Program goal

The pre-medical graduate health sciences certificate program in the School of Medicine provides an advanced level of didactic training in the biomedical sciences to enhance the preparation of students for a variety of career options, particularly professional degree training (i.e. M.D./D.O., D.D.S., M.S. and Ph.D.). The program also provides the opportunity for the development of an informed approach to the admission process in professional and/or advanced degree training to enhance the prospect of advancement.

Student learning outcomes

  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 who meets the threshold competency objective will display an enhanced level of advancement to higher levels of professional and/or advanced degree training.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Other information

Applying to professional school and advanced graduate degree programs

Students must follow admission guidelines for applications to the M.D./D.O., M.S., D.D.S. and other programs. Completion of the certificate program does not afford a guaranteed admission to professional training programs at VCU. Exceptional performance, 3.5 GPA and a 28 MCAT guarantees an interview at VCU School of Medicine. Similar criteria increase eligibility for an interview at the VCU School of Dentistry.

Research option: Upon completion of the one-year certificate program, individuals may apply for admission to advanced degree programs. Certificate students who are admitted to the M.S. degree (CERT/M.S.) will work closely with an individual faculty member on a research project in a particular department. CERT/M.S. students will choose a research seminar elective in their first year, which consists of one-time faculty presentations to inform students of research areas and laboratory opportunities. Research mentorship can begin in the first year, in conjunction with a spring or summer three-credit research rotation that counts toward the 27 credit hours required to graduate.

Advising: Students are encouraged to seek opportunities for academic, personal and professional development from the Division for Academic Success, Career Services and the CERT Program Office. For students who choose to take a year off between CERT and professional school, several School of Medicine professors hire students for research positions and area hospitals offer SCRIBE programs that actively recruit VCU graduates. The CERT Program Office can also help identify possibilities.

Letters of reference: The CERT program adviser will provide a letter of reference for professional school applications. Students must schedule an appointment to interview with the program adviser for a letter.

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
CertificateFallJul 1GRE, MCAT or DAT TOEFL for international students

Special requirements

  • While there is no official deadline for applying to the certificate program, the school strongly recommends applicants have all of materials into the graduate admissions office by July 1 to ensure that the file can be processed in time for the fall semester. The program has rolling admissions for a limited number of positions.

Applicants must meet all general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students must complete a minimum of 27 graduate credit hours of course work with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale), with no more than 20 percent of the total credit hours at the C or below level. The curriculum is composed of six required courses (15 credit hours) and 12 elective credit hours (including for-credit research options) spread over two semesters. The curriculum should be completed in one academic year (fall and spring semester).

Required and elective courses are drawn from departments within the School of Medicine: the departments of 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.

Curriculum requirements

Required courses

BIOC   504Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology5
BIOC   530Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Module 1: Protein Structure and Function2
BIOC   531Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Module 2: Basic Metabolism1
BIOC   532Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Module 3: Central Dogma of Molecular Biology1
BIOC   533Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Module 4: Lipids/Membranes and Bioenergetics1
PHIS   501Mammalian Physiology5
Total Hours15


ANAT   611Histology5
ANAT   612Human Embryology2
BIOL 530/HGEN   501Human Genetics3
BIOS/STAT 543Statistical Methods I3
HGEN   502Advanced Human Genetics3
IBMS   690Basic Health Sciences Research Seminar (or department-specific 690 course) (Recommended for students planning to apply to the CERT/M.S. program)1
MEDC   533Pharmacognosy2
MICR   505Immunobiology3
MICR   616Mechanisms of Viral and Parasite Pathogenesis3
NEUS   609Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience4
PHIS   512Cardiac Function in Health and Disease3
PHTX   548Drug Dependence3
PHTX   536Principles of Pharmacology and Toxicology5
XXXX 692 (department-specific topics: basic research)3
XXXX 697 (department-specific directed research)3

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 27

Graduate program director
Louis J. De Felice, Ph.D.
(804) 628-4853

Additional contact
Judy Silberg, Ph.D.
Program adviser

Certificate program office
(804) 828-9501

Program website: