MBBS in USA: Find Out Cost, Requirements, Best Medical Colleges to Study MBBS in USA

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Yocket Editorial Team

Updated on Oct 8, 2021

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Pursuing MBBS in India is like any other type of bachelor's degree. You give an entrance exam (NEET) exam after your 12th standard. Based on the score and your academics, you are given admission to a medical college/university.

Studying Medicine in the US is a rather long and strenuous process. This is because you can only join medical school after you have completed a bachelor’s degree in a related field, like Biology, Chemistry, etc. Also, the medical schools (in most cases) do not accept foreign undergraduate degrees. You need to either complete an undergraduate degree in the US or have studied there for at least two years. This blog is intended to answer all your queries related to how to study medicine in the US for international students.

USA As a Study Abroad Destination for Medical Studies

USA is listed on the top among countries that have the best education system. Leading the way across several fields, it outshines in medical studies as well. Some of the best medical and research universities in the world including Harvard, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins, etc. are all located in the United States.

According to QS World University Rankings for Medicine 2021, 29 of the top 100 medical schools are located in the US.

The research, training and focus on the practical aspect of learning makes it an ideal choice for anyone wanting to study medicine abroad. Studying in medical colleges in the USA means having access to world-class teaching infrastructure, comprehensive and intensive syllabus, and hi-tech technologies. These aspects make the choice to study medicine in the US an ideal one.

Why Study MBBS in USA?

While looking for the best international destinations for studying medicine, the name of medical colleges in USA is bound to come up. The obvious question that follows is- why pursue MBBS in USA? Well, there are several reasons for this and the most prominent ones are:

  • The Quality of medical education in USA is unparalleled and it houses some of the best medical schools in the world.

  • A Medical Degree from US universities is not just recognised within the country but they get worldwide recognition and preference.

  • Doctors passing out from prominent US medical schools are in great demand globally and have a high earning potential.

  • Several top medical universities in USA offer scholarships for international students depending on their merit.

  • Indian students who’ve completed their medical education from the USA and want to practice in India are not required to give any NMC Screening Test.

MBBS Course Structure, Curriculum and Duration in USA

Let’s now answer the question: how to become a doctor in USA? The process of becoming a doctor is very different in the USA.

In many countries including India, UK, etc. medicine degree or MBBS is an undergraduate degree and students get enrolled into the programs right out of high school. However, in the US, medicine is only available as a postgraduate option i.e. Doctor of Medicine. Here is a look at the course structure for medicine programs in US.

Program

Duration

Pre-Medical Course (BS Degree)

1.5 years

MD (Doctor of Medicine Degree)

4 Years

Residency

3-5 Years

Pre-Medical Course (BS Degree)

This is the prerequisite for getting enrolled in a MD program at medical schools in US. While the US students have to pursue this 4-year course after 10th class, for international students, it's a little different.

International students, more specifically Indian students, can apply to a BS course after completing 12th class, and finish the degree in around 1.5 years.

Some universities may also exempt students from taking a BS course if they have already studied MBBS for 1 or 2 years in their home country.

MD (Doctor of Medicine Degree)

Once a student has completed the BS degree, she/he becomes eligible to enroll in the MD program at medical schools across the US.

This 4-year course if divided into two stages with each taking two years to complete:

  • Theoretical Stage: During this stage, students are instructed on many subjects that are essential for qualifying USMLE 1 (United States Medical Licensing Examination). Subjects taught during this time include Anatomy, Physiology, Histology, Medical Ethics, Biochemistry, Neuroanatomy, Pathology, etc.

  • Practical Stage: This stage deals with preparing the students with hands-on experience in operating and treating patients. It is also known as Clinical Rotation or Externship/Clerkship stage. At the end of this stage, students must appear for USMLE 2.

Post the completion of the two exams (USMLE1 & USMLE 2), students become eligible for residency

Residency

The program duration depends on the specialisation of your choice. Students work in hospitals and learn the intricacies of their field of specialisation. At the end of this they must apply for USMLE 3 or Licensee Exam, which is the final exam that you have to appear for.

After passing all the three exams, students can practice as a doctor in the USA or in any other country that approves a US degree.

5 Steps for Pursuing Medicine in USA

Here are the major steps you need to follow to study medicine in USA:

1. Pre-Med

The first thing you need to do is take your SATs. This is because in order to apply to medical school, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. This is called the pre-med phase.

A lot of medical schools require you to have pursued a bachelor’s degree in USA or have studied there for at least 2 years before applying to medical school. You can pursue a bachelor’s degree in subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, etc. There are some pre-requisite courses that you will need to pursue. You will find them on the medical school’s website. You should keep these in mind.

2. MCAT

The MCAT, also known as The Medical College Admission Test, is the entrance exam you need to give in order to apply to medical school. This is taken after finishing the BS degree.

You should prepare for the MCAT during your bachelor’s degree and give it in your senior year. It is very important that you score well in your MCATs as their score will decide the medical college that you get into.

3. Apply to Medical School

You can apply to medical school through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) if they are pursuing a Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) or the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) if they are pursuing a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine degree (D.O.).

There are a lot of factors that go into college admissions, that may include but aren’t limited to:

  • Your MCAT scores,

  • LORs,

  • Essays,

  • Pre-requisite courses,

  • Extracurriculars,

  • Undergrad scores, and any other college specific requirements.

It is important to note that as an international student, it is very difficult to get into an American Medical School. This is because most publicly funded colleges are required to put more emphasis and give more importance to students who are residents of the school's state. This is mainly to ensure that there are enough doctors in the area. This means that the acceptance rate of international students, and even out of state students, is very low.

One way to overcome this problem is to apply to private institutions. Here, the problem of cost arises since private institutions tend to be more expensive than public institutions. It can cost upto $40,000 annually to study medicine in USA.

4. Starting at Medical School

Once you have been accepted to medical school, you will have to study for roughly 4 years. After this, you will have to finish your residency. Residency means that you will work and train in a real hospital or medical centre with real patients. Residency can last anywhere between 3-8 years, depending on your field of choice and your learning curve. All through the course, you would also need to give the USMLEs.

5. Successfully Passing the USMLEs

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States. It is used to assess how you have applied your medical knowledge to real life situations.

There are 3 examinations that you need to give, USMLE Step-1, Step-2 and Step-3.

  • The USMLE Step-1 is the exam you give after completing the first two years of medical school. You need to pass this exam in order to qualify for residency.

  • The USMLE Step-2 examination is to be given in the fourth year of medical school. It is divided into two exams- Step-2 CK (Clinical Knowledge) and Step-2 CS (Clinical Skills).

  • The USMLE Step-3 is the final examination after residency and on passing this examination, you get your medical license.

You can give the USMLE Step-1 and USMLE Step-2 CK from anywhere, but USMLE Step-2 CS and USMLE Step-3 need to be given from within the US only.

Best Medical Colleges in USA

If you are planning to study medicine in USA, the list of the top medical colleges in US always comes in handy.

So, here’s a list of the 10 best medical colleges in USA for Indian and other international students, offering MD programs as per QS News Ranking 2021.

University

Rank

Harvard University

1

Stanford University

3

John Hopkins University

5

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

7

Yale University

8

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

12

Columbia University

13

University of Pennsylvania

15

Duke University

16

University of Washington

20

Eligibility & Prerequisites to Study Medicine in USA

For a student to be able to pursue Doctor of Medicine Degree or MD degree in US, the eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Good grades in Class 10th (for US students) or/ and 12th or equivalent for Indian and international students

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) or pre medical degree in biology, physics or other medicine related field

  • MCAT Score

  • Scores of English proficiency tests like IELTS/ TOEFL /PTE for students whose native language isn't English

  • NEET test scores for Indian students

Note:
The requirements and eligibility criteria may vary between the medical schools and universities. Make sure to double check the requirements with the school you are interested in.

List of Documents Needed for Studying Medicine in USA

For a student wanting to pursue MBBS degree in USA, here are all the documents you would need to submit:

  • Transcripts of previous academic study

  • Evaluation of foreign transcripts by an accredited agency

  • Letters of recommendations

  • Statement of purpose

  • CV or Resume

  • English Proficiency Test Scores like IELTS/ TOEFL

  • Scores of MCAT (set by each university individually)

  • Valid Passport

  • Passport size copies of photographs

  • Extracurricular activities

Other than the documents above, some medical schools in US have additional requirements, like science subjects with laboratory requirements, and studying some additional humanities subjects.

MBBS Cost in USA

Having understood how to become a doctor in USA, let us now discuss the cost of doing so. Although the US is known for its exceptional quality of education, it is also one of the most expensive countries for international students.

The cost of completing medical studies can be divided into two parts:

  • Cost of pursuing BS degree = 20,000 - 50,000 USD per annum

  • Cost of pursuing the MD program = 18,000 - 80,000 USD per annum

However, the cost of medical school may vary between universities. The average costs of some of the best medical colleges in USA are:

University

Average Tuition Cost per annum (in USD)

Harvard University          

65,000

Stanford University

80,000

John Hopkins University 

55,000

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

27,000

Yale University

62,000

It is evident from the list above that the cost of studying medicine in USA is quite high. However, you do not need to be disheartened as there are a number of schools that provide international students with scholarships.

Scholarships for MBBS in USA

A number of schools of Medicine at various universities in the USA offer scholarships to the international students. Some of the these scholarships are:

Scholarship

Awarded By

AHIMA Foundation Merit Scholarship

AHIMA Foundation

ASAHP Scholarship of Excellence

Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions

AMTIE Student Scholarship

American Medical Technologists (AMT)

UCLA David Geffen Medical Scholarships

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

International Financial Aid

Yale University

International Financial Aid

Dartmouth College

Financial Aid for Non-US Medical Students

John Hopkins University

Harvard Medical School Scholarship   

Harvard University

Stanford Institutional Aid

Stanford University

Careers Prospects After Completing MBBS in USA

A student passing out with a doctor’s degree from the best medical colleges in USA will find a world of opportunities open up. A student can choose to practice in USA itself or move to their home country after completion of the degree.

If you choose to stay back in the US, you can find opportunities in private/government hospitals, start your own private practice or you can continue in the field of research.

According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2021, Primary Care Physicians in the United States earned on average $241,000, while Specialists earned an average $330,000 per year.

Apart from this, since USA medical degrees are valued everywhere, therefore you can be rest assured of a bright career in other parts of the world as well.

Indian students who complete their MD in USA, can also practice in India without having to appear for the NMC screening test.

Alternative to MBBS in USA

As mentioned earlier, it is quite difficult for international students to get admitted to US Medical Colleges because preference is given to students from USA or Canada. There are around 62 medical schools that accept international applicants, however, they do not guarantee admissions because of preference given to US citizens. So, institutions accept your applications only if your profile is exceptional and then you are called for an interview.

You might have become a little disheartened after reading about the difficulty, but don’t be. Just because you can’t study in USA doesn’t mean you can’t study abroad at all, right?

There are so many other countries that accept students with open arms. They have amazing courses and some even don’t require a Bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite.

For example, the Caribbean Islands. The Caribbean Islands have medical universities which are affiliated with numerous teaching hospitals (in USA, Canada, and India etc.); this gives students the opportunity to participate in clinical rotations throughout the United States. Therefore, Caribbean students have the opportunities to practice in Caribbean and outside during their clinical studies, which gives them more advantage in residency applications and when they become physicians in USA, Canada, India or any other country.

Other countries that are popular for medical studies are Russia, Georgia, China, Philippines, Ukraine, etc. These countries also have much less tuition fees as compared to USA, reducing the loan amount.

Therefore, we can conclude by saying that although medical study in USA is hard in terms of admission requirements and fee structure, it is definitely one of the best places to get a doctor's degree. The course curriculum can be extremely long and hard, but the reward is a secure, well-paying and fulfilling job.

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