The current costs of medical school have students eagerly searching for the cheapest medical schools in North America. Believe it or not, but you have the power to decide how much you want to spend on your medical school education. How? In this blog, you will learn the factors that determine tuition costs. I will help you choose a medical school that is NOT going to bankrupt you. Finally, I will provide you with lists of the cheapest DO vs MD schools for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as a complete list of Canadian schools ranked from lowest to highest tuition cost!


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Public vs Private

While many public and private medical schools in the US have comparable tuition costs, it’s important to understand the distinction between them. Annual tuition of public medical schools can range between US$20,000 to almost US$100,000, depending on the school and your residency status. In-state medical students pay lower medical school tuition costs compared to their out-of-state counterparts. Additionally, you should be aware that when comparing in-state and out-of-state applicants of the same caliber side-by-side, many public medical schools will give preference to in-state applicants. The reasons for this will be discussed below.

Private institutions do not pay attention to applicants’ residency status. In-state and out-of-state applicants tend to have the same chances of acceptance. Based on the most recent data, out-of-state matriculants make up over 75% of cohorts at the Ivy League medical schools, all of which are private. Additionally, in-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition in private medical schools.

Based on the above information, you might be wondering whether you should apply to public or private schools. The choice is obviously up to you, but keep these considerations in mind:

1. The state subsidizes part of tuition in public schools. This is why in-state applicants, i.e. the taxpayers and people intimately connected to this state, are favored. Public schools can be significantly less expensive for in-state students. If you are a resident of a state that has a number of public medical schools, like Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, or Illinois, you should really consider applying in-state.

2. Private medical schools treat all applicants equally. Your residency status is not considered and therefore you do not have to worry about this dichotomy.

3. If you are considering applying to DO vs MD schools, you should know that the majority of DO schools are private. Tuition costs in DO and MD schools are comparable.

Unlike its neighbors to the south, Canada does not have private medical schools. All 17 medical schools in Canada are public. This results in many of these schools being averse to accepting out-of-province applicants. This is especially true for provinces with only one medical school, such as British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. These provinces protect the interests of their residents and taxpayers, so getting into these medical schools is practically impossible for out-of-province students. However, some medical schools in Ontario welcome out-of-province students and disregard their residency status – however, I should also mention that Ontario medical schools also have the highest tuition costs in Canada.

In-State vs Out-of-State

Your residency status determines what kind of medical school tuition you will pay in public institutions. The difference between in-state vs out-of-state tuition can be tremendous depending on the state where the medical school is located. According to an AAMC poll, 48% of medical school applicants consider the location of medical school when choosing which school to attend. While the students admitted that urban, rural, or suburban setting of the schools may affect their choice, they were mostly concerned about whether the medical schools they were applying to or choosing to attend were in-state or out-of-state – 44% of voters indicated this as their primary concern with regards to location.

This concern is not surprising. Applying in-state has a lot of advantages. Firstly, medical school acceptance rates show that many medical schools give preference to in-state applicants. This is because in-state students are more likely to stay and practice medicine in their home state, where they graduate medical school and form important professional connections. Secondly, there are schools that do not even accept out-of-state applicants. These are few and far between, but they exist. Thirdly, the cost of attending a public in-state school will always be lower than the costs for out-of-state students.

There are states that actively protect the medical and educational needs of their own residents. For example, the state of Texas even has its own medical school application system, the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). They give unprecedented advantage to in-state applicants. Not only is it difficult to get in if you’re an out-of-state applicant but proving your Texas residency is also a tedious and tricky procedure if you wish to qualify as an in-state applicant. Texas has some of the cheapest medical schools in the US for both in-state and out-of-state students, so it is an attractive option for many medical school hopefuls. And while it is difficult to qualify as a Texas resident, it is possible to still get in as an out-of-state candidate and pay some of the cheapest tuition in the US.

You might be wondering how you can increase your acceptance chances as an out-of-state applicant. No doubt, the US is full of out of state friendly medical schools – look them up. Your number one priority should be figuring out if you are a good fit for the schools to which you are applying. Firstly, make sure your GPA and MCAT score at least match those of the previous year's matriculants. Secondly, make sure that your professional and personal interests can relate to the school’s mission and overall education strategy. If your out-of-state school of choice focuses on research, reflect if your professional background demonstrates your interest in scientific research. If your school of choice openly promotes the importance of diversity and inclusion, it is very important to demonstrate your personal and professional dedication to these values. While being an out-of-state applicant to publicly funded medical schools is challenging, it is not impossible to get in.

If getting into medical school in your own state is much easier, why would anyone choose to attend school out of state?

With over 180 medical schools all over the country, you might be surprised to learn that some US states do not have their own medical schools. In this case, prospective medical students must look to apply as out-of-state applicants. There are also states like New Hampshire with a single, perfectly good medical school, Geisel School of Medicine, which has an overall success rate of 1.1%. As you can imagine, many residents of New Hampshire who want to attend medical school are also likely to apply to and eventually attend an out-of-state school. Remember, if you are applying to 10 or 15 schools in one application cycle, you are bound to apply to a few out-of-state schools.

So, should you apply to out-of-state public medical schools considering they are more expensive and more restricted to out-of-state applicants? Yes, you should. While location and cost are important considerations in choosing which medical school to attend, you must also consider the school’s mission and your own goals when you choose where to apply. Acceptance rates for out-of-state applicants in public medical schools vary from state to state, but you should know that over 39% of last year’s matriculants into US allopathic medical schools had out-of-state residency status.

If you are interested in applying to medical schools in Canada, keep in mind that most provinces do not have different tuition costs for out-of-province students. Medical schools in Quebec are the only exception to this rule. Out-of-province and international students pay higher tuition fees in these schools, but they are still cheaper than most tuition costs in Canada and the United States. Instead of asking for higher tuition, medical schools in Canada make the application process for out-of-province applicants more difficult. In some schools, out-of-province applicants have almost no chance of acceptance.

If you are an American applying to Canadian medical schools that accept US students, you will pay international tuition fees. However, keep in mind that your tuition costs as an international student in Canada will be lower or comparable to tuition costs in private US medical schools or as an out-of-state resident in public schools.

Want to learn more about out of state friendly medical schools? Check out our video:

Year of Study

The cost of attending medical school also depends on the year of study. In some medical schools, the cost of tuition fluctuates based on the year you’re in, tools you may need, exams you may need to complete, or textbooks you may require. While these changes are insignificant in most schools, you should still budget for them in your 4-year plan.

The first two pre-clerkship years tend to be cheaper than clerkship years. During clerkship and elective rotations, the tuition might not change significantly, but your personal expenditures will. For example, while during pre-clerkship years you can use public transit to get to and from school every day, using public transit can become problematic during clerkships. Traveling between rotations can become tricky if you do not own a car. Not only are you sometimes required to travel across town to get to your rotation on time, but your schedule may dictate you to show up for rotations at a time when public transit is limited or completely out-of-service, e.g. early hours of the morning or very late at night. Spending most of your day on a bus or a subway can be a bearable experience, but not when you are stressing out about making it to your rotation on time. Car costs are expensive, so make sure to budget for this option when you are planning how to pay for medical school.

With rotations, come ridiculously early mornings, long afternoons, late nights, and unexpected changes in your schedule. You may think that you will have enough time to travel home to have dinner, but a sudden schedule change can cancel your plans. Students tend to spend a lot more money on take-out and eating out during the last two years of medical school. You might find this trivial, but even buying a cup of coffee a day adds up over four years, so be mindful of your spending.

You must also remember that the last two years of medical school are a launching pad for your residency years. There will be a lot of residency application costs and other related expenditures that you must consider. 

Cheapest Medical Schools (MD) for In-State Students

*The following list ranks US MD medical schools with the lowest annual tuition costs for in-state students. You can organize the table from lowest to highest tuition costs by clicking on the "Tuition" category at the top of the table.

*Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine: tuition fee waived for entering classes between 2020- 2024.

*New York University Long Island School of Medicine: tuition fee waived for three years.

Cheapest Medical Schools (MD) for Out-of-State Students

*The following list ranks US MD medical schools with the lowest annual tuition costs for out-of-state students. You can organize the table from lowest to highest tuition costs by clicking on the "Tuition" category at the top of the table.

*Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine: tuition fee waived for entering classes between 2020- 2024.

*New York University Long Island School of Medicine: tuition fee waived for three years.

Cheapest DO Medical Schools for In-State Students

*The following list ranks US DO medical schools with the lowest annual tuition costs for in-state students. You can organize the table from lowest to highest tuition costs by clicking on the "Tuition" category at the top of the table.

Cheapest DO Medical Schools for Out-of-State Students

*The following list ranks US DO medical schools with the lowest annual tuition costs for out-of-state students. You can organize the table from lowest to highest tuition costs by clicking on the "Tuition" category at the top of the table.

Canadian Schools Ranked from Lowest to Highest Tuition Cost

*Only medical schools in Quebec have a difference in tuition between in-province and out-of-province students.

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Conclusion

How much medical school costs is a factor you must consider when you are pursuing the career of your dreams, but the fact is, medical school is not going to be cheap whether you decide to attend an in-state or out-of-state school, or a private school. Remember, along with tuition, you need to think about application costs, MCAT costs, interview costs, living costs, and other unexpected expenditures. The key to managing financial stress is clear and thought out budget. Whether you attend the most expensive medical school in the world or choose one of the cheapest medical schools, you must plan your budget and stick to it!

FAQs

1. Do the cheapest medical schools have the same quality of education as expensive medical schools?

Generally, all American and Canadian medical schools have a high quality of education. They are all licensed and accredited by official governmental bodies of their state and country. As you could see from our blog, private schools apply the same tuition costs to all applicants; what determines the cost of public medical school education is whether you are an in-state or out-of-state applicant. So, it is not the quality of education that determines the cost, but your residency. The quality of education in all schools is comparable.

2. How do I find out if a school is private or public?

This is usually stated on the official school website. If it’s not evident when you visit the homepage, be sure to check out the About Us section, or a similar webpage.

3. Does tuition cost depend on whether I attend DO or MD schools?

Tuition costs in osteopathic and allopathic medical schools are comparable. As with MD schools, DO medical schools in Texas are some of the cheapest medical schools in the US.

4. Is it more difficult to get into a public medical school if you’re an out-of-state applicant?

Yes, it tends to be more difficult but does not mean that it’s impossible. Many out-of-state friendly medical schools welcome non-residents. Remember to confirm the acceptance rates of your chosen schools before you apply.

5. I want to apply as an in-state applicant, but my state has a limited number of medical schools and I don’t think I have a chance to get in. What should I do?

If you think applying in-state is not an option, you should apply out-of-state. There are affordable out-of-state schools you can consider. Additionally, don’t forget to research private medical schools to see what kind of tuition fees they require.

6. Medical school is expensive. How can I pay for medical school?

Creating a feasible budget should be your number one priority. Find out what kind of financial aid is available to you by applying to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Additionally, look to see what kind of non-repayable money you can apply for, including grants, bursaries, and scholarships.

7. How much does medical school cost per year?

Attending a medical school in an urban center in the US will cost approximately US$101,835 per year. Keep in mind that this includes your tuition, fees, car expenses, and living expenses. In Canada, attending medical school in a small city will cost you approximately CAD$57,495 per year. This cost also includes tuition, fees, car costs, and living expenses.

8. You said the clerkship years of medical school are more expensive. Why is that?

There is a number of reasons for this. In addition to spending more money traveling between rotations and getting take-out, the last two years of medical school also prepare you for residency. This means costs associated with electives (e.g. travel, short-term rent, etc.), licensing exam costs, residency interview travel, and other expenses. While this is not part of your medical school tuition, all these expenses will add up, so keep them in mind when you budget.

9. Should I always choose the cheapest medical school to attend?

The school you choose to attend will depend on many factors, only one of which is cost. While keeping the costs down is an understandable priority, if you are already committed to spending thousands of dollars on your medical school education, make sure you actually want to attend the school you choose. If you choose a cheaper medical school but disagree with its mission or despise the town where it’s located, you might want to reconsider. Make sure you want to be a student at the school you choose to attend.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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3 Comments

Philip joseph

i'm from nigeria and i want to study MBBS, what cheap medical school do i apply in the united states

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi Phillip! Thank you for your wonderful question. International students tend to pay more for tuition in public schools. You can check out private schools to see similar rates for international applicants. Let me know if you have any more questions!

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Geethika

i am an international exchange student doing my bachelors in computer science in USA. after my BS i want to apply for medical colleges. i want to know some colleges to do MBBS or DDS at low cost and accept international students

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Geethika! Thanks for your comment. Firstly, you should know that tuition costs for international students are always going to be higher in public schools. Plus, most public schools have very limited spaces for international students. Your best chance is a private medical school. Unfortunately, medical school in the US does not come at low cost. To learn more, please visit our blog on medical school tuitions in the US and Canada: https://bemoacademicconsulting.com/blog/medical-school-tuition

BeMo Academic Consulting

Geethika, you are the winner of our weekly draw. Please email us by the end of the day tomorrow (November 13) at content[at]bemoacademicconsulting.com from the same email address you used to leave your comment to claim your prize!

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Eugene Falik

I believe that you omitted one of the least expensive medical schools - that of Comunbia University which does not charge tuition to most students.

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Eugene! Thanks for your comment. Columbia medical school is not free. Medical school tuition fees are $65,425 USD per year for both in-state and out-of-state students. Including other mandatory fees, the total per year is $94,012 USD. The amount of average graduate indebtedness at Columbia is $122,045 USD.

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