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Premedical Graduate Health Sciences Certificate Program

Certificate Program Contacts

Louis J. De Felice, Ph.D.
Program Director


Judy L. Silberg, Ph.D.
Program Advisor


Mr. Alper Dincer
Program Administrator
E-Mail: premedcert@vcu.edu

Sanger Hall, Room 1-055E
Telephone: (804) 828-9501

Quick Links:

Criteria For Admission
How to Apply
Application Deadline
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

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. See CURRICULUM below for more details.


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 [PDF] page for questions not answered by the information presented below.

Criteria for admission

The Premedical Graduate Certificate Program at the VCU School of Medicine seeks students who:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Have taken required prerequisite courses and accompanying labs, to include two semesters each of Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physics. We also highly recommend students take a semester each of psychology, sociology, and statistics.
  • Hold a cumulative GPA ≥ 3.0 and a science GPA ≥ 3.2
  • Have earned test score results of either:
    • MCAT ≥ 25 (500 on the new MCAT)
    • DAT ≥ 16
    • GRE ≥ 151 (Quantitative) and 153 (Verbal) (or combined GRE score of 1,200 on previous scale) and 4.0 Analytic Writing
  • International students must have achieved ≥ 250 (cBT), 600 (pBT), or 100 (iBT) on the TOEFL examination or ≥ 153 on the GRE Verbal section (500 on previous scale)

Students who do not meet the standardized test score requirement or GPA requirement are reviewed on an individual basis. Many factors influence an applicant’s competitiveness including GPA, test scores, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and resume.

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How to Apply

A formal online application to the VCU Graduate School is required for admission to CERT. Please indicate “Fall Semester” as your term of entry and "Pre-Medical Graduate Health Sciences-CERT" as your program on the application. Most questions regarding the application process may be addressed at the Graduate Admissions website.

International students are directed to the VCU Office of Global Education. Note that admission to VCU Medical or Dental School requires permanent residence status.

*** An application will not be reviewed until all application materials have been submitted. ***

The following materials are required for a complete application:

  • A completed online Graduate School application
  • Submittal of $65 application fee
  • Official Transcript from all colleges attended (including Community Colleges)
  • Official Test Scores (i.e. GRE, MCAT, DAT) (Directions on how to submit scores can be found in FAQ). Ultimately, the MCAT or DAT are required for professional applications, but the GRE may be used for admission to CERT.
  • Personal Statement (1-2 pages)
  • Resume that includes employment, extracurricular activities, and awards. Additionally, detailed information (total hours, dates, explanations) should be given for leadership, clinical, volunteer, and research experience.
  • Three Reference Letters or a Committee Letter Packet

Occasionally, individual interviews are held on request, but are not required.


The most convenient method to submit application materials is through the online Graduate School Application. Your personal statement, resume, unofficial transcripts, unofficial/official standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation may be attached to your online application.

Official Transcripts must be physically mailed to the VCU Graduate Admissions Office. Below is the address to the VCU Graduate School Admissions Office:

The VCU Graduate School
The Blair House
408 West Franklin Street
P.O. Box 843051
Richmond, Virginia  23284-3051

To report your GRE or TOEFL score, use VCU Code 5570.

Applicants interested in biomedical sciences Master of Science degree programs in specific disciplines should apply through the Certificate Program. Admission into the second year of the M.S. program can be achieved upon successful completion of the Certificate Program and separate and specific departmental approval.

An admission tuition deposit is NOT REQUIRED to "hold" your space in the CERT program.

Useful links:

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Application Deadline

Application review will begin in January. Applicants are encouraged to apply early.

While there is no official deadline for applying to the Premedical Graduate Certificate Program, we strongly recommend having all of your materials into the Graduate School by 1 July to ensure that your file can be processed in time for the upcoming fall semester. Due to rolling admissions, the class may fill before 1 July.

Please be advised that there is a short delay between when the VCU Graduate School receives and processes your application documents and when we can view and review your materials for a decision. 

Applications received after 1 July will be reviewed on a space-availability basis. Please contact the Program Administrator in case extenuating circumstances may justify a later application date.

An admission tuition deposit is NOT REQUIRED to "hold" your space in the CERT program.

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Fast Track Review

Individuals may consult in advance with the Program Director for a preliminary review, using a self-reporting form for their GPA and MCAT's, DAT's or GRE's. The Fast Track Review Self Reporting Form‌ [Word] will allow rapid feedback to the applicant but does not replace the formal application to the Graduate School.

Fall 2015 Orientation Sessions

The School of Medicine Office of Graduate Education will host a New Student Orientation session on Monday 17 August at 10 a.m. in Sanger Hall, room 1-044. Certificate students will have an additional orientation session in the afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in Sanger Hall, room 1-044. Attendance at both orientation sessions is mandatory. The morning session will include lunch and a campus tour.


Required and elective courses are drawn from departments within the School of Medicine: Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Human and Molecular Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physiology and Biophysics. All courses are held on the MCV campus. Open the CERT Curriculum page for specific offerings.

To assist students with choosing courses, Elective Course Advice‌ [PDF] is provided. Students should review this information with regard to the professional direction desired upon completion of the Certificate Program. The listed electives are suggestions only; students with varying interests may choose other courses with the approval of the Program Director.

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). No greater than 20 percent of total credit hours can be a 'C' or less.

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.

Graduation statistics:

The graduating class of 2014 consisted of 61 students (50 premed students and 11 dental students). Of those who reported their plans, 24 were accepted into medical school (21 at VCU) and 4 were accepted into dental school (3 at VCU).

The graduating class of 2013 consisted of 62 students (52 premed students and 10 dental students). Of those who reported their plans, 30 were accepted into medical school (19 at VCU) and 8 were accepted into dental school (5 at VCU).  

The graduating class of 2012 consisted of 48 students. Of those who reported their plans, 24 were accepted into medical school (16 at VCU), and 3 into dental school (1 at VCU)

The graduating class of 2011 consisted of 57 students. Of those who reported their plans, 30 were accepted into a medical school (21 at VCU), and 6 into VCU Dental School.

The graduating class of 2010 consisted of 69 students. Of those who reported their plans, 27 were accepted into a medical school (21 at VCU), 6 into VCU Dental School, and 2 into the Genetic Counseling Master's program.

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.

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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.


Predental students 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.

Research Option

Certificate students who continue into a second year for the M.S. degree (CERT/MS) program will work closely with an individual faculty member in a particular department. Research mentorship begins in the first year by taking a spring elective lab rotation in Directed Research (3 credits). In their second year, CERT/MS students focus almost exclusively on experiments in their mentor's laboratory, with minimal course work.

Tuition, Required Fees, and Benefits

The current tuition for the one-year CERT Program is $25,000 regardless of in-state or out-of-state status. Tuition includes the on-campus pre-MCAT refresher course, individualized career and personal counseling, mock interviews, letters of reference, and special-needs benefits. Additional in-state fees are $1,066 or out-of-state fees are $1,378.50 per semester. Thus for the 2015-2016 school year, the total per semester (tuition and required fees) is $13,566 for Virginia resident students and $13,878.50 for non-resident students. Increases may apply for the 2016-2017 school year.

For those students electing the second-year CERT/M.S. program, the tuition in the 2nd year reduces to the standard published graduate tuition rate for in-state or out-of-state students.

Financial Aid and Student accounting

Financial aid is available to qualified CERT and CERT/M.S. students through the School of Medicine Office of Financial Aid. There are no additional funding opportunities. To be considered for financial aid, students need to complete the FAFSA form. An installment payment plan is available through the Office of Student Accounting.

Beginning with the Fall 2010 semester, there are new billing and payment policies and procedures. Please review the information at http://www.enrollment.vcu.edu/accounting/ebills/.

Housing Opportunities

For students interested in residence halls, rooms for rent or apartment living, VCU offers a web site that provides housing opportunities and interesting facts about historic neighborhoods and counties in the Richmond Metropolitan Area. If you are not familiar with the Richmond area, here are some helpful hints on getting around and a listing of places to stay while you are visiting VCU.

Year book

Class of 2015 [PDF] Class of 2015 Group Photo [PDF]
Class of 2014 Group Photo[PDF]
Class of 2012 [PDF] Class of 2012 Group Photo [PDF]
Class of 2011 [PDF] Class of 2011 Group Photo [PDF]







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