University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry: Requirements, Statistics & How to Get in 2020

Updated: October 13, 2020


Like many medical schools in Canada, the University of Alberta medical school gives preference to in-province applicants, with a small number of seats available for out-of-province candidates. In this blog, you will learn about UofA’s admissions statistics and eligibility, application process, selection factors and tips on how to get in!

Here’s What I’ll Cover:

Mission Statement

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

Available Programs

Academic Curriculum

Application Timeline

Tuition and Other Costs

Funding Opportunities

Application Process

Selection Factors

Interview Formats

Acceptance Information

Contact Information

FAQs

Mission Statement

“The MD program is dedicated to the improvement of health through excellence and leadership in our educational programs, in fundamental and applied research, and in the prevention and treatment of illness.

Our mission is to prepare physicians to provide the highest quality of health care to the people of Alberta and beyond, and to advance knowledge and its application through research. We are committed to a tradition of excellence in our programs according to national and international standards.”

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

Overall success rate: 11%

Out-of-province students make up 15% of matriculants.

Average GPA: 3.85

Average MCAT: 128.61 per section

Location: Edmonton, Alberta

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Eligibility

The University of Alberta medical school accepts Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada. International students, including American applicants, are not eligible for admission. For a list of Canadian medical schools that accept US students, please visit our blog. Both medical schools in Alberta give preference to residents of Alberta. According to the University of Alberta, a resident of Alberta is defined as a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident (landed immigrant) who has been living in the province of Alberta, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut for at least one year immediately before the first day of classes of the term for which admission is sought. The one-year residence period will not be considered broken if the applicant was temporarily out of the province on vacation, in short-term employment, or as a full-time student. Applicants on study permit cannot establish residence during a period as a full-time student in an Alberta secondary or postsecondary institution because a stay with a study permit is considered to be a visiting period.

Available Programs

MD

The University of Alberta MD curriculum balances the scientific basis of medicine with early clinical experience. The curriculum emphasizes life-long learning, problem-solving skills, teamwork, and interprofessional education. One of the highlights of this MD program is the faculty’s full-dissection anatomy lab. It is one of only a few in the country and is kept open day and nigh to provide students a valuable learning experience through the dissection of human cadavers.

MD-MBA

The Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and the School of Business offer a program of combined study which permits highly qualified students to earn both the MD and MBA degrees within five years. Students could apply for leave between years two and three of the MD program to complete the condensed MBA program.

MD with Special Training in Research (MD-STIR)

This program is designed for undergraduate MD students who want to get involved in research. It provides more research opportunities than what is offered in the regular MD curriculum. An MD student can join a research team and directly engage in biomedical research while concurrently fulfilling MD-STIR requirements (application, presentation, reporting, defense). Students who successfully complete MD and all requirements of the MD-STIR program receive the designation of “Special Training in Research” on their degree parchment and transcript.

MD-PhD

The MD-PhD programs are intended for students who are committed to a career in medical research, so you should be fully prepared to take on the rigors of the Md-PhD curriculum. At UofA, in addition to the four years required to complete the MD degree, the PhD typically takes four to six years to complete. The PhD must be administered by a recognized graduate program at the University of Alberta, but it does not have to be in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. There are two general structures for completing the MD/PhD:

1. If entering from the MD program, you should inform the administration of your interest in the combined program by October 15 in the second year of the medical program. The complete application package should be submitted the following month by November 15. Acceptance into the program officially occurs after completion of the second year of medicine, at which time you will begin the PhD degree. When the PhD is completed, you will return to the MD program to complete clerkships (years 3 and 4).

2. If entering from an existing graduate program, you should indicate your interest in the MD/PhD program immediately upon acceptance to the MD program. Depending on the stage of graduate training, you may have the option of completing your doctoral degree before commencing the MD program or after the first or second year of medicine. In both cases, the thesis must be completed before starting clerkships.

Medical Laboratory Science

This is a four-year professional degree program. The first year is a pre-professional year to complete the prerequisite courses. The second year includes foundational laboratory courses where students have an opportunity to practice their skills. The third year is a 38-week clinical practicum under the supervision of Alberta Precision Laboratories in the Edmonton Zone, allowing you to demonstrate your competence. You will rotate through clinical laboratories in biochemistry, hematology, histotechnology, microbiology, and transfusion science. Successful completion of competencies in all five disciplines is required to write the CSMLS general certification examination. In year four, you will complete advanced electives in the laboratory disciplines and further develop your critical analysis and research skills.

Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy (BScRT)

Students learn how to deliver radiation treatment, patient care and research to cancer patients. It is a four-year, competency-based program that combines classroom learning, laboratory experiences, simulated scenarios and real clinical experiences to teach the concepts and theories behind therapy, patient care and professional practice.

Academic Curriculum

The four-year MD program is divided into two phases.

Pre-Clerkships

The main objective of years 1 and 2 is to prepare you for supervised learning in the clinical environment. The material is presented in a series of system-based courses. Each course presents the material in a progression from basic information to clinical application. Physicianship I is a longitudinal course that encompasses all aspects of the development of a physician including, but not limited to, professionalism, evidence-based medicine, ethics, health equity, patient safety, patient immersion experiences, communication skills and physical examination.

Clerkships

In years 3 and 4, the clerkship years, you receive your core practical training in hospital wards and medical clinics in Edmonton and in communities in north-central Alberta. In the clerkship years, students apply the basic knowledge of medical science from years 1 and 2 in a clinical setting. Clinical teaching is integrated with classroom sessions taught by experienced residents, allied health professionals, and clinical preceptors, many of whom have won awards for their teaching and research.

Application Timeline

July 1: application opens

Early September: send transcripts to Registrar

End of September: latest accepted MCAT date

October 15: application closes, transcript deadline

Early January: transcripts of 1st term results and 2nd term registration

February 2: transcript deadline

February: interview invitations

March: interviews are held

Early/mid-May: admission decisions

June 15: final transcripts and proof of degree conferment

August: orientation

Tuition and Other Costs

UofA MD program’s annual tuition is CAD$12,887.20. Books, supplies, and instruments fee is CAD$2,100, while other university fees like students’ union dental plan, U-Pass (local transportation), student health and wellness fee, etc., add up to CAD$3.850. You can try to opt out of some of these fees; reach out to admissions to learn more about your fee options. Don’t forget to include the cost of living in your budget. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Edmonton is around $900. Additionally, you may be paying for utilities, internet, phone, and cable. Factor in food costs and leisure activities. Remember, the last two years of medical school, i.e. your clerkship years, are always more expensive. You will be paying extra for taking electives that may require prolonged travel to other cities, moving between hospitals for rotations, and eating take-out as cooking at home may not be an option after long hours spent at the hospital. If you would like to know how much medical school costs, make sure to read our blog before you start preparing your budget.

Funding Opportunities

There are several scholarships, bursaries, and awards available to MD students at the University of Alberta. It is a long list, so please make sure you read the conditions and eligibility criteria of each award carefully. In addition to financial aid that is only available to the students of Medicine and Dentistry, MD students can also apply for financial aid available to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Alberta. If you are interested in taking out a loan to cover your medical school tuition, make sure you visit this page to learn everything you need to know about student loans for in- and out-of-province applicants.

Application Process

You must first complete the Application for Admission (AFA). Following this, you will complete the required checklist items and forms in your UAlberta Launchpad. The application itself is supported by the Office of the Registrar. Any questions about the AFA should be directed to [email protected] Questions specifically regarding the content you are required to provide is supported by Admissions, MD Program. Any questions about this should be directed to [email protected] You are recommended to use an internet browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox when completing the application as some versions of Internet Explorer are not compatible.

The application fee to apply to the MD Program is paid upon completion of the AFA:

  • $180 for undergraduate students new to the UofA (includes $125 general undergraduate application fee plus $55 supplemental MD Program application fee).
  • $130 for current or former UofA undergraduate students (includes $75 general undergraduate application fee plus $55 supplemental MD Program application fee).

Please note that the non-refundable application fee is payable online only. Once you pay the application fee, you will be provided with a UofA student ID and access to a UofA email address. Before you submit your completed application, ensure that you review your AFA for completeness and correctness. Once you submit you cannot make any more edits in your application.

Selection Factors

Coursework and Prerequisites

All MD applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate program and graduate in the spring or summer of the year of admission or already have completed their degree program. The University of Alberta medical school has no preference for which institution you attend or what discipline you study as long as you fulfill the requirements of your degree program. Though the program does not specify any course requirements, you should still consider taking medical school prerequisites to help you get ready for the MCAT and the study of medicine.

Courses from external institutions are converted to the University of Alberta units of course weight (ucw). Labs that are co-requisites for lectures, i.e. necessary parts of your courses, and are reported as separate courses on external transcripts will not be included in the total ucw. At the University of Alberta, a course with a lab component is reported singularly as 3 or 6 ucw. International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) credits received towards your baccalaureate degree are not considered part of post-secondary coursework and will not be used in calculating your course load and GPA.

As an out-of-province applicant, you must have a minimum of 60 transferable ucw. UofA requires that you complete one academic year (September 1 through April 30) with a full course load before being admitted to the MD program. According to the school’s criteria, a full course load is 30 transferable ucw, which is equivalent to 10 half-year courses or 5 full-year courses. The ability to successfully complete a full course load demonstrates to the admissions committees that you will be able to handle the course load in the MD Program.

GPA and MCAT

The minimum medical school cGPA requirement of Albertan applicants is 3.3 on the UofA 4.0 grading scale. Out-of-province applicants must have at least 3.5 cGPA to be considered for the program. Last year’s matriculants had 3.85 cGPA. To calculate your cGPA, UofA includes all transferable post-secondary coursework to which a grade was assigned. Only courses taken during full-time study during the academic year (September through April) or full-time study during the Spring and Summer terms (May through August) count towards the GPA. All coursework completed as part of a course-based graduate program will be considered. All coursework completed as part of a thesis-based graduate program to which a grade and course weighting was assigned will be included in the calculation of cGPA. Be mindful that UofA does not acknowledge repeated courses and will use your first grade in their calculation. Good news is that if you present 4 or more full-time academic years (September through April) of transferable post-secondary coursework, UofA may exclude the lowest academic year from calculation, provided that it is not the most recent full-time academic year, nor the only year in which the student earned 30 ucw.

UofA will accept an MCAT score no older than 5 years from the application deadline. Albertan applicants must have a score of 124 in each MCAT category (CPBS, CARS, BBFL, PSBB), while out-of-province applicants must have 128 in CARS and 124 in the other MCAT sections. Last year’s matriculants had an average MCAT score of 128.61 in each section. You must release your scores to UofA via the THx system on the AAMC website before the application deadline. Remember, your MCAT score will be one of the indicators of your readiness for the study of medicine. To get ready, make sure you create a thorough MCAT study schedule, which covers all the necessary disciplines and topics, including MCAT biology questions, MCAT physics equations, MCAT psychology, and MCAT chemistry questions. It’s important to have a good MCAT CARS strategy and practice with MCAT CARS passages and challenging reading.

Transcripts

You must send official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions ever attended directly from the issuing institution to the Office of the Registrar at UofA. Photocopies, hand-delivered copies, unofficial copies, and World Education Services (WES) evaluations will not be accepted. If you’ve attended an international institution, you may be required to provide further supporting documentation, such as course descriptions. Failure to provide transcripts on time may result in your application being deemed incomplete, which would result in the closure of your file. For concerns regarding your transcripts and supporting documentation please contact the Office of the Registrar directly. Electronic transcripts can be sent to [email protected] by your home institutions’ Registrar’s offices.

Personal Activities

Extracurriculars for medical school are extremely important for your application. This section of the application is meant to reveal the life experiences that led you to pursue the medical profession. Each section requires a minimum of one entry and a maximum of four entries. Do not leave any of the sections blank, as it will raise questions about your suitability for the program:

Employment. Include a brief description of your position, your responsibilities, a brief description of the time commitment, i.e. part-time during summer, seasonal, full-time, etc., and the total number of verifiable hours worked in each position. You’re allowed 325 characters per entry.

Leadership roles. List and briefly describe experiences in which you took on a major leadership role. This applies to scholastic, sports, volunteer positions, arts, and community activities. Include a brief description of the time commitment. i.e. part-time during summer, seasonal, full-time, etc., as well as the total number of verifiable hours committed. You’re allowed 325 characters per entry.

Volunteer Work. Provide information about your role and include the total number of verifiable hours worked in each activity. Indicate your time commitment, i.e. part-time during summer, seasonal, full-time, etc. You’re allowed 325 characters per entry.

Life Experiences and Achievements. This section is quite open-ended and may include, but not be limited to, achievements and experiences in education, arts, music, sports, athletics, science, research, languages, communication, cultural and ethnic experiences, and travel. You can include activities that you feel have defined your life. If applicable, include a brief description of the time commitment, i.e. part-time during summer, seasonal, full-time, etc., as well as the total number of verifiable hours committed. You’re allowed 325 characters per entry.

Personal Highlights. This section includes three questions, all of which are mandatory. 1. Please list and describe your top two personal achievements/experiences (750 characters/experience). 2. Please share a life experience where you encountered challenges and describe how you addressed the situation(s). You may include a different experience that you have not previously addressed in your application which will further serve the goal of learning more about you as an applicant (2000 characters). 3. Please share an experience that you have had which was significant enough, potentially even life-altering, that helped you become a better person (1500 characters).

Note that all activities are verified, so you must provide UofA with the contact information for someone who can confirm the details you provided for each activity. Do not use yourself as a verifier. If possible, avoid using family members or close friends as verifiers. Before you fill out this section of the application, it might be wise to discuss the information you are choosing to include with your verifier and notify them that they might be contacted.

Reference Letters

UofA does not accept traditional medical school recommendation letters as part of candidates’ applications. You will submit the contact information of two referees as part of your application. Please only select individuals who know you in a supervisory or professional capacity and who presently know you well enough to speak to your moral and ethical character, including coaches, co-workers, employers, leaders of volunteer organization or club, professors, supervisors, research supervisors, teachers, etc. Your referees will complete their reference letters in the form of a series of standardized questions. These questionnaires must be submitted to UofA by mid-October. Individual formal written letters are not accepted. Your referees will be addressing the following questions:

1. Do you feel this applicant should be admitted into the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry? Please explain why or why not.

2. Would you recommend a person who needed to see a doctor to this applicant if the latter was a trained physician? Please explain why or why not in your letter.

3. Please address the moral and ethical characteristics of the applicant.

4. Please comment on any/all outstanding characteristics (the strengths and weaknesses) of the applicant.

CASPer

Successful completion of CASPer is mandatory to maintain admission eligibility for UofA. To take CASPer, you will need access to a computer with audio capabilities, a webcam, and a reliable internet connection on your selected CASPer test date. Please go to takeCASPer.com to sign up and reserve a test using your UofA Student ID Number and a piece of government-issued photo ID. If you’re an external applicant, you will receive an email with your unique 7-digit UofA Student ID number after you pay the application fee.

The CASPer test is an online situational judgment test used to assess the professional suitability of students applying to medical schools. The test is comprised of 12 scenarios dealing with real-life situations and you are asked 3 follow up questions based on each scenario you observe. Essentially, the questions will prod you to answer how you would deal with the situation you witnessed. You are given 5 minutes to type your answers for those three questions. Your answer for each scenario is given a score between 1 (lowest) and 9 (highest). Make sure you know how to prepare for CASPer and use our CASPer questions to get ready.

Learn about different CASPer question types in our video:

Interview Format

All interviews will be conducted online, so make sure you know who to prepare for video interviews. The interview format can combine a variety of interview questions, so you can review traditional medical school interview questions and MMI questions. You might also want to review how to answer common medical school interview questions like “why do you want to be a doctor?” and “Tell me about yourself." Interview notifications will be sent in early to mid-February. Please note that anything you have included in your application may be discussed with you during the interview process. Make sure to review your application before the interview. 

Acceptance Information

Applicants who are offered admission must submit the following by the deadline indicated in their offer letter:

1. Completed Confirmation of Admission Form

2. Non-refundable $1,000 deposit, which is credited toward tuition upon completion of registration

3. Clear Police Information Check with Vulnerable Sector Check, not completed prior to the initial date of offers of admission

4. High-quality digital photo that meets passport photo composition standards

5. Final transcripts

6. Proof of degree conferment showing on official transcripts

Letters of Enrollment are granted by request only up until you have enrolled in classes. They will not be issued until you have met the conditions of your offer of admission. After you have enrolled in classes, Letters of Enrollment are available in the Bear Tracks portal. Further information on these requirements as well as the required immunizations (ie. hepatitis B, TB, varicella, etc.) are provided with the offer documents. Applicants who accept their offer of admission will receive a program package in July which details their course registration, BLS and FIT testing requirements, policies, and acknowledgement forms.

For applicants who receive medical school rejection notices, feedback letters will be available in the UAlberta Launchpad. UofA does not provide any additional feedback on your application beyond the information available in your feedback letter. Personal activities are evaluated by three separate committee members and as such requests for re-evaluation will not be considered. Admission decisions are final. There is no formal appeal to any other body or person within a Faculty or the University. Applicants who choose to reapply are treated as new applicants. As such, all applications must be completed again, and all post-secondary transcripts must be resubmitted.

Contact Information

Admissions website

Admissions email: [email protected]

FAQs

1. Do I have to write the CASPer on dates indicated on the UofA website, or are results from other CASPer dates accepted?

You will not need to retake the test if you take the CASPer on a different testing date than those mentioned on the UofA website. The testing dates noted are specifically for students who will not have written it for any other institution. Please note that CASPer tests are only valid for one year and must be completed each year you apply. You may only write the CASPer once per year.

2. How long is my MCAT score good for?

UofA accepts MCAT scores no older than five years before the application deadline.

3. What is the minimum MCAT score required to be eligible to apply?

In-province applicants must score minimum 124 in each MCAT section. Out-of-province applicants must score a minimum of 128 in CARS and 124 in the other three MCAT sections.

4. How is each application component weighted?

UofA does not disclose this information.

5. Can I submit a WES evaluation for international transcripts?

UofA does not accept WES evaluations. Please have your official transcripts sent from your institution directly to UofA Registrar’s Office.

6. How is the cGPA calculated?

To calculate cGPA, the University of Alberta medical school will include all transferable post-secondary coursework to which a grade was assigned while you were enrolled full-time during the academic year (September through April) or full-time during the Spring and Summer terms (May through August). For undergraduate students, to be considered full-time you must complete 18 transferable units of course weight (ucw) during the academic year (September through April) or 12 ucw during the Spring and Summer terms (May through August). For applicants presenting 4 or more full-time academic years (September through April) of transferable post-secondary coursework, you may exclude the lowest academic year from calculation, provided that it is not the most recent full-time academic year, nor the only year in which the student earned 30 ucw.

7. How do repeated courses or withdrawal courses affect my application?

UofA only uses the first instance in which you successfully completed (i.e. passed) a course. A Withdrawal will only affect your application if it occurs during the year in which you are applying. For example, if it affects your full-time status or your ability to graduate.

8. Do I get credit for the difficulty of my program?

No, UofA only take into account the grades as they show on your transcript and how they convert to the UofA grading scale.

9. Can I submit my CV or additional reference letters to bolster my application?

No, the University of Alberta medical school will not accept any additional application components. Traditional reference letters are not accepted and will not be considered as part of your application. Additionally, you can include entries of your CV in the Personal Activities section of the application, so there’s no need to submit a supplementary CV. 

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