What is the Difference Between Pre-Health and Pre-Med?
How to Choose the Right Program for You
When it comes to preparing for a career in medicine, you will likely encounter two terms: pre-health and pre-med programs. Both pre-health and pre-med programs aim to provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to excel in medical school and beyond. What’s the difference?
What is the difference between pre-health and pre-med programs?
Pre-med programs are specifically designed to prepare you to get into medical school to become an MD or DO. Pre-health programs can also provide quality preparation for medical school, as well as dental school, physical therapy school, physician assistant school, and more.
Both pre-med and pre-health programs are a great choice if you want to go to medical school. Pre-health programs offer flexibility that pre-med programs don’t. They may also offer classes needed as prerequisites for other graduate programs. This flexibility is great if you’re not sure which kind of health career you want or if you just want more options.
Other differences between pre-health and pre-med programs
When it comes to preparing for medical or other health professional schools, there is more to consider than pre-health versus pre-med.
Undergraduate programs versus postbaccalaureate (post bacc) programs
There are many paths to medical school. You can pursue a pre-med or pre-health path during your undergraduate experience. You can take classes through an undergraduate program after you graduate (often called a DIY postbac). Or you can enroll in a post-bacc program after you’ve earned an undergraduate degree.
For people who already have their undergraduate degrees, the main difference between the DIY approach and enrolling in a post-bacc program is the amount of support. Most undergraduate pre-med classes are large and competitive, without much facetime with the professors.
At NWHSU, the post-bacc pre health (PBPH) program includes one-on-one support from day one, small classes, and relationship-building with peers who want to see you succeed. Our professors get to know you, and regularly write thoughtful letters of recommendation for their students.
Structured versus flexible postbaccalaureate programs
If you’ve decided on a postbaccalaureate program, you have two options: a structured (sometimes called formal) program, or a flexible program. In a structured program, you take pre-determined classes in a program with a defined length. Structured programs are often more expensive and can involve taking classes that you don’t need. In a flexible program, you choose the courses—and pace—that you need.
Flexible programs like the PBPH program at NWHSU may also offer accelerated courses. This means you could, for example, complete chemistry 1 and 2 in one trimester, rather than two full semesters.
Programs built for career changers versus traditional students
Some post-bacc programs specialize in working with career changers. That means the coursework is presented in a way that even people new to sciences can understand—while still being rigorous enough for you to prepare for the MCAT or other entrance exams.
It also means the advisors have experience helping career changers successfully apply to medical or other professional schools.
At NWHSU, we specialize in working with career changers and GPA fixers.
Once you know what you’re looking for, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has a great resource to find the right program for you. It identifies programs as undergraduate or post-bacc, and individualized or structured. It also notes if they are built for career changers (and other student populations).
The PBPH program at NWHSU is flexible and built for career changers and students seeking GPA repair. Classes are offered in-person, hybrid, and online, with daytime and evening options.
From the moment you apply, you’ll be assigned a dedicated advisor who will help you create a path that works for you. We’ve helped countless career changers and GPA fixers get into medical school, dental school, PA school, and more.