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FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

Dr. Claudia Novack

Claudia Novack, Ph.D., is a dynamic chemistry instructor whose passion for teaching has spanned voice instruction in music to yoga. She has been teaching in Brandeis' Department of Chemistry since 1997. "I try to understand students' individual needs, and anticipate where they might have difficulties. Since I come at teaching from a non-science background, it gives me a different perspective."

Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions

What is a ‘post-bac’ (post-baccalaureate) program?

There are two kinds of post-baccalaureate programs to prepare students for admission to a health professions school, such as medical school: Career-changer programs and Record-enhancer programs.  Brandeis' program is a Career-Changer Program.

  • career-changer program is designed for students who have not taken their pre-medical prerequisite courses and need to complete core courses in Chemistry, Biology, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics in order to be eligible for application to medical or other health professions schools.  These students are most often non-science majors
  • An academic record-enhancer program is designed for students who have already taken their pre-medical prerequisite courses and need to take additional advanced science courses to become competitive applicants for medical or other health professions schools. Brandeis' program is not a record-enhancer program. 

Admission

How do I apply to the program?

The online application is available through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

What's the deadline for application?

Applications are considered on a rolling basis, beginning October 1st and until the cohort is full.  Please note:
June 1st is a PRIORITY deadline for Tracks 1 and 2; May 1st is a priority deadline for Track 3.  Applications received by the aforementioned dates will have priority consideration.

How many students do you accept each year?

We anticipate a cohort of 10-15 new students each year, bringing the total cohort of first and second-year post-bac premedical students to about 30.

How do I know if I'm a good candidate?

The Admissions Committee is examining your candidacy in four general areas:

  • Potential for success in a rigorous science curriculum
  • Motivation for a career in the health professions
  • Strong support from faculty/mentors in letters of recommendation
  • "Intangible" qualities, such as strong communication skills, maturity, leadership ability, etc.

Please note that while eligible students have a GPA of 3.0, most admitted students have a GPA of 3.3 or above.

I've taken some science courses. May I still apply to the program?

The program is not designed to enhance your academic record. Therefore, if you have taken the pre-requisite science courses and are looking to increase your GPA, then you would choose a record-enhancer program rather than the Brandeis career-changer program.

If you've successfully completed a full year of both General Chemistry and Biology, each with lab, you may be eligible to apply to our special Finisher Track if you have a strong GPA in these courses.  If you are interested in applying to the Finisher Track, please contact the program.

What is the grade requirement for courses in the program?

In order to complete the program, you must receive grades of B- or above in your courses.  At Brandeis, each lecture course counts as one class. The labs generally are counted as ½ course, with the exception of BIO 18a, which is a 4-credit lab.

You require an SAT, ACT or GRE.  I have an old copy of my SAT (or ACT) score; can I mail it to you?

We will accept SAT or ACT scores from official high school transcripts; otherwise, you must contact ETS and have an official score sent to Brandeis. GRE scores should be sent from the testing agency. The GRE code for Brandeis is 3092; no department code is necessary. SAT or ACT scores are preferable to GRE scores.

I took the SAT/ACT so many years ago that I can't access my score. What should I do?

A standardized test score is helpful for us in evaluating your academic readiness for the program. SAT or ACT score waivers may be granted on an individual basis, but the more evidence of potential for academic success, the stronger your application will be. You might consider taking the GRE if you don't have a recent SAT or ACT score (e.g., within the past 10 years).

Will you accept MCAT scores instead of SAT, ACT or GRE? 

If you have taken the MCAT, you almost certainly have taken more science courses than would be expected of a student in our program. You should therefore look for "academic record-enhancer" post-bac programs rather than a "career-changer" program like the Brandeis program, which is designed for students who have not completed their pre-requisite course work. 

I've been out of school for a number of years and I'm not in touch with my old professors. Can I use employer recommendations?

One letter of recommendation should be from an academic reference - specifically, someone who has been your teacher/instructor in a college-level course. We do understand that some applicants have been out of school for a while and will consider an employer's letter, however, the Admissions Committee prefers one letter to be written by an individual from an academic institution who can comment on the applicant's potential for success in a rigorous academic program.  

Are international students eligible for the program?

Unfortunately, international students are not eligible for this program; only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible.

Academics

What courses are included in the program?

Our post-baccalaureate premedical program is unique: students choose from one of three tracks, allowing them to have both a distinctive academic experience and a supportive community of similarly situated post-bac students as they prepare for a future health profession. 

Brandeis' world-renowned science programs are the foundation for each post-bac track which also incorporates our popular Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP) Program curriculum. Each track includes the following:

  • The prerequisite science courses with labs (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics)
  • Optional courses in our Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP) Program: American Health Care and Racial/Ethnic & Gender Inequalities in Health and Health Care
  • Clinical seminar led by a physician and featuring guest speakers from a variety of health care practices
  • Optional hospice training and volunteer service
  • Cohort design providing for mutual support among post-bacs throughout your time at Brandeis
For students preparing for the MCAT 2015 and beyond:
  • Biochemistry courses
  • Options in introductory psychology and/or sociology
  • Time to study for the MCAT in spring semester of year two

Students choose one of the following tracks. Please note that students are strongly advised to take calculus before beginning the program.  

Track One: Advanced Biology coursework

This track allows students to incorporate advanced biology electives in addition to biochemistry such as physiology and upper-level biology courses. (21-month program)

Track Two: Research

One semester of Project Lab offers students the experience of conducting bench research and an independent project through a small, lab-based course. Each year focuses on a specific topic, such as DNA mutation and repair, epigenetics, behavior, or biodiversity. Students design and carry out original experiments, refine laboratory techniques and experimental design, and gain experience in reading and writing scientific papers. (21-month program)

Track Three: Finisher Track

This track begins in the summer with Organic Chemistry and continues through the following academic year (15-month program). If you've successfully completed a full year of both General Chemistry and Biology, each with lab, you may be eligible to apply to our special Finisher Track if you have a strong GPA in these courses.  If you are interested in applying to the Finisher Track, please contact the program.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The post-baccalaureate program is 21 months long, beginning in the fall semester. For select students who have already completed a full year of both General Chemistry and Biology with lab, the Finisher Track program may be completed in 3 semesters (15 months), starting with Organic Chemistry in the summer session. If you are interested in applying to the Finisher Track, please contact the program.

Can I work full time and complete this program?

No. Brandeis' program is intense and does not lend itself to full-time employment. 

Can I take the classes at night?

For the most part, classes are scheduled during the daytime. Some labs meet in the evenings, but they are all connected to lecture courses that are only offered during the day.  There is no option to take courses only at night.

Do post-bac students take classes with other post-bacs only or with undergrads?

Post-bacs take their core science courses alongside undergraduate students, and are graded on the same scale. During the first year, General Chemistry includes a discussion section that is designed specifically for post-bac students only. A special Clinical Seminar brings together all first-year post-bacs and finisher post-bacs (Track Three) to discuss issues of practice in the health professions. Biology lab also includes a special post-bac only help session. Further, faculty enjoy working with post-bac students, as they tend to be very focused and motivated.

How big are the classes?

Lectures range from about 70 to 200 students. The larger courses have opportunities for smaller recitation/discussion group sessions led by instructors and/or graduate student teaching assistants once a week. Post-bac only discussion sections and seminars have 5-10 students. The labs are between 20 and 50 students each. Faculty are available during office hours for individual questions.

How much does the program cost?

Please visit the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website for a cost of attendance calculator and for updated tuition costs.

I'm planning to go to veterinary school.  Should I still apply to this program?

Our program supports students planning to attend veterinary school. Science requirements are somewhat different from traditional pre-med courses, and students will work with the program manager to plan their program. Students considering vet school may have to take a couple of their courses at other institutions, since we do not offer every course that is required for every vet school.  For example, some vet schools require an animal nutrition course, a microbiology lab, and/or anatomy and physiology with lab. Many students complete courses like animal nutrition online. You may be able to take some of the other courses through our connection with the Boston Consortium which includes the following colleges and universities: Tufts University, Boston University and Boston College.  We recommend that students research veterinary schools they might be interested in applying to in order to find out what their pre-requisite courses are. We can then work with students individually to determine which of those courses might be offered through our consortium schools.

Other Questions

I'm going to be in the Boston area.  Do you offer interviews and how can I arrange a tour of the campus?

You are welcome to visit us! You may wish to coordinate a visit along with the offerings of the undergraduate admissions office who offer student-guided tours on a regular basis. While you are here, we would be delighted to speak with you and to arrange for you to meet current post-bac premed students who can give you the inside scoop. Please contact the program to make arrangements for a visit (avoss@brandeis.edu). 

Interview: After an initial application screening, we will contact selected candidates for an interview. Interviews will be conducted in person, via phone, or Skype; the format will not impact the admission decision.

Does the program offer MCAT preparation?

Some students choose to take a prep course that is offered on campus, though it is not part of the official post-bac program. These courses start in both November and February. The post-bac premedical course schedule is designed specifically to give students time in the final semester to study for the MCAT while finishing the remaining necessary courses.

Can you tell me more about the linkage program with GW School of Medicine? 

Brandeis has a linkage program with The George Washington University School of Medicine. Students must have a 3.6 undergraduate GPA and a 3.5 post-bac GPA to be considered for this program.

Post-bac premedical students in Track One and Track Two may apply for the linkage program in the fall of their second year.

Conditional acceptances are finalized after the MCAT score has been submitted to GW. If final acceptance is granted, the student would start in the following fall. Applying through the linkage program reduces the stress and expense of applying through the traditional application process.  

PLEASE NOTE:  Students entering Track Three: Finisher Track will not be eligible for the linkage program since they will not have taken enough science courses at Brandeis in time for the linkage application process.