Applying to Medical School as an International Applicant

Instructions for international applicants who want to apply to U.S. medical schools using the AMCAS® application.
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AAMC Monitoring President’s Executive Order Regarding Immigration

The AAMC is closely following the issues surrounding the President’s January 27th executive order regarding immigration. In particular we are evaluating its potential impact on individuals applying for admission to U.S. medical schools. We know that the executive order has resulted in uncertainty at a critical time in the application processes. We are working closely with other key organizations to address your needs and concerns, as well as those of applicants from the identified countries. We will provide additional information as soon as it is available.

Do U.S. medical schools ever accept international students?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not easy. Some U.S. medical schools accept and matriculate a small number of international applicants into their programs. In 2014, 62 schools indicated in the Medical School Admission Requirements that they would 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 2014, 1,901 foreign applicants applied to M.D.-granting programs in the United States and 409 of those applicants were accepted. Of those accepted, 300 matriculated into medical school.

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) and they will not be verified. Instead, when completing your application, you are welcome to add courses taken at foreign institutions with the understanding that these courses won’t 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.”

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 granted through an accredited U.S. or Canadian school and the courses appear on that official transcript, then that U.S. or Canadian 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?

Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for federal aid, which includes Direct Stafford and Direct PLUS Loans. 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.

Where can I take the MCAT® Exam?

Most U.S. 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 government-issued I.D.

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