Caribbean medical schools have become a popular option for students facing fierce competition to secure the few spots available in medical schools in the US and medical schools in Canada. But many students ask what are the pros and cons of attending a medical school in the Caribbean and whether applying is a good idea. In this blog, we’ll answer the top questions about Caribbean medical schools and whether it’s a worthy investment for you. 

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7 min read

Why Apply to Caribbean Medical School? What are the Best Caribbean Medical Schools? Are Caribbean Medical Schools Legitimate? Can I Match Residency in the US or Canada as a Caribbean Med School Grad? FAQs

Why Apply to Caribbean Medical School? 

The Caribbean is the most common foreign medical school destination for Canadian and US students, primarily because it has a reputation as being the home of some of the easiest medical schools to get into.

“I applied because I was having difficulty gaining acceptance to the US schools … the Caribbean medical school was responsive to my inquiries and application in a positive way. I only applied to one school, Ross University. I most definitely planned to return to the US for residency being that I am originally from the US. I am considered a US-IMG graduate.” – Dr. Terrell D. Coring, MD, Ross University School of Medicine.


Getting into medical school in North America, and especially Canada, is difficult. Getting into medical schools in other locations is typically easier in terms of admissions requirements and there are more spots available. So, it might be tempting to take the leap towards a medical degree outside of your native land. 

Caribbean medical schools are becoming increasingly popular for Canadian and US students who want to continue their dream of becoming a doctor after facing medical school rejection or seeing the competitive nature of medical school acceptance rates. There are certainly many success stories out there of for Caribbean medical school grads.

However, there are horror stories out there of people spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and many years of their life at a foreign medical school with no residency spot, and nothing to show for it. The fact is, it is inherently riskier to train outside of Canada or the US if you want to practice as a doctor in these two countries.

“When applying to Caribbean medical schools there are plenty [of] risks involved. Please understand that the majority of accepted students do not complete medical schools and definitely do not secure a residency. Therefore, if you are successful in completing medical school, then most graduates are just happy that they matched into a residency.” – Dr. Terrell Coring, MD


Yet, this could be a risk worth taking. Read on to know more about this topic so you can judge for yourself. 


Check out the latest Caribbean Medical School Acceptance Rates


What are the Best Caribbean Medical Schools?

There are more than 60 medical schools in the Caribbean catering to mostly US students.

The most notable Caribbean medical schools are St. George’s University School of Medicine, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Saba University School of Medicine and Ross University School of Medicine. These schools are called the “Big Four” of Caribbean medical schools.

These schools are most notable because they are accredited, affiliated with medical programs and associations in the US, and have the best reputations among Caribbean medical schools for educational quality and opportunities for graduates. These top schools are typically accredited by US licensing boards and the ruling government. They are also the most promising if you want to match residency in the US or Canada as a Caribbean med school grad.

Of course, this also means these top 4 schools are more discerning when it comes to applicants. They tend to have higher medical school admission requirements and seek to admit the best applicants, just like North American schools.


Don’t Forget to Research the Caribbean Medical School Requirements and Medical School GPA Requirements!


Below, you can see some of the key statistics and requirements for the big 4 Caribbean schools.

1. St. George’s University 

  • Acceptance rate: 41%
  • Average MCAT score: 498
  • Average GPA: 3.3 

2. Ross University 

  • Acceptance rate: 42.7%
  • Average MCAT score: 493
  • Average GPA: 3.2

3. American University of the Caribbean (AUC) 

  • Average MCAT score: 496
  • Average GPA: 3.27

4. Saba University 

  • Average MCAT score: N/A
  • Average GPA: N/A 

Are Caribbean Medical Schools Legitimate? 

For the most part, yes. They are legitimately trying to train and place doctors. Especially with respect to the top four schools in Caribbean medical school rankings listed above, they have a decent record of US-focused clinical placements for trainees and successful placement of residents. 

“I researched the top Caribbean medical schools based on Step 1 passing rate. I also considered residency match rate in my assessment and the places and subspecialties students matched. Lastly, I considered the ability to do the medical school clinical rotations within the US … I only applied to one school. I considered the reputation and honestly assumed the school was accredited based on reputation.” – Dr. Terrell D. Coring, MD.


Caribbean medical schools, like many US universities, are for-profit institutions and consumers should have a “Buyer Beware” attitude when exploring them. Since getting into medical school in North America is so competitive, there are a lot of people who don’t make the cut but who would be great doctors. Caribbean medical schools are experts at finding these people because the admission requirements are quite straightforward. 

There are no cut-offs and GPA requirements or MCAT score requirements are low. The admissions criteria are intentionally vague so that they can fill up their classes and earn money. This is central to the mission of a for-profit medical school. 

Caribbean medical schools have large marketing budgets designed to persuade undergraduate and high school students that this is their best option, even if they haven’t faced medical school rejection by a Canadian or US medical school. Therefore, they will tell you everything you want to hear about how great they are. They’re not going to lie to you, per se. But they may overemphasize their ability to find clinical placements in the US or Canada during clerkship and to help you match to the residency program and location of your choice.

In fact, in a previous pilot survey of Canadians Studying Medicine Abroad by CaRMS, Caribbean-trained Canadian medical students reported that just over 40 percent were not intending to return to Canada for residency. The most common reason for this was that the students didn’t want to do a Return of Service (ROS) but the second most common reason was that students didn’t think they would get a residency of their choice. And remember, a residency choice includes a specialty and a location. For some students, location is the deal breaker and for others, it’s the specialty. 

Check out a recap of the best Caribbean medical schools in our video: 


Can I Match Residency in the US or Canada as a Caribbean Med School Grad?

The graduates of most Caribbean schools are eligible for participation in the U.S. National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) using ERAS and the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS). In the CaRMS match, foreign-trained and foreign-born medical school graduates participate in the second round of the match where there are fewer spots in fewer specialties. 

The exact match rates and absolute numbers for Caribbean medical students are not available, but the fact is they are less successful in matching residents than US and Canadian medical school graduates. 

As a US IMG, Dr. Coring knew he would have to take the initiative and find ways to stand out on his residency applications.

“I wanted to ensure [I had] competitive [USMLE] Step 1 and Step 2 scores in order to match into a competitive residency. Therefore, securing this goal meant dedication and discipline to studying for these exams independently, as the school does not prepare you for this as well as other non-Caribbean schools … I made sure that I took leadership initiatives by starting a non-profit organization that was focused on mentoring. I believe this initiative allowed me to stand out from my peers. I also practiced as a clinical pharmacist prior to medical school and I strongly believe this was attractive for program directors as well.” Dr. Terrell D. Coring, MD


Remember that the most popular medical schools in the Caribbean can all be classified as “off shore”, which means most of their graduates are from North America and intend to return to the US or Canada to practice medicine. There are also a few “regional” medical schools that are meant for people who want to practice medicine in the same country. If you’re opting for a lesser-known Caribbean medical school, ensure that it’s not a regional one, else your only options for residency will be in the Caribbean. 

“However, there are strategies to ensure you match into a residency closer to home. The most popular strategy is to secure your clinical medical school core and elective rotations at a hospital near your home in the US. This will create familiarity of your work ethic and clinical acumen within that hospital system and therefore increase your chances in matching into a residency at that hospital.” – Dr. Terrell Coring, MD.


If you go to medical school in the Caribbean, you are not guaranteed a residency spot in the US or Canada. The chances are better for the US but quite unfavorable for Canada. If you don’t care to return to Canada or the US for residency and you can afford the Caribbean, then go for it. You will likely land a residency spot elsewhere and there are many nations in which postgraduate medical education is stellar, if under-respected. Go to one of the top Caribbean schools though, so you can at least spend some time training in the US during medical school.


1. What are the advantages of applying to Caribbean medical schools?

Most Caribbean medical schools have relaxed admissions requirements that attract students rejected by medical schools in the US and Canada. Since these are for-profit organizations, they seek to fill their classes with students, even if their GPA and other undergraduate accomplishments are not top-notch. 

2. Which are the best Caribbean medical schools?

There are more than 60 medical schools in the Caribbean, but the top-ranked are called the “Big Four”: St. George’s University, Ross University, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and Saba University School of Medicine.

3. If I attend a Caribbean medical school, will I be able to become a US doctor? Will I obtain a residency?

Many successful US doctors received their degrees from Caribbean medical schools, as attested by their testimonies in a few online publications. However, some graduates from these schools have experienced issues when trying to obtain a residency spot in the US due to the preference given to graduates from American medical schools. 

4. What is the quality of education of Caribbean medical schools?

Many Caribbean medical schools have poor USMLE pass rates, low residency match rates and high attrition rates when compared to US medical schools. There is some debate as to whether this is due to the quality of the education or the quality of the applicants they accept. Additionally, Caribbean medical schools often have large classrooms with over 500 students per class and may provide very limited support to students. For example, you may have to arrange your own rotations.

5. How much do Caribbean medical schools cost?

Compared to US medical schools, tuition at Caribbean medical schools is cheaper (but still more expensive than Canadian schools), from around $4,000 per semester for the lesser-known schools to around $20,000 for the big four. 

6. Should I apply to a Caribbean medical school?

If your intent is to practice medicine in North America, we recommend that you first apply to US and Canadian schools. If you are a Canadian applicant looking to apply to the US, make sure to check out which are the Canadian-friendly US medical schools. If unsuccessful you may consider some of the top (accredited) Caribbean medical schools.

7. If I attend a medical school in Caribbean, am I considered an international medical graduate when I apply to residency in US and Canada?

Yes, you will be. In Canada, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to participate in CARMS. In US, they do not look at your citizenship, but prefer graduates from American schools. Check out the latest stats from NRMP to see how well IMGs are doing.  


To be a good candidate for the most competitive residency programs in the US and Canada, most of your clerkship placements and electives need to be done in the US or Canada. Schools with good connections make this happen. However, even these placements do not guarantee your ideal residency. Aim to secure letters of reference from a US or Canadian physician, get stellar USMLE scores and write a strong residency application.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting 

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