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The Graduate Entry Medicine Guide: Accelerated Course vs. Full 5/6 Year Course

graduate entry medicine

graduate entry medicine

Those that have already completed their first degree or close to finishing their first degree have the opportunity to apply to graduate entry medicine. Graduate entry medicine lasts four years rather than the full five or six years. Just because someone is eligible for the shortened programme does not mean they are restricted to applying to the accelerated programme, applicants can still opt for the traditional, full 5-6 year programme.

This blog is designed to help those considering applying to medicine who have already obtained or are close to obtaining their first degree.


Advantages of Applying to Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM)

  • Time

Graduate entry programmes are four years rather than the full five or six years meaning you will have one or two yours less of studying and will graduate from the degree quicker and become a doctor sooner. This may have significant appeal, particularly if you have just finished a three-year degree and are apprehensive of spending another full five or six years studying.

  • Money

Living costs whilst at university are fairly significant and one or two years less of studying means saving money. Those on the graduate programme will then become doctors quicker and will be earning money sooner. If you were to graduate one year later by doing the full 5 year programme, it would mean that you are likely to spend one year less in your final employment as a GP or consultant for instance which could translate to around £100,000 potentially. Another significant point to consider is the Department of Health bursary that is given to medical students. Graduates on a full length programme will only receive the bursary in their final year of the degree whereas those undertaking the accelerated programme receive a bursary in the second, third and fourth year.

  • Student demographics

Some may prefer to opt for a graduate programme as it will mean being in a class and studying  with other graduates and hence mature students rather than with predominately 18 year olds.

  • Selection process

Medical schools assessing potential candidates for graduate entry medicine courses tend to put less emphasis on older academic achievements and are likely to be more interested in your recent degree.  So if a student’s GCSE or A-Level grades are not quite up to scratch then applying for a graduate entry course may be a better option.


Advantages of Applying to Full 5/6 Year Programme

  • Choice of medical schools

There are 32 medical schools to choose from when applying to full 5-6 year medical programmes, with only 15 of those 32 medical schools offering a graduate entry programme. This means your choice may be restricted and you may not be able to study at the institution you would ideally like too. If you choose the full-length programme then you are not restricted as to where you apply.

  • Competitive application process

Medicine is incredibly competitive and the graduate entry programme is even more competitive than the full 5-6 year programme. Competition for places varies greatly from one institution to another, from 8 applicants to every 1 place in Leicester to a staggering 45 applications for every place at King’s College London. Some may feel that they have a better chance of applying to a full 5-6 year programme than a graduate programme. There is the choice of applying to mixture though.

  • Workload

Graduate entry medicine often involves combining much of the learning material that first and second year medical students learn over a two year period so its fair to say that the initial year of the graduate programme involves a high amount of workload and often involves self-directed learning.

  • Class sizes

Graduate entry courses often start with an initial year where the graduate entry students study together and separate from the rest of the medical students and class sizes are often very small, maybe 20-30 only. The graduate entry students normally combine with the other medical students doing a full programme in the clinical years.

More information can be found in our other graduate entry medicine blogs including general advice to those applying for graduate entry courses, a guide to the GAMSAT, information on entry requirements and information on competitiveness of the application process for each medical school.

Our UKCAT and personal statement course is also very relevant to those considering applying to graduate entry medical courses as is the medical interview course. Click on the courses tab for more information on our upcoming courses.

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