Medical school is hard, but choosing the right school doesn't have to be. If you are a top student looking for a top school, this list should give you a good idea of where to apply. Although many US medical schools do not accept international students for medicine, most of the best ones do.
Choosing the right school is almost as important as choosing the right major. Unfortunately, international students interested in studying at the best schools for medicine are at a distinct disadvantage. Many schools only accept local students, and the schools that are open to international students only accept a small percentage of those who apply. However, most of the top medical schools in the US do accept international students.
Choosing Your Focus
Before you begin narrowing down your school choices, you’ll need to decide whether you’re interested in research or primary care. While you can study to become a primary care doctor at pretty much any medical school, programs that emphasize primary care tend to include more patient contact, coursework in patient handling, and longer clinical rotations in general fields.
If you are more interested in a career in academic medicine or biomedical research, you should look for schools with strong research programs. Schools focused on primary care training will not offer you the same opportunities, facilities, mentors or funding.
Top US Medical Schools for Research
If you’re interested in a career in medical research, the top three medical schools in the US are:
- Harvard is one of the top schools in the US no matter what the major is, so it should be of little surprise that Harvard Medical School comes in at number one on this list. More than being one of the best schools for medicine, Harvard accepts international students. Make sure you have the money though, as the school requires students to provide proof of their ability to pay. If you have the money and can get accepted, all that will be left is making it through the notoriously difficult, grueling workload. After that, your degree will be recognized anywhere in the world.
- Stanford University School of Medicine accepts between 1 to 5 non-US students a year, and this number includes Canadian citizens. Much like the previously mentioned schools, you will have to set aside money to prove you can pay for your tuition and living expenses. However, unlike the other schools, Stanford does provide loans to international students if needed. Also unique about the school is its curriculum. Students choose an area they would like to focus on and are educated in that area specifically, along with the standard core classes.
- One of the advantages of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, besides being one of the top schools to study medicine in the US, is that it considers all of its applicants on the same scale, regardless of whether they are international or local. In other words, rather than having a set number or percentage of international students that the school is allowed to accept, Johns Hopkins University only looks at whether or not a student is qualified and accepts or rejects the application on that basis alone. The catch is that there is no available financial assistance. Additionally, you will have to place to cover your entire tuition and living costs in an escrow before being allowed to attend. Besides studying in one of the best schools for medicine, you will also be able to gain firsthand experience in the famous Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the best hospitals in the country.
Top US Medical Schools for Primary Care
For international students who want to pursue a career as a primary care physician, the top three medical schools in the US that accept international students are:
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- The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill is the second highest ranking primary care med school in the United States. UNC - Chapel Hill operates on the traditional four-year medical curriculum. Students at UNC have the opportunity to engage in summer electives, as well as the opportunity to study abroad. Students’ third year clerkship must be completed in the UNC Hospitals system or an affiliated hospital. UNC - Chapel Hill also offers more than 50 student organizations and a variety of community service groups. The School of Medicine operates more than 30 specialized centers and institutes, including the Center for AIDS Research and the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies.
- Next on the list is the University of California - San Francisco. University of California—San Francisco School of Medicine students take two years of block courses before completing a year of clerkships and a year of clinicals. UCSF MD students have the option to add on a second degree through dual and joint programs. For example, in the M.D./M.S. program, students combine their medical studies with a focus on research in the sciences or humanities with a master's degree in health and medical sciences from the University of California—Berkeley. Then, they move to UCSF to complete their M.D. UCSF also offers the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved, a five-year program that prepares students who want to work in impoverished communities across the country.
- The University of California - Los Angeles is ranked 6th in the US for primary care programs. The curriculum at UCLA is divided into three phases: Human Biology and Disease, Core Clinical Clerkship, and 4th Year Colleges. Students at UCLA can also earn a combined degree, such as a M.D./Ph.D. through the Medical Scientist Training Program, an M.D./M.B.A. with the UCLA Anderson School of Management, or an M.D.-Oral Surgery Residency. UCLA also offers a few joint degree programs, offered in conjunction with other institutions, including the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science/UCLA Medical Education Program, designed for students who want to work in disadvantaged rural and urban communities.
Remember that as an international student, you are not limited to just these schools. You will just have to do a little more research to determine which medical schools accept international students. The school of medicine at the University of Kansas, for example, only requires that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university accredited by a CHEA-approved accreditation body. If you would like to pursue a more specialized route like nutrition sciences or chiropractic, there are a variety of institutions like Logan University that allow you to specialize in the program of your interest.
If you are an international student interested in studying medicine in the US, don’t give up hope! There are plenty of options available to you.