Frequently Asked Questions

About the BMS Program

What are the advantages of the BMS program?

  • Condensed curriculum. Take challenging courses that can demonstrate your academic readiness to professional schools in as little as two semesters. 
  • Option to take 3-4 semesters and include completion of professional school undergraduate prerequisites, or complete the anatomy teaching certificate. 
  • Graduate courses taught by medical school faculty. The majority of coursework for the BMS is taught by faculty who also teach in the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. Coursework in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and more means excellent preparation for medical, PA, or dental school.
  • Application help. The BMS program steps you through the professional school application process, and you will receive personalized coaching and a review of the written application.
  • MCAT/DAT/GRE preparation help. BMS students meet throughout the year in a seminar course that covers approaches to the exam, content review, strategies and more.  
  • Checkout privileges at the MRC, the SIU School of Medicine Carbondale Campus library.
  • SIU SOM Interview. Students with Illinois residency, particularly with ties to the downstate (central and southern Illinois area), who successfully complete the master's degree program are recommended to the SIUSOM  for a medical school interview. We do not have a consideration agreement for the dental school (SIUSODM, Alton, IL) at this time.

What are the requirements to earn the SIUSOM Interview?

The school is particularly interested in recruiting students with ties to the downstate Illinois area, and the BMS is part of this recruiting strategy. A student shall be granted an interview for admission to the SIU School of Medicine if all of the following conditions are met:

1. The student must apply as a State of Illinois resident.

2. The student must apply via AMCAS and complete the SIUSOM secondary application by September 1 of the application year.

3. the student must be enrolled in, or have just completed in the spring or fall before the start of the application season, the BMS degree.

4. The student has completed a minimum of one semester of coursework in BMS at the time of the application. 

5. The student meets the minimum MCAT score requirement for the SIUSOM application.

6. The student meets the GPA requirements for the SIUSOM application. 

7. The student is recommended for interview by the BMS Program. 


I am not an Illinois resident. Am I eligible for the BMS?

The highest priority for BMS participation is given to residents of central and southern Illinois. However, many of our applicants and participants come from out of state, and we welcome all applications. Residents of all states are eligible to apply to the BMS. We expect that many students can benefit from the rigorous coursework and personalized advising that BMS provides. All BMS students are encouraged to apply broadly to medical or dental schools as they complete the degree.

I am an international student. Am I eligible for the BMS?

Unfortunately we cannot accept international students at this time. The SIU School of Medicine mission is to serve the population of downstate Illinois. The School requires students to be US citizens or permanent residents (Green-card holders) or DACA status at the time of application. The BMS, as part of the SIU School of Medicine, has the same requirements. 

Can I take my medical/dental school prerequisite courses while in the BMS program?

The BMS is an academic enhancement program – it is designed to give prospective medical, PA, or dental school applicants an opportunity to take advanced coursework, receive guidance in studying for the MCAT/DAT and get help applying to professional school. The two-year curriculum is thus designed for individuals who have completed their prerequisite science/math courses. 

Students wishing to complete or or two prerequisites while doing their master's degree should choose a 3-4 semester curriculum; it is not recommended to enter the program if you have more than one or two prerequisite courses to complete, or if you are a "career changer" from a non-science discipline. Students who still need to complete most or all courses typically required by medical or dental professional schools (e.g. undergraduate biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics sequences) will be better served by completing these prerequisites before, or in lieu of, entering a graduate program. 

For career changers (students who still need to complete medical or dental school prerequisite coursework), we recommend you browse “career changer” programs on the AAMC Postbaccalaureate Programs webpage.

How long does it take to complete the BMS?

The BMS is a 30-credit, non-thesis master’s degree, and is designed to be completed in a minimum of two long semesters (fall and spring). Students may also apply for spring semester entry. Because coursework offerings are limited in the summer, students may not start the program in the summer semester. It is also not possible to finish the program in one summer and one long semester. Students should therefore plan a minimum of two long academic semesters to complete the required coursework. 

In many instances, however, it is advantageous take extra time to complete the degree, particularly if the student still has some prerequisite courses to complete, has been out of school for a while, or may just want to make sure each course gets adequate attention to maximize success. A regular full-time graduate courseload is 9 credit hours per semester. To complete the master's degree in 2 semesters thus requires heavy "overtime" courseloads. Students planning to finish in two semesters should be prepared to focus their attention full-time to completing their degree. 

Do I have to complete the program in two semesters?

No, you may take additional semesters to complete, and in many instances this will be advantageous. Students are encouraged to take their MCAT/DAT exam after two semesters of study. The professional school application takes a full year, and thus it is possible to complete elective coursework during this application glide year. The advantage of taking an extra semester (or two) is that you can “decompress” the coursework, giving you additional time to work or study for the MCAT/DAT in the first year, or complete any missing prerequisite courses. 

Students may also wish to stay in school during the application "glide year" to take additional coursework for professional school preparation beyond the minimum 30 credits required for the degree. Students starting in spring will likely need three semesters to complete, as some course sequences should be taken in order (fall to spring). 

The disadvantage is that by enrolling for additional semester(s), you incur additional costs for tuition, fees and housing. 

Can I work while attending BMS?

BMS students enter the program to strengthen their application for professional school. The goal is excellent grades and a competitive MCAT/DAT score, but these must be earned. The curriculum is intense, with students taking a high load of difficult courses (particularly in the two-semester sequence). Students entering the BMS must have a financial plan in place that will allow them to focus on academics, rather than jobs/work. Students are thus strongly discouraged from working while completing the program, especially if they plan to complete it in two semesters. Students who must work to finance the degree should plan to take a 3-4 semester sequence.  

Is there an online BMS degree option?

The BMS does not have an online enrollment option at this time. Students enrolling in the BMS program must move to Carbondale to attend in-person. 


About Applying to the BMS

How do I apply?

The application for the BMS program is online via the SIUC Graduate Admissions portal. Apply via the Domestic Admissions button (we unfortunately cannot accept international applications for the BMS). 

BMS accepts students in the fall and spring semesters. The preferred application deadline is May 1 for fall admissions, although applications are accepted through July 15. The preferred application deadline for spring admission is October 1, although applications are accepted through November 15.

Application review is on a "rolling" basis and typically takes 4-6 weeks. If you have applied and not heard from the BMS program within two weeks regarding receipt of your application, please email the BMS program to inquire about your application status.

Do I need to take the MCAT, DAT, or GRE before I apply?

No. These tests are not required for admission to the BMS. If you have already completed one or more MCAT, DAT or GRE exams, we encourage you to self-report these scores on your application. For MCAT/DAT, ALL official test scores become part of your academic record in applying to medical or dental school. You should therefore not take these tests simply for the purpose of applying to BMS.

How much does it cost to apply?

There is a $65 application fee to submit your application to the SIUC Graduate School.  You may submit an application with unofficial transcripts. However, if accepted, you will be required to send official transcripts confirming the completion of your undergraduate degree, to SIUC. You will not be able to register without an official transcript.

Do I need to upload all my transcripts into the application portal?

Yes, you must submit transcripts from all colleges (community colleges, 4-year colleges or universities) as part of your BMS application, but they may be unofficial. You must, however, disclose all institutions and grades for college-level coursework to be considered for admission. An official copy of the transcript indicating your posted undergraduate degree will be needed upon acceptance before you can register for SIUC classes.

Please note that the purpose of the BMS is to prepare for medical or dental school applications within one year. If you are unable to get transcripts from all institutions (for instance, because you owe a balance to the bursar office), it will prevent you from applying to medical or dental schools. The medical and dental application services require official transcripts in order to complete your application. All your college transcripts must thus be cleared and accessible prior to applying to the BMS.  

What documents are required for the BMS application?

You will need to upload the following document as part of your application:

  • Resume/CV listing your educational institutions, work experience, medical exploration activities (shadowing, scribing, etc.) and community service activities.
  • Copy of Driver’s license or state ID
  • Personal statement, about 5000 characters in length, about your motivation for professional school (medical, dental, veterinary, etc). and how you believe the BMS program fits into your career goals (upload under “Departmental Requirements"), or send directly to the program via email. 
  • Two letters of recommendation.

I have a pre-health professional committee letter on file with my undergraduate school. May I use that instead of individual letters of recommendation for my BMS application?

BMS will accept pre-health committee/composite letters in lieu of the requirement for two recommendation letters. At least one letter in your composite must be dated within the past year, and a minimum of two individuals must have contributed to your composite letter.

I have been away from college for some time. May I obtain a recommendation from an employer or other non-academic recommender?

MBS does not require academic references because many of our students are returning to school to follow their dream after being away from college for a while. However, recommendations from science faculty, academic advisors, or non-science faculty are very much appreciated by the admissions committee. Other appropriate recommenders might include: a volunteer coordinator, a research or work supervisor, a health care professional with whom you have worked/shadowed, or a worker who appreciates your career goals.

Should I send copies of articles I have published?

No, it is not necessary to upload these as part of the application. However, you are welcome to list them or refer to them in your resume/CV portion of the application.

What are the application deadlines?

BMS accepts students in the fall and spring semesters. The preferred application deadline is May 1 for fall admissions, although applications are accepted through July 15. The preferred application deadline for spring admission is October 1, although applications are accepted through November 15.

About the cost

What does the BMS program cost?

The BMS students will pay tuition at the graduate rate. The in-state rate is applicable to students applying from Ilinois as well as from the continguous states of Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana and Kentucky.  Out-of-state students  from all other states will pay the out-of-state tuition rate. All students pay fees in addition to tuition costs. We strongly encourage out-of-state students to consider carefully the cost of attending SIUC. 

A minimum of 30 credit-hours are required to complete the degree. Students enroll for 15-16 credit hours per semester if using the 2-semester option. Students taking 3-4 semesters may take between 6 and 15 credits per semester. Please utilize SIUC's online tuition and fee calculator to receive an accurate tuition and fee cost estimate for your residency status and program goals. You may also find the SIUC budget estimation page helpful.

Because the BMS is a coursework-only degree, we do not have graduate TA or RA (teaching or research assistantships) available for first-year students. Limited TA-ships may be available for students continuing in their second year. Students may also apply for graduate school tuition waivers, but this funding is NOT guaranteed. Students should plan their finances assuming that they will NOT receive departmental or graduate school funding. 

SIUC Tuition and Fees Calculator

SIU Estimated Costs and Budgeting Page

For additional information about student aid and loans, please contact the SIUC Financial Aid Office.

What is the cost of living in Carbondale, Illinois?

Cost of living in a small town in the Midwest is generally considered to be less expensive than in a large U.S. city. However, living in a university town can cost more than one might anticipate. Rental costs can vary from $500 to $1,000 per month, depending on location, roommates, etc. For apartment availability and rates, visit apartment-listing sites such as, or The SIUC Estimated Cost and Budgeting Page may be helpful as well. 

SIUC does have campus housing available for graduate students. For more on graduate housing options on the SIUC campus, visit the SIUC Housing Page.

BMS does not endorse any particular housing in the Carbondale area. Students are strongly encouraged to investigate all housing options to find accomodations that will fit their needs. 

Can I become a resident of Illinois to save money on tuition?

Students from out-of-state pay out-of-state tuition, and may consider becoming an Illinois resident once they move to the state. More information about changing residency to Illinois can be found at the Illinois Residency page of the SIUC Graduate school. Please note that residency changes for tuition purposes require proof of state residency for a minimum of six months, and it thus may not be feasible to change to Illinois State residency within the two-semester time frame of the BMS program.

Is there student funding available for successful applicants?

A small number of tuition waivers are available through the graduate school; the application deadlines are July 15 for the fall semester and November 15 for the spring semester (April 15 for students choosing to take courses in the summer). Tuition waivers are not guaranteed and should not be used for financial planning purposes. For tuition scholarship information, visit the Graduate School Scholarship page.

Because of the intense nature of the program, we do not offer TA or GA positions (graduate student jobs), and students are discouraged from working during the program.

Are there grants or scholarships available for the BMS?

Once a bachelor’s degree is received, the term “grant” virtually disappears from available financial aid. Programs such as MAP grants are typically reserved for undergraduate students. Graduate students may apply for graduate tuition awards and scholarships. For tuition scholarship information, visit the Graduate School Scholarship page. Students may apply for SIUC scholarships via Academic Works. However, most scholarships are directed toward undergraduate students. For financial aid help, contact the Financial Aid Office

About the Carbondale Area

Where is Carbondale, Illinois?

Carbondale is a city of 25,000 near the southern tip of Illinois, in a beautiful region known as “Little Egypt” – close to the Mississippi River and on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest. It is the home of the flagship campus of Southern Illinois University. Carbondale is NOT near Chicago. It is located approximately 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, 330 miles south of Chicago, 200 miles north of Memphis, and 200 miles northwest of Nashville.
Explore the town of Carbondale, IL

What public transportation is available in Carbondale?

  • Campus/local bus: The SIU Saluki Express reaches destinations throughout campus, many local apartments, and some shopping areas. 
  • Veo Scooters and e-Bikes provide "microtransportation" around the SIU campus and downtown Carbondale area. 
  • Carbondale also offers Uber service (although it is somewhat limited due to the smaller number of Uber drivers in the area).
  • Airports: Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois (airport code MWA) provides regional service via Cape Air airlines. The nearest major airport is St. Louis Lambert Field (STL).
  • Amtrak stops in Carbondale at the CDL train station, located in downtown Carbondale.
  • Greyhound national bus service also stops at the Amtrak CDL station.

What are my housing options as a BMS student?

Carbondale is a college town with a number of student-friendly apartment options. For apartment availability and rates, visit apartment-listing sites such as, or

The university also has student housing. For graduate students, SIUC offers three apartment-style housing options. For more on graduate housing options on the SIUC campus, visit the SIUC Housing Page.

BMS does not endorse any particular housing option. We urge all entering students to carefully research housing options, considering cost, location, floor plan, ease of parking, bus-route availability, etc. to make the best choice for them.

What recreational opportunities are available?

With lots of rolling hills and beautiful limestone cliffs, the Southern Illinois region is a great place for hiking, kayaking, and camping: