Learn about the requirements and challenges for international students interested in getting a degree in medicine in the United States.
Applying for medical school as an international student is challenging, but not impossible. There are definitely opportunities for foreign students to succeed in medical school here in the United States, but you’ll need some extra guidance along the way.
We have the answers to all of your questions (including the questions you didn’t even know you had yet!). We’ll also discuss your unique challenges and which schools are open to international applicants.
Know the Differences, Challenges, and Requirements for International Students
First and foremost, do research on the differences between medical programs in the United States and those in your current country. This is the simplest and easiest way to understand what you should expect and will prepare you for the application process.
Here are some of the unique differences, challenges, and requirements that international students may face:
A school may accept international applications, but if your undergraduate degree wasn’t earned in the United States, you may need to do additional work at an accredited American university. Unfortunately, nearly every school that accepts international students has varying eligibility requirements, so you’ll need to research each school you’re interested in well in advance of applying. Generally, expect to have at least one year’s worth of coursework from an accredited U.S. or Canadian college or university under your belt before applying.
If English isn’t your native language, expect to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam to demonstrate your fluency. Applicants to English-speaking universities who are not native speakers of English are required to take this standardized test. The TOEFL is accepted by over 11,000 schools and other institutions in more than 150 countries.
AMCAS Application, Coursework & Transcripts
Fortunately, the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is the standardized method for applying to most allopathic medical schools in the United States, and it is the same application for both U.S. citizens and international students. Where international students may run into a snag on the AMCAS is with your transcripts.
The AMCAS website provides instructions for entering coursework and requesting transcripts for international applicants who attended an international school IF credit was accepted through an accredited U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution. If credit was accepted, you are required to get an official transcript from that institution.
AMCAS does not accept or verify foreign transcripts (or translated/evaluated transcripts) that were not accepted by an accredited institution. Although you may still add these courses, they will not be verified or calculated as part of the AMCAS grade point average.
If you haven’t taken the MCAT yet, plan to do so. The MCAT is administered many times during the year, throughout the United States and even some locations abroad. However, the MCAT is only administered in English no matter where you take it. Learn how to study for the MCAT, and plan to give yourself 3-6 months to prepare. Professional MCAT tutoring services are also available to help you ace the exam or raise your score if you need to retake the test.
In general, international students are not eligible for federal loans in the United States. Depending on your noncitizen status, you may be eligible for federal student aid like grants and work-study. Check the StudentAid website to see if you qualify.
Outside of federal funding, international students may have to secure private loans or institutional loans. Some medical schools offer financial aid to international students, but policies vary drastically from school to school so you’ll need to check with each one. Other schools offer no assistance at all and actually require international students to show proof that they can fund all four years of their education. If you need assistance financing your education, this is one area you’ll need to have figured out before you apply.
Which U.S. Medical Schools Admit International Students?
Fortunately, more than 80 exceptional U.S. medical schools are open to international students, including prestigious schools such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Vanderbilt. The Association of American Medical Colleges also has a lengthy database of the requirements for entry for every accredited American medical school, including statistics like tuition costs and application deadlines, as well as whether or not that school accepts international applicants.
Some of the information, like the median GPA and median MCAT scores for each school, are locked behind a paywall. However, if you can afford it, this may be critical information for assessing your likelihood of getting into a particular school before spending additional money on applications.
Get Into Medical School With Admissions Advising Services From Medschoolcoach
As an international student, you may have to overcome some additional hurdles in order to attend a U.S. medical school, but there are plenty of opportunities if you know how to find them! MedSchoolCoach helps international students get into medical school. We know how to create a school list based on your stats, citizenship, and financial needs, and we know exactly what admissions committees at each school are looking for in international applicants.
Schedule your free consultation today to learn more about our application advising services for international students.