Medical schools in Canada are highly competitive, so many Canadian students look south of the border to attend Canadian friendly US medical schools. Many American schools have great reputations and outstanding educational standards, so it’s no wonder they attract applicants from Canada and other parts of the world. In this blog, you will learn about the American application process, tuition, funding opportunities, medical school requirements, and of course, you'll also find an up-to-date list of Canadian friendly US medical schools. 


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Article Contents
18 min read

List of Canadian Friendly US Medical Schools What Are Canadian-Friendly Medical Schools? Admission Requirements for US Medical Schools Admissions Deadlines Tuition Costs and Financial Aid Do Canadians Need a Visa to Study in the US? Residency Options FAQs

List of Canadian Friendly US Medical Schools

Most US schools designate three categories of students: in-state applicants, out-of-state applicants and international students.

Canadian citizens are treated by many US medical schools as out-of-state applicants - these types of medical schools are often called “Canadian friendly”.

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Also Check Out Medical Schools that Accept Canadians as International Applicants!

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What Are Canadian-Friendly US Medical Schools?

These medical programs have the same admission requirements for Canadians as for out-of-state American students, making them easier to get into for Canadians than other international students. Most importantly, Canadians do not pay international student fees, but rather out-of-state fees at these schools.

Many Canadian premeds apply to both medical schools in the US and medical schools in Canada to increase their odds of acceptance. Our MD expert, Dr. Puja Laroia, chose to apply to US schools for more personal reasons and to apply to DO schools, of which there are none in Canada.

“I applied to all the DO schools that accept Canadian students, with a particular focus on Canadian-friendly programs … I decided to apply to US DO schools because of a mix of personal connections and practical considerations. Being from Windsor, Ontario, I was naturally drawn to schools nearby, and hearing rave reviews from friends who attended MSUCOM only fueled my interest in osteopathic medicine … Ultimately, my decision was rooted in a desire for excellence in education and a sense of belonging within the local medical community.” – Dr. Puja Laroia, DO

 

Canadian citizens looking to attend medical school in the United States must be aware that not all US medical schools accept Canadian and international students. Some schools do not even consider out-of-state applicants. This is due to several factors. Naturally, medical schools are highly competitive. Even though there is a shortage of medical professionals in the US and Canada, there is no shortage of applicants.

Although the United States has over 150 medical schools, the competition is not any lesser than in Canadian medical schools, of which there are only 17. Our MD expert and graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine Dr. Jaime Cazes shares his experience applying within and outside of Canada:

"I applied within Canada and to a few medical schools in the US. In Canada, there are so few medical schools that it really is just a numbers game to some extent. If you are intent on getting into medicine, it really only hinders you to be selective about where you apply to. My official advice is to apply broadly within Canada and the US." - Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

 

Though Dr. Cazes did end up becoming a medical student in Canada, he did apply to 2 medical schools in the US. He decided to focus his efforts on Canadian medical schools for another important reason: some US schools do not accept Canadian and international medical students due their desire to support local applicants. State schools make the application process a bit more difficult and tuition costs a bit higher for external applicants to entice the in-state residents to attend their school. This is a way to support in-state medical development, since in-state applicants are more likely to stay and practice medicine in their home state.

Canadian and international applicants with US permanent residency status are typically regarded as US applicants, and therefore are classified as in-state or out-of-state applicants depending on where they are applying.

Something else to consider is that Canadian and international applicants have a higher chance of being admitted to private US medical schools. Public medical schools receive funding from state and federal governments, so they are more eager to spend their money on American applicants, rather than qualified foreign nationals. This does not mean that Canadians cannot get accepted to US public medical schools, but it does mean that to be simply considered, the Canadian students’ applications must be better than their American counterparts’.

Check out our video below to learn more about Canadian-friendly US medical schools:

Admission Requirements for US Medical Schools

“One of the most challenging aspects of applying to US medical schools, particularly as an international student from Canada, was navigating the complex application process. Adapting to the American system and understanding the unique requirements of each school demanded thorough research and attention to detail … there was a significant learning curve. To navigate these challenges, I employed a strategic approach, beginning with meticulous planning and organization. Starting early, regardless of whether it is AMCAS or AACOMAS, is highly encouraged. Breaking down the application process into manageable steps helped me stay focused and on track.” – Dr. Puja Laroia, DO


#1 Undergraduate Degree and Coursework

Each US medical school requires the completion of an undergraduate degree. The majority of schools clarify that the degree does not have to be in science. However, most programs recommend having the following educational background:

These medical school prerequisites are the baseline. Some schools have lists of required and recommended premedical coursework, some ask for advanced placement classes, some may not accept online courses, etc. Other schools have competency-based admissions and do not require specific coursework prerequisites. Dr. Jaime Cazes, our MD admissions expert, stresses the importance of prerequisites:

"My number one piece of advice is to do your research. Check EACH school’s requirements and see if you have courses or pre-reqs that fill those. You should regularly touch base with admissions at each school to verify that a course you are completing actually fills a pre-req before you do it – otherwise you may be stuck wasting time on a course that doesn’t even fill the reqs." Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

 

Be mindful that some American medical schools require their applicants to have educational experience in the US, but most just accept Canadian degrees and coursework without any US educational experience. Be sure to check out your program’s admissions website to confirm any coursework requirements.

#2 GPA and MCAT

Most US medical schools have minimum thresholds for applicants’ GPA and MCAT scores. Of course, the more competitive the medical school the higher these minimum requirements will be. For the best chance to get accepted, your GPA and MCAT score should be above the average matriculants scores, not just meeting the bare minimum. Check out the latest US medical school acceptance rates to get a better idea of how competitive you are as a candidate and which schools would be the best fit for you.

However, as you compile your medical school list, keep in mind this advise from Dr. Monica Taneja, MD and graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine:

"MCAT and GPA are important as screening tools. They won’t be the end all for you to get in or be rejected from a school, but they are often that first look. Doing well in undergrad, maintaining a solid academic record, and a high MCAT score shows schools that you can handle rigorous academics. However, the other pieces of your application are what differentiate you from a crowd and will ultimately be why a school chooses to accept you." - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine

 

So while you should work hard to have a competitive GPA and MCAT, you cannot rely on these stats to be your only badge of honor when it comes to admissions to the Canadian friendly US medical schools.

Is your GPA too low? Here’s the secret to getting accepted:

#3 Acuity Insights

One of the most dreaded aspects of medical school admissions is the CASPer test. It is difficult for many, many reasons, but here's what our student Christopher has struggled with when it comes to CASPer:

"I've been stuck at the bottom for the CASPer test due to my slow typing speed for years now. It is so frustrating" - Christopher, BeMo student

Now is it fair that he is not pursuing his professional dreams because of this situational judgement test? We think not! He applied to 8 medical schools last application cycle, but his CASPer performance prevents him from getting interview invites. After this setback, he decided to get some professional help and turned to us for some advice. He and hundreds of other students are working with our admissions experts to tackle the CASPer test. So if you're dreading this test, you are not alone!

Unfortunately, plenty of US medical schools employ Acuity Insights as part of their admissions process. The Acuity Insights includes the CASPer, a situational judgment test used by medical schools as an applicant screening and evaluation tool. Many schools in the US also require students to complete Duet assessment, too.

If you’re not familiar with CASPer test question categories and types, learn them so you can learn the best strategies to tackling these simulation questions. You can also consider a CASPer test prep course to get personalized coaching on preparing for this type of test and learn what to expect.

#4 Shadowing

One of the most common US medical school requirements is shadowing a physician. This experience is a great way to help you determine if the medical field is right for you.

Something to remember is that shadowing is not a requirement in Canadian medical schools because shadowing is not easy in Canada. This is due to licensing regulations around letting in students not covered by liability insurance into patient rooms.

Typically, for Canadians to gain any shadowing experience, they need to cast a wide net and start looking early. So, ask friends, family, doctors you have worked or volunteered for, or even your own family doctor. Start looking early so you can fulfill the shadowing requirement. If you are applying to DO programs, try to shadow a DO specifically. There are not many DO-trained physicians in Canada, so to go down this route, you need to plan well in advance so you can conduct a search and find the closest DO physician.

“Navigating the requirement for shadowing and clinical experience was indeed a challenge as a Canadian applicant to US medical schools. Recognizing the importance of this aspect in the application process, I proactively sought out opportunities to gain firsthand experience. Leveraging connections with friends who were already studying at [medical schools in the US], I was able to establish contact with DO physicians in Detroit and arrange a shadowing opportunity for a day. While one day of shadowing may seem limited, it provided invaluable insights into the practice of osteopathic medicine and demonstrated my dedication to pursuing a career in healthcare. Additionally, I made sure to maximize this experience by actively engaging with the physicians, asking questions, and observing various aspects of patient care.” – Dr. Puja Laroia, DO.


You might be wondering how to ask to shadow a doctor. When you call or email the physician, explain that you are a premed student, and express your interest in shadowing them. Briefly explain your medical experience and your aspirations in the medical field. Arrange a schedule that fits both of your needs and responsibilities. Each program has its own requirements for how many shadowing hours are required for medical school. If you like your experience, it is important to stay with the physician as long as possible. This person will be a likely candidate for writing you a recommendation for medical school. 

“Moreover, I took the opportunity to express my gratitude and request a letter of recommendation, recognizing the importance of showcasing this experience in my application. Overall, while challenging, being proactive and resourceful in seeking out shadowing opportunities proved instrumental in meeting this requirement for US medical school applications.” – Dr. Laroia, DO.

 

#5 Clinical Experience

Gaining clinical experience before your medical school applications is key. To be a competitive candidate you must have some exposure to the medical field. Shadowing is a great way to get some passive experience, but you also need some active clinical exposure. This can be done by volunteering at a hospital or a clinic, working in nursing or long-term care homes, or working as a health professional’s assistant. Some students get premed gap year jobs to gain some experience before medical school, while others choose alternate routes.

“I took a year between my BSc (Hons) degree and starting medical school … Personally, gaining clinical exposure wasn't difficult; I asked to shadow physicians at my local hospital, and they were very welcoming. However, accumulating these experiences takes time, and it's crucial not to exaggerate them. I vaguely remember being told to aim for roughly +200 hours for my US applications, and as someone who has now been on the other side and helped conduct interviews, I can easily discern genuine clinical experiences from those who have only shadowed a week or so.” – Dr. Shaughnelene Smith, DO

 

Through your clinical experience, the admissions committees want to see your human qualities, like empathy, dedication to patients, and ethical responsibility. Read more on the AAMC core competencies for medical students, which medical school admissions committees may use as a guide when evaluating your application.

Quality clinical experience is key; but don’t forget to showcase your diversity, too. This doesn’t mean you have to gain clinical experience in a million places but showing that you have participated in a variety of activities verifies that you have diverse experiences. Here’s how our student, Kevin, a Canadian applicant to US medical schools, tried to improve his application:

“[My] main limiting factor in application was that all of my [clinical] hours were from one location. Despite thousands of experience hours, I was unaware of the importance of diversification to the application process. [I am] working on improving my application for the next admission cycle.” - Kevin, BeMo student


 Here are some tips on getting clinical experience for med school!

#6 Research

How important is research for medical school? At US schools, it is highly recommended for admissions, and at Ivy League medical schools it is often a requirement. In fact, some schools may not consider you a competitive applicant if you do not have research experience. Our MD admissions expert Dr. Puja Laroia, cited research as one of the key factors in choosing where to apply:

“Factors such as clinical opportunities, research initiatives, and the availability of mentorship programs also influenced my choices, as I aimed to find a program that aligned with my academic and professional goals. By meticulously evaluating these criteria, I aimed to maximize my chances of securing admission to a DO school that would provide me with a comprehensive and enriching medical education experience.” – Dr. Laroia, DO.


Like Canadian medical schools, many US schools are heavily involved in research and expect to see applicants with at least some medical or clinical research experience. Look for research opportunities for premeds and start building your research resume early on so you can show that you’ve made a commitment and have a strong interest in research. Any research experience in the same areas as research pursued by medical schools you’re applying to will be a great experience to highlight.

#7 References

Your recommendation letters for medical school can go a long way in improving your overall application. Your recommendation letter writers for medical school can be a research supervisor, mentor, physician you shadowed, employer or professor. Some medical schools ask for specific individuals to write reference letters, such as a research supervisor or physician. If this is the case, try to find someone who meets the criteria and can provide you with a strong recommendation.

As a Canadian applicant, you can strengthen your references by asking someone from the US to write you a recommendation letter. Above all, your referees should know you quite well, be able to provide concrete examples of your skills and qualifications for medical school and speak positively of you. Be sure to send your referees any information they need to know about how to submit their letters of recommendation and requirements for their recommendation.

#8 Secondary Applications

Secondary applications are required by most US med schools. Individual schools will send you a secondary application after you’ve submitted your primary application. Some schools review your primary application before sending you the secondary, but some send them right away as soon as your primary application is submitted. You will be charged additionally for each secondary application.

Secondary applications usually consist of several essay prompts. Check out a full list of medical school secondary essays prompts to get an idea of what to expect because most schools recycle their prompts from year to year. While they may not be exactly the same every application cycle, they often echo the same themes.

Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, one of our admissions experts, strongly recommends pre-writing your essays to stay on top of applications:

"I tried to pre-write secondaries starting in mid-June as there aren’t many changes year to year in prompts which are easily found online. Since many essays also overlap between schools I was able to morph different essays based on length to reduce overall writing. Pre-writing allowed me to have more than one week turn around on all of my secondary application returns." - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD

 

Dr. Taneja brings up a really important point: try to submit the secondaries as soon as you can – ideally, you will submit the secondary applications within two weeks of getting them. Medical schools will notice your interest and dedication if you send back secondary applications promptly. However, do not sacrifice quality in favor of speed. And before you start writing, check out some medical school secondary essay examples.

Make sure your secondary essays are exceptional. This is another means for the schools to weed out applicants, so do not give them a chance to cut you out of the applicants’ pool.

#9 Med School Interview

US med schools will extend interview invitations to strong applicants, so its imperative that you know how to prepare for an MMI interview, since it is one of common interview formats. Use sample MMI practice questions when preparing for your interview or consider getting some MMI interview coaching to help you get ready to ace this part of the admissions process.

While you cannot anticipate every medical school interview question, you can prepare strategies that would apply to most question categories. Also, remember this important tip from Dr. Taneja:

"I often asked the interviewer for a moment to think about the question. It may seem awkward to take a pause, but giving myself 20 seconds to think about the question before diving into an answer really helped me with tough questions! I found that the pause was natural and allowed me to think of a clear answer instead of rambling." - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD

 

Whether you are being asked questions you prepared for, like "why medicine?" or "tell me about yourself" or questions that are meant to test your ability to think on your feet, taking the time to reflect and formulate a strong answer is always better than spewing the first things that come to your mind.

Sarah, our student who was accepted to both the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the Drexel University College of Medicine, shares what she learned at BeMo about medical school interviews:

"The [experts] at BeMo helped me develop the rough frameworks needed to identify and craft answers to almost any type of question I might've been asked. They helped me to recognize my tendency to not give enough detail in my answers to certain types of questions, which gave me a better sense of where to direct my focus. They also gave me good general [advice] regarding how to appear best for virtual interviews and generally helped to boost my confidence through practice and feedback." - Sarah, BeMo Student

 

US Medical Schools Admissions Deadlines

“Looking back, there are a few things I wish I had known before embarking on the journey of applying to US medical schools as a Canadian student. Firstly, I underestimated the importance of early preparation and starting the application process well in advance. Understanding the timelines, deadlines, and requirements for each school would have helped me better manage my time and avoid unnecessary stress.” – Dr. Laroia, DO.

Most US medical schools have rolling admissions, so you should submit your application as early as possible. Rolling admissions means that open spots are filled on a “rolling” basis, which means that as soon as admission committees see qualified and strong applicants, they are given interview offers, and then acceptance offers. Rolling admissions strongly prioritizes students who submit their applications early in the process, when the most open spots are available. If you wait and delay your submission, the number of open spots will go down and the process will get more and more competitive. So, aim to submit your applications in May, as close to the AMCAS opening date as possible.

US Medical School Tuition Costs and Financial Aid

US medical school tuition cost is truly one of the greatest stressors for all applicants, both American and Canadian. These numbers are especially discouraging when one compares US med school tuition with Canadian med school tuition costs. And don’t forget there are costs associated with applying to medical school, too.

“I underestimated the financial aspect of the process, including application fees, travel expenses for interviews, and potential costs associated with relocating.” – Dr. Laroia, DO.

As previously mentioned, Canadian friendly US medical schools regard Canadian applicants as out-of-state students. Tuition for US public medical schools for out-of-state applicants is much higher than for in-state applicants.

Canadian and international students are eligible for financial aid in some US medical schools. Unfortunately, many American medical schools specify that Canadian and international students will receive little to no financial aid. Some schools require Canadian applicants to provide proof of sponsorship. However, Canadian friendly US medical schools typically provide Canadian applicants with financial aid opportunities. These grants, bursaries, and scholarships are usually provided by the institution, since state and federal funding is typically reserved for American students. Check your program's website to see what kind of institutional funding opportunities are available to you.

Do Canadians Need a Visa to Study in the US?

“One additional aspect I wish I had considered more thoroughly before applying to US medical schools is the visa status and potential implications for returning to Canada post-graduation. Understanding the complexities and legal requirements associated with obtaining and maintaining a visa for the duration of medical school and beyond would have been beneficial.” – Dr. Puja Laroia, DO.

Canadian citizens do not need visas to study in the US. You will need to obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility from the school you plan to attend. When you receive the appropriate certificate, you will be registered with SEVIS, a student tracking system, and will be assigned a SEVIS number. There is a registration fee. When you travel to start your studies, you will need to provide the Border Officer with:

  1. Canadian passport
  2. The Original I-20 or DS-2019 certificate
  3. Proof that SEVIS fee has been paid
  4. Proof of ability to pay school fees and living expenses in the US
  5. Proof of ties to Canada (note: the end date on your I-20 or DS-2019 certificate can serve as proof that you’ll return to Canada)

Remember to plan ahead for visa requirements if you want to pursue residency in the US, too!

“While you won't be considered an international medical graduate (IMG) for US residencies, additional hurdles to overcome are essential to realize before applying. As a non-US citizen, your eligibility for US residency programs hinges on visa support, such as the H1B Visa or J1 Visa, which not all programs provide. Furthermore, understanding the specifics of these visas is important. For example, the J1 Visa requires returning to your home country for two years or obtaining a waiver by serving in an underserved US area. Meanwhile, the H1B visa mandates passing the USMLEIII or COMLEXIII exam to be eligible. While many Canadians successfully navigate these challenges, it's necessary to recognize this unique journey compared to US applicants.” – Dr. Shaughnelene Smith, DO.

 

Residency Options for Canadians at US Schools

Citizenship plays no part in the residency match in the US. Non-US citizens with medical degrees from Canada or the US are eligible to apply to residency along with US citizens. All students looking to match to a residency in the United States must use the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).

As a Canadian who graduated from a US medical school, you are considered a US medical graduate, and have a better chance of matching. American medical institutions will prefer American-trained professionals (including Canadians!) over international medical graduate applicants (IMGs), including Americans who chose to receive their medical education somewhere else.

“I would advise any Canadian applicant interested in applying to medical schools in the United States to consider their desired practice location and stay updated on relevant regulations, as they can change annually … there is a reciprocity of training agreement between the United States and Canada, allowing fully qualified physicians (MD and DO) to work in each respective country. There are many factors with this, including the length of residency and the province you wish to practice in; however, it is something worth looking into if you are considering coming to the US as a Canadian. Personally, I chose to apply exclusively to US residency programs because they seemed like a better fit for me and my family. However, I'm glad I learned about the reciprocity agreement, as it offered comfort knowing that I could always return to Canada if my trajectory changes.” – Dr. Shaughnelene Smith, DO.

 

“As a DO graduate, I did not apply to the Canadian Resident Matching Service due to the limited recognition of DO degrees in Canada, which restricts residency opportunities for graduates of osteopathic medical programs.” – Dr. Laroia, DO.


To be eligible to match to a residency program in Canada, you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. All students looking to match to residency in Canada must use the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) to apply.

If you are a Canadian citizen with a US medical school degree, your chances to match in Canada significantly decrease compared to Canadians with Canadian medical school degrees. The latter are usually given preference before US graduates and international graduates, even if those graduates are Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

FAQs

1. What are Canadian-friendly medical schools?

Canadian friendly medical schools are select schools in the US which accept Canadian applicants and evaluate them on the same basis as out-of-state applicants, rather than international applicants. This means these US medical schools are more likely to accept Canadian students and the admissions criteria for Canadian applicants may be easier.

2. Can a Canadian go to medical school in the US?

Yes, many US medical schools accept Canadian applicants, either as international students or out-of-state applicants, making them “Canadian-friendly”.

3. Is it easier to get into medical school in Canada or the US?

Getting into medical school in either country is not easy, as Canadian medical schools accept less than 20% of students, and US medical school acceptance rates are less than 10% overall. However, it is easier for Canadians to get accepted to Canadian-friendly US medical schools and Canadian medical schools, particularly in-province medical schools.

4. How do I know if a medical school is Canadian friendly?

You can tell is a medical school is Canadian friendly by using MSAR to determine what the admission requirements are for Canadian applicants. Schools will have information on their website about Canadian applicants, and whether they are viewed as international or out-of-state applicants.

5. Will my Canadian prerequisites be accepted by US medical schools?

Yes, most US schools consider Canadian degrees and coursework on par with US degrees and courses. You will not have to verify your transcripts. However, if your transcripts are from French schools in Quebec, you might need to check with the school you're applying to, as sometimes French language credits can be seen as foreign credits and will need to be translated or assessed for US equivalency.

6. Do I really need shadowing to get into US medical schools?

Yes, you do. Being Canadian and the challenges of shadowing in Canada do not exempt you from not meeting this requirement. You need to begin your search for doctors to shadow 1-2 years in advance of applying. Reach out to a large network of contacts, including physicians, professors, family, friends, and your own family doctor to find shadowing opportunities.

7. What are the advantages of applying to medical schools in the US?

By applying to more medical schools you increase your chances of getting in. Canadian medical schools are incredibly competitive and there are only 17 MD programs in the entire country! Additionally, the United States has many DO programs, which are completely absent in Canada. 

8. If I study in the States, do I have to practice there or can I return to Canada?

If you complete your MD and residency training in the US and get board-certified, you can return to Canada. Typically, you get a provisional license and around 1 to 2 years to pass the Canadian licensing exams, but you don’t have to re-do residency.

If you have a DO degree, the process varies widely by province. You may have to re-do residency or just pass the licensing exams. You may also need to practice for a couple of years in a supervised setting (i.e. with a fully independent Canadian-licensed physician). The best way to check is with each province’s licensing body.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

Disclaimer: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa. If you see an error here, please notify us with the updated information, and we’ll send you a FREE copy of a BeMo ebook of your choosing! You can receive our Ultimate Guide to Med School Admissions, our Ultimate Guide to MMI Prep, our Ultimate Guide to Medical School Personal Statements & Secondary Essays or our Ultimate Guide to CASPer Prep! Please email us at content [at] bemoacademicconsulting.com with any corrections, and we’ll arrange to send you your free ebook upon confirming the information.


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