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Upstate offers new one-year master’s degree program to prepare for medical school

A photo of the plaza outside Weiskotten Hall.

Upstate Medical University will for the first time this fall offer a revitalized, one-year master’s degree program designed to enhance a student’s skills before they enter medical school.

The Medical Scholars Preparation Program will be a rigorous year of study, offered at SUNY graduate-level tuition, that also includes a guaranteed admissions interview at Upstate Medical University College of Medicine.

Upstate’s new master’s program is ideal for two types of students: those who are looking to improve their “academic, clinical and analytical skills” before applying to medical school; or those who were rejected from medical school and need further study before applying again. The program specifically helps students strengthen their scientific background.

The program has MCAT score and GPA requirements and students need to have completed the medical school prerequisite courses. But offering an affordable, one-year enhancement program will allow many students to enter medical school who might not be able to otherwise, said Krystal Ripa, director of special admissions programs at Upstate.

“We have seen this as a local need for so long,” she said. “This puts us on the map for being more accessible, inclusive and thoughtful. This changes us as an institution.”

Before this program, if Upstate admissions felt a student was not academically prepared for medical school, it would recommend master’s degree programs at Georgetown, Drexel or Boston universities. But not everyone has the resources to attend one of those programs, putting their medical school futures in jeopardy, Ripa said.

“It breaks down barriers especially for local students who have family here. Picking up your entire life and moving to Boston for a year, that’s significant,” she said. “We are doing the community a real service by creating a new opportunity that for some students will be right here at home.”

The fall 2019 pilot class will hopefully have 10 to 15 students with hopes of increasing the class size in future years, she said. Deadline to apply for the fall program is May 1, 2019.

By guaranteeing an admissions interview for Upstate Medical University, Ripa and others hope students will choose Upstate, but they can go anywhere. The broader goal of the program aligns with Upstate’s mission to make medical school – and all of health care – more accessible, diverse and inclusive.

“If medical school is the goal, we want to help students find a way to get there – no matter the path,” Ripa said. “We’d love for them to come here but some may choose not to. The most important thing is they will be able to get into medical school somewhere.”

Students can opt-in to a second year in the program to complete a robust research experience if they are considering applying to an MD/PhD program. A master’s in medical technology is awarded upon completion.

For more information or to apply to the program, visit www.upstate.edu/medprep