What Degrees Can International Medical Students Earn?

Learn about what degrees international medical students can earn and what obstacles they must overcome when applying for medical school.

What Degrees Can International Medical Students Earn?

Students who are interested in pursuing a medical degree abroad must first ensure that the institution is accredited and that its accrediting agency has been reviewed and recognized by an external quality body. It is also essential to note that, regardless of where you attend medical school, you will still need to take the USMLE Step exams in order to practice medicine in the United States. Upon graduating from a foreign medical school, you will be considered an IMG (international medical graduate). When it comes to applying to medical school as an international student, there are some additional obstacles to consider.

To help you stand out in your applications, there are certain strategies you can use. However, it is important to note that only 82 medical schools in the United States and Canada accept international students, 64 allopathic and 18 osteopaths. In order to be accepted into a US medical school, international students must typically have taken courses at an accredited US or Canadian college or university, which is normally worth at least a year. Additionally, they must demonstrate fluency in English by taking the TOEFL test.

Some schools have additional requirements; for example, Boston University requires that all prior courses be taken at an American or Canadian university, while George Washington University only accepts international students who have earned a bachelor's degree from a US school. Furthermore, certain medical schools such as the University of Rochester will only accept international students whose undergraduate degree is from the same institution. Additionally, some American medical schools limit their international students to Canadian citizens only. Fortunately, even with these restrictions in place, international applicants can still apply to many of the world's most prestigious medical schools such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and the University of Toronto. When it comes to secondary application requirements for medical school, international students should be aware of how their status may affect them. One of the major concerns is completing extracurricular activities such as following doctors, volunteering at clinics or hospitals, joining student organizations, and possibly working part-time.

As an F-1 student visa holder, you will need to consider how to get a verifiable extracurricular experience without violating the terms of your visa. If you have just started at an undergraduate school in the US, you are not allowed to do any work off campus with an F-1 visa during your first year. This includes everything from working in a restaurant to volunteering at a clinic or community organization. After your first year, you may be allowed to work off-campus with some restrictions but you'll need to get authorization. However, you can work as a volunteer without any problem; performing any paid work or unpaid internships without authorization will violate the terms of your visa. The distinction between voluntary and unpaid internships boils down to whether you work for a private company or a non-profit organization and if you receive any kind of compensation.

For example, volunteering at a soup kitchen or community clinic without expecting any kind of payment (in the form of salary, reimbursement of expenses, or other types of compensation) would be fine. Following a doctor is an important part of the extracurricular activities needed to enter medical school; however, your special status as an international student could make it difficult to obtain observation opportunities. As mentioned before, you'll need to consider the terms of your F-1 visa and ensure that you don't engage in any professional activities when you're in the shade. If you need help with your specific situation, we recommend that you check with your university's office for international students. All pre-medical students should participate in some type of research that interests them before applying to medical school. This is usually done by contacting professors and scientific doctors and asking to be part of their team or joining undergraduate projects on campus.

For international students, some of the work on a research project could be considered employment so it is important to be careful when looking for research opportunities. It is advisable to avoid researching in a team with a private company unless you are authorized to work in the US. Many schools offer summer undergraduate research programs on campus allowing students to participate in ongoing projects or design their own research proposal under the supervision of a faculty mentor. When trying to find research opportunities as an international student it's best to stick to those that are on campus which can make it more complicated as your options may be more limited than other pre-medicines. However if you want to volunteer at a non-profit community clinic it should be no problem and it should be a great way to show your humanity to adcoms.

Likewise volunteering at a homeless shelter would be fine.

Daphne Gaete
Daphne Gaete

Award-winning beer buff. Extreme beer trailblazer. Subtly charming music aficionado. Award-winning internet scholar. Infuriatingly humble bacon scholar. Award-winning music nerd.

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