The USA has a very different process for applying to study Medicine, with much earlier application deadlines. What is MCAT? What is AMCAS? What are primary and secondary applications? Read on for everything you need to know!


Unlike in the UK, studying Medicine in the USA is only available as a postgraduate option, so you can start a Medicine programme after you complete a four-year pre-med degree in a subject like Biology, Chemistry or Neuroscience.

However, it’s important to note that a pre-med degree is not the only pathway to medical school in the US. Students from diverse academic backgrounds, including humanities and social sciences, can also apply as long as they have completed the necessary prerequisite coursework, which may include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and English.

This degree will then prepare you for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which is required to get into medical school.

The MCAT score, along with their undergraduate GPA, extracurricular activities, research experience, and letters of recommendation, will be considered by medical schools during the application process.

Where Can I Study Medicine In The USA?

There are 172 medical schools in the USA which offer either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree – so there’s a lot to choose from if you’re thinking of studying Medicine in the USA.

The following universities are ranked the highest for their Medicine research in 2023-2024:

US Medical School Rankings
1Harvard University
2Johns Hopkins University
3University of Pennsylvania
4Columbia University
5Duke University
6Stanford University
7University of California
8Vanderbilt University
9University of Washington
10Cornell University

Entry Requirements For Studying Medicine In The USA

All US medical schools require the completion of a four-year pre-med undergraduate degree in a relevant subject and require you to demonstrate your scientific knowledge in areas of Biology, general Chemistry and organic Chemistry.

For this reason, many students choose to take undergraduate Biology or Chemistry programmes (and this also helps with your MCAT).

A good MCAT score is a very important requirement for studying Medicine in the USA, since it determines your acceptance into a good university. The MCAT consists of four sections and tests your ability to think critically and use your scientific knowledge.

It’s a sensible idea to practice for the MCAT in advance. One of the best options is Magoosh, which offers full-length MCAT practice tests, customisable study schedules and tutorial videos. You can see their plans here.

You should take this test the year before you intend to start studying Medicine – so make sure you register for your MCAT on time.

Examples of USA Medical School Requirements

For example, the University of California requires that Medicine candidates study general Chemistry for one year with laboratory, organic Chemistry for a minimum of two quarters, Physics for one year with laboratory and General Biology for a minimum of one year with laboratory, including the study of vertebrae zoology.

They also state that students who chose to major in the Humanities or Social Sciences are also expected to take these science courses. To check the requirements of the medical school you’re applying to, review their website.

In turn, Harvard University requires one year with lab experience for Biology, two years of Chemistry with lab experience, one year of Physics (desirable lab experience but not required), one year in Writing, an encouraged one year in Maths and encouraged coursework in Behavioral Sciences.

Harvard also doesn’t set a minimum grade point average or minimum MCAT scores but expects ‘academic excellence’.

Note: Requirements differ between different medical schools, so it’s best to double-check these with the school themselves if you’re unsure.


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Costs Of Studying Medicine In The USA

Attending medical school in the United States can be a significant financial investment.

On average, the cost of medical school is $58,968 per year. Public medical schools have a slightly lower average cost, with tuition fees averaging around $52,483 per year. Private medical schools, on the other hand, tend to have higher tuition fees, averaging around $65,453 per year.

Over the course of a medical school degree, which typically lasts four years, the average cost amounts to approximately $218,792. It’s important to note that these costs are subject to change, as the average cost of medical school tends to rise by about $1,158 each year.

Most medical schools offer a variety of scholarships, bursaries or grants for students, so check on their website to see whether there is anything you qualify for.

UK Vs USA Medical School Application Process

The application process for studying medicine in the US differs significantly from the UK. Here are some key differences to consider:

    1. Timeline

In the UK, applications are typically made through the centralized system UCAS and have specific deadlines. In the US, the application process starts much earlier, typically in late May to early June.

The primary application is submitted through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) in the summer, and secondary applications are sent directly to individual medical schools between August and October.

    2. Standardized Tests

In the UK, applicants are required to take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). In the US, applicants must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a standardized exam that assesses knowledge of scientific concepts, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

    3. Personal Statement

In the UK, applicants submit a personal statement as part of their UCAS application. In the US, applicants are required to write a personal statement as part of their primary application through AMCAS. This statement should highlight their motivation for pursuing medicine, experiences, and personal qualities that make them a strong candidate.

     4. Letters of Recommendation

In the UK, applicants typically provide one or two references, usually from teachers or advisors. In the US, applicants are required to submit three to five letters of recommendation, usually from professors, physicians, or other professionals who can speak to their academic abilities, character, and potential as a future physician.

      5. Interviews

In the UK, medical school interviews are typically conducted by individual universities and may include multiple mini-interviews (MMIs). In the US, interviews are conducted by individual medical schools and can vary in format, including traditional one-on-one interviews, panel interviews, or MMIs.

      6. Curriculum

In the UK, medical education follows a traditional five or six-year undergraduate program. In the US, medical education is typically a four-year graduate program, leading to the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. The US curriculum combines preclinical coursework with clinical rotations, allowing students to gain hands-on experience earlier in their education.

How Do I Apply To Study Medicine In The USA?

To apply for most medical schools in the US, you’ll apply using the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) – but if you’re applying to the MD programme at Texas University, you’ll need to apply using the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS).

AMCAS will deliver your application (including details of your work experience, coursework transcripts and extracurricular activities) and MCAT score to your medical schools of choice.

Some medical schools also ask for additional material in the form of essays or letters of recommendation. This is known as a secondary application, and there may be an extra fee for this.

The AMCAS fee to apply to one medical school is $160 – and it costs an additional $38 to add extra schools to your application. The Fee Assistance Programme is available to help students in financial need with these fees, as well as with MCAT fees.

Generally speaking, applications open in the first week of May and stay open until submission closes in June – make sure you keep an eye on the exact deadline so you don’t miss it!

FAQ Section

How many years does it take to study medicine in the USA?

In the United States, it typically takes a minimum of 11 years to complete the education and training required to become a licensed doctor. Most students complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as biology, chemistry, or neuroscience. Then, they attend medical school, which typically lasts four years.

After graduating from medical school, aspiring physicians enter a residency program, which  can vary in length depending on the specialty, ranging from three to seven years.

Some physicians choose to pursue additional training in a subspecialty through a fellowship program. Fellowships typically last one to three years and provide advanced training in a specific area of medicine, such as cardiology, oncology, or gastroenterology.

Can a UK student study in the USA?

Of course, it is possible for a UK student to study Medicine in the United States. However, it is important to note that the process can be competitive and may require additional steps compared to studying in the UK. Students need to ensure that their undergraduate degree and coursework meet the requirements of US medical schools.

How much does it cost to study medicine in USA?

A medical school would cost, on average, $58,968 per year, with public medical schools having a slightly lower average cost, with tuition fees averaging around $52,483 per year.

Is it better to study medicine in the UK or the USA?

The decision of whether it is better to study medicine in the UK or the US ultimately depends on individual preferences. Both countries have reputable medical education systems, but there are some key differences to consider:

  1. Structure and Duration: In the UK, medical programs are typically five or six years in length, including an integrated undergraduate and postgraduate degree. In the US, medical education involves completing a four-year medical school program after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. The US system generally allows for more flexibility in choosing a major during undergraduate studies.
  2. Curriculum: The curriculum in the UK tends to have a strong focus on clinical training from an early stage, with students gaining exposure to patient care and clinical skills. In the US, the first two years of medical school are often more classroom-based, focusing on foundational sciences, followed by clinical rotations in the final two years.
  3. Cost: The cost of medical education can vary significantly between the UK and the US. In the UK, tuition fees for medical school are generally lower compared to US medical schools. However, US medical schools often have more financial resources available, including scholarships, grants, and loans, which can help offset the higher tuition costs.

You can take our quiz to see whether studying Medicine in the USA is the right choice for you.


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