Getting Into US Medical Schools as an International Student

April 25, 2024
6 min read
Contents

”Jonathan

Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/25/24

Are you thinking of leaving your home country for medical school in the United States? Many international students have aspirations of traveling to study and practice medicine in the U.S. as it’s home to dozens of world-renowned medical schools.

Although it may be uncommon, there are some medical schools in the US accepting international students.

That said, the number of medical schools for international students in the USA is likely to grow in the coming years as the U.S. faces a shortage of qualified doctors. Still, navigating the application process as an international student can be challenging. We’re here to help. 

Here, we’ll cover how to get into medical schools that take international students. We’ll also cover their eligibility requirements, scholarships, financial aid, and special considerations. Read on to learn more.

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How to Get Into Med Schools that Accept International Students

At this point, you already know that international students can study medicine in the US. 

But, as an international student, there are some requirements that you’ll need to adhere to that U.S. students do not. Here we’ll cover everything you need to know as an international student applying to medical school in the U.S.

Eligibility

Before moving forward with your application, make sure you are eligible. You can check your eligibility by researching your target school’s specific requirements. 

For example, some foreign documentation (transcripts, courses, diplomas, etc.) may not be valid in the U.S. You may need to have your documents approved by an accredited institution. 

If this is the case, your target school will have information on their or AMCAS’ website to direct you on how to validate your documentation. Your eligibility may depend on your documents being approved, so don’t skip this step. 

Transcripts

Any U.S. medical school you apply to as an international student will require academic transcripts. AMCAS does not accept international transcripts or verify coursework that has not been accredited by a U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution.

If your transcripts are from an international school, you must follow the directions on the AMCAS website to enter coursework and request transcripts. For more information on how to do so, visit the AMCAS website. 

Citizenship or Visa Status

You must identify your citizenship or visa status on your medical school application. If you are a non-U.S. citizen, a student visa is required to study in the U.S. Make sure that your target schools are approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) before applying. 

For more information on how to acquire a student visa, visit the U.S. Department of State’s Student Visa page.

Language Proficiency 

Almost all U.S. medical schools require a good understanding of English. If your first language is not English, you must indicate so on your AMCAS application. Most schools will request an English Language Proficiency Test as part of your application.

The most commonly accepted English Language Proficiency Tests in the U.S. include: ​​

  • Cambridge Assessment English (CAE)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Be sure to research your target schools to find out which test(s) they accept. 

Extracurricular Activities

For international students aiming for U.S. medical schools, navigating extracurriculars can be tricky due to visa restrictions. While shadowing opportunities might be limited, volunteering, research, joining student organizations, and community service are valuable alternatives. 

Exploring clinical roles like medical scribe or patient care assistant within visa regulations is also beneficial. Professional development through workshops and conferences is key. 

Adhering to visa rules is crucial to maintain immigration status. Strategically choosing activities showcases commitment to medicine and strengthens the medical school application.

Letters of Recommendation

For international students applying to U.S. medical schools, strong letters of recommendation are key. Choose recommenders who know you well and can write in English. Make sure they understand U.S. medical school expectations. 

You may need to pay to translate and accredit your documents. Follow application guidelines closely. Keep in touch with your recommenders. Show appreciation for their support. This approach boosts your chances of success.

MCAT For International Students

Most U.S. medical schools require an MCAT score as a part of your application. Generally speaking, you should aim for a 509 or above. However, more competitive schools will be looking for an MCAT score closer to 518.

Do Schools That Accept International Students Require the MCAT? 

Almost every applicant must take the exam, so the MCAT will also be required for international students.

Additional Documentation 

Every medical school has its own individual requirements. Make sure that you’ve read the international eligibility requirements for your target schools carefully. If you don’t, you may be required to provide additional documentation. 

Scholarships & Financial Aid for International Students 

Federal financial aid may be available to you as an international student. To verify your eligibility for federal student aid, you can visit the Federal Student Aid website. It is important to note different eligibility criteria for non-U.S. citizens.

Institutional loans and scholarships may be available to you through your medical school. Most international students access funding through their school or private loans. Check your target school’s websites for news about their international student scholarships and funding opportunities. 

Best Strategies to Apply for Scholarships for International Students

To secure scholarships for studying in the USA as an international student, it's essential to follow these straightforward steps:

  • Utilize School Resources: Schools are valuable sources of scholarships for international undergraduates. Contact the financial aid office and use scholarship search tools like InternationalStudent.com to explore opportunities offered by colleges and universities.
  • Start Early: Begin your scholarship search at least a year before planning to start your studies. Note deadlines and plan accordingly.
  • Research Thoroughly: Explore various scholarship options offered by the US government, universities, and organizations. Researching extensively increases your chances of finding suitable opportunities.
  • Check Eligibility: Before applying, ensure you meet all eligibility criteria, including academic achievement, English proficiency, and nationality requirements.
  • Prepare for Tests: Many scholarships require standardized tests like TOEFL, GRE, or SAT. Register early and dedicate time for preparation.
  • Gather Documents: Prepare necessary documents such as transcripts, recommendation letters, and essays. Tailor each document to meet specific scholarship requirements.
  • Apply Early and Widely: Submit applications well before deadlines and apply for multiple scholarships to maximize your chances.
  • Follow-up: After applying, follow up with scholarship providers to confirm receipt and inquire about the application status.

By following these straightforward steps and utilizing school resources effectively, you can increase your chances of securing scholarships to study in the USA as an international student.

Medical Schools That Accept International Students

The AAMC’s most recent report shows that 48 of the 155 accredited medical schools in the U.S. accept international students to their programs. Take a look at the complete list of medical schools that accept international students below:

School # of International Students Acceptance Rate for International Students Tuition Fee for International Students
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University NR NR $63,924
Alpert Medical School at Brown University NR 0.70% $70,491
Boston University School of Medicine 7,000 1.34% $69,806
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine NR NR $69,712
Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science NR NR $67,072
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons 11,847 0.2% $70,339
Creighton University School of Medicine 200 NR $64,996
Duke University School of Medicine NR 61.8%* $67,294
Emory University School of Medicine 10-15 NR $55,864
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth 360 NR $73,659

School # of International Students Acceptance Rate for International Students Tuition Fee for International Students
Georgetown University School of Medicine NR 1.03% $67,875
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences NR 35% $64,870
Harvard Medical School 9% of the student body 1.63% $70,709
Howard University College of Medicine NR 36% $49,862
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai 309 NR $63,462
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 1.6% of the student body NR $62,397
Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University 2.9% of the student body NR $64,494
Loma Linda University School of Medicine 18 and 22% of the student body NR $61,600
Mayo Medical School NR NR $60,400
Medical College of Wisconsin 5% of the student body 2.3% $61,765

School # of International Students Acceptance Rate for International Students Tuition Fee for International Students
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine NR 0.16% $60,008
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine 6 0% $69,658
Oakland University School of Medicine 220 4.8% $56,522
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine 7,616 NR $54,473
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania NR 0.16% $69,231
Rutgers Johnson Medical School NR NR $70,828
Stanford University School of Medicine 13% of the student body 8% $69,239
State University of New York Upstate Medical University NR NR $69,867
Stony Brook University School of Medicine 3% of the student body NR $73,206
Tulane University School of Medicine 1,335 NR $70,492

School # of International Students Acceptance Rate for International Students Tuition Fee for International Students
University of California Davis School of Medicine 1-2 46% $58,144
University of California Los Angeles Geffen School of Medicine 2.2% of the student body NR $55,971
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine 2% of the student body NR $62,439
University of Connecticut School of Medicine 3,400 NR $79,996
University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine NR NR $76,765
University of Kentucky College of Medicine 31% of the student body NR $73,854
University of Maryland School of Medicine 3% of the student body NR $76,445
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine 1 NR $65,284
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 272 4.54% $67,198
University of Utah School of Medicine NR NR $80,511

School # of International Students Acceptance Rate for International Students Tuition Fee for International Students
University of Virginia School of Medicine 5% of the student body NR $62,360
Vanderbilt School of Medicine 3% of the student body 1.1% $65,259
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine NR NR $68,480
Wayne State University School of Medicine NR NR $68,732
Weill Cornell Medical College 3% of the student body NR $68,620
West Virginia University School of Medicine NR NR $66,324
Yale School of Medicine 2 1.5% $68,650

* This acceptance rate applies to Duke University overall

It’s important to note that each school’s international admission requirements vary depending on where you’re applying from. If you aren’t sure about your target school’s international admissions requirements, check their website or speak to an admissions counselor.

Special Considerations for Medical School as an International Student

Aside from additional documentation, there are other factors to consider. Here we’ll go over some special considerations for international medical students.

School Selection

As previously stated, less than a third of U.S. medical schools accept international students. While there are still many schools to choose from, you may have fewer options than you would in your home country. 

To ensure that you choose the right program for you, make sure that your target schools have plenty of resources for international students. Your schools of choice should also offer a program tailored to precisely what you’re looking for. Avoid settling for a school that doesn’t have every resource you’re looking for simply due to a lack of options. 

Competition

Applying to medical school in the USA for international students can be even more competitive than the regular application process. You’ll be competing for limited spots against other qualified candidates from around the globe, so do your research.

Your school will want to know how passionate you are about their program and why it suits you. When writing your essays and personal statement, be sure to include specific things about the school that interest you and why. The more tailored your answers are to a particular program, the better. 

Additional Expenses

Studying in another country will add expenses, and some may be unexpected. Researching things like the average cost of living, rent, groceries, etc., in your new city will help you plan a realistic budget. 

When considering your costs, you should factor in exchange rates. Currency can make a significant difference in the affordability of a new country. Your travel expenses should also be included in your budget, including visits home for holidays. 

Social Challenges

Moving to a new country can be a social challenge. If you’re not someone who makes friends quickly, you may want to consider signing up for clubs, student council, or other extracurricular activities. 

Medical school will keep you busy, but it’s essential to allocate some time to make friends. Having a support system will help you feel welcome in your new home. 

Top 10 Best Medical Schools in the USA For International Students

Here we’ll go over the best medical schools in the USA with the most international students. Applying to these schools may increase your chance of getting accepted to medical school in the U.S. as an international student. 

1. Columbia University Vagelos School of Medicine

Columbia University is located in New York City and is considered one of the state’s top universities. Columbia University reports hosts more than 14,000 international students, making it number one on our list of medical schools for international students.

To apply or find out more about Columbia University’s Vagelos School of Medicine, take a look at their website.

2. Boston University School of Medicine

Boston University is number two on our list, reporting that 24.8% of its students are international. Boston Med has a long history of medical research and a focus on diversity and inclusion. To learn more about Boston University’s medical school or apply, check out its application process

3. Stanford University School of Medicine

A well-known contender for top-tier students, 13% of Stanford Medical School’s student body consists ofinternational students. At number five in research on the US News world rankings, Stanford is widely considered a top-tier medical school. To apply to Stanford, take a look at its application requirements

4. Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School (HMS) is a top choice for international students seeking medical education in the USA. HMS welcomes applicants who have completed at least one year of study at accredited institutions in the US or Canada. 

Fluency in English is required, but TOEFL is not necessary. While some courses taken outside North America may count, the majority should be completed within the US or Canada, with at least one year of full-time academic work there.

5. John Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins Medicine, ranked among the top medical schools in the USA for international students, has specific requirements for non-U.S. residents. Applicants need to complete standard prerequisites and, if educated abroad, supplement their qualifications with study in the U.S. 

English proficiency is essential, demonstrated through the TOEFL exam for non-English undergraduate instruction. All students must hold an accredited undergraduate degree, emphasizing Johns Hopkins' dedication to academic excellence and diverse student representation.

6. Duke School of Medicine  

Duke School of Medicine is one of the best medical schools in the USA for international students. They offer the Master of Management in Clinical Informatics (MMCi) program, which is full-time and welcomes F1 and other visa status students. 

Duke is on the lookout for international students to join the MMCi program, aiming to tackle global healthcare challenges by bringing together different perspectives from around the world.

7. Yale School of Medicine 

Yale School of Medicine is a top choice for international students due to its need-blind admissions policy and financial aid equality, mirroring that of U.S. citizens. With a world renowned faculty and cutting-edge research opportunities, it offers a straightforward pathway for international students to get ahead in their medical careers.

8. UCLA Med School 

Ranked among the top 10 best medical schools in the USA for international students, UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine emphasizes holistic development and lifelong learning. 

With a flexible approach to prerequisite coursework, applicants are encouraged to demonstrate competency across various academic areas, preparing them for success in the medical field.

9. Perelman School of Medicine 

UCLA Medical School is a top destination for international students pursuing medical education in the US. Admissions standards are uniform, but international applicants must demonstrate four years of tuition in escrow and complete a year of BCPM coursework if their bachelor's degree is from outside the US or Canada.

10. The University of Washington School of Medicine

The University of Washington School of Medicine is among the top choices for international students seeking medical education in the USA. 

Their Internal Medicine Residency Program welcomes international applicants who either hail from the WWAMI states or are sponsored by a faculty member of the school. This inclusive approach underscores their commitment to excellence and diversity in medical training.

There are many other U.S. medical schools that take international students. If you’re curious about whether or not your dream schools accept international students, check their online admissions requirements. For more information on which schools accept international students, check the AAMC’s website.

FAQs: U.S Med School for International Students

Do you still have questions about medical schools for international students in the US? We’ve got you covered.

1. Can International Students Get Into Medical School In The USA?

Yes, international students can study medicine in the USA. Some U.S. medical schools do accept international students. Before applying to a U.S. medical school as an international student, verify that it is SEVP-approved. 

2. How Many U.S. Medical Schools Accept International Students?

According to the AAMC, 48 out of 155 medical schools in the U.S. accept international students. 

3. How Many International Students Apply for Medical School in the U.S.?

According to the AAMC, there were 1,890 international medical student applications in 2019. Of those applicants, 17% were accepted into medical school.

4. Can International Students Take the MCAT?

The short answer is yes! Some medical schools will require the MCAT for international students, as they usually require it as part of the application.

5. Is It Harder to Get Into Medical School as an International Student?

It depends on your eligibility and the school(s) you apply to. But in general, there are fewer spots available for international students. So, it is more challenging to get into medical school as an international applicant. 

6. Can International Students Get Student Loans in the U.S.?

Depending on your status, you may be eligible for federal student aid as an international student. For more information, check the U.S. Federal Student Aid basic eligibility requirements.

7. Can I Attend Medical School With a Visitor Visa?

To attend medical school in the U.S., you must have a student visa. A visitor or temporary visa will not be valid for medical school.

Final Thoughts

Attending medical school as an international student can be an enriching and exciting experience. However, as an international student, you will face some challenges. It’s essential to get informed on every aspect of your journey.

Make sure to check your SEVP-approved school’s international admissions requirements thoroughly. Some schools have different requirements depending on which country you are applying from, so do your research. You can always speak with an academic advisor or international liaison at your school if you have questions. 

Safe travels!

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