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UNC PREP – Frequently Asked Questions

Does UNC PREP require the GRE?

No, you do not need a GRE score to apply or be accepted into UNC PREP. If you have already taken the GRE, there is a place to report your score on the application; however, this is not required. During the first month of the program, all scholars participate in an extensive GRE review course. Taking the exam prior to this course can be helpful, since you’ll know firsthand what to expect on the test. Our own research shows that GRE scores do not predict future success in graduate school.

Is there a GPA requirement?

We review all applications that come in, regardless of GPA. Therefore, there is no strict GPA cutoff. If you feel necessary, please discuss any extenuating circumstances that may have impacted your GPA in your personal statement.

I’m interested in medical school. Is UNC PREP a good program for me?

No. The goal of UNC PREP is to prepare individuals who are interested in pursuing research-oriented graduate degrees (PhD). Thus, all of the program components are specifically tailored to help students be prepared for entry into and success in PhD programs. For example, all PREP scholars participate in preparation for the GRE (which is required for PhD program applications), but there is no programmatic preparation for the MCAT (required by MD programs). If you are interested in an MD degree and could benefit from some additional support, UNC offers the MED Program, which has been highly successful in preparing students for medical (and dental) school for almost 40 years.

I’m interested in an MD/PhD. Is UNC PREP a good program for me?

Maybe. As you probably know, the application process and timeline for MD/PhD programs differs from PhD programs (for example, requiring the MCAT vs the GRE). While UNC PREP does not offer direct programming related to the MD/PhD application and admission process, we have a close relationship with UNC’s MSTP program, and their staff is available to speak with and advise UNC PREP scholars who are contemplating an MD/PhD dual degree. However, please be aware that the UNC PREP programming is specifically focused on preparation for PhD programs.

What graduate level course do PREP scholars take?

All PREP scholars take a graduate level course in the fall semester along with first year biomedical PhD students. PREP scholars work with our program staff during the summer to select a course that is a good fit based on his or her interest and background. Therefore, PREP scholars end up taking a variety of different courses.

When does the program start?

The program begins in early June 2023.

Is it possible to start the program late?

No. Scholar orientation takes place during the first two days of the program, which includes paperwork, baseline exams, and important team building activities that set the course for the entire year. The first month of the program is the Summer Enhancement Session, which includes GRE prep, a hands-on Lab Skills workshop, and a Critical Analysis of Scientific Literature course. This is a critical aspect of our program, and thus we require all PREP scholars to attend the full summer session. Exception: We may be able to make accommodations for students from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands who have delayed graduation due to hurricanes.

Who should write my recommendation letters?

Since UNC PREP is primarily a research program, the most impactful recommendation letters are from past and current research mentors. If you are currently doing research at your home institution and you also did a summer research experience at an external institution, you should provide a recommendation letter from both research mentors. While we recommend at least some research experience prior to applying for UNC PREP, some applicants have not yet participated in research. If this is the case for you, please provide letters from professors and academic advisors who know you well. Please avoid letters from non-scientific employers and personal acquaintances if possible. However, if you have done/are doing research, please provide letters from your research mentors.

Is housing provided? Where will I live?

You will be paid a stipend (currently $30,000), with which you will be responsible for your living expenses. The cost of living is very reasonable in Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas. Therefore, most scholars find housing in apartments near campus. Upon acceptance into the program, we will provide you with lots of information about places to live!