The Pre-medical Graduate Health Sciences Certificate (CERT) program of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine is a one-year in-person, graduate-level program for individuals seeking to enhance their qualifications for admission into professional school, including medical and dental School. The program is administered through the VCU School of Medicine, with required and elective courses based in specific departments.
Get on Track with a Health Sciences Post-Bac
Come learn about the Post-Bac programs at VCU that can help you on your path to professional school.
Fall 2023 Session
Monday, Dec. 4, 6:00 pm
Virtual / Zoom link provided with registration
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. In the spring semester, students take a preparatory course to strengthen standardized test scores and have opportunities to increase clinical or research experience and volunteer in the community.
Information sessions throughout the program explore various topics, research/clinical opportunities and interviewing skills.
Students who successfully complete the CERT program may be eligible for a guaranteed interview at either the VCU School of Medicine or VCU School of Dentistry.
Advising and Mentorship
Students meet regularly with the program director, advisers and coordinators to improve their applications for professional school.
Courses are designed to mimic the rigor of first year professional school curricula. Learn directly from Medical and Dental School professors.
Students in the CERT program must complete a minimum of 27 credit hours over two semesters. Alternative plans of study are available with approval of the Program Director. CERT courses may be integrated into a non-thesis Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (M.I.S.) plan that can be completed within 3 semesters; The CERT + M.I.S. option requires admission into both CERT and the M.I.S. programs and must be approved by the respective Program Directors prior to the start of study. Please contact us if you are interested in the M.I.S. degree.
CERT graduates are also eligible for admission into one of several thesis-based M.S. degree programs in VCU School of Medicine listed below that provide additional opportunities to engage in biomedical research. Credits earned in the CERT program may be applied toward M.S. degree completion requirements. The combined CERT + M.S. plan of study is typically completed in two academic years.
CERT graduates who complete CERT in 2 consecutive semesters with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better, and meet MCAT/DAT standardized test score criteria, may be eligible to earn a guaranteed interview for either the VCU School of Medicine or VCU School of Dentistry.
VCU School of Medicine thesis-based M.S. programs:
- Anatomy and Neurobiology
- Microbiology and Immunology
- Microbiology and Immunology with an concentration in Oral Biology
- Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Physiology and Biophysics
Why Choose CERT?
- Boost your GPA
- Improve your DAT
- Dental-specific electives
- Guaranteed early file review with School of Dentistry Admissions upon successful completion of CERT
- Letter of recommendation provided
- Meet VCU School of Dentistry faculty
- Take classes taught by School of Medicine faculty
- Guaranteed interview with School of Medicine admissions upon successful completion of CERT
- Letter of recommendation provided
- Increase your science knowledge
- Improve your MCAT
- Boost your GPA
Admissions requirements for the Premedical Graduate Certificate Program can be found on the VCU Bulletin:
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.
Non-science majors who have not completed the prerequisite coursework for admission to CERT may wish to consider VCU's 'career-changer' Undergraduate Post-Baccalaureate Health Sciences Certificate Program.
To 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 MCATs, DATs or GREs. The CERT QuickLook will allow rapid feedback to the applicant but does not replace the formal application to the Graduate School at VCU. Please email the completed Quick Look Review Self Reporting Form to email@example.com for informed feedback on your application.
The CERT program is exclusively offered in-person. There is no option for online or hybrid attendance. All students would be required to live or commute to Richmond, Virginia for class attendance for either a minimum of one-year or until program completion requirements have been met.
- For fall matriculation, the application will open in January and the deadline is July 15. Due to rolling admissions, the class may fill before application deadlines.
- For spring Matriculation, the application will open in August and the deadline is November 15. 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.
Yes it is included in the tuition, and it is an online course. We are currently using the Kaplan online course.
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.
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.
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 M.D. applicants apply to the VCU School of Medicine through AMCAS early so that the M.D. 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.
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).
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 Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, our students have the opportunity to contact each dean of admissions to schedule a time to meet and discuss their application.
Eric Lien, '20
The CERT program has allowed me to grow as a person, both academically and professionally. In addition to gaining new study skills, I was given the opportunity to meet and work with a diverse group of people from many different backgrounds. Ultimately, the CERT program allowed me to achieve my goal of matriculating into a medical school.
Dr. Alexander Philip, '09
It was an amazing program for me and because of it, I started medical school at VCU and now am blessed to practice emergency medicine in Florida.
I was a poor undergrad student and had mediocre / less than average grades and numbers, but the program really gave me a second chance.
Zachary Morris, '21
The CERT program pushed me to my limit and forced me to critically examine my study habits; the program demands excellence and provided me with the challenge I needed. I believe the program was highly reflective of medical school in volume and timeline, and I am confident that I will excel as a medical student having completed this program.
Postbac Premed Programs: What Advisors Need To Know
VCU CERT Program Director I. Scott Ramsey, Ph.D., along with colleagues J. Barton Gillum, D.Sc., M.H.S., PA-C; Alexandra Tan, Ph.D.; Julie Hall, Ph.D.; and Christian Essman, recently co-authored an article, titled, "Postbac Premed Programs: What Advisors Need To Know." The article, published in the June 2023 edition of The Advisor academic journal, provides key context and defintions, and outlines the value of post-baccalaureate pre-medicine programs for academic advisors.
- Program DirectorI. Scott Ramsey, Ph.D.
- Program AdvisorJose M. Eltit, Ph.D.
- Program AdvisorMelissa J. McGinn, Ph.D.
- Program AdvisorChristina Sheerin, Ph.D.
- Program AdministratorKez Wilgus
- Program CoordinatorMatthew Gunn (CERT '23)
- Program CoordinatorClaire Simpson (CERT '23)
- Program CoordinatorDaisy Stinson (CERT '23)
- Program CoordinatorSavannah Ward (CERT '23)