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Why Being Rejected from McMaster Health Sciences is Good for You

If you’re never heard of McMaster University’s Bachelor of Health Sciences Program, you should know it is one of the “elite” undergraduate programs in Canada. With an applicant pool of over 2000 students for 150 spots, getting into McMaster’s Health Sci program is as competitive as getting into medical school.

This is a program where more than 40% of their graduates go on to pursue medicine. When the average Canadian medical school acceptance rate is around 10%, McMaster’s BHSc stands out.

During high school, it was my goal to be accepted into Mac Health Sci. I did my best to get high grades and spent a lot of time on the supplementary application. It was the program I wanted to get into, with it’s problem based learning and inquiry courses, I thought ii would be a great fit for me.

Unfortunately when the acceptances rolled out, I found out I had been rejected. Being rejected is the norm, applicants with 95+% grades often get rejected. [Medhopeful writes a very good post about it here.] I was devastated and felt like I had failed. I ended up choosing to do a life science program at another university.

You Learn More from Your Failures than Your Successes

In hindsight, being rejected from McMaster’s Health Science (and several other programs) turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me. I was humbled by the experience. I learned many hard lessons that helped me mature.

Being rejected taught me humility, something I lacked before. I went to a high school with an enriched learning curriculum. I was labeled a “gifted” students who was suppose to do better than others.

I now know that if I had been accepted into Health Sci, I would have been too proud. I would have been entitled or felt superior to my peers just because I had gotten into the most selective program in the country. I have nothing against the program, I know lots of friends who have graduated from it. But I also know of other health sci students who have that sense of entitlement.

Instead, I attended a university with a large science program. I got to interact with lots of classmates from all types of background. I met many exceptionally bright peers in Biology 101 and General Chemistry. I was lab partners with students who struggeld in high school and were just happy to attend university. And I found that many undergrad programs are just as rigorous and adequate for your education.

It Doesn’t Matter Where You Go for Your Education, It’s What You Do There that Matters

I entered my university degree with a chip on my shoulder. I had been rejected from the programs that I wanted to be in. I decided that I wouldn’t let my failures dictate my future successes.

I was motivated to be the best student I could be. I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t going to let an institution define who I am. In the process, I learned to value hard work and persistence. I didn’t take my education for granted, instead I set out to improve myself.

In the end, I achieved my goal of gaining an acceptance into medical school and ironically before many of my peers who were in health sci. Along the way, I created a foundation of study habits that I still use today.

Medical schools don’t care about where you did your undergrad degree, they care about what you did there.

Looking back, being rejected from Health Science helped me mature as a person. You learn more from your struggles than your successes. Let me know if you have had similar stories, would love to hear them.

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  1. a
    a October 29, 2011

    I believe a similar thing happened to me, but regarding medical school. I went to a prestigious undergraduate university and thought I was untouchable. Then I was only accepted to in-state schools, something my friends and I had considered the ultimate back up schools. (And one absurdly expensive private school that was outranked by the in-state schools.) I’ve done much research on whether your med school determines your residency program, and it doesn’t. Your work ethic, your grades, your volunteer work, your clinic hours and leadership determine your residency.

    One of my favorite sayings is, “You are only as good as the best school that rejects you.” It makes you work so much harder. Thanks for your post, another great read.

    • medaholic
      medaholic October 29, 2011

      Thanks for sharing. I would add that how good you are is not determined by which school accepts or rejects you.

  2. T.O.
    T.O. November 2, 2011

    As a current medical student, I have to say that generally speaking, my favorite classmates are those that didn’t attend McMaster health science…for a variety of reasons!

    What doesn’t kill you only make you stronger & everything happens for a reason! 🙂

    • Saba
      Saba February 18, 2015

      Hi T.O, I read that you are now currently in Med school, congrats! It’s an amazing achievement as i’m sure you deserve it. I too, am keen on applying to Med school, I am in my last year of high school, and I would really like to know what helped distinguish you from the pool of applicants and if there are any tips you can give me?

      Again congrats on your acceptance!

      Thank you.

  3. Lina
    Lina December 14, 2011

    If it is not a secret, what univeristy did you do your undergrad at? Are there certain programs / universities that you would recommend to maximize my chances to get into med school?

    • medaholic
      medaholic December 15, 2011

      @Lina – Sorry, I’m not going to disclose which university I did my undergrad in. In terms of increasing your chances, medical school admissions don’t view one degree higher than another. Having said that, choose the program where you can best excel in and get the best grades.

  4. Withical
    Withical May 11, 2012

    I got rejected from Health Sci…..and proudly so….most probably because I listed is as one of my last choices on OUAC and applied to it for the mere formalities.

    But honestly though, I don’t get whats the hype about HealthSci being probably the most competitive uni program in Canada.

    1) McMaster isn’t even a big reputable uni…….U of T, McGill and even Waterloo are way ahead

    2) I don’t understand whats so ‘good’ about the Health Science major. Most of it focuses on the sociological side of healthcare rather than the biology behind medicine itself, which I don’t find very appealing, nor intellectually challenging.

    3) Apparently Health Sci is a GPA boosting program thats really easy. That annoys me all the more… just means it’s an elitist (and rather unfair) channel into med school. No thank you, I’d rather work my way up to med school rather than be fed with a silver spoon in my mouth in university.

    4) 40% of grads from that program go to med school, not necessarily because the program is good, but rather because that program draws 150 of the most elite, med school keener students in all of Canada who buy into Health Sci’s veneer of eliteness…..and then further stuffs them with hugely inflated GPAs to make them cruise to Med school.

    Do excuse my agitation, but I don’t think such a program should deserve my 1st choice on an application, and I’m glad I didn’t make it in.

    • Anonymous X*$32%#
      Anonymous X*$32%# January 14, 2013

      That is so annoying, do people get how much work engineers get?

    • Harrison
      Harrison May 17, 2013

      You are wrong about one thing. Health Sci does not inflate grades. The courses in the faculty of health sciences tend to be the lowest grade for the students. Courses taken in other faculties, such as science, social sciences, humanities, etc… tend to have higher marks.

      • lol
        lol June 7, 2013

        lawl d00d health sci is known for some inflated marks minus the courses open to everyone aka immuno…

        • r
          r May 14, 2015

          anonymous – we can see you….

    • Theoretical Reality
      Theoretical Reality October 8, 2015

      You aren’t happy you didn’t make it; you’ve accepted you’re of a lower academic strata. Don’t belittle those “elitists” who achieved their goals as a means to coping with your own incapacity to do so; it’s unbecoming.

      -Student, Health Sciences Class of 2018

      • Kitkat
        Kitkat September 6, 2019


    • Kathy
      Kathy May 14, 2023

      There are actually few facts about the high percentage getting in Medcine school that people may not know:

      1. Few Medcine schools in western Ontario only accept student from western Ontario. If you are out of province student get into this program, you may not be the 50 to 60 percent to get into Medcine school. I believe majority students were admitted to McMaster health science are from western Ontario.
      2. Student admitted to this program are all targeting to Medcine school unlike other program. For sure percentage is high.
      3. Student are selected with high marks, for sure they do better than regular.

      If you are out of province student, you may need investigate it.

  5. Anonymous X*$32%#
    Anonymous X*$32%# January 14, 2013

    Why is so great about the Health Science program?
    If you get into that program, are you guaranteed a spot in D. Groote school of medicine?

    Anyways, good story bro.
    Right now I am struggling in school.
    I work so hard to get a good grade but I can never get over 90%.
    I always get around low 80 to mid 80’s (no matter how much time, blood, sweat, and effort I put).
    I hope in university they reward the hard working because in my school, they don’t seem to reward hard working people; they reward straight out geniuses.
    I hope thing change for the better when I am I university next year.

    • Anonymus12
      Anonymus12 April 3, 2013

      Hey man, I know exactly how you feel! Working hard but still not getting the marks you want whereas, you have those stupid people that dont even work and get like 90s! I havent even gotten accepted into my top choices yet. ugh. I feel your pain man. But hopefully it gets better.

      • ariadne
        ariadne May 10, 2017

        Why work harder when you can work smarter

  6. healthsci hopeful
    healthsci hopeful April 1, 2013

    thanks for that,

    health science is my top choice and i have been waiting anxiously since i applied in december to find out if i get in. my fingers are still crossed but, it is helpful to take a step back and realize that health science isn’t the only way to get into med school

    • Pinky
      Pinky December 3, 2019

      what happened to your application?

  7. The Pink Panther
    The Pink Panther April 3, 2013

    “You Learn More from Your Failures than Your Successes”
    It might sound cheesy, but I can feel this statement with every inch of my being.

    I had always been one of those students who went to school with “gifted” students, and had let myself believe that I was the smartest kid on the planet. Long story short, I got too cocky and didn’t put as much effort as I should have into my grades and application in grade 12.
    I was of course devastated when I got rejected.


    I am in first year university now, and so far I have managed to achieve a 4.0 GPA

    I Applied for Health Sci again (for level II), but this time I didn’t just apply, but I APPLIED TO GET IN.
    I am one of those people that if I set my mind on something, I will achieve what I want one way or another.

    For those who are wondering why this is such a popular program, or at least why I wanna transfer to it:
    My first year university experience was amazing. I LOVE university, and I LOVE and enjoy studying. But the one thing that my first year experience was missing is the lack of interaction with other motivated students (Well maybe lack is a strong word, because I did go to office hours for example and met many bright kids there, or I met many others in lectures.)
    But health sci makes it much easier to make connections with others, and building those connections and having motivated people around you is very important.
    Also, the program’s workload is much less than what it is in life sciences. Don’t get the wrong idea, you still have to work your butt off to get into professional schools, but you have more time to get involved and do things other than studying. You are GIVEN the opportunity to mature and really develop your character to become a competent applicant for competitive professional schools. But that having said, not everyone in health sci takes advantage of this. About 50% of them get cocky that they GOT IN, and unsurprisingly, these are the 50% who don’t get into med school, for example. I know these because my best friends and other people that I hang out with are all in health sci.

    The admissions will be released in a month. So excited!

    • medaholic
      medaholic April 5, 2013

      Good luck Pink Panther. And remember, whatever the outcome is you have already learned a lot through the process and matured as an individual.

  8. 6139
    6139 April 26, 2013

    Hey, thanks for this article. I received the rejection letter today. I was in the same situation as you. Great high school enriched program, thought my marks gave me an good advantage, and my sup. essays decent. The letter made me cried some tears, then I realized what it really meant to me – just like you said, it gave me humiliation and taught me that I need to strive harder toward my goals, and just not be too proud.
    Thanks again.

  9. confused
    confused April 27, 2013

    I wanted to ask everyone’s opinions on this.
    I actually was just accepted to healthsci a few days ago, and I’m really torn between McGill lifesci and Mcmaster Healthsci. I know healthsci is an excellent program, but I have always wanted to go to McGill…
    That being said, my parents really want me to go to Mcmaster. Many of my friends have been accepted to McGill, but only four were accepted to Healthsci from my school. Everyone is telling me to go to McMaster – but I’m still so confused!
    I know I want to do something medicine-related in the future, not sure what yet.
    I’m not a big party person, but I don’t like the idea of living amidst wheat fields….
    If anyone could offer any advice, that would be amazing.

  10. Ch
    Ch November 28, 2013

    In my opinion, health science program help student in special way!

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 8, 2013

    This is weird….I got into that program but was adviced by a medical school advisor not to go to, he said picking an easy school will get you the gpa you want for medschool, I ended up going to york, I still think it was an awful mistake to go to york, the environment somehow had an effect on me and changed me for the worse…

  12. Doctor
    Doctor January 29, 2014

    I went to Health Sciences. It isn’t a program meant for those who are not open-minded or who are full of themselves. Yes, a lot of my classmates had egos but you will find that in any program. If you have a good head on your shoulders and a thirst for learning beyond the objective facts it’s a perfect place to grow and mature. I would not be the physician I am today if it were not for the program, but the difficulty is determining whether it is a good fit.

    I feel that if your immediate reaction to a Health Sci rejection is “that program is terrible!” Or “their loss!” Or something else equally as ego-centric, you would have been going into the program for all the wrong reasons anyway.

    • medaholic
      medaholic January 31, 2014

      Thanks for your perspective. I definitely would have gone to health sciences for the wrong reasons back then, and ultimately am glad I didn’t go. I’m happy with how things turned out.

  13. locomoco
    locomoco May 7, 2014

    i just got rejected today…
    i had a lot of pressure to get in from my parents and i had thought that it was going to be my future but in the end i was still disappointed (this page was uplifting thank u)
    it is my first rejection from uni and i do admit that it knocked me off my high horse that i was on.
    however, i wasn’t saddened, disappointed but not sad.
    i still plan to follow my dreams at whichever uni i choose (seems like mcgill right now) and i have no bitter feelings
    good luck to everyone who got accepted or rejected.
    lifes what u make of it 🙂

  14. geoff maybee
    geoff maybee September 17, 2014

    In 2011 my Daughter was given a full ride to three or four Universities. She picked Mc Master then tried to explain her decision to me that there was no scholarship given. I was not disappointed I was just happy that she had control of her own educational destination. She had huge marks in High School but was rejected from Mac Health Sci after making her decision to attend Mac. She took Life Sci the first year and worked hard and got huge marks and was accepted into Health Sci for years 2 and 3.Being rejected from Health Sci the first year was the best thing that could of happened to her because she was never ever rejected in her school career before.I will tell you this, she was angry and determined to prove herself to get into Health Sci and did. I will never forget that day in May when she called me and asked guess what ? I said that you got accepted into Health Sci and she said how did you know ? I knew from how some disappointments in your life can motivate you into a higher gear to make you more aware of how much competition there is out there.She reminded me in her first year of Health Sci on how many highly intelligent students and faculty she had the opportunity to study under and with. From that moment on from being denied a spot in Health Sci that first year she worked hard and did more because she knew where and what she needed to do to become a Doctor.Long story longer, after her second year she did the summer MCATS course and again discouragement was a huge factor for her to overcome how demanding this course was.I being in the position to finance her study was important seeing the workload of the course. She didn’t work her summer job so as she could concentrate on the MCATS Exam. She did very well on the MCATS exam and was granted an interview to get into DeGroote school of medicine.She called after the interview to tell me how humbled she was and being only 20 years old she thought that her chances were slim. This year on May 13,2014 was the happiest day of my life when she called I knew she got in and she was excited to say the least, I was speahless but knowing that she worked so very hard to get to where she wanted to be. She is now in the graduating class of 2017, that to me is priceless ! So for those discouraged from life’s little disappointments press on and your dreams will come true with a little help from your friends and family and keeping a positive attitude you will achieve your academic goals and use that knowledge to someday change the world.

    • medaholic
      medaholic September 21, 2014

      Thanks for sharing the story. I’m happy that your daughter was able to achieve what she set out to do, even if the path wasn’t what she originally thought it would be.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous May 15, 2017

      What prerequisites did your daughter take in Life Sci program that help her get into health sci in the second year?

  15. Michelle
    Michelle May 3, 2016

    As someone who got accepted with barely 90% average PLUS out of province I don’t know if I’m more insulted by the comments here about elitists, keeners, and mark boosters or scared about all the comments bashing the program… I had a lower grade than most of my friends whom got rejected so I don’t think its all about the grade guys.. I think mindset matters too…

  16. You wish you got accepted
    You wish you got accepted October 6, 2017

    It’s hilarious reading all these comments ripping on Mac Health Sci. A huge number of students at my school applied to the program and all of them started writing super early and spent an unreasonable number of hours on the supp app. Some even paid a health sci student to help them write their application. All of them got rejected. Meanwhile, I got in with a supplementary application that was written the day it was due, haha. I know one other person in my entire city who got in, and she wasn’t an elitist try-hard either. All the overachieving elitists from my school decided to go to McGill or UofT life sci after getting rejected from Mac Health Sci. I’d say all the pompous, “holier-than-thou” students from my school got rejected, but keep telling yourself that Mac is full of elitists if it makes you feel better about your rejection. 🙂

    • medaholic
      medaholic October 12, 2017

      I feel like this comment is exactly the mentality you want to steer away from.

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous November 20, 2019

    Went to Mac health sci
    Then Mac med
    Then residency at U of T.

    Health sci was great. Some classes inflated; others not. Anatomy and physiology was useful. Inquiry was fun.

    The people bashing BHSC should ask themselves what that says about themselves. The people saying they got in by “writing their app the day it was due haha” or having other nonchalant mentalities should also realize that that itself is a pompous and arrogant remark.

    If you don’t get in, don’t worry. Just keep working hard, learning, and having fun. That will get you into med school more than any degree itself will.

  18. Menace To Society
    Menace To Society October 11, 2022


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