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How to Get Into U.S. Medical Schools as an International Student

January 11, 2022
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IntroductionWhich Medical Schools Accept International Students?U.S. Medical School as an International StudentSpecial Considerations for Med School as an International StudentFAQsConclusion

Introduction

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

Although it may be uncommon, some U.S. medical schools accept international students.That said, the number of schools that accept international students 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 schools that accept international students, eligibility requirements, scholarships, financial aid, special considerations, and FAQs. Read on to learn more.

Which Medical Schools 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. A complete list of schools that accept international students can be found on the AAMC’s Medical School Admission Requirements page. 

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 make an appointment to speak to an admissions counselor.

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U.S. Medical School as an International Student

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 aspiring for medical school in the United States.

Eligibility

Before moving forward with your application, make sure you are eligible. Begin your research by making sure you are a suitable candidate according to each of 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 U.S. or Canadian institution. If this is the case, your target school will have information on their website or on the AMCAS website to direct you on how to validate your documentation. Your eligibility may depend on your documents being approved, so be sure not to skip this step. 

Transcripts

Any U.S. medical school you apply to will require academic transcripts. As an international student, it is necessary to understand that 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.

AMCAS states, “If any of the courses were taken at a foreign institution, but credit was accepted through an accredited U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution and the courses appear on that official transcript, then that U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution’s official transcript would be required.”

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. 

Scholarships & Financial Aid

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 updated news about their scholarships and funding opportunities for international students. 

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. are the ​​Cambridge Assessment English (CAE), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Be sure to research your target schools to find out which English Language Proficiency Test(s) they accept. 

MCAT

The AAMC defines the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) as a “standardized, multiple-choice examination created to help admissions offices assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.”

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.

Additional Documentation 

It’s important to understand that every medical school has its own individual requirements. Make sure that you’ve read the international eligibility requirements for your target schools carefully, as you may be required to provide additional documentation.

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 as an international student 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 it’s crucial to do your research.

Your school will want to know how passionate you are about their program and why it suits you above any other candidate. When writing your supplemental essays and personal statement, be sure to include specific things about the school that interest you and why they do. 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 throughout your degree. 

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, volunteering, 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 3 U.S. Medical Schools for International students 

Here we’ll go over the top 3 medical schools with the most international students in the U.S. 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. According to QS, 32% of it’s 30,300 students hail from outside the U.S, making it number one on our list. 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

At number two on our list, Boston University reports 24.8% of their students are international. Boston med has a long history of medical research as well as 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, Stanford Medical School’s student population consists of 24.6% international students. At number four 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 their application requirements

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

FAQs

Do U.S. medical schools accept international students?

Yes, 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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Conclusion

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 it’s necessary to read everything you can about it. You can always speak with an academic advisor or international liaison at your school if you have questions.

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