All About the Atlantic Bridge Program

July 12, 2022

Read on to learn about the Atlantic Bridge Program and how it can impact your medical career. 


Are you looking for a bit of adventure? With declining acceptance rates in the U.S. and Canada, many students are applying to schools a little further away from home. If you’re interested in attending medical school in Ireland, the Atlantic Bridge Program might be right for you. 

If you have questions about the Atlantic Bridge Program, keep scrolling! Here we’ll cover everything there is to know about the Atlantic Bridge Program in Ireland, from participating schools to FAQs. Let’s get started!

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What is the Atlantic Bridge Program?

For over 30 years, the Atlantic Bridge Program has helped international medical, dental, pharmacy, and physiotherapy students navigate their studies in Ireland. One application to the Atlantic Bridge Program is automatically submitted to all seven of its participating schools.

Although some students apply to the Atlantic Bridge Program right away, many apply after being rejected from their first-choice schools. While Irish medical schools have great global reputations and offer similar programs to North American schools, they may have lower GPA and MCAT expectations. That said, Irish medical schools are still competitive, and your application must be impressive to be accepted.

It is important to note that once you’ve completed your program, you’ll be considered an International Medical Graduate (IMG). Although this would typically make it more challenging to secure a North American residency, the Atlantic Bridge Program boasts impressive residency placement rates. 

The main goal of the Atlantic Bridge Program is to help medical students through their complete journey, from learning about Ireland to assisting participants to move on to the next step in their careers.   

Atlantic Bridge Program Participating Schools

The Atlantic Bridge Program works with all seven of Ireland’s medical schools to provide options for their applicants. The schools that participate in the Atlantic Bridge Program are:

  • Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)
  • University College Dublin (UCD)
  • University College Cork (UCC)
  • The National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)
  • The University of Limerick (UL)
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI-MUB)

The programs offered by each school are divided into preclinical and clinical phases. While the programs vary from school to school, the Atlantic Bridge Program ensures that each program covers all essential preclinical and clinical subjects.

What You Need to Apply 

Before applying to the Atlantic Bridge Program, you must complete and submit an application request form. Once the program has received your request form, you will be notified within 1-2 days if you are eligible for the program and how to move forward with your application.

Application Fee

To apply to the Atlantic Bridge Program, you must pay a non-refundable fee of $50 for physiotherapy and pharmacy or $75 for medicine and dentistry. This fee must be paid before applying to the program, or late fees will also be applied.


Your transcripts may be submitted to the program as a hard copy or electronically through a transcript forwarding service. Transcripts submitted via email will not be accepted. 

Letters of Recommendation

Medical, dental, and pharmacy applicants must submit two Letters of Recommendation or one committee letter, while physiotherapy applicants must submit three LoRs. At least one letter must be written by a teacher, professor, lecturer, or academic advisor. Your referees can send your LoRs directly to the Atlantic Bridge Program via their school service or Interfolio.

Personal Statement

Like most medical school programs, the Atlantic Bridge Program requires a strong personal statement to be submitted with your application. The essay prompt for the Atlantic Bridge Program personal statement is: “Why I would be an asset to the Medical School and the Medical Profession.” The program asks that you keep your personal statement generic (to be submitted to multiple schools) and no longer than two pages in length. 


You should already have an updated resume by the time you’ve started applying for medical school. Try to keep your resume under two pages and only include experience relevant to your medical school applicant profile.

Additional Documents

Depending on your program eligibility and discipline, additional documents may be mandatory in your Atlantic Bridge Program application. Additional documents may include, but are not limited to, “MCAT Score Report, AP/IB results, High School Diploma or Courses in Progress.”

Once you’ve prepared the necessary documentation, you can file your application on the Atlantic Bridge Program portal. The option to apply to the program will be available to you once your application request form has been approved.

Life in Ireland

It goes without saying that Ireland is a beautiful country with plenty to offer visitors and students alike. Not convinced? A quick google image search will demonstrate the vast rolling hills and rocky bluffs you could call home during your studies. Since its foundation, the Atlantic Bridge Program has introduced North American medical students to Ireland and its vibrant culture.

It’s easy to get carried away with the scenery and forget about the serious aspects of moving to a new country. Let’s go over what you’ll have to prepare if you move to Ireland. 

Visas and Immigration

Good news! Citizens from the U.S. and Canada do not require a visa to enter the Republic of Ireland. Citizens from other countries may need to apply for a visa to enter the country and begin that process at least eight weeks before traveling. 

Regardless of your visa status, anyone entering the country must provide the following documents:

  • “Valid passport
  • Visa documents (if applicable)
  • Official university acceptance letter
  • Evidence of tuition fees paid
  • Evidence of adequate funding* (e.g. a bank statement, credit card statement, loan documents)
  • Proof of Health Insurance”

It should be noted that Irish immigration authorities will expect full-time students to have at least €3000 in their bank account when entering the country. Once you have entered Ireland, you must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) to receive an immigration permission stamp on your passport. 

Health Insurance

All non-EU students must have private health insurance while studying in Ireland. Irish health insurance services such as VHI, Irish Life Health, and AVIVA can help you verify that you have the policy you need for your studies.

Cost of Living

Before moving to Ireland, you should consider how much your daily life in Ireland will cost and build a budget. The average medical student in Ireland spends about €18,000 on housing, food, transportation, and other costs outside of school. 

To help pay for your studies, you can consider working part-time throughout your degree. International students can work part-time (up to 20hrs/week) in Ireland upon registering with the Garda National Immigration Bureau(GNIB)

It’s important to note that the official currency of Ireland is the Euro (€) which is one of the most valuable currencies in the world. When calculating the cost of living, be sure to account for exchange rates. For example, €15,000 is currently the equivalent to $16991.85. 


One of the benefits of studying in Ireland is having easier access to the rest of Europe. For example, you could purchase a train ticket to London for under 60€ and be there in time for tea. 

Traveling back and forth from Canada or the U.S., on the other hand, is a bit more challenging. If you’re hoping to visit home once or twice throughout the year, you should include flight prices within your budget.

Additional Requirements 

There are a few other requirements to complete before heading to Ireland. Irish Health care regulations require both a Police Clearance Certificate (criminal background check) and a health screening performed by your university to ensure you are fit to be working in a health profession. Students accepted into the Atlantic Bridge Program will be provided detailed information on how to obtain all additional documentation upon acceptance. 

How to Decide if the Atlantic Bridge Program is Right For You

For most North American medical students, deciding to move to Ireland for medical school is challenging. To help guide your decision, let’s go over some pros and cons of pursuing a medical degree through the Atlantic Bridge Program.

Pros of the Atlantic Bridge Program

Here are some benefits of studying medicine in Ireland through the Atlantic Bridge Program:

  • International Post-Graduate Opportunities: Graduating with an Irish MD opens you up to residency opportunities in the U.K. If you’re interested in practicing medicine outside of North America, the Atlantic Bridge Program may be right for you.
  • Irish Adventure: Not everyone has the desire to travel, but for those who do, traveling to Ireland for medical school could be a wonderful new experience that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. Sometimes it’s good to leave your comfort zone!
  • You May Have a Higher Chance of Acceptance: Some of the participating schools in the Atlantic Bridge Program have higher acceptance rates and lower GPA and MCAT (or no MCAT) requirements. If you’ve faced medical school rejection and don’t want to wait, the Atlantic Bridge Program might be for you.

Cons of the Atlantic Bridge Program

Here are some considerations for studying medicine in Ireland through the Atlantic Bridge Program:

  • Far away from home: Ireland is a big leap for North American students, and it may be challenging to be away from home for the duration of your program. Family obligations and travel expenses can make studying away challenging for some students.
  • International Medical Graduate (IMG) status: Obtaining the Irish equivalent to an M.D. degree will classify you as an IMG. This can sometimes make it more challenging to be accepted into North American residency programs. 
  • Financial strain: Currency exchange, cost of living, travel expenses, and a bit of light tourism will all add up. Studying abroad can be costly, so make sure you can secure funding if need be. 

Our pros and cons list shouldn’t match yours. Be sure to add your own personal feelings about traveling for medical school to your list. Participating in the Atlantic Bridge Program is a big decision. Take time to ask questions and do plenty of research before making your final decision. 


Here are some frequently asked questions about medical school in Ireland and the Atlantic Bridge Program.

1. What is the Atlantic Bridge Program?

The Atlantic Bridge Program helps North American students apply to medical schools in Ireland with a streamlined application process. 

2. How many medical schools are there in Ireland?

Ireland has seven medical schools, all of which participate in the Atlantic Bridge Program. 

3. Are medical schools in Ireland easier than in the U.S.?

Medical schools in Ireland may have lower GPA expectations than U.S. medical schools. However, Irish medical schools have similar curriculums and uphold competitive standards of education.

4. How can I go to medical school in Ireland?

If you’re interested in attending medical school in Ireland, consider applying through the Atlantic Bridge Program. The program has been helping North American students study in Ireland for over 30 years.

5. How competitive is the Atlantic Bridge program?

Most medical schools that participate in the Atlantic Bridge program do not have minimum GPA or MCAT requirements. Generally, your GPA should be above 3.0, and your MCAT should be above a 499 to be a competitive applicant. 

6. Are the medical schools in Ireland reputable? 

Medical schools in Ireland have great global reputations and uphold rigorous academic standards comparable to U.S. medical schools.


If you’re interested in studying medical school in Ireland, the Atlantic Bridge Program is an excellent choice for North American students. Whether you’ve faced medical school rejection and are looking for new options or are simply interested in an adventure, Irish medical schools uphold excellent standards. They have welcomed North American medical students for over 30 years. 

Before deciding if the Atlantic Bridge Program is right for you, make a pros and cons list to determine what’s most important to you as a medical student. Be sure to budget for travel expenses and currency exchanges, and do plenty of research on what it means to be an IMG in whichever country you intend to complete a residency. 

Good luck!

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