Canadian medical schools are highly competitive, so many Canadian students look south of the border to attend Canadian friendly US medical schools. Many American schools have great reputations and outstanding educational standards, so it’s no wonder they attract applicants from Canada and other parts of the world. In this blog, you will learn about the American application process, tuition, funding opportunities, admission requirements, and finally, how to study in the US. Of course, you'll also find an up-to-date list of Canadian friendly US medical schools.
Here’s What We’re Going to Cover:
Canadian citizens looking to attend medical school in the United States must be aware that not all US medical schools accept Canadian and international students. Some schools do not even consider out-of-state applicants. This is due to several factors. Naturally, medical schools are highly competitive. Even though there is a shortage of medical professionals in the US and Canada, there is no shortage of applicants. Although the United States has over 150 medical schools, the competition is not any lesser than in Canadian medical schools, of which there are only 17. Another reason why some US schools do not accept Canadian and international medical students is their desire to support local applicants. States make the application process a bit more difficult and tuition costs a bit higher for external applicants to entice the in-state residents to attend their school. This is a way to support in-state medical development, since in-state applicants are more likely to stay and practice medicine in their home state.
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Most US schools designate three categories of students:
1) In-state residents
2) Out-of-State residents
3) International students
Canadian and international applicants with US permanent residency status are typically regarded as US applicants. Canadian citizens are treated by many schools as out-of-state applicants - these types of medical schools are often called “Canadian friendly”. These medical programs have the same admission requirements for Canadians as for out-of-state American students. Most importantly, Canadians do not pay international student fees, but rather out-of-state fees at these schools.
Something to consider is that Canadian and international applicants have a higher chance of being admitted to private US medical schools. Public medical schools receive funding from state and federal governments, so they are more eager to spend their money on American applicants, rather than qualified foreign nationals. This does not mean that Canadians cannot get accepted to US public schools, but it does mean that to be simply considered, the Canadian students’ applications must be better than their American counterparts.
The majority of US medical schools participate in the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). You can find a list of participating schools on the . This process is quite similar to the Canadian medical school application process, but AMCAS is a unified system. You do not need to send an application to each school separately. AMCAS takes care of all your applications and sends them to the schools you indicate in your application.
The general outline of the AMCAS application is as follows:
Sections 1-3: Your background information. In these sections, you will fill out your name, birthday, schools attended, citizenship, ethnicity, race, and more.
Section 4: Coursework and GPA calculator. In this section, you provide your transcripts and other information regarding your educational background. Your courses, grades, credits, foreign coursework, study abroad, and any other information you may have about your educational history. The majority of Canadian schools do not use a 4.0 GPA system, so if you’d like to see what your grades look like when converted, see the . AMCAS will convert all transcript grades to AMCAS grades based on conversion information provided by your school. This GPA conversion allows for a standard way to compare each applicant’s background. BCPM GPA will combine your biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics grades. The rest of your coursework will be calculated as AO (All Other) GPA. Note, classes taken in Canadian schools are not considered foreign.
Section 5: Work and Activities. A maximum of 15 experiences may be submitted, but you can enter up to four occurrences for each experience. Remember, quality trumps quantity! These activities will appear in chronological order to admissions committees and you cannot rearrange them. You can identify up to three experiences that you consider to be the most meaningful. If you have two or more experiences, you must identify at least one of them as the most meaningful. Our blog can help you prepare to write the section. If you need some more help with this section, check out our blog.
Section 6: Letters of Evaluation. In this section, you will indicate who is writing your recommendations, what types of letters will be sent to AMCAS, and which school should receive each letter. Your letters will be submitted to AMCAS by your referees. You will be responsible for giving each writer a Letter Request Form that includes your mailing address, AAMC ID, the Letter ID, and detailed instructions on how to submit the letter to AMCAS. The Letter ID must be included in each letter, as it will allow AMCAS to match the letter to the proper name correctly. You can learn everything you need to know about in our blog.
Section 8: Essays. You will upload your personal statement here. You are limited to 5300 characters, including spaces. You will be notified if you exceed the available space. When writing your personal statement, remember , which outline the qualities and experiences that successful applicants must demonstrate. If you need help preparing your medical school personal statement, check out some tips in our blog. You can also read the best .
Section 9: Standardized Tests. Your MCAT scores will be released here. If you are applying to special programs like MD/PhD or MBA/MD, you might have to provide your GMAT, LSAT, MAT, or GRE scores. You must remember that the schools can see all the times you sat the MCAT, so it is important to get the highest possible score in as few test attempts as possible. If you plan to take the MCAT exam more than once, try to find out if your chosen program will use your highest score or whether they will calculate your MCAT average. Their choice may affect your preparation and study plans. This knowledge will help you prepare for your MCAT and the AMCAS application process. Before you take the exam, learn about and . See our blog for .
After completing all the sections, you will need to certify and submit your application. Before submitting your AMCAS application, make sure to review it carefully. After you submit only certain changes can be made.
If you are planning to apply to DO programs, you will need to use the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). is similar to AMCAS, but of course, you will need to emphasize your dedication to osteopathic medicine in your application. Dedicate your time and efforts to extracurriculars that would demonstrate your interest in osteopathic philosophy and practice. For example, get clinical experience with or shadow a DO physician, rather than an MD. Although more difficult to do in Canada, working with a DO will make you stand out as an applicant. Furthermore, they can become an invaluable source for your DO medical school recommendation letters because you should really have the support of someone in the field. Just like AMCAS personal statements, DO statements are also limited to 5300 characters including spaces. Do not simply resubmit your MD personal statement to AACOMAS. Make sure that your personal statement outlines your commitment and adherence to osteopathic medicine. Take a look at some to get ideas for your own.
The state of Texas has its own application system, the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Services (). This application procedure is similar to AMCAS. You will be required to provide your personal information, education history, undergraduate coursework, extracurricular activities, and essays. TMDSAS requires two extra essay components, personal characteristics essay, and optional essay, in addition to the personal statement. TMDAS personal statement is limited to 5000 characters including spaces, while both and optional essay are limited to 2500 characters each.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the TMDSAS system is the residency determination process. First and foremost, the state of Texas aims to support and promote medical sciences within the state. They also want better access to medical education for their own residents. TMDSAS screens and identifies whether an applicant is a Texan resident. This screening process undoubtedly affects the admissions chances for out-of-state or international applicants. If the TMDSAS system determines that you are a non-Texas resident, you are less likely to be admitted.
Secondary applications are required by most schools. These are not submitted through AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS. If the school you apply to chooses, they will send you a secondary application. Some schools review your primary application before sending you the secondary, but some send them right away as soon as your primary application is submitted. You will be charged additionally for each secondary application.
Secondary applications usually consist of several essay prompts. Check out a full list of prompts to get an idea of what to expect. Remember to prepare well to respond to these prompts. Try to submit the secondaries as soon as you can – ideally, you will submit the secondary applications within two weeks of getting them. Medical schools will notice your interest and dedication if you send back secondary applications promptly. However, do not sacrifice quality in favor of speed. Check out some .
Regarding your secondaries, you might be wondering “What else can I say about my plans and yearning to become a doctor?” You probably already included all of your accomplishments and noteworthy personal experiences in the primary AMCAS, TMDSAS, and AACOMAS applications. These are some of the things you might want to keep in mind when writing your secondary application:
a) What insight is this question asking about me as a human being, future medical student, or potential doctor?
b) There are stories and experiences you probably did not mention in your primary application. You might not consider them very special but try re-evaluating them from another person’s point of view. Will these stories and experiences add something extra to your application?
Make sure your secondary essays are exceptional. This is another means for the schools to weed out applicants, so do not give them a chance to cut you out of the applicants’ pool.
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US cost is truly one of the greatest stresses for all applicants, both American and Canadian. These numbers are especially discouraging when one compares US med school tuition with Canadian med school tuition costs. Tuition costs for in-province applicants at Quebec medical schools are just above CAD$4,000, while out-of-province students pay just over $30,000. East coast schools' tuition costs for local students range between CAD$13,260 and CAD$21,000. The most expensive tuition for medical school students is found in Ontario. For example, the University of Toronto tuition costs range between CAD$24,835.40 (domestic) to CAD$94,141.40 (international) – these prices are comparable with tuition fees required by US public medical school for in-state students.
As previously mentioned, Canadian friendly US medical schools regard Canadian applicants as out-of-state students. Tuition for US public medical schools for out-of-state applicants is much higher than for in-state applicants. The cost to attend US public medical schools for out-of-state applicants, including Canadians, ranges from US$50,000 to US$99,000. Average private medical school tuition costs for in-state, out-of-state and international applicants range from US$60,000 to US$68,000. Since the majority of US medical schools that accept international students are private, the tuition costs are equal to those of in-state and out-of-state applicants.
Canadian and international students are eligible for financial aid in some US medical schools. Unfortunately, many American medical schools specify that Canadian and international students will receive little to no financial aid. Some schools require Canadian applicants to provide proof of sponsorship. However, Canadian friendly US medical schools typically provide Canadian applicants with financial aid opportunities. These grants, bursaries, and scholarships are usually provided by the institution, since state and federal funding is typically reserved for American students. Check your program's website to see what kind of institutional funding opportunities are available to you.
Undergraduate Degree and Coursework
Each US medical school requires the completion of a four-year undergraduate degree. The majority of schools clarify that the degree does not have to be in science. However, most programs recommend having the following educational background:
- One year of Biology
- One year of English
- Two years of Chemistry (these include general chemistry, organic chemistry, as well as biochemistry)
- One year of Physics
- One year of Math
These are the baseline. Some schools have lists of required and recommended premedical coursework, some ask for advanced placement classes, some may not accept online courses, etc. Although some schools may still expect their applicants to complete a certain set of classes, other schools have competency-based admissions and do not require specific coursework prerequisites. Be mindful that some American medical schools require their applicants to have educational experience in the US, but most just accept Canadian degrees and coursework without any US educational experience. Be sure to check out your program’s admissions website to confirm any coursework requirements.
Aside from having an undergraduate degree, most programs have other requirements. One of the most common US is shadowing a physician. This experience is a great way to help you determine if the medical field is right for you. It's also an excellent opportunity to gain clinical experience to talk about in your applications and interviews if you’re invited.
Something to remember is that shadowing is not a requirement in Canadian medical schools because shadowing is not easy in Canada. This is due to licensing regulations around letting in students not covered by liability insurance into patient rooms. Once you are in medical school, you have to pay a small fee to cover your insurance premium and are covered by liability insurance, but as a premed student, you are not.
Typically, for Canadians to shadow a physician, they need to cast a wide net and start looking early. So, ask friends, family, doctors you have worked or volunteered for, or even your own family doctor. Start looking early so you can fulfill the shadowing requirement. If you are applying to DO programs, shadow a DO specifically. There are not so many DO-trained physicians in Canada, so to go down this route, you need to plan well in advance so you can conduct a search and find the closest DO physician, and be prepared to travel to shadow them. For this reason, a concentrated shadowing block, for example, 2 weeks, will be easier than weekly set hours for shadowing.
You might be wondering . When you call or email the physician, explain that you are a premed student, and express your interest in their specialty. Briefly explain your medical experience and your aspirations in the medical field. Arrange a schedule that fits both of your needs and responsibilities. Each program has its own requirements for . If you like your experience, it is important to stay with the physician as long as possible. This person will be a likely candidate for writing you a recommendation for medical school.
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Ways to Get Clinical Experience
Gaining clinical experience before your medical school applications is key. To be a competitive candidate you must have some exposure to the medical field. Shadowing is a great way to get some passive experience, but you also need some active clinical exposure. This can be done by volunteering at a hospital or a clinic, working in nursing or long-term care homes, or working as a health professional’s assistant. Having patient interaction experience is extremely valuable. You can find other ways to experience what it’s like to work in the medical field. Some students get to gain some experience before medical school, while others choose alternate routes, including:
1. Hospice volunteer. Undoubtedly, the death of a patient is the most devastating and stressful time for a physician. Volunteering in a hospice may help you understand the moral and emotional toll of caring for a dying person. You will also get to see how physicians interact with the person's family and loved ones. You might be able to learn how physicians can provide comfort for patients and their families in the most vulnerable time of their lives. Hospices usually offer support from in-house counselors who can help you process your experiences.
2. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Becoming a CNA is a great way to get clinical experience and earn some extra cash. Look for CNA certification programs in your local colleges. Each program has its own schedule and training length. CNAs have flexible working hours, so you will not have to jeopardize your studies and other responsibilities.
3. Volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). This is a great way to get some hands-on experience as an entry-level health care provider. You will become aware of the healthcare needs in your community, be exposed to various medical specialties, and learn how to deliver medical help in various environments.
4. Hospice Scribe. Hospice scribes assist on-call physicians with gathering information and making documentation. This experience will demonstrate your verbal and written communication skills, your attention to detail, and your dependability to the admissions committee.
5. Caretaker. Serving as a caretaker can teach you how to provide help to patients facing chronic illnesses, learn about the costs of their medications, medical procedures, and nutrition. You will also learn about the difficulties they face when trying to get the help they need.
Aside from clinical experience, the admissions committees want to see your human qualities, like empathy, dedication to patients, and ethical responsibility. All these alternative options will not only provide you with experience in the medical field, but also emphasize how medical exposure formed your motivation to become a physician. The students should know that the AAMC expects students to show all the core competencies by the time they start medical school. This is in contrast to Canada, where the CanMEDS roles are a good guide but not really expected of students in full (CanMEDS outline the roles that practicing physicians must perform, not learners).
All application deadlines are set by individual schools. Your application must be submitted to AMCAS by 11:59 pm on the date set by the school to which you are applying. Deadlines are not extended for any reason. AMCAS application cycle starts in May and ends in January of the following year.
Most US medical schools have rolling admissions, so you should submit your application as early as possible. Rolling admissions means that open spots are filled on a “rolling” basis, which means that as soon as adcoms see qualified and strong applicants, they are given interview offers, and then acceptance offers. Rolling admissions strongly prioritizes students who submit their applications early in the process, when the most open spots are available. If you wait and delay your submission, the number of open spots will go down and the process will get more and more competitive. So, aim to submit your applications in May, as close to the opening date as possible.
This means that you have to start getting your application components ready in March. Give yourself time to write your personal statement. Request and confirm letters of recommendation on time. Plan to have at least 6 weeks to outline, brainstorm, write, revise, and finalize all documents.
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Canadian citizens do not need visas to study in the US. You will need to obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility from the school you plan to attend. When you receive the appropriate certificate, you will be registered with SEVIS, a student tracking system, and will be assigned a SEVIS number. There is a registration fee. When you travel to start your studies, you will need to provide the Border Officer with:
a. Canadian passport
b. The Original I-20 or DS-2019 certificate
c. Proof that SEVIS fee has been paid
d. Proof of ability to pay school fees and living expenses in the US
e. Proof of ties to Canada (note: the end date on your I-20 or DS-2019 certificate can serve as proof that you’ll return to Canada)
The US indeed has a lot of residency opportunities, however, there are also a lot more candidates applying to fill these residency spots. Around 91.6% of Canadian medical school graduates obtain a residency in Canada, while only 58.5% of American graduates match to a residency in the US. If you are a Canadian citizen with a US medical school degree, your chances to match in Canada significantly decrease compared to Canadians with Canadian medical school degrees. The latter are usually given preference before US graduates and international graduates. To be eligible to match to a residency program in Canada, you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. All students looking to match to residency in Canada must use The Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) to apply. Check out our definitive guide to learn all you need to know about . Keep in mind that if you plan to return to Canada to match to a residency and practice medicine, a US medical school degree might not be the best option for you.
Citizenship plays no part in the residency match in the US. Non-US citizens with medical degrees from Canada or the US are eligible to apply to residency along with US citizens. All students looking to match to a residency in the United States must use the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). You can find all the information you need about in our definitive guide. American medical institutions will prefer American-trained professionals over applicants (IMGs), including Americans who chose to receive their medical education somewhere else.
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The following information provides a comprehensive list of all Canadian friendly US medical schools. These schools accept international students and are best-suited for Canadian students.
Click the name of each school below to learn more.
Please note: As this information changes frequently, we encourage you to verify these details with the program(s) to which you are considering applying. You are responsible for your own results. 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 our Student Support Team with any corrections, and we’ll arrange to send you your free ebook upon confirming the information: info [at] bemoacademicconsulting.com