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Study medicine abroad

An in-depth guide to studying medicine as an international student.

Medicine degrees abroad

Studying medicine at university prepares you with the knowledge and practical skills to become a healthcare professional such as a doctor. As a vocational degree, there will be a strong focus on preparing students for a career in medicine. A medicine degree is renowned as a difficult but rewarding qualification.

Medicine degrees can be found worldwide, many being awarded by specialist universities called medical schools. The programs offered at these schools are in line with the country’s unique process for training doctors and other medical staff. This can make it difficult for international students to settle on a country to study in.

Many medical qualifications allow you to specialize in an area of medicine that interest you. This means you may spend more of your practical training time in a certain department or with a specific demographic of patients.

Medicine program structure

Medical programs’ structures vary depending on the country you are studying in. To qualify as a doctor can take between six and twelve years of training, which is a mixture of theoretical learning in a classroom setting and practical experience in hospitals and clinics.

A medical program is usually a combination of undergraduate and postgraduate study to get you to the level of a qualified professional. The level of responsibility held by medical professionals means medical training is more intensive and thorough than other vocational programs.

Types of medicine degrees

There are different types of medicine degree depending on the country you are studying in.

US

Medicine degrees in the US don’t begin until you have completed a bachelor’s degree. During your final year of bachelor’s level study, you will take the MCAT medical entry exam which will determine your suitability for medical schools.

Completing medical school then takes an additional four years, followed by a residency program of up to seven years, focusing on the specialist area of medicine you are interested in. In total the US path to becoming a doctor will take at least eleven years.

On completion of this process you would be awarded the qualification of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

UK

In the UK, your medical training can begin at bachelor’s level or having already completed a bachelor’s degree (graduate entry). Both paths require you to take one of the UCAT, BMAT or GAMSAT entry tests. Your first degree in medicine is known as a first MB, which takes between four and six years of study.

After this degree is completed you will undergo a two year foundation program based on practical experience as a junior doctor. Some universities allow you to be posted overseas for your foundation program, however this is not guaranteed. The foundation program allows you to explore a specialism or to train as a general practitioner (GP).

An M.D. in the UK refers to a postgraduate research degree, equal to a PhD.

Canada

Like the USA, Canada requires medical students to have a bachelor’s degree before entering medical school. Ideally this would be in a related subject, however there is nothing stating this has to be the case. For entry to medical school you will need to complete an MCAT test.

Medical school takes four years to complete, after which you be awarded an M.D. You also need to pass a licencing exam (MCCEE) before practicing medicine as part of a residency program. The residency program takes between two and six years.

Australia

In Australia it is possible to start your medicine degree straight after completing high school, but your entry to a medical school depends on your UCAT or GAMSAT entry exam for medical programs. Studying for a medical degree in Australia will take four to six years to complete. Following this you complete a year’s practical internship, followed by a residency program.

It is possible to start your medicine degree having already completed a bachelor’s - this is known as graduate entry. Undergraduate and postgraduate paths to medical degrees result in an M.D. (some Australian universities may still use the previous name MBBS).

At the residency program you can work towards gaining qualifications such as diplomas, a place on a fellowship, or pursuing a PhD (DMedSc).

New Zealand

There are only two universities you can study at to become a doctor in New Zealand. At the University of Otago, students need to take a first year program in health sciences before starting on the bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery (MBChB) qualification.

At Auckland University students first need to complete year one of a bachelor of health sciences degree, or biomedical science degree, before beginning their MBChB program.

The MBCHB takes five years to complete. Following on from the degree, you will study for an extra two years in a hospital as a house officer (supervised junior doctor). To become a fully qualified physician requires a further six years of specialist training to become a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Why study medicine abroad

Studying medicine in a country that is renowned for their healthcare standards means you are likely to experience a high quality of teaching, along with the latest medical research techniques and equipment.

Studying abroad can give you a better understanding of healthcare in different cultures and systems. If you study medicine in the UK for example, you will experience the NHS, a publicly funded healthcare system. This may be different from your home country and gives you a new insight into the other healthcare systems.

Where to study medicine abroad

The main consideration for where to go to medical school is the country you want to work in, as you could be studying and training for as long as 12 years before being able to move country.

If you want to work as a doctor or physician in a specific country after completing your qualifications and training, then you need to know any additional requirements to work in that country. It may require working in a different health care system to the one you trained in, as well as registering with the appropriate body or organization.

For more information on choosing the best place for you to study, read our guide on choosing where to study abroad.

Best countries to study medicine

Generally speaking, the most highly regarded countries for studying medicine include Canada, New Zealand, the USA, the UK and Australia. The reputation of medicine graduates from these countries can make you exempt from additional training if you choose to work in a different country or return home.

Best universities to study medicine

In order to find the best university to study medicine, you should consider which option would be right for you. As well as rankings, think about things like:

  • Practical experience included in the program

    where will you have your practical training, what proportion of your degree is work experience?

  • What the university offers outside the classroom

    does it have student organizations for you interests, the sports you want to play in any free time, and a good proportion of international students?

  • The members of staff in the department

    what are their backgrounds or medical specializations?

See all universities offering medicine programs

How to study medicine abroad

  1. University & program search

    Find the right program for you and your career aspirations
  2. Application guidance

    We'll get you to the right place to start your application
  3. Visa & travel advice

    Get help after application, all the way to your first day at university

Our team of advisors is ready to support you at every step of your study abroad journey.
Our services are 100% free for students like you because we're funded by universities.

Medicine study abroad programs

Medical study abroad programs can be very competitive to gain entry to; this is particularly the case in popular countries such as the UK and US. Some applicants build up as much experience as possible, including a relevant bachelor’s, before applying for graduate entry.

They can also be some of the most expensive programs for international students due to the length of the course, the equipment the universities need to pay for, and the many students applying for relevant scholarships and financial aid.

Medicine undergraduate programs

Bachelor's in medicine

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    Sports Medicine and Fitness Technology - BSc Keiser University, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    33,120 USD
    Start date
    January, August
    Show program overview about Sports Medicine and Fitness Technology
  • false

    Pre-Veterinary Medicine - BSc Lees-McRae College, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    26,490 USD
    Start date
    August, January
    Show program overview about Pre-Veterinary Medicine
  • false

    Medicine & Surgery - MBChB MAHSA University, Malaysia

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    5 years
    Tuition fees per year
    20,300 USD
    Start date
    January, April
    Show program overview about Medicine & Surgery
  • false

    Applied Biological Sciences (Preveterinary Medicine) - BSc Arizona State University, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    29,834 USD
    Start date
    January, May, August
    Show program overview about Applied Biological Sciences (Preveterinary Medicine)
  • false

    Pre-Veterinary Medicine - BSc University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    27,000 USD
    Start date
    January, June, August
    Show program overview about Pre-Veterinary Medicine
See all bachelor's degrees in medicine

Certificate in medicine

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    Medicine - Cert Edge Hill University, UK

    Program type
    Undergraduate certificate
    Duration
    6 years
    Tuition fees per year
    12,250 GBP
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about Medicine
See all undergraduate certificates in medicine

Diploma in medicine

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    Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner - AdvDip Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Canada

    Program type
    Undergraduate diploma
    Duration
    3 years
    Tuition fees per year
    15,412 CAD
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner
  • false

    Traditional Chinese Medicine - Acupuncture - UGDip Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada

    Program type
    Undergraduate diploma
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    21,383 CAD
    Start date
    September, January, May
    Show program overview about Traditional Chinese Medicine - Acupuncture
See all undergraduate diplomas in medicine

Associate in medicine

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    Nuclear Medicine Technology - AA University of Findlay, USA

    Program type
    Associate
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    32,330 USD
    Start date
    January, August
    Show program overview about Nuclear Medicine Technology
  • false

    Liberal Arts & Sciences: Sports Medicine - ASc Mohawk Valley Community College, USA

    Program type
    Associate
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    6,892 USD
    Start date
    January, September
    Show program overview about Liberal Arts & Sciences: Sports Medicine
  • false

    Pre-Medicine (also pre-dentistry, pre-pharmacy and pre-veterinary medicine) - ASc Hesston College, USA

    Program type
    Associate
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    28,992 USD
    Start date
    January, August
    Show program overview about Pre-Medicine (also pre-dentistry, pre-pharmacy and pre-veterinary medicine)
See all associate degrees in medicine

Medicine graduate programs

Master's in medicine

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    Medicine - MD Altinbas University, Turkey

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    6 years
    Tuition fees per year
    25,000 USD
    Start date
    February, September
    Show program overview about Medicine
  • false

    General Medicine - MMed Derzhavin Tambov State University, Russia

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    6 years
    Tuition fees per year
    5,300 USD
    Start date
    October
    Show program overview about General Medicine
  • false

    Translational Medicine - MSc University of Helsinki, Finland

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    15,000 EUR
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about Translational Medicine
  • false

    Laboratory Medicine - by coursework - MSc RMIT University, Australia

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    37,440 AUD
    Start date
    February, July
    Show program overview about Laboratory Medicine - by coursework
  • false

    Community Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology - MClinEp University of Newcastle, Australia

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    31,070 AUD
    Start date
    February, July, September
    Show program overview about Community Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology
See all master's degrees in medicine

Doctorate in medicine

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    Complementary Medicine - PhD RMIT University, Australia

    Program type
    Doctorate
    Duration
    3 years
    Tuition fees per year
    30,720 AUD
    Start date
    February, July
    Show program overview about Complementary Medicine
  • false

    Human Services Psychology - Behavioral Medicine Psychology - PhD University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA

    Program type
    Doctorate
    Duration
    3 years
    Tuition fees per year
    22,899 USD
    Start date
    August
    Show program overview about Human Services Psychology - Behavioral Medicine Psychology
  • false

    Medicine - DMed American University of Beirut, Lebanon

    Program type
    Doctorate
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    28,320 USD
    Start date
    January, August
    Show program overview about Medicine
  • false

    Traditional Chinese Medicine - DTCM University of Bridgeport, USA

    Program type
    Doctorate
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    26,988 USD
    Start date
    January, September
    Show program overview about Traditional Chinese Medicine
See all doctorates in medicine

Diploma in medicine

  • false

    Laboratory Medicine - PGDip University of Tasmania, Australia

    Program type
    Postgraduate diploma
    Duration
    18 months
    Tuition fees per year
    36,173 AUD
    Start date
    February, July
    Show program overview about Laboratory Medicine
  • false

    Clinical Residency: Allergology and Immunology - PGDip Astrakhan State Medical University, Russia

    Program type
    Postgraduate diploma
    Duration
    3 years
    Tuition fees per year
    3,700 USD
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about Clinical Residency: Allergology and Immunology
See all postgraduate diplomas in medicine

Entry requirements to study medicine abroad

To be accepted onto an international medicine program, you’ll need to meet the university’s specific program requirements, along with any government requirements for doctors. You’ll need excellent high school grades as medicine programs are competitive.

You will also have to pass a medical entry exam which can change depending on the country you are applying to study in. The MCAT, GMSAT and UCAT are some of the most commonly requested entrance exams; these test the mental abilities, attitudes and professional behaviors of applicants for the position of a doctor. Check the cut off dates for these tests with the university you are applying to.

To study medicine you may also need:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of finances to support yourself through studying
  • An interview
  • A criminal record check
  • Health checks
  • English language test scores (e.g. TOEFL or IELTS)
  • Some understanding or interest in medicine, for example relevant work experience or shadowing
  • You may also be asked to demonstrate country-specific suitability for example how your values align with the NHS in the UK

As some universities charge for submitting an application, always check the entry requirements carefully. Find out more on how to study abroad.

Future medicine careers

Those who graduate from medical programs go on to hold a variety of positions in the healthcare industry including:

  • Medical teacher
  • Medical researcher
  • Surgeon
  • General practitioner / family doctor
  • A specialist e.g. oncologist, ENT doctor, anesthesiologist, plastic surgeon