Premedical Graduate Health Sciences Certificate Program
Welcome to Premedical Graduate Health Sciences Certificate Program
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, Dental, and Veterinary School. Students who successfully complete the Certificate Program also have an opportunity to continue to a Master of Science (M.S.) or Ph.D. degree program within the School of Medicine.
Administration of the Certificate Program is centralized within the School of Medicine, with required and elective courses based in specific Departments.
INTRODUCTION TO CERT
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 provides additional opportunities to strengthen standardized test scores, increase clinical or research experience, as well as gain volunteer experience in the community.
Standardized test scores are a vital component of a professional school application. The CERT program offers an MCAT/DAT preparatory course in the spring semester for students who wish to retake their exam or prepare for their first attempt. The course is exclusive to CERT students and therefore allows tailored content and an accommodating schedule. The course is organized and taught by a professional test preparation company and is included in the cost of tuition.
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.
To enhance research experience, we offer a research elective in which students can conduct research in various disciplines. The Research Coordinator can match students with laboratories based on research interests. Students who choose to pursue an MS Degree during their glide year can continue conducting research in these labs.
Our convenient location within Richmond also allows students to find volunteering/community service opportunities and clinical exposure easily. There are also several hospitals in and around Richmond to volunteer or find employment as a medical scribe, medical assistant, or care partner.
The CERT program offers distinctively strong advising and mentorship to students. The Program Advisor interviews and advises students for letters of reference. Students meet regularly with the Program Director, Program Advisor, Program Administrator, Clinical Coordinator, and Research Coordinator to discuss weaknesses of their application and propose strategies to improve those aspects in the spring semester and glide year. Students are required to meet with CERT staff at least once while in the program. Office hours are held every week day to allow students the opportunity to speak with staff at their convenience.
Additionally, information sessions held throughout the Program explore topics such as stress management, research/clinical opportunities, medical/dental applications, 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 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 those who have not taken these required courses, VCU also has an undergraduate program: Post-Baccalaureate Health Sciences Certificate Program.
Please visit the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) website for resources and information on medicine as your career choice.
Be sure to visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for questions not answered by the information presented below.
Criteria for Graduation
The curriculum is composed of three (3) required courses (15 credits) and 12 elective credits (including for-credit research options) spread over two semesters. Students must maintain good academic standing while completing at least 27 credit hours of course work with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (4.0 scale).
The Graduation Application is to be completed by keying in the information on the electronic form and then printed. Required signatures must be original signatures, not copied or scanned.
Students who successfully complete the CERT Program will have achieved the following competencies:
1. Achievement of a Threshold Competency in the Basic Health Sciences
The candidate will achieve / surpass expectations of a threshold level competency in the Basic Health Sciences, particularly in areas related to gaining admission to professional and / or higher level degree programs.
2. MCAT/DAT Preparation
The candidate will be prepared to take and/or retake standardized tests. The candidate will achieve a score that fulfills medical or dental school admission requirements.
3. Preparation for Career Advancement
The candidate that meets the threshold competency objective will display an enhanced level of advancement to higher levels of professional and / or advanced degree training.
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.
The graduating class of 2012 consisted of 48 students. Of those who reported their current status, 93% have been accepted to medical or dental school, and 98% remain involved in healthcare/biomedical science.
The graduating class of 2011 consisted of 57 students. Of those who reported their current status, 93% have been accepted to medical or dental school, and 98% remain involved in healthcare/biomedical science.
*The statistics presented above are running totals, and include students accepted to professional schools during CERT or in any year following graduation from the program. In addition to medical and dental schools, CERT graduates have successfully matriculated into Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Genetic Counseling, Nursing, and Physician Assistant programs, as well as MS and PhD programs in the biomedical sciences.
For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please click on the following link.
Guaranteed Medical School Interview at VCU School of medicine
Students successfully finishing the program with a GPA of 3.5 and presenting an MCAT score of 28 (505 on the new MCAT) or higher are guaranteed an interview for the medical school at VCU, for the application cycle following completion of the CERT Program. Significant medical experience and exemplary professional behavior are also important for guaranteed interviews.
It is essential that MD applicants apply to the VCU School of Medicine through AMCAS early, i.e., June or early July, so that the MD Admissions Office can review the application and schedule an interview for the reserved interview slots. Applicants that apply later than July will still get an interview if they meet the requirements, but will be in the regular scheduling pool.
NOTE: Although the CERT Program accepts international students, VCU only matriculates U.S. citizens, Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents for the M.D. degree. This restriction does not apply to M.S. or Ph.D. programs at VCU, and it does not apply to all U.S. medical schools for which the CERT Program is equally good preparation.
DENTAL SCHOOL INTERVIEW AT VCU
For students completing the CERT program with a 3.5 GPA and 20 DAT, there will be a guaranteed early review offered by the VCU School of Dentistry. Students with competitive credentials will be considered for an interview.
In addition to the guaranteed early interview, pre-dental students in the CERT program will have the exclusive opportunity to 1) individually meet with the dean of admissions regarding their application and 2) shadow dentists at the VCU School of Dentistry and meet admissions staff, faculty, and dental students.
For students applying concurrently, those with competitive credentials and a DAT score of 20 or higher, will be considered for an interview pending a review of the CERT program's fall grades. Transcripts should be submitted to AADSAS and the School of Dentistry.
2018 CERT Class [PDF]
2017 CERT Class [PDF]