In other blogs, we covered admissions criteria and pros and cons of attending Caribbean medical schools and medical schools in Europe. In today's post we are going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of going to medical school in Australia and/or New Zealand as a North American. 

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Australian Medical Schools

What are Australian med schools like?

Here's an overview:

  • There are 21 medical schools in Australia.
  • Degrees granted range from MBBS, MBChB and, now, MD. Completion of one of these makes one a “junior doctor” in Australia.
  • Duration of degrees range from three to six years, depending on the school and degree.
  • For our purposes, basic medical training includes an Undergraduate course:
  • In any discipline and then a 4-year, graduate entry medical course.
  • In medicine, with a 5 or 6 year duration.
  • Most international students should aim to complete a North American (US or Canada) undergraduate degree and a four-year Australian MD. International students can certainly apply to the MBBS and MBChB programs but the more common scenario is a graduate entry one. 

Are Australian med schools legit?

Yes. We can confidently call these legitimate medical degrees.

All Australian medical schools are accredited by the Australian Medical Council Ltd., and the accreditation process is transparent (Click here to learn more). 

What are the admission criteria for Australian med schools?

Of the 21 medical schools in Australia, 12 offer MD programs.

For a list of medical schools, click here

For example, at the University of Sydney, the requirements for international students include:

  • English proficiency.
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or Graduate Australian Medical School Admission Test (GAMSAT). Minimum scores present.
  • GPA
  • Interview
  • No specific course prerequisites.
  • Situational judgement testing. 

How much do Australian medical schools cost?

Australia is an active recruiter of international medical students because they pay higher fees and subsidize the education of Australians and New Zealanders.

Still, international spots in Australian medical schools are not easy to land.

The tuition fee for The University of Sydney is $71,000 AUD per full-time year at the time of writing this post (That's over $50,000 USD or over 70,000 CAD), and this doesn’t include health insurance, taxes and a variety of miscellaneous charges. Scholarships are open to international students.

Some North American banks will extend lines of credit to people pursuing medical education in Australia, but students should have access to additional funds. 

The cost of living in some Australian cities is high, especially Sydney. 

Where do I actually do my clinical placements if I go to a medical school in Australia?

Australian medical schools are very pragmatic: They recognize that many international students would like to return home for residency and their careers.

The third and fourth year of Australian MD degrees are akin to the US and Canadian “Clerkship” which are rotating clinical placements in core disciplines.

The University of Sydney and most of the other MD-granting universities offer flexible programming to allow international students to do core rotations and elective rotations in their home country.

The onus remains on the student to actually arrange these rotations which can be very challenging.

Almost 50% of medical students studying in Australia reported difficulty arranging clerkships in Canada, but over 80% of medical students in the Caribbean did the same. There is a favourable bias towards Australian and Ireland medical schools.

Will I get a residency spot in North America if I go to med school in Australia?


As with all medical schools outside of the US and Canada, they cannot guaranteed placement in postgraduate medical education - or residency – spots. For that matter, North American schools can’t guarantee a successful match either.

International Medical Graduates (IMG) enter into the US and Canadian matches under special reservations and there are far fewer spots available than applicants.

Also, some students trained in Australia want to stay in Australia and earn decent money as a junior doctor as they progress towards specialty training. These people tend to make their home in Australia.

Most have an intention to return to the US and Canada but there isn’t good data on who actually makes it back

What about visa requirements?

Once you’re accepted, this part is easy.

As long as you don’t have a criminal record or have a complex immigration situation. 

Bottom line:

Along with Ireland, Australia is one of the most reputable place to go to medical school outside North America.

It is possible that you will not be able to return to your home country for residency. In fact, it is likely.

Australia is not a bad place to live or have a career. If you go to medical school in Australia, you should be prepared to live there and work there, but you have to make sure that you are eligible to practice there if you obtain an MD degree as an international student. 

New Zealand Medical Schools

What are New Zealand med schools like?

New Zealand is not a common destination for North American medical school candidates.

There are two medical schools in New Zealand.

The University of Auckland

  • 6 year MBChB program
  • Graduate entry programs available
  • Most international students go here.

Dunedin School of Medicine, at The University of Otago

  • 6 year MBChB program

Here's an overview of their curriculum:

  • Year 1: Bachelor of Health Science, or Bachelor of Science.
  • Year 2: Basic science studies.
  • Year 3: Basic science studies.
  • Year 4: Clinical rotations.
  • Year 5: Clinical rotations.
  • Year 6: Clinical rotations, including overseas placements which need to be arranged far in advance.

Are New Zealand med schools legit?

Both New Zealand medical schools are accredited in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

For several decades, New Zealand trained all Malaysian doctors through an agreement with the Malaysian government. 

What are the admission criteria for medical schools in New Zealand?

  • GPA. No clear cutoffs, but it is a B+ for domestic applicants.
  • UMAT. This criteria is waived for international applicants.
  • Interview. This is done over Skype for international students where possible.
  • This interview is very conversational in nature, and includes some behavioral interview questions. 

How much do they cost?

The annual tuition for the University of Auckland is $70,910 NZD (That's around $50,000 USD or $70,000 CAD).

The University is unable to help with tuition assistance, but you are able to apply for scholarships directly. 

Where do I actually do my clinical placements in I go to medical school in New Zealand?

The New Zealand government has not actively embraced international students, outside of the agreement with Malaysia, and the medical schools have a clear public mandate with a focus on rural and Indigenous communities.

Therefore, medical students spend most of their time in New Zealand communities but placements can be arranged in Australia, the US and Canada as per the students’ plans. 

Will I get a residency spot in North America if I go to med school in New Zealand?

The same caveats for Australian medical schools apply.

NZ medical students can apply to Australia as domestic candidates for residency positions.

There is basically no reputation that NZ-trained medical students have in North American schools. They’re basically lumped in with Australian schools. 

What about visa requirements?

Student visas are easy to organize once a spot is secured, as NZ is a Commonwealth country.

Also, I was told by a former staff member at the University of Auckland that after two years, international students can apply for permanent residency in NZ and later they can pay domestic tuition fees. 

Bottom line:

  • Same as Australia.
  • A little cheaper.
  • A little less well known.
  • A little farther away.
  • But otherwise the same as Australia in terms of prospects.

About the author:

Dr. Ashley Faye White is currently a rural medicine resident at McMaster University and a senior admissions expert at BeMo. She has an M.D. from McMaster medical school and has navigated her way into med school as a non-traditional applicant.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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Jao Jundam

Hi, I'm an Australian permanent resident but I want to study medicine in New Zealand. Pls give me advise. :)


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Jao! Thanks so much for your question. Please contact us for a free initial strategy call so we can discuss how we can help you!