International student wishing to study medicine in Canada? Here’s what you need to know.

That you (generally) can’t. 

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There are 17 medical schools in Canada offering education to become a doctor. However, it is extremely unlikely for an international student to get into medical school in Canada. 


Applicants who are not a Canadian citizens or permanent residents cannot apply for medical studies, a.k.a. Doctor of Medicine (MD) programs, unless on a rare, special arrangement, usually between your goverment and the Canadian government.

Here are the stats: 

There are 16 foreign students in first-time year 1 enrolment in Canadian medical schools in year 2016/17.That is 0.55%out of total 2,883 first-time year 1 enrollment across the country. 

(The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, 2017)

Apart from that, it is also worth noting that there is no medical bachelor’s degree/undergraduate studies in Canada. That is, universities do not offer Bachelor’s of Medicine or Bachelor’s of Surgery. Students are usually required to have completed 3 to 4 years of an undergraduate degree program before applying straight to the MD program. Some medical schools require at least 60 credit hours (2 years) of undergraduate studies. 

A Canadian MD education usually comprises 2 years of pre-clinical courses and 2 years of clinical training, called rotation. This is different from the 3 + 2 + 1 or extended 3 + 3 +1 medical school arrangements in the United Kingdom, and 4 + 2 arrangements in the United States, India, and many other countries.

For international students who want to study medical-related fields in Canada, there are other options. You can take up studies in some areas of specialization in the medical field. 

Some alternatives in and related fields to medical studies include:

Medical Research
Public Health
Biological sciences
Organic chemistry
Pharmaceutical chemistry
Medicinal chemistry
Physical therapy
Physical assistant programs
Molecular biology
Biomedical engineering
Medical Radiologic Technology
Optical Sciences
Diagnostic Imaging

**note that depending on your institution, enrollment in these studies fields may still be limited. You will also need additional training or licensure to practice in many of these professions. Please check with your institution directly to know more. 

Still exploring?

The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, (2017), Canadian Medical Education Statistics 2017 (Volume 39).

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