If you're looking for medical schools that accept international students, then look no further! In this blog, we will reveal why many med schools don’t accept international applicants and some of the obstacles (and benefits!) that come with attending med school as an international student. We’ll also take a look at a comprehensive list of medical schools in Canada and the US that are currently accepting international applications, some challenges to keep in mind when completing your medical school application, and tips to consider when submitting your application as an international student. Although applying to med school as an international student has its challenges, they’re hurdles that are possible to overcome with the right planning, tools, and mindset!

Please note: 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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Article Contents
8 min read

Do all medical schools accept international students? Challenges to Expect When Applying to Medical School as an International Student The Benefits of Attending Medical School as an International Student Application Tips for International Students A List of Medical Schools That Accept International Students FAQs

Do All Medical Schools Accept International Students?

Getting an education at a medical school abroad can be difficult for international students for a variety of reasons. While no two schools are alike, the reasons why most institutions turn international applicants away are often fairly similar and frequently boil down to two main concerns: money and location. 

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), there’s currently a shortage of doctors that’s expected to grow to a whopping 122,000 missing medical professionals by 2032. Despite this shortage, some medical schools, particularly public institutions, are hesitant to admit international students. Public medical schools are partially government-funded, meaning that they receive a portion of their funding from whichever state or province they’re located in. This funding is meant to subsidize attendance costs of in-state/in-province students, since they are more likely to remain to practice within the state/province. Because of this, medical schools give preference to applicants that are going to remain in the area following graduation in order to help assuage the doctor shortage, which mainly includes local residents. 

Another reason why some med schools have closed admissions to international students is because of their concerns about whether a student will be able to pay off their medical school tuition debt. Most medical schools are costly to attend, with the average price of medical school tuition in the United States coming out to roughly $53,200/year. It’s not unusual for students to apply for bursaries, medical school scholarships, and student loans in order to cover the financial burden that comes with attending med school. Because of the hefty price tag that comes with attending school, some institutions may refuse admission to international students for fear of them getting their degree, leaving the country to return home, and skipping out on paying the remainder of their tuition fees. Additionally, some of the funding available to students to attend medical school in Canada and the US is only offered to local applicants or permanent residents, meaning that international applicants coming from abroad are not eligible for financial aid. 

Want to learn more about financial aid and how it works? Check out this infographic:

Lastly, some medical schools don’t accept international students due to potential complications with student and work visas. As part of their medical school application process, international students are required to get a student visa in order to study in the country of their choice. Once they begin their residency, however, these same international students will be required to apply for a work visa if they are still not permanent residents or citizens of the country where they attended medical school. If there are any complications or delays in the visa application process, an international medical graduate can be barred from participating in their residency. To prevent any visa complications that could potentially arise, some medical schools refuse international students without exception.  

Challenges to Expect When Applying to Medical School as an International Student           

Some of the more common challenges faced by international students looking to attend school abroad are the potential language barriers, the cost of education and limited funding opportunities, meeting prerequisites, and the number of limited spots available. 

One concern for international students looking to attend medical school in the US or Canada is the language barrier. Studying in another language can be difficult on the best of days, but trying to learn complicated medical terminology and procedures can add an entirely new level of difficulty to an already impressive challenge. It’s for this reason that most medical schools in English-speaking countries require that international students coming from countries that don’t have English as their official language include their TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) results in their application and can even request that applicants complete one to two years of college in the US or Canada.

A student’s proficiency in English isn’t the only language barrier they can face. Medical schools require letters of reference as well as official transcripts upon application. International students may be required to have their documents officially translated or accredited, an expense that will come out of the applicant’s pocket. There’s also a tremendous amount of paperwork and red tape that can be expected with international applications to medical school. In addition to making sure your documents are both legible and accepted by the schools you’re applying to, applicants also have to concern themselves with documentation and applications related to immigration, student visas, and housing. These complications are why students who finish their prerequisites at local institutes are often favored over international applicants looking to study abroad at medical school.

As mentioned previously, med school is a costly endeavor that carries an average price tag of upwards of $50,000 for tuition. For international students, this amount can easily double when taking into consideration the price of airfare, living expenses for students unable to live at home, and additional fees sometimes imposed on international students by academic institutions. As we discussed, funding opportunities for international students attending medical school are limited because:

Additionally, international students looking to work part-time in order to supplement their income and support their studies need to be mindful of the maximum number of hours their student visas allow them to work per week. For example, students looking to study in the United States are allowed to work a maximum of twenty hours a week during the school semester so long as the job is located on campus or affiliated with the school. 

With international students having to pay so much more in tuition, it's worth knowing which med schools are most affordable. Check out this video for the cheapest med schools:

Arguably the biggest challenge faced by international applicants is the scarcity of medical schools that accept international students, as well as the substantially lower medical school acceptance rates for international students.

For example, according to the AAMC’s matriculation data for the McGill University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill recently saw a total of 204 students enroll in their medical school. Of the students in the program, only ten were from out of province and only one was an international student (out of the 88 international students who applied). This means an acceptance rate of 1%! Unfortunately for applicants, the acceptance rate for international students is similar across the board. According to the AAMC’s data, Boston University School of Medicine saw only two international students register for their program (out of the 628 international students who applied), John Hopkins University School of Medicine saw four international students (out of the 367 international students who applied), and the Yale medical school saw seven international students register with them (out of the 431 international students who applied). 

Because of how limited spots are for international students, it's important to make sure that you ace every step of the application process, and know the best time to start your medical school application, and are properly prepared for the international medical graduate residency interview portion of the med school admissions process. Having one-on-one expert guidance during the process can seriously improve your chances and bring you one step closer to realizing your dream of studying medicine abroad. Here at BeMo Academic Consulting, we believe you can never be too prepared for success. It’s why we offer students a range of services from MCAT prep course and application reviews to interview prep and admissions guidance. We believe in bridging the gap between a student’s dreams and a student’s success, and we’re confident that we can help get you into the medical school of your dreams. 

Interested in an overview of some key points? This infographic is for you:

The Benefits of Attending Medical School as an International Student 

While the idea of attending medical school as an international student might seem a bit doom and gloom now, there are actually plenty of benefits that come from the experience. One of the biggest benefits that comes from attending a medical school in Canada or the US is the quality of education that students receive. The United States and Canada are home to some of the most world-renowned medical schools in the world, including Harvard Medical School, Stanford medical school, University of Toronto, Geisel, and more. With such impressive reputations, it’s no wonder that students from around the world want to attend.

In addition to a great education, some of the best medical facilities in the world are located in North America. Canada and the United States is home to cutting edge research and medical facilities, like the Mayo Clinic - Rochester in Minnesota or the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland.

Despite the hefty price tag that comes with an education in Canada or the US, students who graduate from medical school can expect to see some incredible returns on their educational investment. Physicians are some of the most respected and well-earning professionals in the US and Canada, with primary care physicians earning around $297K per year and specialists earning around $357K per annum. 

Of course, there are other benefits to attending medical school abroad too! When you study in another country, you learn to be increasingly self-reliant and can hone your skill of self-sufficiency. Nothing teaches you to trust your instinct or provide for yourself like moving to a new and unfamiliar city. You also get the opportunity to be exposed to new people and cultures. Plus, if you’re studying medicine in a second language, it gives you plenty of chances to practice and grow your conversational skills. 

Studying abroad is also a great way to impress future employers. Not only will it show them your resiliency and independence when it comes to your academic achievements, but it shows them that you’re passionate about medicine and are willing to go where opportunity and ambition take you. Plus, if you’ve come back from your time in medical school having learnt a new language, you’ll be able to communicate with more people and will make an even more valuable asset to any care team you join!  

Application Tips for International Students

It’s important to remember that standing out from the crowd is key when it comes to applying to medical school as an international student. Some tips to consider:

Although applying to medical school as an international student can seem like a daunting experience, it’s manageable with the right plan, the right mindset, and the right application! If you make sure to plan early, do your research and due diligence so that you know how to choose a medical school that accepts international students, keep an eye on your medical school application timeline (make sure to bookmark our handy list below for reference), put your best foot forward in the application process (something a medical school advisor can help with), and stay true to yourself and your dreams, then we’re confident nothing can stop you! 

A List of Medical Schools That Accept International Students

Although there are plenty of great med schools out there, only the following medical schools currently accept international students. We would like to remind that this information can change from one application cycle to the other, so always check the official websites of your chosen schools or the MSAR database for the admissions info included below.


1. If a school I want to attend doesn’t accept international students, can I still apply?

We strongly discourage it. Applying to a school that doesn’t accept international students wastes precious time and money that you could be spending on an application for a medical school that does accept international applicants. It’s important to carefully choose the schools where you have a chance for acceptance.

2. Are Canadian students considered international students when applying to American medical schools?

Not always. Some medical schools in the US consider Canadian applicants as out-of-state candidates, which means that they have a much higher chance of getting admitted. Additionally, they are required to pay out-of-state tuition costs, rather than international student costs. These are typically known as Canadian-friendly US medical schools, so make sure to check out the list on our blog.

3. Do I need to have attended high school in the same country as the medical school I’m applying to?

Sometimes! Although it’s not a requirement for every medical school that accepts international applicants, there are some that require students to complete a year or two of prerequisite classes in the state or province that their prospective medical school is located. For those that don’t require you complete a portion of schooling abroad, students are still expected to have completed the necessary prerequisite courses before their application to med school and will need to include their TOEFL results in their application if they’re coming from a country that doesn’t have English as its primary language.

4. Do I need to get a student visa and a work visa to attend medical school as an international student?

No and yes. In order to attend medical school, you need to obtain a valid student visa. These come with specific restrictions, including the number of hours you’re allowed to work while school is in session, and  these visa restrictions can vary depending on which province or state you're studying in. If you do not become a permanent resident or a citizen by the time you’ve completed your studies, you’ll need to obtain a work visa in order to complete your residency.

5. If federal loans aren’t available for international students, does this mean there are no financial opportunities for us?

Not at all! Although federal loans are often inaccessible to international students, that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for financial support! There are plenty of medical school scholarships as well as financial aid and loan programs through private banking institutions.

6. Will I pay more for medical school as an international student?

The answer to this question varies from school to school If you attend a private school, your tuition fees will not be significantly different from other students’. If you attend a public school, your tuition fees will be significantly higher than those of in-state/in-province/citizens.

7. If a medical school is accepting applications from international students does that mean someone is always guaranteed a spot?

Unfortunately, not necessarily. Although the schools mentioned in our list are presently accepting applications from international students, there’s no guarantee that any international students will be accepted.

8. What can I do to better my chances at being accepted to medical school as an international student?

As we outlined earlier, some ways you can improve your chances of being accepted as an international applicant include:

  • Building your resume of work before being admitted to medical school
  • Making sure to include your diverse insight and perspective into medicine in your application essay
  • Consulting with an advisor at BeMo Academic Consulting to make sure your application is in tip-top shape! 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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