Applicants to U.S. medical schools who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents face significant barriers to being accepted.

According to admissions experts, many US medical schools do not consider applications from international medical students no matter how impressive their degrees are, as they reserve all places in their medical class for domestic students. Even schools whose admissions policies allow international students to attend schools rarely accept these students.

Nonetheless, international students occasionally attend medical schools in the United States. Therefore, medical students applying outside the United States should do extensive research to find out which schools are open to international students and have a long history of admitting such students, experts suggest.

Dr Sahil Mehta, founder of Massachusetts-based admissions consulting firm MedSchoolCoach, says the “absolute best place to start” researching international institutions is by reviewing medical school admission requirements. database on the Association of American Faculties of Medicine website.

Mehta says premeds should check how many international students the school interviewed in the last round of admissions. “What they will unfortunately find is that even some of those schools that say they accept international applicants have not interviewed an international candidate or accepted an international candidate for many years,” says Mehta, radiologist and radiology instructor. at Harvard Medical School who received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

He says international students are more likely to enter a US medical school if they have a bachelor’s degree from a US undergraduate institution.

“You have two groups of (international) students. You have a group of students who have obtained their undergraduate degrees overseas and then are looking to come to the United States. This group of students is practically non-existent in American medical schools. never see an example of that, ”Mehta says. “Then there’s a bunch of international students who have completed their undergraduate education … in the United States, so (for example) they come from India and did their undergrad at UCLA. “

Mehta says that this latter group of international students, those who have taken most or all of their pre-medical school courses at undergraduate institutions in the United States, have the best chance of entering schools. of American medicine.

Challenges for international applicants

One of the reasons it is so difficult for international pre-physicians who have undergraduate degrees from outside the United States to gain admission to American medical schools, according to admissions experts, is that these students transcriptions are difficult for admissions officers to assess.

A common problem with all international premeds is that they are not eligible for federal financial aid programs, so if they need grants to pay for the cost of their education, they will need to focus on schools that provide a institutional and non-government funding, admissions experts warn. .

“International students are not eligible for most financial aid options, including government loans,” Denis Larochelle, associate professor of biology and chair of the prehealth advisory committee at Clark University in Massachusetts, wrote in an email. “Loans from private banks are difficult to obtain and usually have high interest rates. International students often have to prove that they can pay for four years of medical school upon admission, which can be prohibitive. “

Marek Svoboda, an international MD-Ph.D. student at Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine who grew up in the Czech Republic, says that when he applied to American medical schools, he often called schools to check if funding and scholarships were available for international students. Svoboda says the scarcity of financial support for international medical students at U.S. medical schools is one of the biggest barriers to entry for these students, who could eventually be accepted into a medical school they can not afford.

A workaround, says Svoboda, is to pursue a dual-degree program that merges traditional medical education with a doctorate. science degree, since students in this type of program typically receive an annual stipend and do not pay tuition fees, which minimizes the cost.

However, admissions experts caution against international students pursuing MD-Ph.D. or DO-Ph.D. diplomas if they are not really interested in conduct research and complete a doctorate. thesis, from an academic doctorate is a long-term and labor-intensive job. Larochelle suggests that double degree programs grant both doctoral degrees. medical degree and degree “should only be pursued when there is a sincere desire to obtain both degrees”.

Svoboda says it’s important for medical school applicants to recognize that it is extremely difficult to get admitted to U.S. medical schools, even if they have good grades and test scores.

“The most important thing is to be aware (of) how difficult it is, and many students will only realize it at the last minute or never really, so be informed and then… be realistic. about it, ”he says.

Svoboda adds that while he may have been admitted to an American medical school as an international student, most international pre-physicians do not, so it is important for them to have a backup plan. He says non-American medical schools may be viable options for international pre-physicians who are rejected from American schools.

Mehta urges international premeds not to be discouraged, because even if they are not accepted into a US medical school, they can eventually pursue medical residency in the United States and become an American physician.

“Even if you don’t go to medical school in the United States, you should know that the odds were sadly extremely unfavorable from the start,” Mehta said. “So, chances are you won’t come in and that’s okay, because if you want to practice in the United States, there are still ways to get here at the end of the day.”

Here are the top 10 medical schools that accept applications from international students, according to the MSAR database and their institutional websites. Each of these schools is highly rated for research or primary care in the latest US news. Best medical schools rankings.

Stanford University (CA)
3 (tie) US News research ranking
48 (tie) Primary care ranking in the United States


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