It’s hard to think of a more beautiful place to study than the Caribbean. When you factor in the famously lower GPA and MCAT requirements, the beach isn’t the only draw; let’s dive into what you need to know about the top Caribbean medical schools!
With declining rates in American medical school acceptances, specialists are concerned about whether there will be enough doctors to treat patients in the coming years. In fact, the AAMC predicts that the U.S. will face a severe doctor shortage by 2033.
By applying to schools in the Caribbean, U.S. students can help combat that shortage while obtaining a high-quality education. Here we’ll go over the top Caribbean med schools, the benefits and considerations of studying medicine there, what to look for, and more. Let’s get started!
While researching medical schools in the Caribbean, you may have come across “the big four.” These Caribbean medical schools are ranked high; each institution has an excellent reputation and is worth applying to if you hope to study in the islands. Let’s look at the list of Caribbean med schools and their requirements.
St. George’s University (SGU) has a worldwide reputation for medical education. The university is located in the West Indies and was established in 1976. The St. George medical school emphasizes easing the physician shortage in the U.S. SGU is a proudly international school with students and faculty from over 140 countries.
SGU is one of few schools in the Caribbean “recognized by the U.S.Department of Education to administer student loans for qualified U.S. students.” SGU has also provided over 5,000 students with scholarships to ease financial stress, amounting to over $1,000,000.
The St. George medical school is accredited by several recognized bodies, including the Grenada Medical and Dental Council (GMDC), the U.S. National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA), and a panel of experts from the U.S. Department of Education.
St. George’s mission statement states: “Our highest purpose is education and there is no better education than one that is truly international. We are committed to developing the intellectual capacity, creativity, and professionalism of our students, immersing them in the rich diversity of human experience and aspiration. As a result, they are prepared to shape the future of our world while adding to the knowledge base of humankind.”
To apply to St. George’s University, you can apply using the SGU application or AMCAS. They also have a transfer request form for SGU hopefuls. You must have completed, or be in, the final year of college to be admitted.
An application to SGU requires:
After an initial review of your application and test scores, select students move on to the next round of the admissions process – the interview. If accepted after interviewing, ensure you sign and submit an Acknowledgment of Admission and pay your tuition deposit to reserve your spot.
Various sources estimate that SGU’s acceptance rate is above 40%, but it’s challenging to gauge since SGU doesn’t release acceptance rate data.
The American University of the Caribbean (AUC) is an international school in St. Maarten that offers a U.S. medical curriculum. AUC aims to create a tight-knit community of international students with small class sizes and dedicated staff.
AUC is accredited by the National Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine (ACCM). The ACCM is verified by the NCFMEA. Due to NCFMEA approval, students at AUC may also qualify for U.S. financial aid.
As an accredited med school, AUC students can take the USMLE. They must first register with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). They even boast an impressive 92.4% USMLE pass rate.
According to their website, “The mission of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) is to train tomorrow’s physicians, whose service to their communities and their patients is enhanced by international learning experiences, a diverse learning community, and an emphasis on social accountability and engagement.”
To be eligible for admission to AUC, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s or equivalent in any discipline. AUC prefers students with a strong science background; prerequisite courses include:
To apply, you must submit:
All required documents must be submitted with an online application form, which can be found on their website. Start dates fall in January, May, and September, giving students multiple opportunities to apply.
Various sources estimate the AUC acceptance rate to be higher than 45%.
Saba University School of Medicine (SABA) was founded in 1992 and is an accredited school with an impressive USMLE Step 1 pass rate of 100%. Their accreditation comes from the Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), as it’s located on a Dutch island, boasting high European standards of medical excellence.
SABA medical school has also been approved by officials representing the states of California, New York, and Florida. Due to its accreditation, SABA graduates can complete the requisite licensing examinations in Canada, Puerto Rico, and all 50 U.S. states.
SABA is also approved for U.S. Federal Student Aid programs, making it one of the select international schools U.S. citizens can attend while receiving federal loans.
The university has had plenty of success placing students in residencies. As of today, more than 3,000 SABA graduates practice medicine in North America.
SABA’s vision is “to establish an international alternative to U.S. and Canadian medical schools that would provide an excellent medical education and expansive career opportunities.”
To apply to SABA, you must have completed a minimum of three years of undergraduate studies and all prerequisite courses, most of which center around science and mathematics. You can find a full list of prerequisite courses on their website.
The MCAT is required for U.S. students and is recommended for Canadian students.
SABA applicants are expected to have a minimum of 50 hours of direct patient care experience which can come from:
If you meet all the admission requirements, you can move forward with the SABA application. To apply to SABA medical school, you must submit an online application, pay the admission fee, and submit all required documents. The required documents are:
Applicants must speak English fluently; if English isn’t your first language, a TOEFL score is required.
Various sources estimate that SABA’s acceptance rate may be between 40% and 62%.
Last but not least, the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) is an impressive international school located in Two Mile Hill, Barbados. The campus is home to a state-of-the-art medical and anatomical imaging laboratory and simulation center.
RUSM is accredited by the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP). This accreditation means they can participate in the U.S. Federal Direct Student Loan Program.
With a USMLE pass rate of 91.6%, RUSM is in line with U.S. and Canada pass rates. They also have an impressive 96% first-time residency match rate and currently have a student network of over 15,000 graduates practicing in all 50 U.S. states.
Unlike other Caribbean schools, RUSM is U.S.Title IV Funding eligible and has awarded over $50 million in scholarships and grants in one recent year. To give newly admitted students a good idea of their school’s campus life, RUSM offers complimentary school tours, including airfare and a two-night hotel stay.
Their website states, “At Ross University School of Medicine, we believe accessible medicine starts with accessible medical education. Our mission is to educate and empower a truly diverse and dedicated population of students who are determined to make an undeniable impact on the communities they serve.”
To be considered for RUSM, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. Students must also complete the following prerequisite courses:
Your cumulative college GPA is required for review. If you meet the admissions requirements, you can move forward with your application. Applicants must submit:
You’ll be contacted to set up an interview if RUSM wants you to continue in the admissions process. Afterward, if you receive a letter of acceptance, you can choose to begin classes in September, January or May.
Various sources estimate the Ross University School of Medicine acceptance rate is 42-43%.
U.S. medical schools are becoming more competitive annually, making pursuing education abroad more attractive. The Caribbean has a few specific attributes that may catch your attention. For example, many Caribbean med school acceptance rates are higher than in the U.S.
Caribbean schools tend to have lower MCAT and GPA requirements, a game-changer for students with lower scores. Some medical schools in the Caribbean also have solid ties to the AAMC, meaning you can be matched to a U.S. residency program after. Caribbean schools have reasonable residency match rates, some rivaling U.S. schools.
The U.S. and the Caribbean have reputable schools, although they differ significantly. Besides the weather and plant populations, there are many benefits and considerations to evaluate.
When researching Caribbean med schools or rankings, you should consider some key factors. Caribbean schools don’t always function the same as U.S. schools; here’s a list of the most important things to look for when choosing a Caribbean medical school.
Ensure you consider these factors when researching med schools and requirements. Remember, if a school has unbelievably low standards for acceptance, it may not prepare you for the rigorous world of medicine, especially if you plan to practice in the U.S.
Take time to decide which schools to apply to based on your preferences and what they offer.
If you still have questions about attending medical school in the Caribbean, these common FAQs and answers should help ascertain if it’s the right move.
While some schools in the Caribbean have a poor reputation, others have an excellent reputation and even higher USMLE pass rates than U.S. schools. Ensure you check for accreditation when applying to any international school.
While some schools are less competitive and have lower GPAs and MCAT requirements, schools with medical programs that are “easy” to get into might not be your best option.
Medical school is hard to get into to prepare you for the rigors of their programs. If a Caribbean medical school’s acceptance rate is very high, it may be too good to be true. Always check a school’s reputation and stats before applying.
These are excellent Caribbean medical schools. Ranking quite high, these schools have excellent reputations:
Generally speaking, tuition and living expenses are cheaper in the Caribbean than in the U.S. Caribbean medical school costs can vary significantly between countries and schools.
Yes! U.S. Accredited Caribbean med schools have phenomenal match rates, specifically the “big four.”
Because some schools accept students with low GPAs and MCAT scores who aren’t necessarily prepared for medical school, graduates can struggle to find residencies. If you intend to study in the Caribbean, attending an accredited school with a good reputation is crucial.
Not all Caribbean schools are accredited. Be careful as you research and build your Caribbean medical school list!
Attending one of the best Caribbean medical schools can seem like a dream come true to students who yearn for a life on the beach! If you’re hoping to study in the Caribbean, thoroughly research every school you’re interested in.
Accreditation, reputation, residency match rates, and USMLE pass rates are top priorities when researching. If you can afford the trip, we recommend touring some Caribbean campuses before accepting an admission offer. Keep researching and good luck!