Academic Matters

  • No. The Postbac Premed Program is uniquely positioned to accommodate a variety of health-related career goals. Its flexibility allows you to develop an individualized program of study to prepare you for the graduate program of your choice.

  • Our Postbac Premed Program is very flexible and can accommodate many career goals. Typically, students plan a clinical health career when they enroll in our program, but we have had a small number of students over the years who have changed direction once enrolled or come with the intention of pursuing public health or another field. It's important to keep in mind our six course minimum requirement when making your decision. You may not actually need a formal postbac program to complete your course work. You might simply need to take the few, individual courses required to meet specific graduate program requirements. If you wish to take individual classes here at Tufts, you can do that through Courses at Tufts.

  • The "glide year" is the time between beginning the application process to medical school and actually enrolling. Unless a school has a linkage program and the medical school is willing to bypass its year of decision-making (which is rarely done), the glide year is inevitable. Our Postbac Premed Program has linkage programs with Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, and the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM).

  • Over 90% of Tufts Postbac students who apply are accepted into health professions schools each year. The majority of our students enter medical school.

  • To ensure access to the health professions advisor and support network, Tufts tries to limit the program to between 30 and 40 students per year.

  • Students with no previous science course work can usually complete the program within 15 months, depending on the start date.

  • We advise that students take no more than two lab science courses per semester. Two courses allow for a full but manageable lecture, lab, and recitation schedule, with time to pursue a health-related internship and/or part-time job.

    Learn more about courses of study and common timelines.

  • The prerequisite science classes (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics) are held during the day. Lectures are always held in the morning (three 50-minute sessions per week), but labs and recitations (small group discussions) are scheduled throughout the day and evening. Tufts does not convene separate classes for its Postbac Premed students. Postbac students take the same classes (at the same time) as Tufts' undergraduates. You can review class schedules on Tufts Student Information System (SIS).

  • The program tuition covers ten courses, including the standard 8 required pre-health lab sciences. Students who matriculate into the program needing fewer than these 8 (because they completed one or two earlier, or because their professional route does not require 8 courses) may choose to take other courses. Students whose goals require a different set of courses (e.g., anatomy and physiology rather than organic chemistry) may take those courses instead. All undergraduate courses, and some graduate ones, are available to Tufts Postbac students. Students may opt to take additional courses, beyond the covered ten courses, but will have to pay tuition for each of those additional courses.

  • The program director of health professions advising and the associate director work closely with Tufts postbac students to plan their academic program. The advisors help students choose the proper courses, make decisions about supplemental courses, test preparation, and balancing academics with other activities. Postbac students have access to all the support services that our full-time undergraduates receive including free tutoring from the Academic Resource Center, review sessions, study skills and time management counseling, disability counseling, access to old exams for use as study tools, and more.

  • Tufts professors teach our science classes during the school year and, for the most part, in the summer as well. All professors have weekly posted office hours, as well as meet with students by appointment. They expect students to come to them with questions or problems, or to discuss the material being taught. They offer special review sessions prior to exams and work closely with the Academic Resource Center tutors to ensure that students get the support they need.

Financial Matters

  • The Postbac Premed Program is a significant investment and it is essential that you formulate a careful and sound plan to finance your education which will include costs in addition to the program fee.

    The cost of living in the Boston area varies greatly depending on a student's needs and preferences. In general, you should expect living expenses of $1,600 per month, or approximately $14,400 for the nine-month academic year. Living expenses typically include rent and utilities, transportation, and food. An additional $3,250 for books and assorted personal expenses should be added to this nine-month budget.

  • For purposes of federal financial aid eligibility, Postbac Premed students are considered enrolled in "preparatory coursework to enroll in a graduate program." You must be enrolled at least half-time (2 courses per semester minimum). For complete details about the Federal Direct Loan application process, learn more about Tufts Financial Services.

    Postbac students and applicants who wish to apply for a Federal Direct Loan must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Tip: For Postbac Premed students, the grade level is "5th year/other undergraduate" on the FAFSA form (not graduate student).

  • Most students apply for federal assistance first and then, if necessary, they apply for loans through private sources. There are a variety of banks and private lenders offering alternative loans for students and their families. Tufts University has a formal process to review the loan offerings of most of the major lenders. Based on this review, Tufts has chosen the lenders for their competitive rates, borrower benefits, and superior customer service. Be assured that Tufts receives no benefits, financial or other, from these lenders for being chosen to be on the preferred lender list.

    Learn more about Alternative and Private Loans.

    The Parent PLUS Loan is available for parents of dependent students. Students must be enrolled at least half-time (2 courses per semester). If a student drops to below half-time, any PLUS loan funds must be returned to the lender.

    Learn more about the Parent PLUS Loan.

  • Many of our students do work while taking classes, but only for a limited number of hours each week. It is not possible to hold a full-time job and even working part-time during the day requires planning since our courses and labs are held during the day. We recommend that our students work no more than 15 hours per week. Ideally, the job will be in a health-related position. This will provide you with additional experience in your chosen field, further enhance your health professions graduate school application, and help you to remain focused on your professional goal.

Admissions and Logistics

  • Because the Postbac Premed Program is designed for students planning to make a career change, the Admissions Committee needs indicators that a candidate is making an informed decision and is capable of working up to the academic standards of Tufts. Every aspect of an application is examined — the transcript(s), letters of recommendation, essay question(s), résumé, and test scores. We are looking for a strong academic history and either paid or volunteer experience in the health field.

    The "typical student" is between 23-40, had at least a "B+" undergraduate average, scored at or above the 80th percentile in standardized tests (above mid-600's in each of the SAT sections) and has demonstrated, through volunteer or employment experience, a strong motivation for a career in health care.

  • Many of our students come to Tufts having already taken one or two of their basic science requirements; however, they still have most of their prerequisite course work to complete. To fulfill program requirements, students must complete a minimum of six science courses at Tufts. Taking at least six courses gives the Tufts Health Professions Recommendation Committee the opportunity to know a student well enough to write a letter of recommendation. Our program is not intended for students who wish to enhance a past academic record.

  • Many medical schools, as well as other health professions schools, expect relevant science course work to be recent, i.e., taken within 5-7 years of the time of application. If you took one or two of your premed courses years ago, you would (if accepted) be allowed to retake them here, along with your remaining courses.

  • Interviews are not required and are only offered to those applicants who are invited. While we do welcome the opportunity to meet with invited applicants whenever possible, an applicant who cannot interview due to extenuating circumstances is not at a disadvantage. Invitation-only interviews are scheduled close to each of the three application deadlines (March 1, June 1, November 1).

  • If you have already taken the MCAT or DAT then you are not an appropriate applicant for our program and you should not apply.

    Standardized test score reports printed from the ETS or CollegeBoard web site are usually incomplete and are not accepted by this program. A score report must include the applicant's complete name, address (if possible), all scores, all test dates, and percentages. This information is usually not found on the web sites. You have to contact ETS to secure a complete score report.

    Acquiring test scores can be very time consuming (it can take several weeks or more) so be sure to request this information in plenty of time to meet our deadlines.

    The Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, New Jersey maintains records of every individual who has taken the SAT, GRE, etc. To receive your scores, contact ETS (phone: 609-921-9000). In most cases, test scores printed from the ETS or CollegeBoard web site are incomplete and are not accepted by this program. When requesting official scores, please use the following institution codes:

    • 7758 (SAT)
    • 3901 (GRE)
    • 9076 (ACT)

    Please do not use the general Tufts University code when ordering your SAT or ACT reports. Scores sent to the general code will go to Undergraduate Admissions and the Postbac Premed Program will not have access to that data.

    Only SAT, GRE, or ACT scores are acceptable. Other scores (LSAT, GMAT, etc.) are not appropriate.  If you have never taken the ACT, SAT, or GRE, then you will need to complete a supplemental essay as part of the application to explain why did not take one of these tests and how you will be successful in our program.

  • The age of an applicant's scores is not a factor in our evaluation. What is more important to consider is whether your past scores (SAT, GRE, or ACT) are indicative of your academic ability. If you believe they do not accurately reflect your potential, we recommend that you consider taking the GRE before applying to our program. Please note that LSAT and GMAT scores are not appropriate test scores for this program. If you have already taken the MCAT or DAT then you are not an appropriate applicant for our program.

  • Yes! Exploring your chosen career field is the best way to decide if that field is the right one for you, and we expect applicants to acquire some experience prior to applying to our program. This experience need not be paid or full-time and can be in any type of health setting where direct contact with patients and providers is available. We look at an applicant's specific experiences in the health care field and the variety of those experiences, as well as the person's articulation (in the essay) of his/her understanding of medicine. Exposure to direct health care not only serves as a great motivator for students as they pursue their studies, but also is a beneficial addition to professional school applications.

  • While we do accept applications from international students to our program, it is important to consider the challenges faced by non-U.S. citizens hoping to enter U.S. medical schools. Admission to U.S. medical schools is heavily dependent on citizenship or permanent residency. Statistically, only about 1% of matriculating medical school students each year are non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The statistics for other graduate health professions schools are a bit less severe but, as in most countries, preference is given to citizens.

    If you do hope to pursue a U.S. medical education, it is important to keep several things in mind as you plan your studies. In order to be a viable candidate for a U.S. medical school, you will need to take some science course work in a U.S. college or university. This can be achieved in a formal postbac premed program or simply by taking individual courses on your own. If your undergraduate studies were not in English, you will also be required to take at least two English courses to fulfill most U.S. medical school requirements.

    International students oftentimes have not taken standardized tests (SAT or GRE) as part of their education, but test scores are a requirement for this program. An application without test scores is considered incomplete and will not be reviewed. Not only are test scores a vital assessment tool in our review process, but standardized tests will be a mainstay in your future medical, residency, and specialty application processes.

    The only financial aid our program offers is through the federal Direct Loan Program. International students are not eligible for this type of aid. Most of the U.S. medical schools that do accept non-U.S. citizens do not have financial aid available to them either. Many require students to prove they have sufficient funds to cover four years of medical school. Unless you can secure private funding through lenders in your home country, you should assume that you will have to incur the cost of your education.

  • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of applicants for whom English is not their primary language, or not the language of instruction in their secondary school. A minimum TOEFL score of 100 on the Internet-based test or 250 on the computer-based test is recommended.

  • All decisions are made by committee after each application deadline (March 1 for the Early Action Period and June 1 for the Regular Admission Period). We do not review applications and make decisions on a rolling basis.

  • Since we do not review applications on a rolling basis, we prefer that applicants not submit their materials too early. Learn more about application cycles and deadlines.

  • Historically, about 30% of the applicants are accepted in each application period. There is no set number of "spots" per admission period, but the program is very small and competitive. Applicants are reviewed and selected based on their individual merits and strengths.

  • We no longer offer spring or summer starts for our program. 

  • Campus tours are conducted by the Undergraduate Admissions Office. You can come to Tufts and tour the campus and even sit in on some of the introductory (lecture) science classes. We do not, however, put individuals in contact with our current Postbac students until you have actually been accepted to our program. We get many requests from prospective applicants, but we must guard our students' time. They are busy with school, work, and family. If you decide to apply to the program and are accepted, we would then be happy to put you in contact with several of our current students so that you can chat with them about their experiences before making your decision to enroll.

  • Campus housing at Tufts is reserved for the undergraduate population. If you plan to relocate to Massachusetts or the Boston area for this program, you will need to locate your own housing. An excellent web site to explore is the Tufts Off-Campus Housing Resource Center.

    Many students locate housing by reviewing Craigslist and others contact local realtors. As a point of reference, the communities of Somerville, Medford, Cambridge, and Arlington are the ones closest to the Tufts University (Medford) campus where you will be taking classes. If you plan to bring a car with you to school then you can expand your search to the suburbs. Most of our students find apartments (singles and shared) within walking distance of or a short bus ride from campus. The public transportation system in Medford and Boston proper is excellent so you will not need a car to get around Boston.