If you’re looking for a medical school without the MCAT in Canada, you’re in luck, because they exist. Taking the MCAT (Medical College Application Test) is one of many medical school prerequisites, at least in North America, but some schools in Canada admit students based on other factors like academic excellence, or, in certain cases, ethnic, geographical, and cultural identity. Medical schools in Canada have a diverse set of admission requirements, but medical schools that don’t require the MCAT are rare.
This article will list those schools, their admission requirements, and the advantages and disadvantages of not taking the MCAT.
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Medical Schools Without MCAT in Canada
There are seventeen medical schools in Canada. Six of those schools, which make up medical schools in Ontario and medical schools in Quebec, do not require prospective medical school students to take the MCAT:
- University of Ottawa
- Northern Ontario School of Medicine
- McGill University
- Université Laval
- Université de Montréal
- Université de Sherbrooke
Should MCAT and GPA be BANNED from the med school admissions process? Watch this video:
One school, Queen's University, runs a unique program – the Queen’s Accelerated Route to Medical School – aimed at students with Black and Indigenous heritage who are not required to take the MCAT. But the program is restricted to those who identify as Black or Indigenous, and there are only ten seats available every year.
1. University of Ottawa
The University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine is one of the medical schools in Canada that does not require applicants to take the MCAT. The program takes into consideration other factors like cumulative GPA (cGPA), with the cGPA range being 3.5–4.0; three medical school letters of recommendation (two from personal sources and one from an academic source); and a Detailed Autobiographical Sketch, so you should know how to make your OMSAS autobiographical sketch stand out.
Students who want to apply need to submit their application via the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS), which is a requirement of every medical school in Ontario. But uOttawa does not require that you submit an MCAT score; this exception applies to all applicants, regardless of race, sex, or geographic location.
While not requiring applicants to submit an MCAT score, the school does require students to take the CASPer test and submit their scores along with the rest of their application. uOttawa offers a range of pathways available to students who meet particular requirements. Three such pathways – First Nations, Inuit and Metis applicants / Black Student Application / Social Accountability Initiative – were created to help students from these backgrounds enter medical school (the SAI is aimed at low-income, non-traditional medical school applicants and international students).
Academically, the University of Ottawa offers undergraduate, premed courses, postgraduate medical studies, and a combined MD/PhD. UOttawa is one of the only medical schools to offer instruction in both English and French. According to the school’s own statistics, it admits an average of 168 students per year – 120 to the anglophone program and 48 to the francophone program.
Applicants to the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine need to have completed at least three years of an undergraduate degree at a recognized Canadian university. The course requirements comprise Humanities (6 credits), Biology (6 credits), and 3 credits each in Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Statistics.
Acceptance Rate: 3.48%
Minimum GPA: 3.5
Tuition Fees: $25,487
MCAT: not required
2. Northern Ontario School of Medicine
The Northern Ontario School of Medicine was a forerunner in offering pathways to students from rural and remote areas of Canada for a career in medicine. The school’s stated mission is “to contribute to improving the health of the people and communities of Northern Ontario by advancing the highest quality of medical practice, learning, teaching, research, and professionalism.”
The school encourages and gives preference to applicants from francophone and Indigenous communities, as much as it considers and gives preferences to applicants from Northern Ontario. It is in this spirit of inclusion that the NOSM does not require any of its applicants to take the MCAT. It is also an accommodation for students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds who may not have the resources to properly prepare for the test, even if affordable options for MCAT test prep services exist.
The school diverts all applicants into three, separate application streams based on how they identify on their application: Francophone Stream, Indigenous Stream, and Military Medical Training Program. All other students are diverted into the General Admissions Stream, but students from francophone and Indigenous backgrounds can also apply to the General Admissions Stream.
The NOSM uses a Context score and other non-academic considerations to grade the eligibility of successful applicants, rather than relying on scores from the MCAT Physics and MCAT Chemistry exams. An applicant’s Context score considers their “rural and Northern background” if they apply via the General Admissions Stream and meet the criteria of “rural” established by Statistics Canada, or their “Francophone and Indigenous background” if they apply via those respective programs.
The Context Score also allows students to submit an Autobiographical Sketch – a type of medical school personal statement, similar to the AMCAS Work and Activities section – where they can relate personal details about their background, unique experiences of living and growing up in Northern Ontario or other remote locations, and what interests them about living or working in underserved areas.
The academic requirements are standard (4-year undergraduate degree, GPA score within the 3.00–4.00 range with a preference given to higher), and students can apply grades or credits earned from distance courses, part-time studies, and summer or supplementary classes. These requirements make the NOSM one of the easiest medical schools to get into.
Acceptance Rate: 4.03%
Minimum GPA: 3.0–4.0 (preference for higher grades)
Tuition Fees: $24,008
MCAT: not required
CASPer: not required
3. McGill University
McGill University removed the MCAT medical school requirement over a decade ago, mainly because the school felt the English-based test could not be translated adequately into French, which put a majority of the Montreal-based school’s francophone application pool at a disadvantage. Canadian applicants do not need to take the test. However, the school does require international students who have taken the test in their home countries to submit their scores for consideration.
Students who submit their MCAT scores must have a score around 508–509+ or greater than the 80th percentile. McGill, like the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, offers three distinct application pathways to students from Black, Indigenous, and Rural communities. Residents of Québec have 120 seats available to them, while out-of-province applicants vie for only 10 available spots. Black Québec residents have an unlimited number of positions, while Rural and Small Populations candidates have 5 seats available.
The medical school GPA requirement is similar to that of other schools (anywhere between 3.5–4.0), but preference is given to students with an average score of 3.8 or higher. Applicants should have a four-year undergraduate degree from a recognized university in Canada, the US, or another international university. The school divides its consideration of applications between their academic (70%) and non-academic attributes (30%), with 20% of the non-academic requirements being made up of the CASPer situational judgment test and a medical student CV.
Each specific pathway (Black, Indigenous, Rural, General) has its own admission requirements, but Québec residents must have an overall R-Score (cut-off) at McGill of 3.2, with an above-average score being 3.5.
Acceptance Rate: 10.37%
Minimum GPA: 3.5–4.0 (preference given to 3.8 and higher)
Tuition Fees: $17,191 Québec residents / $45,752 non-Québec residents
MCAT: not required for Canadian applicants / based on degree location
CASPer: required for all applicants (in-province, out-of-province, international)
4. Université Laval Medical School
The Université Laval Medical School in Laval, Québec, offers its four-year MD program only in French, and students must have a demonstrated fluency in French to apply successfully if they are from outside Québec. Non-native French-speaking students must score between 400–699 on the compulsory TCF-TP and 14/20 on the written expression test, or TCF-TP/EE.
The Laval admission requirements divide students along several lines. There are different requirements for those who are from Québec, Canadians not from Québec, permanent residents of Canada in Québec and other parts of the country, and foreign students. Québec and Canadian residents need either a DEC (Diplôme d'études collégiales) or four-year bachelor’s degree, respectively.
All applicants need to set up an Altus Suite account and take the CASPer test. They must also provide supporting documentation, like a birth certificate, transcripts, and proof of residency for out-of-province and international students. The school also makes students undergo several MMI-like interviews, called MEM, which makes up a large part of the application process.
Percentage of successful graduates: 9%
Minimum GPA: n/a
MCAT: not required
CASPer: required for all applicants
Tuition Fees: $4,070 in-province, $12,550 out-of-province, $33,840 international students
5. Université de Montréal
The Université de Montréal is the other medical school based in Montreal, after McGill University. The majority of applicants to the UdeM medical school are from Québec, with a small number of students coming from other parts of Canada, French-speaking members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and Indigenous applicants. Overall, the medical school accepts 332 new students every year.
The entrance requirements do not require the MCAT. Given the separate entrance categories (Québec residents, Canadian non-Québec citizens, members of the Armed Forces), each applicant has different admission prerequisites to meet. For example, Québec residents face the fewest eligibility requirements since they only need a four-year undergraduate degree (DEC), CASPer test, completion of MMI, and a physical examination.
Out-of-province applicants must meet those requirements and more. Non-Québec residents must also take French language proficiency tests, as all instruction is given in French. Students from Québec Aboriginal groups like Mohawk or Algonquin can apply for the eight seats reserved for them every year if they declare their identity on their application and confirm its validity with an Indian status document given to the program coordinator.
The academic requirements for all applicants are science-based and must be in subjects ranging from biology and chemistry to mathematics and physics. The GPA cut-off is 3.3, and academic performance is the only criterion on which applicants are judged before moving on to the other stages of the application process. All applications are scored based on their GPA (60%) and their CASPer score (40%). Applicants undergo several MEM if they are selected to advance, which is the last step toward being offered a place.
Acceptance Rate: 46.7%
Minimum GPA: 3.3
MCAT: not required
Tuition Fees: $12,007 in-province/$29,425 out-of-province
6. Université de Sherbrooke
The Université de Sherbrooke is another Canadian school based in Québec that does not require applicants to take the MCAT. The academic entrance requirements for Québec applicants are the same as for other medical schools in Québec: a four-year DEC or bachelor’s degree equivalent from a university outside of Québec with 15 undergraduate credits per year for a total of 60 credits before applying.
Anyone without a DEC or bachelor's degree equivalent must successfully complete at least 90 credits in all the program’s prerequisite coursework (physics, chemistry, biology) before sending an application. The medical school, like almost all Québec medical schools, requires successful completion of the CASPer exam but has no other requirements beyond academic performance, CASPer results, and several MMIs for admission to its medical school.
Acceptance Rate: 8.5%
Minimum GPA: information not available
MCAT: not required
Tuition Fees: $12,285 in-province/$33,437 out-of-province
Why Do These Schools Not Require the MCAT?
The reasons the schools listed here and other schools don’t require the MCAT are varied and depend on the institution. For example, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine does not require the MCAT because students from its central demographic – rural and remote areas of Northern Ontario – are not able to hire the best MCAT private tutoring service or take the time away from other responsibilities (work and family) to take the best MCAT prep course in Canada. The NOSM also has a mandate to graduate doctors to serve in chronically underserved parts of Ontario, which is why it draws students directly from those areas.
We already talked about why the francophone universities do not require the MCAT – because there is no French equivalent – but the other schools on this list have more complicated reasons. Like the NOSM, other Canadian schools have tried to address the unequal access to MCAT resources that make taking the test easier for economically advantaged students by eliminating the test outright.
Medical schools across Canada have started to take into account the racial, gender, and socioeconomic inequality woven into the medical school application process. They have begun to change their admission requirements to better reflect applicants’ diverse backgrounds with the ultimate goal of expanding the visibility of the populations doctors serve.
Even with medical school application help, students from disadvantaged groups still face systemic challenges that white, rich, and upper-class students do not. Wealthier students do not need to work while studying and can devote more time to study for the MCAT. They can afford the best MCAT prep books to find out things like when to start studying for the MCAT and how to create the ideal MCAT study schedule.
BeMo founder and CEO, Behrouz Moemeni, has questioned the need for or usefulness of standardized tests like the MCAT and grading systems like the grade point average. In his book, 14 Rules for Admissions Screening in Higher Ed: An Antidote to Bias, Dr. Moemeni states that the traditional admissions process is flawed, for the very reasons that some schools have dropped the MCAT as a requirement (racial, gendered, socioeconomic bias).
But that is why BeMo offers free strategy calls for students who are wondering whether they want to go to medical school and take the MCAT or not. BeMo consultants come directly from academia and have years of experience as graduate and PhD students, while also being professionals in their chosen fields like law, business, and medicine.
Are There Advantages to Taking the MCAT?
Yes, there are advantages to taking the MCAT. Many argue that the MCAT is a vital tool to use in the admissions process. They maintain that the high standards of the medical profession necessitate a scientifically proven method to ensure that only the most academically prepared are admitted, which is borne out by some evidence. Another reason to take the MCAT is to acclimate yourself to the pressure of standardized testing since your medical school journey involves many levels of testing, interviews, and applications before you become a certified doctor. One study showed that students who did well on the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section of the MCAT ultimately passed the MCCQE Part 1 to become licensed physicians in Canada.
Should I Take the MCAT?
If you’re worried about questions like how hard is the MCAT or when should I take the MCAT, you should be aware that taking the MCAT is still a basic requirement for the majority of medical schools in North America. Opting not to take the MCAT in Canada means fulfilling other requirements, like the language proficiency tests in Québec (if you are not a fluent French speaker) and the geographical criteria imposed by others like the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, which accepts applications from students in big cities but shows a preference for those from Northern Ontario and other similar regions.
Your background should also determine whether or not you take the MCAT, and whether you need to hire a medical school consultant in Canada to show you how to improve your MCAT CARS score. The schools listed here did away with the MCAT requirement for very specific reasons: to remove barriers to access for people who are disadvantaged by the existence of the MCAT.
Dr. Saleem Razack, the current director of the Office of Social Accountability and Community Engagement at McGill, but a former assistant dean of admissions at the medical school, said when the school eliminated the MCAT, “we want to make sure there’s no barrier for a major segment of our population.”
Although mentioned here only briefly, the Queen's University Medical School is another school that does not require the MCAT for students who identify as Black or Indigenous and is the only program of its kind in Canada. The QuARMS (Queen's University Accelerated Route to Medical School) was started to address the needs of medically underserved Black and Indigenous communities and offers graduating high school students a faster track to becoming doctors than other schools – something you might wish to seriously consider if you are Black or Indigenous.
The medical schools without MCAT in Canada do not require the standardized test for a variety of reasons. Some have chosen to drop the MCAT because it does not have an equivalent for French speakers, while others view it as an unnecessary impediment to students who have a passion for medicine but do not have the time or resources to prepare for the test, given how long the MCAT test is.
But they do have other entrance criteria, which may disqualify you if you come from out-of-province and do not speak the language. These schools do not make it easier for people who want to go to a medical school without a science background since they have prerequisite coursework you have to complete, but medical schools without the MCAT in Canada are an option for the disadvantaged communities these medical schools were created to serve.
1. Is it a good idea to not take the MCAT?
Whether you take the MCAT or not depends on your ultimate career goals and whether you qualify for a medical school program that does not require the test. If you have the academic performance (high GPA, excellent MCAT scores) and motivation to enter a program that does not require the test, you should apply. If you apply to a traditional medical school, the option not to take the MCAT is not applicable, since it is a near-universal requirement.
2. Is there any bias in the MCAT?
The MCAT and other standardized tests are often accused of bias, but the evidence is not clear on whether there is any inherent bias against particular groups. Many argue that other societal factors – and not the MCAT itself – are responsible for the unequal representation of different races and genders in medicine. But what is also clear is that schools that lower their MCAT threshold, like the Howard University College of Medicine, to accept more students succeed in graduating those students.
3. Why do schools drop the MCAT requirement?
Every school has its own reason for eliminating the MCAT requirement, but that does not mean the test is inherently flawed or obsolete. Medical schools often consider it their responsibility to provide quality medical care to the communities to which they belong, and that need takes precedence over testing requirements.
4. Can I become a doctor without taking the MCAT?
Yes, you can become a doctor without taking the MCAT, and the schools listed here are evidence of that. Other steps to becoming a doctor, like residency and taking the MCCQE Part I and MCCQE Part II to obtain a license, are unavoidable and mandatory.
5. How much does it cost to take the MCAT?
The standard registration fee to take the MCAT is USD$330, but if you qualify for assistance, you will pay only USD$135. International students, including Canadians, are charged an additional USD$120 as an international fee. The cost of the MCAT is one more reason people argue against it.
6. What are the other entry requirements if schools do not require the MCAT?
If a school does not have an MCAT requirement, they often make students take the CASPer test to ascertain whether they have the appropriate behavioral characteristics to excel in medicine. Some schools, like McGill, accept the MCAT CARs section and exclude the others. And the NOSM has created its own algorithm to grade applicants on a variety of specific criteria.
7. Can I apply to a school that does not require the MCAT in Canada?
There are only six schools in Canada that do not require the MCAT, and they do so for a very specific set of reasons (increasing accessibility, removing language barriers), but others do allow all applicants to apply – out-of-province, in-province, and international students. Schools like the NOSM and UdeM removed the MCAT to better accommodate underserved populations in-province, so out-of-province applicants have a harder time getting in.
8. Is the MCAT important for my medical school application?
If you are applying to a medical school that requires the MCAT, your MCAT score is a very important part of your application. But it is only one component of getting into medical school. Many medical schools are now adopting holistic approaches to reviewing applications (scrutinizing all parts of the application, from GPA to personal statements), so you should not overlook the importance of every part.
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