Canada is the top choice for international students to study medicine abroad. In the QS World University Rankings, 4 Canadian universities are among the top 50 medical universities worldwide. Moreover, Canada is known for being one of the most affordable English-speaking countries to get a health sciences degree. So, If you’re thinking about starting your journey to study medicine in Canada, this full guide is for you.
You will find full details about the requirements to study Medicine in Canada, program duration, tuition fees, Canadian recognition of foreign medical degrees, and how to work in Canada as a doctor after finishing your studies.
About studying medicine in Canada for international students
Studying medicine in Canada is very competitive. It can be very challenging to get admitted to Canadian medical universities. Therefore, it’s very important to understand the admission requirements for Canadian medical schools so you can stand out among other applicants.
Keep in mind that studying medicine in Canada is a long and challenging journey, however, the outcomes you attain in the end will undoubtedly make it all worthwhile.
Medical studies in Canada take place in specialized medical colleges or colleges affiliated with Canadian universities. The medical program in Canada is called “Doctor of Medicine (MD)” or “Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery (M.D., CM).”
Canadian medical schools are highly competitive. Only 15% of Canadian students who complete the pre-medical course get accepted into Canadian medical schools. As of 2023, there are around 12,000 students enrolled in Canadian medical schools.
International students often choose other health science-related fields to study in Canada, including:
Why study Medicine in Canada?
- All medical colleges in Canada are highly ranked globally. Some even compete with universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden.
- Canadian universities are famous for their excellent education, extensive research, and well-equipped health centers and hospitals with advanced medical technology. They have made groundbreaking discoveries like insulin, open heart operations, and transplantable stem cells, which have had a significant impact worldwide.
- Studying medicine in Canada is more affordable compared to other English-speaking countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.
- French-speaking students have the option to study medicine in French, which is a good choice for them.
- Completing medical studies in Canada provides opportunities to practice as a doctor in the country and have a successful career at all levels.
- Additionally, practicing medicine in Canada can facilitate immigration to Canada. This will help you to get Canadian permanent residence and, eventually, Canadian citizenship.
How Long is Medical School in Canada?
To be eligible to study medicine in Canada, international students have to get a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field before applying to a Canadian medical school. The bachelor’s studies usually take 3-4 years, but some Canadian medical universities may require at least 60 credit hours, about two years.
After completing a science-related bachelor’s degree, studying medicine in Canada takes 3 to 4 years at a medical university or college. The next step is taking your licensing exam, followed by completing your residency, which lasts 3 to 7 years.
Here is a list of Canadian universities and the duration of their MD program:
|University||MD program years|
|University of Sherbrooke||4 years|
|Queen’s University||4 years|
|McMaster University||3 years|
|University of Toronto||4 years|
|McGill University||4 years|
|Memorial University of Newfoundland||4 years|
What is the cost of studying medicine in Canada for international students?
As mentioned before, studying medicine in Canada is affordable compared to other English-speaking countries.
Out of the 17 Canadian medical schools that offer different medical specialties, the average cost to study medicine in Canada for international students ranges from CA$30,000 to CA$100,000 per academic year.
Find below the cost of studying medicine in some Canadian universities:
|University||MD program tuition fees|
|University Of Toronto||CA$91,000|
|University of Western||CA$66,000|
|Canadian Mennonite University||CA$30,000|
|University of Alberta||CA$31,000|
|Trinity Western University||CA$44,000|
Requirements to study medicine in Canada for international students
The requirements for studying medicine in Canada vary among medical schools. However, there are some basic requirements that apply to most Canadian medical colleges:
1. Getting your bachelor’s degree
To get into medical universities in Canada, students need a bachelor’s degree in biology, science, or related fields. Also, they have to meet the minimum required GPA set by the Canadian medical college they apply to.
It’s difficult to find Canadian medical schools that accept international students directly after high school for MD programs.
2. Proficiency in English
If international students come from non-ENglish speaking countries or haven’t studied in English before, they need to submit English test scores proving their language skills. For example, IELTS Test or a TOEFL Test.
Medical schools in Canada accept IELTS Test scores of 7 or higher or TOEFL iBT Test scores of 95 or higher.
3. Pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
The MCAT is a standardized, multiple-choice questions test with four sections that evaluates problem-solving, critical thinking, writing, and science knowledge. The four sections of MCAT test are:
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (59 questions).
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (59 questions).
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (59 questions).
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (53 questions).
Each section is scored from 118 (lowest) to 132 (highest), and the total score is the sum of these section scores, ranging from 472 to 528.
The test lasts about 4 and a half hours and can be taken up to three times a year. International students can apply for MCAT test to study medicine in Canada between the end of January and the beginning of September.
Different Canadian medical schools have their own required MCAT scores. Therefore, it’s crucial to check the university’s application requirements and the required MCAT score before taking the test.
4. Academic Performance and GPA
Canadian medical schools look at how well international students performed in their previous studies, especially their GPA). They look for students who have the right study habits and intellectual abilities for medical studies in Canada.
Canadian medical schools also consider the results of the MCAT test.
For your application to be considered at most Canadian medical schools, you need a minimum GPA of 3.3 and a minimum MCAT score of 505.
Here is a table showing the average GPA requirements for some Canadian medical universities:
|University Of Toronto||3.6|
|Canadian Mennonite University||3.3|
|University of Alberta||3.5|
5. Recommendation letters
Most Canadian medical schools ask for letters of recommendation. You can get these letters from different people like community or faculty members, or past employers.
6. Online interview
After submitting all the necessary documents, and meeting all requirements of the Canadian medical school, they might schedule an interview with you. The interview format, content, and interviewers can be different for each university. It’s important to keep this in mind while applying.
Top 10 medical schools in Canada
The best medical schools to study medicine in Canada for 2023, according to Time Higher Education, are:
|University||National ranking||International ranking among medical universities||Location|
|University of Toronto||#1||#5||Toronto|
|University of British Columbia||#4||#40||Vancouver|
|University of Alberta||#5||#75||Edmonton|
|University of Montreal||#6||#85||Montreal|
|University of Ottawa||#7||#97||Ottawa|
|University of Calgary||#8||#101–125||Calgary|
Medical Residency and Speciality Training In Canada
After finishing a four-year medical program at a Canadian medical school, doctors must take Part 1 of the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) within a year of graduating.
Passing this test allows doctors to apply for clinical residency positions in Canadian hospitals and health centers. It’s a good idea to start preparing for the MCCQE exam during the final year of your medical studies in Canada.
To get a medical residency in Canada, doctors apply through the CaRMS system. They rank their preferences for Canadian specialties and hospitals where they want to specialize.
The length of medical residency after graduation varies based on the chosen specialty. For instance, family medicine is a two-year program accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC).
For most other medical specializations, the residency lasts for 5 years. However, internal medicine and pediatrics are 4-year programs, and the final year can be used to complete a fellowship in general internal medicine or general pediatrics or pursue a longer fellowship, like cardiology.
A few surgical residencies, such as cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, and some general surgery programs, last for 6 years.
Scholarships to study medicine in Canada for international students
Most scholarships for studying medicine in Canada don’t cover all the expenses, so it’s hard to study medicine in Canada for free. To get financial support for their medical studies in Canada, international students must show outstanding academic performance.
Here is a list of the top scholarships for international students to study medicine in Canada:
- Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program.
- Vanier Canada Graduate scholarship
- Ontario Trillium Scholarship (OTS).
- J Douglas Scholarship.
- university of alberta scholarships
- national research council of canada (NRCC) scholarship.
- Quebec Provincial Government Scholarship.
- queen’s university medicine scholarships.
- Alan Tarshis and Nancy Goodman.
- McGill University scholarships.
- toronto University medicine scholarships
- University of British Columbia scholarships.
Check more scholarships in Canada: Guide to the BEST Scholarships in Canada for International Students
What is the average medical doctor’s salary in Canada?
The average salary of a doctor in Canada depends on various factors like where they work (health center, hospital, or own clinic), the Canadian province they practice in, and their medical specialty.
For example, family doctors in Canada make around CA$331,000 per year on average, while specialist doctors earn about CA$404,000 annually. Surgical specialists have an average salary of CA$570,000. Psychiatrists earn about CA$318,000 annually, while ophthalmologists can earn over CA$800,000 per year.
Here is the table showing the average annual salaries of doctors in Canada, organized by their medical specialization:
|Medical Speciality||Average doctor’s salary in Canadian dollars|
|Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract||CA$493,060|
|Obstetrics and Gynecology||CA$472,548|
Can you work in Canada as a doctor after finishing your medical studies?
To work as a doctor in Canada, you need a Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) license, which is essential for all physicians. To get this license, you must pass two licensing exams, which you can take during your medical training and residency in Canada.
Once you complete the first year of medical residency and pass both parts of the MCCQE exam, you can apply for the Medical Council of Canada license. After approval, you will receive your certificate of registration and licensing, enabling you to practice medicine in Canada.
Recognition of foreign doctors training and certification in Canada
If you studied medicine from outside Canada and want to work as a licensed doctor in Canada, there are steps you need to follow to validate your medical credentials and start the process of practicing medicine in Canada.
1. Check if your medical degree is recognized in Canada
Make sure to search the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDMS) to see if the college or university where you studied medicine is recognized in Canada.
2. Use online resources for exams preparation
To become a licensed doctor in Canada, you need to pass the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part 1. You can find practice tests online to get familiar with the exam format and questions.
These practice tests are created to help you get used to the types of questions you’ll face in the MCCQE Part 1 exam’s new Blueprint. They also introduce you to the online delivery platform used for the exam. The content of these practice tests is developed by clinicians and experts experienced in creating MCC exam materials.
3. Register for a physiciansapply.ca account
Sign up for a physiciansapply.ca account to take the MCCQE Part 1 exam. There is a non-refundable fee for registration, and this account allows you to access various services related to your medical credentials.
4. Submit your medical credentials for verification
With your physiciansapply.ca account, you can make a collection of your medical credentials that you can easily share with provincial medical regulatory authorities and other relevant organizations in the Canadian medical system.
5. Take the MCCQE Part 1 exam
The MCCQE Part 1 is a computer-based test available at multiple test centers worldwide. Apply for the exam through your physiciansapply.ca account.
6. NAC exam or PRA program
If you graduated from a foreign medical university and want to apply for medical training and residency in Canada, you need to pass the National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) exam. Remember, this exam is only available within Canada.
If you need a provisional license to practice medicine in Canada, consider the Practice Ready Assessment (PRA) program. It’s available in various Canadian provinces and is designed for internationally trained physicians who completed their clinical medical training abroad after graduation.
For more information, contact the international medical graduate program.
7. Get the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) license
MCC offers a new service to grant Canadian medical licensing to eligible individuals. Once you obtain the LMCC license, you can start practicing as a doctor in Canada.
This sums up the important steps to study medicine in Canada. Having a medical degree from a recognized university can lead to a successful career as a doctor. If getting into medical school is tough, consider other related medical fields as they may have higher acceptance rates.
To learn more about studying medicine in Canada and Canadian medical universities, we suggest downloading this official document.
You can also find information about the Canadian MCAT test in this file.
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