What Are Special Masters Programs? If you're thinking about applying to medical school or already a veteran of the process, you've undoubtedly received mailings from one or more special masters programs claiming that they will help you get into medical school as soon as you put down tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. While these programs aren't right for everybody, for some they may represent their best hope of being accepted to medical school. These programs come in many varieties, each with its own unique focus. Some are typical masters programs in various scientific disciplines such as physiology or biochemistry. Others are specifically designed for helping students get accepted to medical school by essentially dropping you into first year medical classes and seeing how you do. There are also other "post- baccalaureate programs" for people who need to take undergraduate prerequisites or upper-level undergrad classes. Let's consider these broad categories of graduate programs and why you might consider one. First, take what could be considered a pure special masters program: one where you are basically dropped in the deep end of the first year of medical school and told to sink or swim. Most of these programs have pretty steep admissions requirements and often require at least a 3.0 GPA and high 20s MCAT score. The sweet spot is usually someone with a GPA between 3.0 - 3.6 and a high 20s MCAT. These people are on the cusp of being competitive for medical school, and an SMP can be the thing that puts them over the edge. On the flip side, these programs are probably not a good fit for more extreme GPA repair cases, defined as any GPA that starts with anything other than a '3' or a '4.' For those, it takes a bit more maneuvering to climb out of the GPA hole, and this is where more traditional masters programs come in. For those with too many undergraduate credits to make climbing out mathematically possible, a traditional masters program is a good way to show you can succeed in a tougher academic environment. From there, you might be able to gain admission to a special masters program and then get into medical school. It's a long road, but for those with sub-3.0 GPA's, it may be the only way. For people with more borderline GPA's or those who haven't taken too many undergraduate credits, a true post-baccalaureate program can be a good choice. In these, you would take upper level science courses for a year or two. Doing well not only shows your academic prowess, but also raises your cumulative undergraduate GPA. If you had a GPA in the 2.7-2.9 range, 50-60 credit hours of solid work might get you over the 3.0 hump and eligible for an SMP. No matter where you fall on the GPA/MCAT spectrum, there are programs out there that can help you. Remember that they are selling you a product, so do your best to be an informed consumer and ask questions. These special masters programs have helped many students get into medical school who would otherwise be in other professions today. Nobody wants to take extra years to start what we all know is a long training process, but for some this might be the only way. Finally, if you'd like to avoid the biggest mistakes people make in choosing an SMP, come visit my website where we have information and full reviews of every special masters program along with news and reviews of all the post baccalaureate premedical programs in the United States.