An international medical degree, has been, and from what it seems, will still continue to be a popular choice for many students. The catch, though, is the legal requirement to obtain a license to practice medicine as a foreigner.
Many of the countries listed below have rather convoluted licensure procedures that we are not going to dive into in the present article.
The intention is to present a quick overview of some basic entry requirements, costs, and known medical schools, for studying medicine abroad. Let’s explore.
Medical schools, in the US, require a pre-medical training for a medical degree. The four years of medical schoolconsist of pre-clinical and clinical courses. The final degree is MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).
Students apply for a post grad specialization in the last year of study. Historically postgraduate study began with a one year standalone internship followed by a license to practice. Currently, internship is part of the first year of residency, called the Traditional Rotating Internship or Transitional Year.
The Residency itself has its own period of study depending on the specialty. Sometimes students follow up the training with a Fellowship, which is a full-time training program in a particular specialty.
Admission is contingent on a good academic record and the scores of a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), besides recommendation letters. Foreign students are required to apply through the American College Application Service, for an MD, or the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service for a DO degree.
The average acceptable score range, and other interview requirements are subjective to the individual medical schools.
Medical students are required to qualify the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for licensing before practicing medicine.
Needless to mention, some of the top colleges for medical education are located in the United States. The list below shares some of their world rankings (QS) and tuition.
|University (World Rankings)||Estimated Tuition|
|Harvard University (#1)||~ $48,000 per year|
|Stanford University (#4)||~$75,000 for four quarters|
|Johns Hopkins University (#5)||~$52,000 per year|
|University of California, Los Angeles (#6)||~$40,000 per year|
|University of California, San Francisco (#7)||~$52,000 per year|
Canada has 17 accredited medicals schools. Most medical schools don’t necessarily require a prerequisite bachelor’s degree for admission. There are a few that stipulate a 2-year baccalaureate education or a full bachelor degree prior to a medical school application. MCAT is a must to get into medical school, apart from a good academic record and an interview selection.
Upon completing a medical degree, Canadian schools confer a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery. In order to be eligible for a license to practice, all MD qualified candidates are required to complete internship in a hospital or a clinic.
Further specializations require additional years of training, or residency, depending on the specialization, Unlike USA, internships are not mandatory and MD graduates directly move into the residency programs. Graduates, and even medical professionals, are required to participate in continuing medical education to keep up with latest developments.
Here are a few of the top Canadian medical schools and their QS rankings.
|University||Estimated Tuition for Internationals|
|University of Toronto (#12)||~ $73,000 per year|
|McGill University (#27)||~$40,000 per year|
|University of British Columbia (#28)||~$20,000 per year|
|McMaster University (#33)||~$96,000 per year|
Medical schools in Spain have a well-respected background, requiring six years total, with three years of basic sciences, and three years of clinical training. Most universities subscribe to some basic entry requirements to gain an admission into their Faculty of Medicine – the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) or respective university specific aptitude tests. A good academic record and interviews are also needed to gain entry.
Most Spanish medicine programs require the candidates to gain an understanding of their native language to continue with the education. You can opt for Masters level programs as well as double degrees with integrated bachelors and masters medicine degrees.
The usual price tag on a 6-year program, or a total of 360 credits, is of the order of a hundred thousand Euros or $125,000.
Some of the well-known universities among the top 250 medical schools in the world, as according to QS, are listed below.
|Universitat of Barcelona(#51-100)||Universidad Autonoma de Madrid(#151-200)|
|Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
|University of Navarra
In Japan, medical schooling takes care of basic physical sciences, basic medicine and a subsequent clinical training at the university hospital for a total of six years. Admission is contingent on a good academic record, TOEFL/IELTS scores, written examinations and interviews. International applicants are often allowed to appear for a major subject test, and interview, over Skype.
The cost of education depends on what kind of university – national, public, private. The cost of medical education can range from about $10,000 to over $40,000, per year, apart from application and admission fees.
Here are some of the top medical schools in Japan, all within the top 150 medical schools in the world (QS).
|The University of Tokyo (#23)||Kyoto University (#49)|
|Osaka University (#51-100)||Keio University (#101-150)|
|Kyushu University(#101-150)||Tohoku University(#101-150)|
|Tokyo Medical and Dental University
Medical Colleges in Philippines constitute nearly 40 accredited schools. Their graduates clear the Physician Licensure Examination to practice medicine. Admission requires an undergraduate degree with credits in biology and related courses.
Admission also requires a National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) score. The cut-off NMAT score, for international students, is usually higher than locals and is based on the medical school’s discretion. Shortlisted candidates are subsequently interviewed for a final selection. The cost of education ranges from about $10,000 to $25,000 for a medical degree.
Here are some of the well-recognized medical schools in Philippines.
|University of Philippines (#301-400)||Cebu Institute of Medicine|
|Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila College of Medicine||University of Visayas Gullas College of Medicine|
|University of Santo Thomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery||University of Northern Philippines|
|West Visayas State University College of Medicine||Saint Luke’s College of Medicine|
French medical training is one of the most rigorous and longest in this list. It takes from a minimum of 9 to up to 12 years to be granted a Doctor of Medicine, Diploma of Specialized Studies or a Diploma of Specialized Complementary Studies.
The education takes place over three cycles. The first cycle constitutes a competitive final exam at the end of the first year of the total two year cycle. This exam filters the number of students to almost a tenth of the total initially admitted. Those who survive the test undergo theoretical training in the 2nd year and 3rd year, interspersed with practical training. The 4th, 5th and 6th years are accompanied by internships in rotation.
A competitive ranking exam follows, allowing students to choose their specialties based on their ranking performance. The degree ends with a thesis defense. Students choosing to add other specialties continue with the medical training. All foreign candidates are required to show proof of French fluency through the TCF, TEF, or the DELF tests. Students with foreign education, applying to the 1st year, need to file a Request for Admission Prerequisite (DAP).
In comparison to the six digit tuition figures in USA, and other countries, French medical education is highly subsidized figuring in a few hundred dollars for the first year of education. Even beyond the first year, medical education costs feature in the neighborhood of $600 per year.
Medical education is mostly in the purview of the French public university system, some of which are listed below, with their QS world rankings.
|Université Pierre et Marie Curie (#51-100)||Université Paris Descartes (#101-150)|
|Université de Strasbourg (#151-200)||Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1
|Aix-Marseille University (#201-250)||Université de Montpellier(#201-250)|
|Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7(#201-250)||Université Paris-Sud (#251-300)|
Medical schools in Australia are accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). Counting up to about a 20 of them, they provide various levels of undergraduate and postgraduate training in the field of medicine.
The undergraduate training requires candidates to qualify the Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT), if the candidate belongs to Australia or New Zealand. International students, interested in entering an AMC accredited university for undergraduate medicine studies, need to qualify an International Student Aptitude Test (ISAT), or subjective university requirements.
Both domestic and international candidates are required to qualify an interview and have a good academic record. The most common undergraduate degree is the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), with the rare BMed, BMedSc, or even the BMBS, featuring every now and then.
The postgraduate medicine program offers the Doctor of Medicine, or MD, upon clearing the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admission Test (GMSAT) exam or the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
Typically, undergraduate courses take 6 years while post graduate medical courses last for 4 years.
Here are some of the top medical schools in Australia, with indicative costs and their QS world rankings.
|University||Estimated Tuition for Internationals|
|The University of Sydney (#17)||~$76,000/year for MD|
|The University of Melbourne (#18)||Undergrad Medicine: $62,000 – $67,000/year
Doctor of Medicine:
|Monash University (#39)||Undergraduate:
$60,000 – $80,000 for 5 years
|The University of Queensland (#43)||Doctor of Medicine: $60,000 per year|
|The University of New South Wales (#46)||Integrated Medicine Program: $70,000/year for 6 years|
It is clear that every country follows a rather independent curriculum, entry requirements, and even degree nomenclature, for obtaining the right to wear a white coat and hold a stethoscope. If you are looking to become one among “the chosen few”, who can heal, we suggest you consider your options of training abroad and research the latest regulations, as well as the individual country/university stipulations.
Until then, good luck Doctor!
Meanwhile, here are some useful MCAT links