- The old stigma that CC students are “inferior” or “incapable”
Luckily that last one is dying out. Very few people, especially anyone on Adcoms (med school admissions councils), still believe that. Especially after a global pandemic and lots of students successfully studying online!
The real truth is there are a ton of students in med school who have community college credits to their name.
It hasn’t stopped them. Why should it stop you?
Note: med schools also want diverse applicants. Sometimes an untraditional route can work in your favor. Especially when it comes to your application essays and interview stories.
How to be competitive with community college credits
Obviously, that begs the question; how do you increase your chances of getting into med school with community college credits on your transcript?
Aside from the ways already mentioned (GPA, MCAT, etc.), here’s what else you can do:
- Try and take your “harder” prerequisite classes after transferring to 4-year undergrad (organic chemistry etc.)
- Get a ton of volunteer experience (or anything else that shows community and leadership-based skills)
- Shadow as much as possible
- Pick up any other clinical experience you can (EMT, scribing, etc.)
- Organize important programs/run events
- Network and acquire amazing letters of recommendation (LOR’s)
As a common criticism of community colleges is the fact they sometimes lack pre-med advisory services, doing all this is doubly important.
Starting pre-med at community college
Many community college courses will deliver the typical prerequisite med school courses just as well as any other school. Whether you decide to get credits there or not, you’ll still need to be at the top of your game to ensure you come out with the best grades.
But what you’ll also want to do, especially as you’ll be short on time later, is to start your pre-med preparations from day one.
The tips recommended above? Going to take some serious time to put together.
It’s best that you get started calling/emailing around clinics, hospitals, programs, etc. to see what you can get involved with while you’re still studying at community college.
Here are some extra tips that could help (especially if your community college has no advisory board to support you):
- Network with other pre med’s in your area (helps you keep on top of events and opportunities that could benefit your application)
- Learn how to study effectively (to maximize your chances of top grades)
- Don’t think for a second that community college credit will hold you back
If you’re a Harvard Med level applicant, you’ll get into Harvard Med!
Are there any doctors who started at community college?
Do a simple search and you’ll find tons of stories from doctors who started off at community college and later went on to med school.
Here’s a great video of a doctor who did just that, Dr. Francisco A. Solorio…
Can I go to medical school with an associate’s degree?
The quick answer here is no if this is the only degree you have. If you have a bachelor’s however, you can.
As mentioned before, no med school will let you matriculate (at least in the US) without that.
But it’s worth mentioning that you definitely can get into a med school outside of the US if you only hold an associate’s degree (or even no degree at all).
English-speaking European medical schools let students in these positions matriculate all the time on 6-year courses.
So it could be something worth looking at!
Community college doesn’t deserve the bad rep it gets in some circles. If it’s all you can manage, and there’s definitely no shame in that being the case, you can absolutely still get into med as long as you do all the right things.
Your credits transfer so focus on your MCAT, extracurriculars, and everything else.
Hopefully, this article has helped explain how.
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Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.