Applying to Medical School as an International Applicant

Information for international applicants who want to apply to U.S. medical schools.
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Do U.S. medical schools ever accept international students?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not common. Some U.S. medical schools accept and matriculate a small number of international applicants into their programs. Medical schools in the United States have varying policies on accepting international applicants, so it’s important to confirm each school’s policy before you apply. In 2019, 48 schools indicated in the Medical School Admission Requirements that they accept applications from international applicants. You can research an individual medical school’s admissions policies on its website or within the “Application Deadlines and Requirements” section in the Medical School Admission Requirements.

In the 2019 application cycle, 1,890 foreign applicants applied to M.D. granting programs in the United States and 325 of those applicants were accepted. Of those accepted, 272 matriculated into medical school. (This includes applicants who applied via AMCAS and TMDSAS).

Is the application process different for international students?

Primary Application

Most U.S. medical schools use the American Medical School Application Service (AMCAS®) to facilitate and streamline the application process. Although you will use AMCAS to apply, the service does not accept foreign transcripts (or translated/evaluated transcripts) or verify foreign coursework unless they were accepted by an accredited U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution. If these courses were not accepted by an accredited U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution, then you are still welcome to add these courses with the understanding that these courses will not be verified, and an AMCAS grade point average (GPA) will not be calculated. However, individual medical schools may ask you for your transcript through their secondary application.

Randee Reid, admissions and residency officer at University of North Carolina School of Medicine adds, “Curriculum systems are different from overseas schools, and it is very helpful to medical schools to evaluate your progress in a program in a U.S. accredited four-year institution. If taking the prerequisite course work as a non-degree seeking student, the prospective applicant will need 30 credit hours or more in order to evaluate progress. The course work should be completed before applying to medical schools.”

Transcripts
International applicants who completed courses at an international school should follow the instructions provided on the AMCAS website for entering course work and requesting transcripts. 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. AMCAS will verify and include those courses in the AMCAS GPA. For instance, a course may have been taken through a study-abroad program sponsored by an American school, but hosted in a foreign country.

Citizenship/Visa Status
Be sure to clearly and accurately identify your citizenship and visa (if applicable) status on your AMCAS and secondary applications.

Language Proficiency
Within the AMCAS application, you will be able to indicate the languages you speak and your proficiency in each.

What options will I have for financial aid?

Federal student aid, such as Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans may be available to those who meet federal student aid eligibility requirements. The Federal Student Aid website provides detailed information regarding federal aid eligibility criteria. It is also recommended that students speak directly to the financial aid staff at each medical school they may be interested in attending. 

In most cases, international students will need to secure private loans or institutional loans if offered by the medical school. In some cases, medical schools require applicants to prove they have sufficient financial resources to pay for all four years of medical school or will require applicants to have the full amount in an escrow account. International students should talk to the financial aid office and admissions staff at the schools they are interested in attending to find what financing options may be available.

Where can I take the MCAT® Exam?

Most U.S. and Canadian medical schools require the Medical College Admission Test ® (MCAT®) for admission. The exam is administered several times a year in numerous U.S. locations and in some locations abroad. For a complete list of countries and specific testing locations, visit the MCAT website.

Please note that the exam is always administered in English regardless of the country in which you test. The name you use to register for and take the exam must be in English, and it must appear exactly as it does on your MCAT-Accepted I.D. More information about how to prepare for the exam, how the exam is scored, and information for test day can be found on the MCAT website.

How can I find a Pre-health advisor?

It’s a good idea to work with a pre-health advisor when preparing for medical school. This person can help you decide what courses you need to take and when, and provide valuable feedback on your application. If you do not have access to a pre-health advisor at your school, you can find one with the NAAHP.

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