Applying to International Medical Schools:
If you are concerned about if you will get into a U.S. medical school and are instead considering attending an international medical school, we encourage you to give serious consideration to if there are specific steps you can take to strengthen your application for a U.S. medical school. You should also consider broadening your application to include both osteopathic and allopathic schools as well as broadening to look at a wider geographic area within the U.S. There are two main risks with attending an international school: will you finish and graduate in four years, and once you do, will you match into a residency slot? Whether you attend a U.S. or international medical school, you will need to pass all the STEP licensing exams and match into a U.S. residency program. The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) offers detailed information on match rates, which are markedly lower for U.S. citizen international medical graduates (61.4%) than for their peer graduates of U.S. medical schools, both MD (92.9%) and DO (91.3%). You can ask specific international medical schools for their data on what percent of their students graduate and match, but you need to be a savvy consumer as you review the information that they provide to answer those questions. There have been recent articles further exploring these concerns, two of which you can read here and here.
Applying to U.S. Medical Schools as an International Student:
Each medical school specifies their own policies on whether they will accept applications from international students but you will find that most medical schools accept applications only from students who have US citizenship. You can find out this information on each schools’ webpage or for allopathic schools, via the MSAR (summary reports available here and here) and for osteopathic schools, via the Choose DO Explorer (filter available only for if schools accept international students here). For applicants who sought admission to medical school to start in Fall 2022, of the 1,268 whose legal residence is not in the U.S., only 12.1% (or 153) matriculated and actually started that application cycle. Additionally, most financial aid that is offered for medical students is through federally funded scholarship and loan programs, of which, most are available only to U.S. citizens; this means that international students often must either secure the full expense of medical school via private loans (which sometimes require a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen and which tend to have higher interest rates) or they must seek out private scholarships. As the AAMC notes on a page dedicated to applying to medical school as an International Student, “In some cases, medical schools require applicants to prove they have sufficient financial resources to pay for all four years of medical school or will require applicants to have the full amount in an escrow account. International students should talk to the financial aid office and admissions staff at the schools they are interested in attending to find what financing options may be available.”