Cumming School of Medicine: Requirements, Statistics & How to Get in 2020

Updated: October 13, 2020


Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary is one of the two medical schools in Alberta.  This three-year MD program promotes the health and educational needs of Alberta residents by welcoming applicants from all over Canada. In this blog, you will learn will learn about Cumming School of Medicine admissions statistics, eligibility, tuition costs, admissions requirements, application procedures, and tips on how to get accepted!

Here's What I'll Cover:

Mission Statement

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

Available Programs

Academic Curriculum

Tuition and Other Costs

Funding Opportunities

Application Timeline

Application Process

Selection Factors

Interview Format

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

Contact information

FAQs

Mission Statement

“An Innovative medical school committed to excellence and leadership in education, research and service to society.”

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

Overall success rate: 10%

85% of seats are reserved for Alberta applicants

Average GPA: 3.84

Average MCAT: 508

Location: Calgary, Alberta

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Eligibility

Only Canadian citizens and permanent residents are admitted to the Cumming School of Medicine. International students, including American applicants, are not eligible to apply. You can find a list of Canadian medical schools that accept US students in our blog. Like many other medical schools in Canada, UofC gives preference to in-province applicants. To qualify as an in-province applicant, you must:

1. Have been physically present in Alberta for two consecutive years at some point between their 15th birthday and the first day of classes in the year of entrance.

2. Have been on active duty with the Canadian Armed Forces or the RCMP for 2 years before the first day of classes in the year of entrance. A letter from your commanding offer supporting your active duty must be received by the school by October 1 of the year of application.

If you have questions about whether you can qualify as an Albertan applicant, make sure to reach out to the admissions office. The school acknowledges residents who have been temporarily out of the province for vacation, educational exchange, or employment. The rules for temporary absence from the province are quite vague. This allows the admissions committee to consider the context of your residence history to determine whether you qualify to be an in-province applicant. Indigenous applicants from any of the Canadian provinces and territories are considered residents of Alberta and are expected to meet in-province applications criteria.

You should be aware that UofC might ask you to provide proof of your residency status, so make sure you have some supporting documents, i.e. a high school transcript, payment stubs, etc. They may ask for several documents, so it is important that you are clear about your status. Remember, when in doubt – reach out to admissions to clarify your status. If you knowingly try to misrepresent your residency, it might be red-flagged during the application review.

Available Programs

MD

Cumming School of Medicine has a three-year MD program. As I mentioned above, the program gives preference to Alberta applicants, who make up 85% of matriculants. Cumming School of Medicine receives more than 1200 applications from in-province students, so the competition is fierce. For in-province applicants, the minimum GPA requirement is 3.20. For out-of-province applicants, the GPA cut-off is 3.80. Out-of-province applicants must score at least 128 on their CARS to be eligible to apply to the MD program, while in-province candidates do not have a CARS minimum to apply.

Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation (BCR)

Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies examines the economic, social, and political forces affect the marginalize people. During the course of your studies, much of your learning will occur while actively working on problems in class and through practical supervised field education. You’ll learn to design, deliver and evaluate community-based support services and how to form alliances that promote full participation in the community. Courses in this program include: Disability in Theory and Everyday Life, Introduction to Community Rehabilitation, The Organization and Diversity of Life, Introduction to Disability Studies.

Leaders in Medicine

The Leader in Medicine (LiM) joint degree program offers students the opportunity to pursue graduate studies (Master’s, PhD or MBA) in conjunction with the medical program (MD). The goal of this joint program is to train highly motivated students to become the future leaders of clinical and investigative medicine. The LiM Affiliate program is designed to allow students enrolled in medical school, who may have already completed a graduate degree or who were accepted into medical school without a graduate degree but have a strong interest in research, to participate in the program if interested in both the clinical and research part of medicine.

Pathways to Medicine

The Cumming School of Medicine offers a Pathways to Medicine, which includes a scholarship and guaranteed admission to the MD program upon completion of the undergraduate degree, provided specific conditions are met. Eligibility for the Pathways to Medicine program is restricted to individuals from low-income backgrounds, with a particular focus on rural and indigenous students. Admission to the MD program is conditional upon the following:

  • Maintenance of an overall GPA of 3.40 or greater over the course of their undergraduate studies.
  • Achievement of the minimum MCAT score required of regular applicants at the time of application, if such minimums are in place at the time.
  • Completion of the application process in the same manner as regular applicants with a score on the file review and the interview above the twentieth percentile.

Academic Curriculum

Year 1

Course 1: Introduction to Medicine, Blood and Gastrointestinal Course

Course 2: Integrated Musculoskeletal and Dermatology Course

Course 3: Integrated Cardiovascular and Respiratory Course

Course Objectives

  • Anatomy Yr 1
  • Medical Skills I
  • Family Medicine Clinical Experience
  • Population Health
  • Applied Evidence Based Medicine

Year 2

Course 4: Integrated Renal-Electrolyte and Endocrine-Metabolic Course

Course 5: Integrated Neurosciences, Special Senses and Aging Course

Course 6: Children’s and Women’s Health

Course 7: Psychiatry

Course Objectives

  • Medical Skills II
  • Family Medicine Clinical Experience
  • Applied Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Introduction to Clinical Practice Prt 1
  • Introduction to Clinical Practice Prt 2
  • Pre-Clerkship Electives
  • Integrative Course

Year 3

Clerkships and Electives

Tuition and Other Costs

Annual tuition for the MD program is CAD$16,063.02. Additionally, you will be paying around CAD$5,161 for textbooks and supplies each year. Other program fees will cost around CAD$1,240.46 annually; these include your U-Pass, athletics, student union fees, and so on. A one-bedroom apartment in Calgary will rent for around $1,200. Additionally, you will be paying around $450 for food per month if you cook your meals at home. Although a U-Pass is included in your tuition fees, you might want to use a car during your 3rd- and 4th-year clerkships to travel to and from your rotations. Gas, insurance, maintenance, and parking will cost you around $600 per month. Don’t forget the travel costs associated with out-of-Calgary and out-of-province electives you will be taking in your clerkship years. You should also keep in mind expenses related to CaRMS and residency interviews in your final year of medical school. If you want to learn more about how much medical school costs, make sure to read our blog.

Funding Opportunities

The University of Calgary offers both competitive and nominated awards and bursaries to medical students enrolled in the MD program. Please visit this website to check out their awards, scholarships and bursaries, information for eligibility, how to apply, and deadlines. You will need to apply through the myUofC portal. The deadline for Medicine Bursaries is August 10 and for medical Elective Awards, the deadline is April 1 of each calendar year. You can apply to the Faculty of Medicine Bursaries (ranging from $400-$8,000, average $2000-$3000) by completing one single application.

Differential Tuition Bursary

To be eligible, you must be paying the differential tuition fee to the Cumming School of Medicine for the academic year in which the Differential Tuition Bursary is awarded. You must also provide the Student Awards Office with proof of your outstanding government student loan debt (Federal/Provincial) to date. 

Cumming School of Medicine Special Bursaries

To receive a Special Bursary, you must be experiencing a financial hardship which has put you at serious risk of withdrawing from the MD program. You must also be paying the differential tuition fee to the Cumming School of Medicine for the academic year in which the Special Bursary is awarded.

You can complete the “Medicine Special Bursaries” questionnaire in the Cumming School of Medicine Bursaries application. The Cumming School of Medicine will contact you in late August if more information is required.

Professional Student Line of Credit

Medical school tuition is not cheap, but there are external funding opportunities you can access to help you cover the costs. Canadian banks provide students with a professional line of credit, often in the range of $300,000 or more. The difference between a government student loan and a bank line of credit is that with a line of credit, interest charges are immediately calculated on any funds that you use. Keep in mind that many banks will advance funds based on individual credit ratings and requirements. So, check out the websites of the different banks and make sure that the bank you choose is giving you the best option.

Application Timeline

Don't forget to check the official school website for the most up-to-date medical school application timeline.

July 1 - New application cycle opens.

July 31 - Deadline to submit a part-time petition, including all supporting documents

August 31 - The last eligible MCAT sitting date.

October 1 - Deadline to release your MCAT scores to the University of Calgary. Deadline to submit the online application, all transcripts, WES assessments, reference letters, proof of Indigenous ancestry, and the application fee must be received and MCAT scores must have been released. No extensions will be granted for any reason.

October – January - Evaluation of submitted eligible applications.

Early-Mid February - Interview (MMI) invitations sent out via email. UCAN on-line scheduler opens.

February and March - MMI Days.

Early May - Admission decisions sent to all applicants via email.

Late May - Deadline for responding to initial offers of admission. The first waitlist offers sent out.

June 19 - Final transcripts must be received.

July 1 - Application will be available for the application cycle.

First Week of July - Mandatory orientation for all incoming medical students.

First Week of July - First day of class.

Application Process

You will use an online application called UCAN to apply to the Cumming School of Medicine. You must use the Google Chrome browser for the optimal functionality of the system. The application fee is CAD$150 and non-refundable. You must use a MasterCard or Visa credit card to pay your fee.

Returning applicants should already have a UCAN account that they can use for their application. As a returning applicant, you must select the "Re-Apply Applicant" tab to fill out your information. You must re-enter all the pertinent information and re-send all documentation because your information from the last time you applied is not kept on file. If you’re a new applicant, you will be required to set up a new username and password. Once validated, your file will be set up and you can begin filling out your application.

Selection Factors

Coursework and Prerequisites

Applicants to the Cumming School of Medicine can choose to do their undergraduate degree in any discipline they prefer. As with other medical schools, you might consider taking science and non-science courses to prepare you for the study of medicine and your MCAT. While the UofC does not identify strict medical school prerequisites, they give a comprehensive list of courses they recommend applicants to pursue in their undergraduate career. You are encouraged to take science courses that would introduce you to basic scientific topics, such as:

  • Introductory Biology
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Introductory Physics
  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology

You are also encouraged to take social science classes such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, indigenous studies, philosophy and ethics, women's and gender studies, and literature. Statistics, population health studies, and scientific writing and foundations of scientific inquiry can also assist you in developing the skills required of medical professionals.

To be eligible to apply, you must complete at least two full-time years of university education in an MD-PhD granting institution or complete two years of full-time post-secondary studies that are fully transferable to an MD-PhD granting institution. An academic year is considered full-time if you get at least 24 credits from September through April and are assigned grades for at least 18 credits, i.e. not pass/fail courses. Your two full-time academic years can be completed at a non-MD-PhD school if there are 24 credits in transferable courses per year.

Full-time coursework does not include continuing education or extension certificates. There are times when UofC may admit full-time study over a consecutive period of 8 months outside of the September-April period, but this is done on a case-by-case basis. A co-op program will be recognized if one semester involves coursework (at least 12 graded credits) and the other semester is a co-op placement.

Remember, the admissions committee can always ask for clarifications about, decline, or place conditions on your coursework if something is unclear. If you’re not sure whether your coursework qualifies as full-time, make sure to reach out to the admissions office.

Transcripts

You must provide official transcripts (1 copy only) from every post-secondary institution (college, CEGEP, technical school, university, junior college, or graduate school) you have attended, including foreign institutions. Transcripts from exchange or abroad programs must be submitted even if you only took one course and even if that course and grade appear on another of your transcripts. If you have attended a post-secondary institution outside of Canada and the US for more than one semester, you must have your foreign transcripts evaluated by World Education Services (WES). International Baccalaureate (IM) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses are not considered post-secondary, so do not send these transcripts. For transcripts to be considered official, they must be sent directly from the Registrar’s Office of your home institutions to Cumming School of Medicine admissions office. They must have the school’s seal and bear the appropriate signature. Personal copies of transcripts or transcripts with opened envelopes are not admitted. UofC does not accept faxed or electronic transcripts. Failure to submit even one transcript will result in the termination of your application, so try to get your transcripts in early! It would be wise to take care of your transcripts in July of the application year before the registrar's offices get busy with the upcoming school year. The earlier you request the transcripts to be sent to the UofC, the less stressful your application process will be. All transcripts must be sent to the following address:

The Office of MD Admissions

Cumming School of Medicine

G212—3330 Hospital Drive

NW Calgary, AB T2N 4N1

Note: Do not send your transcripts to the Registrar's Office of the University of Calgary. You must make sure to indicate the MD admissions address on the envelope.

GPA and MCAT

For in-province applicants, the minimum medical school GPA requirement is 3.20. For out-of-province applicants, the GPA cut-off is 3.80. Be mindful that UofC does not round your GPA, i.e. if your GPA is 3.79, you do not meet the criteria. In addition to the GPA minimum, out-of-province applicants must score at least 128 in the MCAT CARS section to be eligible for file review by the admissions committee. For the UofC to calculate your GPA, you must have a minimum of 39 units/credits associated with a numerical or letter grade. Your GPA will be calculated using full-time undergraduate years (minimum 24 units/credits) completed at or transferable to an MD-PhD-granting institution of which 18 units or more have numerical or letter grades assigned between September and April. This means that spring and summer semesters are not considered for GPA calculation. Part-time periods of study are also not considered. If you have completed or will complete your undergraduate degree before you begin the MD program, your lowest GPA year will be removed from the calculation.

If you are planning to complete or have already completed a graduate degree before matriculation into the MD program, the graduate degree will be included in the GPA calculation as a single full-time undergraduate year. However, for this to apply, each year must be associated with a minimum of 18 units of coursework associated with a numerical or letter grade.

Beware, you will need to indicate in your UCAN application if you have already completed your degree or whether you anticipate graduating before matriculation into the MD program. The admissions office reserves the right to recalculate your GPA once your final grades are received. They may re-evaluate and possibly retract your offer of admission if your final grades hurt your cumulative GPA. You must complete your degree by June 30th of the year of entrance to matriculate into the MD program.

Additionally, applicants with long academic records have the option to exclude academic work that is greater than 10 years old. This is done with an understanding that in some cases, early academic performance in university is not indicative of the applicant’s current performance or potential. Therefore, if you would like to exclude your early academic performance form the GPA calculation, you can choose to do so when you fill out your UCAN application. Keep in mind, you cannot elect to eliminate some courses and not others – this works as an “all or nothing” function. Remember, even though these will not be used in your GPA calculation, you must still enter all your coursework and grades into UCAN.

Your MCAT must be written by the fall of the year of application. Your scores must be released to the Cumming School of Medicine before the application deadline, i.e. October 1st of the application cycle. UofC will not consider an MCAT score received longer than five years ago. Your MCAT CARS section accounts for 10% of your application, so doing well on your MCAT is vital. As I mentioned above, Non-Albertan applicants must score at least 128 on their CARS to be eligible to apply to the MD program. Albertan candidates do not have a CARS minimum to apply. Whether you are an in- or out-of-province applicant, your best CARS score will be selected automatically for use in the file review process.

You do not need to enter your MCAT score directly into UCAN. It can be automatically downloaded from the AAMC by the MD office as long as you make sure to release your MCAT score specifically to the University of Calgary and specifically during your chosen application cycle, i.e. if you wrote the MCAT last year and are applying the year, you must release your scores during this application cycle before October. This means that you must contact the AAMC to release your MCAT score to UofC. If you're worried about that your MCAT can affect your chances of acceptance, check out a list of medical schools that do not require MCAT.

Find out what is a good MCAT score from our video:

Employment History

You are required to provide a complete list of all your paid employment experiences. Note, all your paid positions need to be included, so do not disregard your early or short-term jobs. These experiences teach you valuable lessons and build character, so don’t think of them as too trivial for this application. For each job, you are asked to provide a descriptive title, i.e. waiter, math tutor, lifeguard, the duration, and approximate number of hours per week. You do not need to provide a detailed description of your role. If the hours worked were inconstant, consider giving a range. Additionally, you must provide the name and professional contact information of a verifier who can attest to the duration and extent of your employment. This is usually either the employer or direct supervisor. A co-worker is not considered an appropriate verifier.

Publications and Awards

You do not need to submit copies of your publications but should be prepared to present a copy if requested. The following categories of publications can be entered in this section:

1. Peer-reviewed academic publications.

2. Published abstracts resulting from oral or poster presentations at national or international meetings.

3. Non-peer-reviewed academic or non-academic publications.

4. Presentations (oral and/or poster at regional, national, or international meetings).

You may also include published prose or poetry, but not articles written for student newspapers, newsletters, or brochures. Local or regional presentations at lab meetings, academic half days, or unsanctioned conferences should not be entered. You should familiarize yourself with the expected scholarly format of providing each entrance. Make sure to visit the UofC website to learn more.

As part of your UCAN application, you will need to enter a list of awards you consider significant. They should be listed by name and you should be prepared to demonstrate proof of the award upon request.

Top 10 Experiences

In this part of the application, the admissions committee is looking to get a sense of your personality and life experiences. Remember, you are not required to write a personal statement, so this is the only glimpse at your personality the adcoms will get. Although you already provide some background information about your education and employment in other parts of the application, the top 10 experiences you will choose to include will reveal what kind of values, skills, and experiences you can bring to the study of medicine. Since you have a limited amount of entries, make sure to be selective about what you include. Choose activities or experiences you feel are important in your personal and professional development. These can be extracurriculars for medical school, like employment, volunteer, academic, research, or private events that influenced your life. For each experience or activity, you must identify a title, i.e. sports team, working in a shelter, ballet school, etc., and provide a detailed description of the activity and a statement regarding why you chose these experiences as one of your top 10. If experiences you include are related to employment, volunteering, or education, you must provide a verifier who can attest to the nature of the experience and its duration. It is highly recommended that the verifier has an email associated with the organization/institution included in your description of the experience. Personal emails, i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, etc., will not be accepted. If you cannot provide a verifier, you should check the box indicating this and be ready to provide more details if required by the admissions committee. If possible, try to provide the number of hours spent in each activity included in the Top 10. Of course, you do not need to provide any such details in the descriptions of life events or personal struggles, so leave these sections blank or enter “Not Applicable.”

Remember, the experiences you choose to include in your Top 10 might have been included in other parts of your application, like publications, awards, or employment. This means that these experiences will be in your application twice and this is normal. So, if a job, award, or a publication is included in your Top 10 Experiences section, it must also be entered in their appropriate “other” section.

Reference Letters

You will be required to submit names and contact information of three recommenders. You will direct UCAN to send a link to the reference letter form to each of your referees. It is highly advised that your referees use professional email addresses whenever possible. Medical school recommendation letters from referees without a professional email, i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, and the like, will undergo an additional layer of verification.

Cumming School of Medicine has three recommendation letter forms that contain similar questions, but each of the three forms is unique. Each form is designed to obtain information about one of your particular attributes. The three forms focus on the following skills and are identified in the following way in UCAN:

  • Organizational, management, and leadership skills
  • Commitment to communities and advocacy
  • Interpersonal behaviors and collaboration

You should choose referees who can speak to these attributes specifically. If you wish to change your reference, you can deactivate the old reference in UCAN and select a new recipient. It is not possible to have more than one active referee for each reference form and once made inactive, a referee cannot be re-activated.

Make sure to choose referees who can speak to your candidacy specifically. Some organizations offer to provide standardized form letters, but this will not be accepted by UofC. It is your responsibility to ensure that the references are received by the deadline indicated by the school.

Pre-Interview Application Assessment

The University of Calgary medical school has an assessment equation to evaluate each complete application. The assessment includes objective and subjective evaluation of academic and non-academic skills and accomplishments. Scores are assigned in the following way:

Academic Attributes:

GPA 20%

MCAT CARS 10%

Global Assessment of Academic Merit 10%

Intellectual curiosity, scholarship, and research 10%

Non-academic attributes:

Evidence of communication skills 10%

Evidence of excellent interpersonal skills and collaboration 10%

Evidence of maturity, insight, and resilience 10%

Evidence of commitment to communities and advocacy on behalf of others 10%

Evidence of organizational, management, and leadership skills 10%

Your file will be reviewed holistically. Your extracurricular activities and letters of reference are not assigned any specific scores, but they still inform the scoring in multiple areas that have assigned scores, i.e. evidence of commitment to communities and advocacy on behalf of others, evidence of organizational, management, and leadership skills, etc.

Interview Format

At UofC, interviews take the form of Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) either live or virtual. The number and type of stations varies each year. The interviews are typically conducted in February and March. Your MMI score makes up 50% of your final ranking. Firstly, you should know how to prepare for med school interview. To get ready, make sure you know how to prepare for your MMI and practice with our MMI questions. You should also go over common medical school interview questions

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

Offers of admission will be made in mid-May via email. The status tab on UCAN will also allow you to see whether or not you have received an offer. A limited number of applicants who are not initially offered admission will be placed on a waitlist. The first round of waitlist offers will be made on or before June 1. Subsequent positions will be offered to the applicants at the top of the waitlist until all positions have been filled. Due to last minute changes in the plans of applicants, it has been our experience that we continue to offer a very small number of positions into late June. Waitlisted applicants will be notified when the class has been filled. Unsuccessful applicants should note that we will not give specific feedback or advice on the unsuccessful application, although we are happy to answer general questions regarding the application process. If you want to learn how to get off a medical school waitlist, make sure to read our blog.

Contact Information

Admissions website

Admissions email: [email protected]

FAQs

1. I do not see extracurricular or volunteer sections anywhere in the application. Are they not included?

While UCAN does not have specific sections for extracurriculars and volunteer experiences, this does not mean that you cannot highlight these experiences within your application. You can choose to include them in your Top 10 Experiences list or ask one of your volunteer supervisors or sports coaches to be your recommender. Remember, composing your application is a difficult job that requires a lot of reflection and tough choices. Try to create an application that demonstrates your versatility and involvement in a variety of paid and unpaid activities. Demonstrate your professional experiences, as well as your personal interests and passions.

2. Is there anything unique about UofC’s MD curriculum?

In addition to being a 3-year program, UofC’s MD students are exposed to mandatory rural rotations in towns like Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Yellowknife, as well as rural sites like Brooks, High Level and Pincher Creek. You should be prepared to do from 5-10 weeks of your clinical experience (pre-clerkship and clerkship) outside of the city of Calgary.

3. What is the minimum MCAT score I need to get to be a competitive candidate?

Alberta residents do not have an MCAT cut-off, while out-of-province applicants must score at least 128 in their MCAT CARS section to be eligible to apply. If you have written the MCAT more than once, the admissions committee will see all your MCAT scores. Your best CARS score will be selected automatically for use in the file review scoring. MCAT CARS counts for 10% of your ranking.

4. How old can my MCAT be?

UofC does not have a limit on how old your scores can be, but only accepts the 2015MCAT.

5. How strict are your GPA and MCAT score cut-offs? I am an out-of-province applicant and my credentials don’t meet your minimums, should I still apply?

No, UofC does not consider or even review applications that do not meet the minimum criteria. Although Albertan applicants do not have MCAT cut-off, they must have a GPA of at least 3.20 to apply. Non-Albertan applicants must have a GPA of 3.80 and MCAT CARS score of 128 to be eligible candidates.

6. Do you have an MD-PhD program?

Yes, but the applicants to the MD-PhD programs are reviewed by the committee in the same way as the other applicants. Seats are not specifically reserved for students with graduate degrees. You must apply to the MD program and to graduate studies separately.

7. How do I prove my Alberta residency?

If your residency status is in doubt, you must be prepared to provide proof that you were physically residing in the province of Alberta during the time you indicate in your application. Items that may support such claims include pay stubs, tax returns, utility bills, driver’s license, car registration, cell phone records, credit card statements, or any other similar documentation. These documents should be saved in case the Office of Admissions requests them. Simply holding a lease on a property in Alberta or having an Alberta driver’s license may not be considered sufficient evidence of residency.

8. Do I need to take the CASPer test to apply to UofC?

No, Cumming School of Medicine does not require the CASPer test.

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