Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am nervous about my grade in a course. What should I do?

A: Before making any decision, students are encouraged to speak with their professor regarding their grade in the course.

It is only recommended that you Withdraw (“W”) from a course if you are receiving below the lowest acceptable grade. Typically, health professional programs will require a C grade or higher for prerequisite coursework (Some PA programs may require a higher grade, so this will be important to confirm with program websites). 

If you are earning at least the lowest acceptable grade, oftentimes a “W” on a transcript can be more unfavorable as health professional schools may assume you were failing the course (“D” or “F”). While you may be concerned with how this will impact your GPA and success in future courses, if you are earning higher than a “C” you are encouraged to stick with the course. Students can mitigate a lower grade by focusing on improved performance in future coursework.

Q: If I retake a course, will it replace the original grade on my transcript?

A: Health professional programs requires all attempts of repeated courses in GPA calculations (with original grades given for those attempts), even if they are not included in Northeastern’s GPA calculations. We do not recommend re-taking a course for which you earned a passing grade (“C” or higher). Students can mitigate a lower grade by focusing on improved performance in future coursework.

Q: Can I take my prerequisite courses using the Pass/Fail option?

A: We strongly advise that PreMed/PreHealth students do NOT choose to have their prerequisite courses graded using the Pass/Fail option. Many health professional schools require a minimum letter grade for prerequisite courses and will not accept coursework graded Pass/Fail.

Q: Can I take any prerequisite courses online?

A: Health professional schools typically will not accept required laboratory science coursework taken online. You are strongly encouraged to take all laboratory science prerequisite courses in-person. However, schools had to become more flexible due to academic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you took an online laboratory science course in 2020, you are encouraged to review the policies regarding online coursework on individual schools’ websites.

Q: Can I take my prerequisite courses abroad?

A: Not all health professional schools will accept core science (Biology, Chemistry, Math or Physics) prerequisite coursework taken outside of the U.S. or Canada.

Student interested in gaining experiences abroad should review the Global Experience webpage as well as the PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program’s Global Experiences Handout. 

Q: Would a school I want to apply to accept a different prerequisite than what is listed on their website?

A: If you are unsure if a course you took will satisfy the prerequisite requirement at a program that you are interested in, you should email the admissions office of the program you are interested in to clarify. You can include the name and course description of the class in question. 

Q: Do I need to take two English courses to fulfill the Writing Requirement for my health professional program?

A: Students should check the prerequisite requirements for the individual schools they are interested to determine the courses they will need to take before applying. That said, often, any humanities or social science courses involving substantial expository writing will satisfy the writing requirement for health professional schools, even if the course is not with the English Department.

Q: What is my BCMP GPA and how can I calculate it?

A: Centralized application services for health professional programs typically calculate one or more science GPA’s that may include courses in Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics (BCMP). To calculate your science vs. non-science GPA review the instructions in the GPA Calculations section under Supporting Information on the Academic Preparation page.

For some students, the courses you use in your science GPA calculations may come from other departments that teach classes that are concentrated in the abovementioned subjects. Here is a list of NU courses that we’ve identified as meeting these criteria, that you may elect to include in your BCMP GPA. Please refer to the guidelines of your particular application service and professional program, as requirements may vary.

Q: I am considering a reduced course load to prepare for my entrance exam. Is this ok?

A: We would not recommend a reduced course load in order to prepare for the MCAT/DAT/GRE/etc. unless it is your final semester and you only have a few courses remaining to graduate. Schools seek students who exercise good time management and are fully engaging in a rigorous course of study. Rather than take a reduced course load, consider a more manageable course selection.

Q: When is the best time to take my entrance exam?

A: Your entrance exam should be scheduled only after all pre-requisite courses are successfully completed and the applicant has had 4-6 months to study. If the resulting date would be later than May (MCAT/GRE) or June (DAT), then deferral to the next year is highly recommended. Students study for the MCAT any various times during their pre-health years, including during co-op, while in classes, during school breaks, or after graduation. The biggest mistake we see students make is to take their exam before they are ready, so it is important not to rush the process.

Q: I uploaded my Self-Assessment and/or application to MAP, but I cannot view it. Is this normal?

A: Yes, MAP unfortunately does not allow students to view documents once they have been uploaded.

Q: I am having difficulty securing a letter of evaluation. Can I get an extension?

A: We are strict about our requirements and deadlines. If you miss a deadline, you may still qualify for a Letter Packet.

Q: My evaluators agreed to write my letter by the deadline, but it is still not submitted. What do I do?

A: If they’ve agreed to write you a letter of recommendation, evaluators are very good about meeting our submission deadlines. Many letters do come in the week they are due, and that is ok! You can send a couple of well-spaced reminders, but please be respectful. We do not grant extensions unless there are extenuating circumstances and must speak directly with your evaluator to make such determinations.

Q: I started the Committee Letter process this year, but have decided to wait another year before applying. How does this effect my Committee Letter eligibility for the next application cycle?

A: When you defer your application, we will hold on to all of your documentation on file in MAP. When you do apply, you will still be responsible for meeting all Committee Letter deadlines and requirements. We do require a Committee Letter Agreement and Self-Assessment on January 31. However, you only need to update, not redo, your Self-Assessment. Required Letters are still due by their respective due dates. If any of your required letters have already been submitted to MAP, note that you do not need to update faculty letters. For your external letters it is recommended to get updated letters from your previous writers or letters from new evaluators.

Q: How do I know if my experience will count as Patient Care Experience for PA programs? 

A: Typically, Patient Care Experience (PCE) hours will derive from a paid position where you are able to provide care for the patient. It is always encouraged to check individual school webpages to find more information on what a specific program may view as contributing to PCE hours.

Q: There have been several changes to my application since I have applied. How do I inform schools of this?

A: Applicants may choose to send update letters to schools as long as they are substantial and offer a new perspective on you as an applicant. Admissions committees are quite busy, so you would not want to overwhelm them with messages. You’ll only want to update schools where you have not yet interviewed, if they accept updates (this can usually be found on their admissions website). Schools where you have already interviewed, or are scheduled to interview, have already shown a strong interest in you, and it is the interview itself that largely determines the admissions decision. Therefore, an update letter would not be recommended.

Q: I’ve been waitlisted at a medical school. Is there anything I can do to help my chances of acceptance?

A: If you are waitlisted, applicants may send a letter of intent to one school, to let them know that if they offer you a spot from the waitlist, you will accept it.  That is important to the schools because they want to know that the people who they accept off the waitlist will attend, they will not have to go to the next person. This letter is most compelling after all acceptance decisions are sent and schools have moved on to their waitlists.  You may be fully committed to the school, but enough people send letters of intent without being fully committed that they will question it if you send it too early.