NEW TO CERT...TWO ADMISSION DATES TO START THE PROGRAM: FALL 2020 and SPRING 2021
The Premedical Graduate Certificate Program (CERT) of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine (SOM) is a one-year, graduate-level program for individuals seeking to enhance their qualifications for admission into professional school, including Medical and Dental School. Students making satisfactory academic progress in the Certificate Program can apply to Master of Science (M.S.) or Ph.D. degree programs within the School of Medicine. The Certificate Program is administrated through the School of Medicine, with required and elective courses based in specific Departments.
The CERT Program is structured to improve overall competitiveness for admission into professional school.
The CERT Program is structured to improve overall competitiveness for admission into professional school. The CERT Curriculum allows students to enhance their academic record through graduate-level, medically-relevant courses offered by the program. In the spring semester, the program includes a preparatory course to strengthen standardized test scores, as well as opportunities to increase clinical or research experience, and gain volunteer experience in the community.
Pre-medical students who successfully complete the CERT program in two semesters with a GPA of ≥ 3.5 and an MCAT score of ≥ 508 receive a guaranteed interview at VCU School of Medicine. Similarly, pre-dental students who successfully complete the CERT program in two semesters with a GPA of ≥ 3.5 and a DAT score of ≥ 20 receive a guaranteed early file review at VCU School of Dentistry.
The CERT program offers distinctively strong advising and mentorship to students. Students meet regularly with the Program Director, Program Advisors, Program Administrator, and Program Coordinators to discuss weaknesses in their applications and propose strategies to improve those aspects in the spring semester and glide year. The Program Advisors interview and advise students for letters of reference from the CERT Program. The CERT program maintains an open-door policy with normal office hours to allow students the ability to speak with the staff at their convenience.
Additionally, information sessions held throughout the program explore topics such as stress management, research/clinical opportunities, medical/dental applications, M.S. degree programs and interviewing skills. Admissions workshops are conducted by members of the medical/dental admissions committee specifically for CERT students to gain insight on the admissions process. We highly encourage students to utilize all the resources available to them to ensure success in the CERT Program and to increase chances of acceptance into professional school.
The CERT Program is a graduate program designed for applicants who have already taken basic undergraduate courses required for medical school and other professional schools. For students who have not taken these required courses, we encourage you to consider the Post-Baccalaureate Undergraduate Certificate in Health Sciences at VCU.
Click on the panels below to see additional information about the Premedical Graduate Health Sciences Certificate Program (CERT).
A minimum of 27 credit hours are required to graduate from the CERT Program. Of the 27 credits, six (6) courses are required throughout the two-semesters:
1 semester of Physiology (5 credits)
+ 1 semester of Human Anatomy (3 credits)
+ 2 semesters of Biochemistry (10 credits)
+ 1 semester of Histology (5 credits)
= 23 credits
The remaining 4 credits are satisfied through approved electives, detailed below. To satisfactorily complete this two-semester program, students must take all required courses, maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA, and complete the appropriate amount of credits.
Required and elective courses are drawn from departments within the School of Medicine: Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Human and Molecular Genetics, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physiology and Biophysics. All courses are held on the MCV campus.
RECOMMENDED COURSE SCHEDULES (REQUIRED COURSES IN BOLD)
Fall Courses / Credits
BIOC 503 Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology / 5
PHIS 501 Physiology / 5
ANAT 691 Special Topics: Introduction to Human Anatomy / 3
= 13 Credits
BIOC 504 Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology / 5
ANAT 611 Histology / 5
Additional elective courses / 4
= 14 Credits
Total Credits = 27
BIOC 503 - Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (5 credits)
Semester course; a comprehensive introductory course that describes basic biochemistry concepts.
PHIS 501 - Physiology (5 credits)
Semester course; a comprehensive study of the function of mammalian organ systems, designed primarily for graduate students. Prerequisites: Biology, chemistry, and physics.
ANAT 691 - Special Topics: Introduction to Human Anatomy (3 credits)
Semester course with lecture and human cadaver dissection components; an introductory survey of human anatomy that employs a combination of systemic and regional approaches to examine the gross anatomical organization of the major systems of the human body.
BIOC 504 - Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (5 credits)
Semester course; a comprehensive introductory course that reviews current concepts of modern cell and molecular biology.
ANAT 611 - Histology (5 credits)
Semester course; a study of the basic light and electron microscopic structure of cells, tissues, and organs. Emphasis on correlating structure with function.
ANAT 608 - Functional and Clinical Neuroanatomy (2 credits)
Semester course; survey of the basic morphological and functional aspects of the mammalian nervous system, with emphasis on functionally and clinically relevant neuroanatomical concepts.
ANAT 612 - Human Embryology (2 credits)
3-week course; lectures present an overview of human embryology covering fertilization, implantation and the early stages of embryogenesis. Major organ systems including the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and urogenital are covered, as well as the development of the limbs, pharynx, face and skull.
DENS 610 – Fundamentals of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (2 credits)
Semester course; students will learn the fundamental concepts in radiation physics, biology, and protection. In addition, they will learn about radiographic anatomy, techniques, intraoral and extra-oral images, and principles of radiographic interpretation.
PHTX 691 – Special Topics in Clinical Pharmacology (3 credits)
Semester course; the major objectives of the course are to introduce students to basic pharmacological principles and to provide a survey of classes of drugs that are used to treat disorders of selected body systems. By the end of the course, students will have a basic understanding of the principles of drug effects on the body, how they interact with targets, in particular receptors, to modify physiology and produce therapeutic and adverse effects.
PHTX 548 – Drug Dependence (3 credits)
Semester course; This course will focus on the neurochemical and molecular adaptations in the brain that contribute to these complex behaviors. At the end of this course, students will become familiar with techniques for studying drugs of abuse and review the evidence supporting addiction theory and mechanisms of drug action.
HGEN 620 - Principles of Human Behavioral Genetics (3 credits)
Semester course; the theory of genetic and non-genetic transmission considered in relation to the design, analysis, and interpretation of studies to identify the principal genetic and environmental causes of behavioral variation. Included will be analysis of intelligence, personality, social attitudes, and psychiatric disorders.
IBMS 635 - Cellular Signaling (3 credits)
Semester course; an interdisciplinary introduction to molecular mechanisms important in eukaryotic inter- and intracellular signaling. Topics covered: common signaling mechanisms (heterotrimeric G proteins and G-protein-coupled receptors, small G proteins, tyrosine kinases and MAP kinases, and ion channels), membranes, lipids and ions (calcium signaling, phosphoinositols and lipid signaling through GPCRs), immune and metabolic kinase cascades (AMP-activated kinase, NF-κB and Jak/Stat pathways), and programmed cell death. Prerequisites: BIOC 503/504 with minimum grade of B, or permission of instructor
PHIS 512 - Cardiac Function in Health and Disease (3 credits)
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PHIS 501 or permission of instructor. A comprehensive study of cell and system cardiovascular physiology with pathophysiological implications, primarily designed for professional students.
Certificate students who wish to participate in concurrent research or shadowing experiences during the spring semester may do so as a non-credit option. The CERT office is available to help facilitate these opportunities upon request.
M.S. Degree Option
Certificate students who continue into a second year for the M.S. degree (CERT/MS) program will work closely with an individual faculty member in one of four departments: Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physiology and Biophysics. Research mentorship begins in the first year by taking a spring elective in the department of interest (see elective list above). In their second year, CERT/MS students focus almost exclusively on experiments in their mentor's laboratory, with minimal course work. Students apply to the M.S. program in the spring semester of the Certificate program.
The Premedical Graduate Certificate Program at the VCU School of Medicine seeks students who:
- Hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
- Successfully completed the following prerequisite courses (including labs). Must complete two semesters for each of the following courses:
- General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Present a cumulative GPA greater than or equal to 3.0 and a science GPA greater than or equal to 3.2
- Earned one the following test score results within the last five years:
- MCAT greater than or equal to 500 (25 on the old MCAT); Or
- DAT greater than or equal to 16; Or
- GRE greater than or equal to 151Q (Quantitative) and 153V (Verbal) and 4.0W (Analytic Writing)
- We highly recommend students take the GRE for CERT admissions as the CERT Program provides MCAT/DAT resources for students during the school year. Pre-medical students have an average 7 point increase in their MCAT scores after the CERT Program. Pre-dental students have an average 2-3 point increase in their DAT scores after the CERT Program.
- International students must have achieved the following:
- TOEFL Examination Scores greater than or equal to 250 (cBT), 600 (pBT), or 100 (iBT) on the TOEFL examination; Or
- GRE Verbal Score greater than or equal to 153 (500 on previous scale)
Students who do not meet the standardized test score requirement or GPA requirement are reviewed on an individual basis. Many factors influence an applicant's competitiveness including GPA, test scores, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and resume.
Too quickly gauge your competitiveness for the CERT program, please fill out a “Quick Look” form which is a self-reporting form consisted of the applicants GPA and MCAT's, DAT's or GRE's. The Quick Look Review Self Reporting Form will allow rapid feedback to the applicant but does not replace the formal application to the Graduate School. Please email the completed Quick Look Review form to email@example.com for informed feedback on your application.
A formal online application to the VCU Graduate School is required for admission to CERT. Please follow the steps below to apply to the Certificate Program:
- Once directed to the Graduate Admissions page, make sure the portal guides you to “admissions for Spring, Summer, Fall 2020.”
- Create an account and after logging in, click “Add Program” at the top.
- Select “School of Medicine” for the school option, and “Certificate” for the program level option.
- From the choices listed, select “Pre-Medical Graduate Health Sciences” as your program.
- You can now begin filling out the necessary components of the application. More information below regarding each section.
THE CERT PROGRAM HAS 2 MATRICULATION DATES PER YEAR. (Fall and Spring)
Fall Matriculation (classes begin around August 15th): Applications can be submitted from December of the previous year – July 25th
Spring Matriculation (classes begin around January 3): Applications can be submitted until November 15 of previous year
*** An application will not be reviewed until all application materials have been submitted. ***
The following materials are required for a complete application:
- An online Graduate School application. (See steps above)
- Submittal of $70 application fee
- Official Transcript from all colleges attended, including community colleges and any courses taken over the summer.
- Official Test Scores. We accept graduate-level test scores including the MCAT, DAT, and GRE. If you have not taken the MCAT/DAT, we recommend you take the GRE for admission into our program. We suggest the MCAT/DAT be taken after completion of program.
- Personal Statement (5300 characters including spaces). Please answer the following question: What has led you to the career you are pursuing and why do you want a career in that field? Also, if there are any lapses in your education, this would be an appropriate location for an explanation. If you have applied to medical or dental school previously, you may use this personal statement for your application to the CERT Program.
- Resume that includes employment, extracurricular activities, and awards. Additionally, detailed information (total hours, dates, explanations) should be given for leadership, clinical, volunteer, and research experience.
- Three Reference Letters or a Committee Letter Packet. We highly recommend you select references from those who know you well and can speak to your qualifications for entering the field of medicine or dental medicine. Reference letters from family members and/or friends are discouraged. There are no other specific requirements for who should write a letter.
The most convenient method to submit application materials is through the online Graduate School Application. Your personal statement, resume, unofficial transcripts, unofficial/official standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation may be attached to your online application.
If admitted, you will need to submit official copies of the items below:
- Test Scores: To report your GRE or TOEFL score, use VCU Code 5570 or send an official PDF copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. To submit these, you must send a score report as an official PDF.
- Official Transcripts: Official final transcripts must be submitted to the VCU Graduate Admissions Office upon admission into the program, using the address listed below:
The VCU Graduate School
The Blair House
408 West Franklin Street
Richmond, Virginia 23284-3051
An admission tuition deposit is NOT REQUIRED to "hold" your space in the CERT program.
Application review will begin in January for the fall matriculation date and in September for the spring matriculation date. Applicants are encouraged to apply early as we admit students on a rolling basis.
The official deadline for applying to the Premedical Graduate Certificate Program requires that students have all their material into the Graduate School by July 25th (for fall matriculation) OR November 15th (for the new spring matriculation option) to ensure that your file can be processed in time for the upcoming semester. Due to rolling admissions, the class may fill before the application deadlines.
Please be advised that there is a short delay between when the VCU Graduate School receives and processes your application documents and when we can view and review your materials for a decision.
Applications received after July 25th for a fall matriculation will be reviewed on a space-availability basis. Please contact the Program Administrator or Coordinators in case extenuating circumstances may justify a later application date.
Most questions regarding the application process may be addressed at the VCU Graduate Admissions website or in the “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ’s).
International students are directed to the VCU Office of Global Education.
Note that while the VCU Certificate Program accepts International students, please reach out to the admissions offices for VCU Medical or Dental School for their policies.
Tuition, Required Fees, and Benefits
The current tuition for the one-year CERT Program is $29,417 for in-state and $30,127 for out-of-state status. Tuition includes the online MCAT/DAT preparatory course, individualized career and personal counseling, mock interviews, a letter of reference, and special-needs benefits. Thus for the 2020-2021 school year, the total per semester (tuition and required fees) is $14,708.50 for Virginia resident students and $15,063.50 for non-resident students. Increases may apply for the 2021-2022 school year.
For those students electing the second-year CERT/M.S. program, the tuition in the 2nd year reduces to the standard published graduate tuition rate for in-state or out-of-state students.
Financial Aid and Student Accounting
Financial aid is available to qualified CERT and CERT/M.S. students through the School of Medicine Office of Financial Aid. There are no additional funding opportunities. To be considered for financial aid, students need to complete the FAFSA form. An installment payment plan is available through the Office of Student Accounting.
For students interested in residence halls, rooms for rent or apartment living, VCU offers a web site that provides housing opportunities and interesting facts about historic neighborhoods and counties in the Richmond Metropolitan Area. If you are not familiar with the Richmond area, here are some helpful hints on getting around and a listing of places to stay while you are visiting VCU.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Click on the questions below to display the answers to our FAQs. If you have a question that is not listed below, please contact the CERT office via phone (804) 828-9501 or email email@example.com.
The graduating class of 2015 consisted of 63 students. Of those who reported their current status, 80% have been accepted to medical or dental school, and 87% remain involved in healthcare/biomedical science.
The graduating class of 2014 consisted of 60 students. Of those who reported their current status, 81% have been accepted to medical or dental school, and 98% remain involved in healthcare/biomedical science.
The graduating class of 2013 consisted of 62 students. Of those who reported their current status, 85% have been accepted to medical or dental school, and 100% remain involved in healthcare/biomedical science.
Yes, the Program Administrator and Coordinators will organize a time for all pre-medical and pre-dental students to hear the respective Deans of Admissions speak. Additionally, all pre-dental students will have a time where they meet with staff/faculty in the Dental Admissions Office one-on-one for application counseling. Due to the close relationship between the CERT program and VCU School of Medicine/Dentistry, our students have the opportunity to contact each Dean of Admission to schedule a time to meet and discuss their application.
Our curriculum very closely mimics the first year of medical school or dental school regarding material and level of rigor. Many of the same professors who teach in the CERT program teach in M1 or D1 courses at VCU. Additionally, many of the professors use active learning methods in the course, which is highly recommended by the LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education).
Typically, CERT students will apply to professional school the following June after completing the program in early May. We encourage students to submit their application early to AADSAS or AMCAS, but can take the DAT or MCAT after submitting their primary application. We suggest the latest you take the admissions exam is the end of June.
It is essential that MD applicants apply to the VCU School of Medicine through AMCAS early so that the MD Admissions Office can review the application and schedule an interview for the reserved interview slots if eligible for a guaranteed interview. Applicants that apply later in the cycle will still get an interview if they meet the requirements, but will be in the regular scheduling pool.
CERT students engage in a multitude of activities during the glide year. In most cases, students will do something that will enhance their application to professional school. We have a large number of students who continue into the M.S. Program, as well as many that spend a year working as a medical scribe. Students will also continue to be involved with volunteering opportunities which they began during the CERT year.
The average increase in MCAT score after completion of the CERT program is 7 points. The average increase in DAT score after completion of the CERT program is ~2-3 points.
Students who successfully finish the program in two semesters with a GPA of 3.5 or higher and an MCAT score of 508 or DAT score of 20 are guaranteed either an interview at VCU School of Medicine or early file review at VCU School of Dentistry. These are both able to be used only one time and must be used within two years following completion of the CERT Program.
Every student will receive a letter of recommendation from the program advisor. The CERT Program does not write committee letters on behalf of students. Please contact your undergraduate university for any committee letters.
For Fall Matriculation, the application deadline is July 25th. Any applications received after July 15 will be review on a space-availability basis. Due to rolling admissions, the class may fill before application deadlines. For Spring Matriculation, the application deadline will be November 15th. Applicants are encouraged to apply early. Please be advised that there is a short delay between when the VCU Graduate School receives and processes your application documents and when we can view and review your materials for a decision.
Average MCAT for matriculation for the class of 2019 was a 505.
Average DAT for matriculation for the class of 2019 was 19.
The difference for in-state and out of state is roughly $330 per semester.
Yes it is included in the tuition, and it is an online course. We are currently using the Kaplan online course.
All of the required courses are recorded and can be accessed 24/7 through Blackboard. However, we strongly encourage our students to attend class so that they can expose themselves to the material in a multitude of ways.
To enhance clinical experience, we offer a clinical shadowing elective in which students can shadow physicians or dentists in various specialties within the VCU Medical Center. The Clinical Coordinator matches pre-medical students with physicians in their specialty of interest and, for pre-dental students, organizes rotations with dentists at VCU School of Dentistry or within the Richmond community.
Yes, the CERT program does accept international students. However, you will need to contact the school of medicine/school of dentistry admissions office regarding their policies on accepting international students.
Please complete an online application. Create an account and log in. Fill out the information appropriately. To find the program select the following:
- School >School of Medicine
- Start Term > Fall
- Program Level > Certificate
- Campus > MCV
- Then select Pre-Medical Graduate Health Sciences
Eligibility for in-state tuition privileges is governed by Â§23-7.4 of the Code of Virginia. The provisions of this law are set forth, defined, and discussed in the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s Domicile Guidelines.
Twelve months of continuous residency in the state of Virginia. Students who are living in Virginia for educational purposes only are unlikely to qualify for in-state tuition rates. During the period of residency, proof of residency must be documented.
The CERT administrative staff will set up a Facebook page for the incoming class. The link will be sent in your acceptance email.
Certificate Program Contact information is below.
- I. Scott Ramsey, Ph.D. - Program Director
- Judy L. Silberg, Ph.D. - Program Advisor
- Melissa J. McGinn, Ph.D. - Program Advisor
- Eric Lien - Program Administrator
- Monika Bapna - Program Coordinator
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sanger Hall, Room 1-055 E
1101 East Marshall Street
Telephone: (804) 828-9501