There are no online medical schools in the US and Canada, but there are online medical-related programs that can help you prepare for the rigors of on-campus MD and DO schools! In this article we list the best online programs that can help you prepare for the study of medicine as well as evaluate the potential challenges and rewards of pursuing a medical education online. As the digital age transforms education, it's essential for prospective medical students to understand the nuances of online learning and its place in the medical field.

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Article Contents
9 min read

There Are NO Online Medical Schools! Top 10 Online Medical-Related Programs in the U.S. Top 10 Online Medical-Related Programs in Canada Should Medical Schools Go Online? What is it Like to Study Medicine Online? How Do Clerkships Work in Online Medical Schools? FAQs

There Are NO Online Medical Schools!

Firstly, don’t fall into the scam that there are actually accredited, fully online medical schools in the US or Canada. That’s just not true. If you see this term anywhere, run! Currently, there are no accredited medical schools in the U.S. or Canada that offer their curriculum exclusively online. What does exist are medical schools in the US and Canada that incorporate hybrid learning – a blend of online coursework with in-person clinical training and lab work.

While some lectures, discussions, and theoretical training may be conducted remotely using advanced technological platforms, interactive simulations, and virtual communication tools, the foundational medical training that requires hands-on experience, such as lab work, patient interactions, and clinical rotations, mandates in-person attendance. So the way you prepare for clinical rotations and complete them stays the same.

The attraction to these hybrid programs is the flexibility they offer for the theoretical component of the curriculum. Students may have the opportunity to study some portions from any location and, in some cases, at a pace that suits them. However, it's imperative for prospective students to understand that the practical and clinical aspects of their medical education will require physical presence, either on the main campus, affiliated hospitals, or clinics.

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Top 10 Online Medical-Related Programs in the U.S.

Before diving into our list, it's crucial to clarify a vital point: the programs and courses listed below are not full MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degrees that can be completed entirely online. Instead, these are medical-related programs or courses that either can help prepare you for medical school or allow you to study some aspects of medicine in conjunction with your in-person medical school training. We also include programs that train future physician assistants and nurses, since there are many people who look to transition into becoming a doctor later (from PA to MD, from nurse to doctor, etc.)

The essence of medical school — including clinical rotations, hands-on patient care, and certain lab work — mandates in-person attendance. The following list, therefore, highlights universities that have garnered attention for their online offerings in the broader realm of healthcare and medicine.

1. Clemson University

Overview: Known for its research and innovation, Clemson University provides robust online programs in healthcare and health administration.

Unique Feature: The university incorporates research-intensive modules that allow students to delve deep into medical subjects.

2. Rutgers University

Overview: Rutgers offers a comprehensive set of online courses related to health professions, expanding the horizons of digital medical education.

Unique Feature: Rutgers emphasizes interprofessional education, fostering collaboration between various healthcare disciplines.

3. Ohio State University

Overview: OSU's College of Medicine offers online master's programs and courses tailored to the evolving healthcare landscape.

Unique Feature: Their online courses integrate cutting-edge research, ensuring students are always abreast of medical advancements.

4. Brandeis University

Overview: While not a traditional medical school, Brandeis offers online programs in health and medical informatics.

Unique Feature: Brandeis focuses on the intersection of healthcare and technology, preparing students for the future of medicine.

5. University of Denver

Overview: Known for its professional and continuing education programs, the University of Denver provides online courses in healthcare management.

Unique Feature: They emphasize leadership and management within the healthcare sector.

6. Yale University

Overview: Yale's online Physician Assistant Online program is a blend of online coursework and in-person clinical rotations.

Unique Feature: The rigorous curriculum ensures students receive a holistic education akin to on-campus offerings.

7. Ashworth College (Norcross, GA)

Overview: Ashworth College offers online programs tailored to healthcare careers, including medical office assistants and healthcare management.

Unique Feature: Their programs are designed to be affordable and self-paced, catering to working professionals.

8. George Washington University

Overview: GWU provides an array of online healthcare programs, from health sciences to clinical research administration.

Unique Feature: GWU emphasizes real-world application, allowing students to apply theoretical knowledge in practical settings.

9. Drexel University

Overview: Drexel's College of Medicine offers a range of online master's programs in topics like clinical research and drug discovery.

Unique Feature: The university has a reputation for integrating experiential learning into its online modules.

10. Tufts University School of Medicine

Overview: Tufts offers online Public Health and Health Informatics and analytics programs, aligning with the industry's evolving needs.

Unique Feature: The curriculum is interprofessional and focuses on the global perspective of healthcare.

It's imperative that you conduct comprehensive research into each program, ensuring it aligns with your career goals and educational needs. As the landscape of medical education evolves, always be sure to stay updated on accreditation standards and what's required for your desired medical career path.

Top 10 Online Medical-Related Programs in Canada

Before we explore this list, it's crucial to clarify a common misconception. None of the programs or courses enumerated below offer a full-fledged MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree online, since there are no online medical schools in Canada. Rather, they present a range of healthcare and medical-related programs, which can complement traditional medical education or provide a foundation for aspiring medics. Given the hands-on nature of medicine — from clinical practices to intricate lab procedures — in-person engagement remains indispensable. Here, we highlight renowned Canadian institutions known for their online courses and programs in healthcare and related disciplines:

1. Seneca College

Overview: Seneca College is recognized for its commitment to innovation in teaching. Their online health sciences courses are meticulously designed for comprehensive learning.

Unique Feature: They provide a blend of theory and practical knowledge, emphasizing the real-world application of medical principles.

2. Mohawk College

Overview: Mohawk College offers a variety of online health courses, ranging from health studies to applied health sciences.

Unique Feature: Mohawk focuses on student-centered learning, ensuring every course is engaging and relevant.

3. University of the Fraser Valley (UFV)

Overview: UFV's online health sciences programs are known for their rigorous academic standards and industry-aligned content.

Unique Feature: UFV incorporates community involvement into its curriculum, offering students invaluable networking opportunities.

4. McGill University

Overview: A prestigious institution, McGill University provides online courses in several disciplines, including health sciences.

Unique Feature: Their global outreach ensures that students are exposed to international medical practices and perspectives.

5. Dalhousie University

Overview: Dalhousie is renowned for its medical school, and its online offerings in health-related fields maintain the same standards of excellence.

Unique Feature: Dalhousie's approach is research-intensive, ensuring students are at the forefront of medical advancements.

6. Cambrian College

Overview: Cambrian's online health programs are known for their practical approach, preparing students for real-world challenges.

Unique Feature: Their curriculum is designed to be highly interactive, fostering active student participation and engagement.

7. Queen's University

Overview: Queen’s offers online postgraduate medical programs that mirror the rigor of its on-campus counterparts.

Unique Feature: With a focus on interprofessional education, Queen’s ensures students grasp the collaborative nature of healthcare.

8. University of Toronto

Overview: The University of Toronto, another esteemed institution, provides online courses across various health disciplines.

Unique Feature: They prioritize experiential learning, blending academic knowledge with real-world medical scenarios.

9. University of British Columbia

Overview: UBC's online offerings in healthcare disciplines are lauded for their quality and comprehensive nature.

Unique Feature: Their programs often integrate community-based research, offering a holistic educational experience.

10. University of Alberta

Overview: The University of Alberta's online health sciences courses are structured to offer a blend of academic rigor and practical skills.

Unique Feature: They have a strong focus on innovation in healthcare, keeping students updated with the latest in medical technology and practices.

Should Medical Schools Go Online?

There are many reservations about medical schools going totally online. While many schools have welcomed the innovations offered by virtual learning, there are several major reasons why going fully online may not be advisable:

Feedback from the Medical Community

Feedback from peers and experts is a valuable gauge of reputation. Within the medical community, the perspectives of established physicians, researchers, and academics are highly influential. While there's growing appreciation for the potential of digital tools in medical education, it's key to remember that no replacement exists for the hands-on, face-to-face clinical training integral to the profession.

Certain practitioners, especially those in specialized fields, might express reservations regarding fully online medical training. Always consult with trusted professionals when considering your education pathway.

Accreditation and Quality Assurance

Accreditation signifies the benchmark for educational quality. Before enrolling, always check the accreditation status of any institution, online or on-campus. If an institution claims to offer a complete online MD or DO program, be very cautious. Most likely, it is not accredited by a recognized medical accrediting body. Remember, accreditation not only ensures a quality education but also impacts the school's standing among residency programs and potential employers.

Employability and Alumni Success

The true measure of a school often lies in the accomplishments of its alumni. While the broader online education field has seen numerous success stories, with graduates achieving great heights, it's pivotal to differentiate between medical schools and other online programs. Fully online medical programs remain unproven in terms of producing successful medical practitioners. It's essential to scrutinize any claims made in this area thoroughly.

What is it Like to Study Medicine Online?

Transitioning from traditional classroom settings to an online environment can be a significant shift. For prospective medical students, understanding the day-to-day experience of online study is crucial to making an informed decision. This section delves into the dynamics, challenges, and benefits of studying medicine in the digital realm.

Flexibility and Convenience

One of the most distinct advantages of studying medicine online is the flexibility it offers. Students can access lectures, materials, and resources at their own pace and schedule. This can be particularly beneficial for those who have other commitments, such as work or family responsibilities.

Interactive Learning Platforms

Modern online medical schools employ advanced e-learning platforms that offer interactive modules, simulations, and virtual labs. These platforms often use multimedia, including videos, animations, and interactive quizzes, to enhance understanding and retention. Some of you may already have virtual research experiences and virtual shadowing under your belt, so these platforms may be familiar.

Virtual Collaboration and Peer Interaction

Online platforms usually have discussion boards, group project tools, and chat functionalities. Students can collaborate on projects, discuss challenging topics, or even form study groups, mimicking the camaraderie found in traditional medical school settings.

Regular Assessments and Feedback

Online medical students still undergo regular assessments through online quizzes, assignments, and even proctored exams. These assessments ensure students are on track with their learning. Regular feedback from instructors helps identify areas for improvement.

Self-discipline and Time Management

Studying medicine online requires a heightened sense of self-discipline. Without the structured environment of a physical classroom, students need to manage their time effectively, set regular study schedules, and avoid procrastination.

Access to Global Resources

Online platforms often grant students access to vast digital libraries, journals, and global resources that might not be readily available in traditional settings. This breadth of information can significantly enrich the learning experience.

Building Essential Soft Skills

Beyond the medical curriculum, studying online can help students hone essential soft skills such as digital literacy, online communication, and self-motivation, which are increasingly important in today's digital-first world.

Practical Hands-on Training

While theoretical coursework can be easily adapted for online learning, the medical field often requires practical, hands-on training. Many online medical programs partner with local clinics, hospitals, or labs where students can complete their practical sessions. Some institutions also organize periodic in-person training camps or workshops for specific hands-on skills.

Are There Online Clinical Rotations?

Yes, there are some aspects of clinical rotations that are done online. It's rare, but it happens. Clerkships are a critical component of medical education, offering students the practical, hands-on experience they need to transition from the classroom to patient care. Given the practical nature of clerkships, one might wonder how they are managed in an online medical school setting. This section delves into the mechanics, expectations, and nuances of online medical school clerkships, so you can ace even the hardest rotations in medical school if they require you to complete them online:

Understanding Clerkships

At their core, clerkships involve clinical rotations where students practice medicine under the supervision of experienced physicians. This allows students to apply theoretical knowledge, develop clinical skills, and gain exposure to various medical specialties.

Scheduling and Placement

Online medical schools often have affiliations or partnerships with hospitals, clinics, and private practices in various locations. Students might have the option to choose a location convenient for them or be assigned based on availability:

Structure and Duration

The structure of online clerkships often mirrors that of traditional medical schools:

Remote Learning Integration

While the hands-on aspect of clerkships cannot be replaced, online medical schools integrate digital components to enhance the experience:

Assessments and Feedback

Online clerkship students are assessed through various means:

Considerations for Online Clerkships


1. How does the application process for online medical-related programs differ from traditional on-campus programs?

The application process for online medical-related programs is largely similar to that of on-campus programs. Prospective students are typically required to provide academic transcripts, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and in some cases, attend an interview (which might be conducted via video conferencing for online programs). It's always essential to check the specific requirements of each institution or program to ensure a successful application.

2. How do online medical programs conduct laboratory or hands-on practical sessions?

Many online medical programs have hybrid models that blend online theory with in-person practical sessions. They may have tie-ups with local clinics or hospitals, or they might have dedicated periods where students are required to be on-campus for intensive hands-on training.

3. Are the tuition fees for online medical programs less expensive than traditional ones?

Not necessarily. While online medical programs might save on some infrastructure costs, the technology and platforms used can be expensive. The tuition fee will depend on the specific program, its reputation, and the resources it offers.

4. How do online medical program graduates perform in residency placements compared to traditional graduates?

The success in residency placements largely depends on individual performance, USMLE scores, letters of recommendation, and other factors rather than just the mode of education. However, it's essential to choose a reputable online medical programs to ensure adequate preparation for residency.

5. How do online medical students interact with their peers and instructors?

Online medical programs use various platforms and tools that facilitate interaction. This can include video conferencing tools, discussion forums, chat rooms, and collaborative projects. Some schools also have periodic in-person meet-ups or sessions.

6. Are there any specialties that online medical students cannot pursue?

The specialty a student can pursue depends more on their clinical rotations, USMLE scores, and personal interests rather than the mode of their medical education. However, it's crucial to ensure that the online medical programs offers comprehensive clinical rotations in the desired specialty.

7. Can international students enroll in online medical schools based in the US or Canada?

Yes, many online medical programs accept international students. However, international students should ensure that their degree will be recognized in their home country if they wish to practice there.

8. Are there any disadvantages to attending an online medical program?

While online medical programs offer flexibility and can be an excellent option for many, potential challenges might include the lack of a traditional campus experience, the need for self-motivation in remote learning environments, and potential biases from some professionals in the medical community. It's crucial to weigh the pros and cons based on individual circumstances and career goals.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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