Medical education abroad is one of the most popular and sought after areas of higher education. It is distinguished by the long duration of study, complexity of training courses, variability of the programs, and high competition. In this article, we will cover the main aspects of educational programs in medicine in different countries.
A doctor is a professional with theoretical and practical knowledge and skills to treat patients. To become a doctor, you need to hold a degree in medicine, love sciences and people, as well as be determined and patient, since the studies are difficult and take many years to complete, and the profession itself places great stress and responsibility on its owner. The duties of physicians include making diagnoses, counseling, seeing and treating patients. Doctors have a large number of specializations: pediatrician, surgeon, ophthalmologist, dermatologist, veterinarian, dentist, allergist, endocrinologist, etc.Read more
The best medical schools in the world 2020
|№according to the QS 2020 subject ranking||University||Country|
|1||Harvard Medical School||USA|
|2||Oxford University Medical School||UK|
|3||University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine||UK|
|4||Stanford University School of Medicine||USA|
|5||Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine||USA|
|7||David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA||USA|
|8||UCL Medical School||UK|
|9||Yale School of Medicine||USA|
|10||Imperial College School of Medicine||UK|
The best medical programs in the world are taught in these universities.
|4||1||University of Cambridge||United Kingdom||Cambridge||24,831 USD||24,831 USD|
|6||2||University of Oxford||United Kingdom||Oxford||21,693 USD||21,693 USD|
|9||3||University College London||United Kingdom||London||25,237 USD||24,948 USD|
|15||4||Imperial College London||United Kingdom||London||33,465 USD||34,777 USD|
|26||5||The University of Edinburgh||United Kingdom||Edinburgh||20,801 USD||16,076 USD|
|28||7||King's College London||United Kingdom||London||19,948 USD||21,628 USD|
|41||2||Heidelberg University||Germany||Heidelberg||328 USD||1,000 USD|
|65||2||University of Amsterdam||Netherlands||Amsterdam||9,228 USD||13,841 USD|
|506||9||Karolinska Institute||Sweden||Stockholm||29,000 USD|
|739||62||London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine — University of London||United Kingdom||London||20,000 USD||20,000 USD|
|24||1||The University of Tokyo||Japan||Tokyo||4,712 USD||4,712 USD|
|25||2||Kyoto University||Japan||Kyoto||4,712 USD||4,712 USD|
|42||1||National University of Singapore||Singapore||Singapore||26,904 USD||26,904 USD|
|52||1||Seoul National University||South Korea||Seoul||6,775 USD||4,303 USD|
|55||2||Peking University||China||Beijing||4,659 USD||5,241 USD|
|58||3||Osaka University||Japan||Suita||4,712 USD||4,712 USD|
|87||1||The University of Hong Kong||Hong Kong||Hong Kong||18,633 USD||18,633 USD|
|99||2||The Chinese University of Hong Kong||Hong Kong||Hong Kong||18,506 USD||18,506 USD|
|100||4||Fudan University||China||Shanghai||3,348 USD||3,348 USD|
|109||1||National Taiwan University||Taiwan||Taipei||1,892 USD||1,868 USD|
Medical education by country
Graduating from a university and obtaining a medical degree does not imply direct access to the doctor’s profession. In any country in the world, after receiving medical education, it is necessary to undergo medical practice at a hospital (for example, residency) and only then gain access to the medical labor market. Below is a brief description of medical education in various countries.
In the US, it is not possible to begin medical training immediately after leaving secondary school. To qualify as a Medical doctor (MD), you must have a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from the United States or Canada, with a particular emphasis on obtaining academic credits in organic chemistry, biology, and general chemistry. Therefore, the training takes place in 2 stages:
- Bachelor's degree with a chemistry and biology inclination — 4 years;
- Medical school — 4 years (2 years of preclinical training and 2 years of practice).
In general, it is possible for a foreigner to enroll in medical programs in the United States, but this is a rather complicated and rare phenomenon. As of 2019, only 48 medical schools were accepting international students, and of the 1890 foreign MD applicants, only 325 were enrolled. The small number of universities that accept foreigners is explained by the complexity of obtaining a work visa for further residency.
Each university sets its own requirements and procedures for admitting international applicants. Before entering some top schools (for example, Stanford University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), you must study 1-3 years at an accredited college / university in the United States / Canada / England or get a bachelor's degree in the USA / Canada (less often, for example, at Mayo Medical School). Many universities also advise students to complete 30-90 credit coursework in the field of science at a US / Canadian university if previous education was obtained in third countries.
The entrance test for admission is the unified MCAT exam. Most US medical schools use the American Medical School Application Service (AMCAS). However, AMCAS does not accept foreign transcripts (or their translations) and does not verify courses taken outside the US unless they have been accepted by an accredited American or Canadian higher education institution. You can still attach them to the application, but a GPA will not be calculated. Individual medical schools request the transcript using their own application form (secondary application) and based on this form they make a decision whether to accept the transcript or not. Additionally, many educational institutions require confirmation of the ability to pay the full cost of the tuition.
It is extremely difficult to get into medicine in the USA also due to the high competition. The applicant must not only have strong academic performance (admitted applicants had a GPA of 3.72 and an average MCAT score of 511 in 2018-2019), but also a unique life story and a catchy motivation letter.
It is worth mentioning that the medical education process of the United States is copied by most of the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean. These include Grenada, Barbados, Anguilla, Jamaica, and others. After graduating from medical schools in the Caribbean, it is possible to gain access to a residency in the US.Read more
Medical education in the UK takes about 10 years. It is subdivided into several main stages:
- Six-year medical education at a university medical school;
- A two-year Foundation program for doctorsmust not be confused with preparatory Foundation programs;
- Specialty and general practice — the duration depends on the type of medical field.
For admission to medical schools at British universities, various unified exams (BMAT, GAMSAT, UKCAT) are considered. A foreigner also needs to prove knowledge of English (IELTS/TOEFL). More detailed information can be found in the Entry requirements for UK medical schools guide 2021.Read more
The format of Canadian medical education is a mixed type of British and American. The duration of training varies. There are 4-year medicine programs that require a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry or Biology (as in the US). Additionally, 5-year programs are offered, where the first year is preparatory.
To be admitted to Canadian medical schools, you must pass the MCAT. Some universities in Canada (for example, the University of Quebec) offer training in French. However, only a limited number of Canadian medical schools accept foreigners, for example, McGil University, McMaster University, Queen's University, University of Toronto. The rest of the requirements differ depending on the institution.
Australian medical education lasts for 4-6 years depending on the training program:
- Undergraduate medical program is a six-year program, admission to which is the same as for any bachelor's program in Australia. It is often necessary to pass the UMAT;
- Graduate medical program is a four-year program that can only be enrolled after receiving a bachelor's degree in biology/chemistry and passing the MCAT or GAMSAT.
In Germany, medical education lasts for 6 years: 2 years — pre-clinical classes in basic sciences, 3 years — training in clinical subjects, 1 year — practical year. The studies are conducted in German, with the exception of a few master's programs. The country has a Numerus Clausus principle — a limit on the number of students enrolled in medical faculties. To enter, a foreigner needs to know German at a level not lower than C1, overcome a high competition (grades in biology and chemistry are important), and have a previous education that meets German standards. You can check the suitability of a diploma or certificate from the universities themselves, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), or the Standing Conference of Ministers. If the document is not recognized, you will have to take a one-year preparatory course.
Each university sets its own requirements, therefore, it is necessary to clarify the information directly with the universities. Sometimes universities hold entrance exams.
Medical education in France takes about 9 years. As in Germany, France has the principle of Numerus Clausus, according to which the number of places in medical specialties for local and foreign applicants is regulated every year. Despite this, approximately every 5th student in France cannot complete 1st year and pass the PACES exam in basic medicine.
Medical education in France is divided into 3 main stages:
- 2 years of general theoretical training (PCEM: Premier Cycle d'études Medicales);
- 4 years of study, including practice in hospitals and seminars (DCEM: Deuxième Cycle des Etudes Médicales);
- 3-5 years (depending on medical specialization) internship/residency (DES: Diplômes d 'Études Spécialisées).
For admission, as a rule, it is necessary to prove the French language proficiency (DELF) and have a certificate of complete secondary education with a high GPA.
Admission requirements to medical specialties
More and more universities start to offer medical education programs in English. Tuition fees at public European universities are significantly lower than at US, UK and Australian universities. Therefore, the competition for these programs in Europe is steadily growing: many students from English-speaking countries strive to receive an inexpensive medical education here. Moreover, among the competitors for admission are not only English-speaking applicants, but also the best graduates of schools in local countries who want to study in English.
A standard set of documents for admission includes the following:
- Online application;
- A transcript with a GPA of at least 3.8 (excellent grades in biology and chemistry are especially important);
- A copy of the secondary education certificate;
- Language certificate TOEFL or IELTS;
- Letter of recommendation;
- Motivation letter;
- Results of entrance or medical exams;
Medical entrance exams vary from country to country but are almost always required. In Eastern Europe, exams in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics are held at universities. Some universities, for example, Charles University, take exams not only at the university itself, but also in foreign cities, though only on certain days of the year. In Western Europe and the USA, unified exams are generally used: MCAT, BMAT, IMAT, GAMSAT, UKCAT, HPAT.More information about the exams
|Country||University||Exam||Min. TOEFL||Min. IELTS||Deadline|
|USA||Johns Hopkins University||MCAT||100||7.0||15 October|
|USA||Harvard University||MCAT||100||7.0||2 November|
|USA||Georgetown University||MCATnot lower than 125 in every section||100||7.0||2 November|
|Great Britain||University of Oxford||BMAT||110||7.5||15 Oct|
|United Kingdom||Imperial College London||BMAT||100||7.0||15 October|
|UK||University of Warwick||UCAT||100||7.0||15 October|
|Ireland||Trinity College Dublin||HPAT||90||6.5||1 February|
|Ireland||University College Cork||HPAT, GAMSAT||90||6.5||1 February|
|Canada||University of Toronto||MCATnot lower than 125 in every section||100||6.5||1 October|
|Canada||University of Saskatchewan||MCAT||86||6.5||1 October|
|Australia||University of Sydney||GAMSAT, MCAT||85||6.5||23 July|
|New Zealand||University of Auckland||UMAT||100||7.0||1 December|
|Italy||University of Milan||IMAT||No||No||23 July|
|Spain||University Cardinal Herrera||BMAT||No||No||28 February|
|Netherlands||University of Maastricht||YesMath, chemistry, physics, biology||90||6.5||1 November|
|Poland||Medical University of Poznan||Yesphysics, chemistry and biology exam and interview||79||6.5||31 July|
|Cyprus||University of Nicosia||Nointerview||79||6.5||End of June|
|Czech Republic||Charles University||YesХимия, биология, физика/математика + интервью||No||No||30 Apr|
|Slovakia||University of Comenius||Yesphysics, chemistry and biology exam and interview||60||5.5||17 July|
|Bulgaria||Medical University of Plovdiv||Yeschemistry and biology||60||6.0||15 July|
|Hungary||University of Pecs||Yeswritten exam (biology, chemistry, general and medical English) + interview||B2language certificate is not mandatory||B2language certificate is not mandatory||30 June|
|Lithuania||Med. Academy of the University of Lithuania||Yesinterview + chemistry and biology testing||65||5.5||5 July|
|Croatia||University of Zagreb||Yesbiology, chemistry and physics||60||6.0||20 June|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||University of Sarajevo||YesEnglish, biology, chemistry, physics + interview||-||-||15 May|
|Israel||Ben-Gurion University||MCAT, GAMSAT||89||6.0||1 May|
Check the actual deadlines and requirements on the website or with the admissions office of a particular university.
The cost of medical education in English
|№according to the QS 2020 subject ranking||Country||University||Cost/yearin 2020|
|3||Great Britain||University of Cambridge||80,058 USD|
|9||USA||Yale University||42,120 USD|
|-||Spain||Cardinal Herrera University||25,648 USDSingle-cycle master, Spanish + English|
|51-100||Netherlands||University of Groningen||37,753 USD|
|51-100||Netherlands||University of Maastricht||37,753 USD|
|-||Czech Republic||Charles University||16,523 USDLong-cycle master's|
|351-400||Hungary||University of Pécs||16,900 USD|
|301-350||Hungary||University of Debrecen||16,900 USD|
|-||Cyprus||University of Nicosia||18000first 3 years/25,955 USD4-6 years|
|501-550||Lithuania||Lithuanian University of Health Sciences||14,747 USD|
|351-400||Israel||Ben-Gurion University||38,500 USD|
Affordable English-language programs
|Italy||University of Milan||Medicine and surgery||1,010 USDSingle-cycle master|
|Bulgaria||Pleven Medical University||Medicine, pharmaceuticals, public health||8,848 USDBulgarian + English|
|Romania||Vasile Goldiş West University of Arad||Medicine, dentistry, pharmaceuticals||4,300 USDEnglish + Romanian|
|Slovakia||Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice||Medicine, sciences||12,388 USD|
|Bulgaria||Medical University of Plovdiv||Medicine, pharmaceuticals, public health, dentistry||9,438 USDin 2016-2017|
|Poland||Medical University of Bialystok||Medicine, pharmaceuticals, health science||12,977 USD|
|Latvia||Riga Stradiņš University||Dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmaceuticals, physiotherapy, speech therapy, medical massage, pediatrics||14,157 USD|
|Croatia||University of Zagreb||Medicine||14,157 USD|
Cost of medical education in other languages
|№according to the QS 2020 ranking||Country||University||Directions||Cost/Yearin 2020||Language|
|151-200||France||Bordeaux University||Medicine, neurology, pharmacovigilance and pharmacoepidemiology||3,268 USD||French|
|51-100||Canada||Montreal University||Biochemistry and molecular medicine, bioinformatics, neurology, kinesiology, microbiology and immunology, etc.||16,699 USDapproximately, 668.59 USD/credit||French|
|31||Germany||Heidelberg University||Medicine, dentistry, biosciences||3,539 USD||German|
|101-150||Germany||Hamburg University||Nursing, speech therapy, medical supervision and management, medical pedagogy, medical technology, physiotherapy||Free387 USD application fee||German|
|201-250||Austria||Medical University of Graz,||Medicine, dentistry, nursing||1,770 USD||German|
|101-150||Switzerland||University of Bern||Medical, pharmaceutical sciences, veterinary medicine, dentistry||1900 CHF||German|
|51-100||Italy||Milan University||Dental, medical biotechnology, medicine and surgery, nursing business, pharmaceuticals||1,010 USD||Italian|
|51 -100||Italy||University of Rome La Sapienza||Medicine, dentistry, pharmacy||3,450 USD||Italian|
|51 -100||Spain||University of Barcelona||Medicine, pediatrics, cardiology, immunology, allergology, dermatology, oncology||3,539 USDaverage tuition of master's programs||Spanish|
All data in the charts is approximate. Please, contact the universities for more details.
Preparatory programs in medicine
For applicants who have potential, but feel insufficiently prepared, special preparatory programs in medicine have been developed, which emphasize biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and language. They usually last about 1 year and allow you to prepare for the entrance and language exams.
|Great Britain||1 year||University of Buckingham||English||24,829 USD|
|Great Britain||1 year||University of Dundee||English||25,657 USD|
|Great Britain||2 years||University of St. Andrews||English||80,006 USDthe entire program including accommodations and 14 meals per week|
|Malta||1 year||Domain Academy||English||15,337 USD|
|Malaysia||1 year||International Medical University||English||11,768 USD|
|Ireland||7-9 months||Dublin International Foundation College||English||21,000 USD|
|Australia||11/7 months||University of Newcastle||English||19,965 USD|
For more information and exact costs check the websites of the desired universities.
In the USA Pre-Med preparatory programs are common for bachelor’s who are aiming for admission to medical schools.
Transfer to a foreign medical university
Medical students have the opportunity to transfer to a university in a different country. Most of the documents usually coincide with the requirements for applicants entering the first year of bachelor’s. Usually you need to:
- Pass the entrance exams to the university;
- Confirm the language proficiency required for training;
- Provide a transcript with grades from the university, which will show:
- Academic proficiency. It should be higher than the average performance of students at the university to which the transfer is planned;
- Number of courses and exams (ECTS credits);
- Duration of courses;
- Curriculum. It will speed up the process of matching curricula.
Each case of transfer is considered individually, after which the selection committee makes a decision on which year the student will be transferred to. It happens that the selection committee does not agree to transfer a student to the appropriate university year. For example, in 2016–2017 68 applications for transfer to medical school have been submitted to Imperial College London, 15 students were invited to the interview, but only six of them have been admitted to the university. The decision depends on the difference in the curriculum of the countries and on competition. For this reason, it is only possible to transfer to the first year of studies at UK universities. It is much easier to transfer to Eastern European universities, including English-language medical programs.
Types of medical programs
Popular destinations in medicine
|Medicine||The program of general medicine, after which students can work as practitioners or get specialization of surgeon, cardiologist, pediatrician, obstetrician, etc. The usual duration of study is 6 years.|
|Pharmacy||A branch of medicine about the discovery, production, control, disposal and use of drugs and medicines. The practice of pharmacy requires knowledge of drugs, their mechanisms of action and side effects, and methods of treatment.|
|Dentistry||A branch of medicine consisting of the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases of the oral cavity, usually in the dentition, but also in the oral mucosa, adjacent and associated structures and tissues, especially in the maxillofacial region.|
Non-standard areas in medicine
|Sports Medicine||Study the medical field that deals with the physical fitness, treatment and prevention of sports injuries.||Physicians in this area diagnose, treat, and prevent sports and exercise-related injuries.You can work in sports clinics, professional sports teams, sports events, national sports governing bodies.||University of Melbourne, University College London, University of Georgia, University of Northern Iowa|
|Oncology||The branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancerous tumors.||Clinical oncologists treat patients with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological agents, and hormone therapy.||University of Cambridge, University of Manchester, University of Helsinki, University of Auckland|
|Epidemiology||A branch of medical science that studies the emergence, spread and control of chronic and infectious diseases.||Work in government medical organizations, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology startups, non-governmental organizations, universities, research institutes. Positions: researchers, scientists (lecturers, senior lecturers and professors of epidemiology), public health policy advisers, etc.||Imperial College London, University of Bristol, Utrecht University, University of Melbourne|
In different countries, it is customary to assign different degrees:
- MD — Medical Doctor, a degree that is awarded after completing medical education in the USA, Canada, Europe, some universities in Australia, Israel;
- MBBS, BMBS, BMed, MB — Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. Assigned in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.
Scholarships and free medical education
In many countries, there are scholarships designed specifically for medical students, both bachelor’s and master’s. They are most often awarded by universities to the most talented and capable students. For example, at the University of Edinburgh there are scholarships for citizens of the United Kingdom, Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. Karolinska University, University of Amsterdam and the University of Glasgow have scholarships for master’s students. King's College London awards a 9000 GPB scholarship annually to students in the Global Health and Community Medicine program, and Queen Mary University of London has grants for students in need.
There are also national scholarships that are awarded by special funds. Among them are the Carl Duisberg Scholarship to study at German universities, the Novo Nordisk Foundation scholarship in Denmark and the John Snow Scholarship to study medicine in Australia and New Zealand.
Financial assistance for researchers and PhD candidates can be singled out separately. For example, in the US, there are guest scholarships from the American College of Surgeons and the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME). Research and doctoral grants also exist at universities, for example, at the University of Calgary, St. George’s in London and the University of Auckland.
Internships for doctors
- Internships from the World Health Organization (WHO) are intended for medical students and graduates (within 6 months after graduation) in various fields of medicine. Available positions are posted on the WHO website. The main criteria are: be over 20 years old, complete 3 years of full-time study at a university and speak one of the working languages of the internship. Other requirements depend on specific proposals.
- Internships from Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde) are mainly held in France and last from several days to six months. More than 100 students work as trainees in this program every year. For an internship, it is necessary to sign an agreement with an educational institution. The organization covers travel expenses for trainees working less than 2 months. For longer internships, Doctors of the World provides an allowance of 4 USD.60 per hour, covers 50% of travel expenses and offers meal vouchers.
- International Medical Aid (IMA) provides medical internships abroad for master’s students and medical practitioners in East Africa, South America and the Caribbean. IMA is an American organization founded by Johns Hopkins University that accepts students from different countries for internships. Programs usually last 4-6 weeks. Participation fee is 2,750-4,250 USD depending on the country and duration. The payment covers accommodation, meals and insurance, but not air travel.
Job prospects with a medical degree
According to Indeed.com, healthcare workers are among the 15 most in-demand occupations, but medical education abroad is fraught with pitfalls.
This is especially true for medical programs in English in non-English-speaking countries. After receiving a diploma, before becoming a doctor, a student will need to undergo an internship, which is available only in the language of the country where the training was received. This means that even when entering an English-language program in the Czech Republic, a student will most likely have to learn Czech in order to gain access to the local medical labor market in the future.
After mastering the local language and passing the internship, both the prospects of medical practice, and scientific career are open for a graduate. Today international scholarships for PhD programs are present in almost all countries, so if a graduate has the strength and desire for scientific work, then he should continue his studies — this will significantly increase his value in the labor market.
Another difficulty may await a graduate if, after training, he returns to a home country, since a diploma from a foreign university will need to be recognized.
How much does a doctor earn?
|Country||Min. salary/yearin 2020||Wed salary/yearin 2020|
|USAin 2019||68,922 USD||105,968 USD|
|United Kingdom||42,762 USD||88,396 USD|
|Australia||49,325 USD||86,491 USD|
|Canada||55,664 USD||116,958 USD|
|Hong Kong||379200 HKD||1030000 HKD|
|South Korea||34,869 USD||954,124 USD|
|Germany||46,577 USD||126,235 USD|
|France||50,494 USD||145,111 USD|
|Czech Republic||30,237 USDin Prague||79,310 USDin Prague|
|Russia||4,069 USD||5,697 USD|
Interesting facts about medical education
- University medical education has more than a thousand-year tradition. Medical science developed in medieval European universities since the 10th century and was included in the set of basic sciences along with jurisprudence, theology and philosophy.
- By 1800, there were only 4 separate medical schools in the world: at the University of Pennsylvania, King's College London, Harvard and Dartmouth College.
- Medical specialties are at the top of all sorts of rankings for the highest paid professions in the world. The highest paid positions are surgeons, psychiatrists and therapists. Also in the top ten are the professions of pharmacists, dentists and orthodontists.
- The process of obtaining a doctor's qualification in all countries is considered one of the longest. It will take at least 10 years from the start of training to entering the labor market.
- Among the Nobel laureates in medicine, most of the representatives are from the USA (99), Great Britain (31), Germany (17), France (11), Sweden (8), Switzerland (7) and Australia (6).
|General Medicineincluding residency||6-10 years|
|Veterinary medicine||6 years|
|Dentistryincluding residency||7 years|
|Pharmacology and pharmaceuticals||5–6 years|
|Biomedical technologiesmaster's||2 years|
|Management in the field of medicine||4 years|
|Medical cosmetology||3-4 years|
|Medical laboratory assistant||3-4 years|
|Assistant pharmacist||3-4 years|