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What Are the Entry Requirements for Medical Schools in Europe and the U.S.?

04 Oct 2021

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The moment you decide you want to pursue a career in Medicine, you know you are expected to go through a lot of hard work and inevitably many hours of study. However, all your efforts will be worth it in the end. After all, being a doctor is one of the noblest and most rewarding professions in the world.

Applying to med school is not something you should do superficially. You have to choose your medical school wisely. To make your mission easier, we’ll present the most common entry requirements to medical schools from Europe, the US and UK.

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We’ll also throw in extra information like what GPA you’ll need to apply, what undergraduate degrees are accepted, and if you need an entry exam to get into medical school.

So, what does it take to get into a medical school?

1. Admission requirements for medical school studies in Europe

These are some of the most common admission criteria for Medicine degrees offered by European universities:

  • High school diploma (certificate)
  • Good marks in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Letter of motivation
  • Voluntary or work experience related to healthcare
  • Candidates taking the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) must offer three subjects including Chemistry and Biology at Higher Level, plus three subjects at Standard Level. Not all universities require an International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB).
  • Minimum TOEFL and IELTS results

The requirements we’ve listed above are the most common, but Europe is a large continent, and some countries have different admission criteria or systems. Here are several examples:

Medical school admission and becoming a doctor in France

In France, each academic institution can have different admission criteria, and Medical studies are divided into 3 cycles.

The first cycle (PCEM) lasts 2 years. At the end of the first year, there’s a difficult examination which determines who goes into the second year. Usually, only 15-20% of Medicine students pass.

The second cycle (DCEM) lasts 4 years. It includes theoretical classes and exams, as well as training periods in healthcare institutions. In the last year, med students take a national examination and the grade determines their specialisation.

The third cycle is split into General Medicine and Specialised Medicine. The internships for General Medicine usually last 3 years. For Specialised Medicine, an internship can take 4-5 years to complete. At the end of the third cycle, all students receive a Specialised Studies Diploma (in French, DES: Diplôme d’Études Spécialisées).

The last step is writing and successfully defending a thesis before a jury, after which graduates receive their diplomas in Medicine. To practise Medicine, you still have to register with the Conseil National de l’Ordre des Médecins.

Here are a few medical schools we recommend in France:

  • University of Burgundy
  • Institut Polytechnique de Paris
  • Europubhealth Plus Consortium

Group of medical students listening to a lecture from their professor

Medical school admission and becoming a doctor in Germany

In Germany, you’ll encounter the Numerus Clausus (NC), which stands for Limited Number in Latin. It is a system used to determine the number of available Medicine places for students. The number of available places varies from one semester/year to another and you must have a certain overall grade to be admitted.

Medicine degrees in Germany take at least 6 years and 3 months to complete, and they are not divided into Bachelor’s and Master’s courses. In order to graduate you will have to take a state examination.

The path to becoming a doctor in Germany can be split into several main stages:

  • Stage I studies – 4 semesters followed by the first 3 sections of the state examination
  • Stage II studies – 6 semesters
  • Completion of a practical year (PJ) at a hospital or clinic
  • The second and final state examination after which you receive your licence to practise Medicine in Germany

It’s very important to develop good German language skills, because most lectures and examinations are in German.

You can find more information about studying Medicine in Germany on websites like Study in Germany and

Here are a few medical schools we recommend in Germany:

  • Berlin School of Business and Innovation
  • Fresenius University of Applied Sciences
  • SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences

Medical school admission and becoming a doctor in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, if you cannot prove you’ve studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Maths, you’ll need to take an exam that will test your competence in these subjects. You’ll also need to learn Dutch. This is necessary to complete your postgraduate studies and to communicate with your future patients.

Dutch Medicine degrees fall in the category of Numerus Fixus or Decentralised Selection programmes. This means the number of places is limited and you can only apply for two Numerus Fixus programmes.

These are the stages you go through to become a qualified doctor in the Netherlands:

  • Graduate a Bachelor’s in Medicine – 3 years. You’ll attend lectures and prepare assignments.
  • Finish a Master’s in Medicine – another 3 years, during which you take part in different internships. You also need to write a Master’s thesis.
  • To start working as a medical specialist, you have to register with the Royal Dutch Medical Association (RDMA).

Here are a few medical schools in the Netherlands:

  • Radboud University
  • University of Twente (UT)
  • Wageningen University and Research

Medical school admission and becoming a doctor in Italy

Italian universities use the Numerus Clausus system for both Medicine degree places and the professional training that takes place after graduation.

Some med schools in Italy require that students pass the IMAT (International Medical Admissions Test) or a similar admission exam, which tests the applicants’ logical skills and their knowledge of English, Biology, Chemistry, and other Science-related subjects.

The Medicine degree takes 6 years to complete and is followed by a 6-month clinical placement. You must then pass a national exam to become a registered physician. After passing that examination, you can start the specialisation training, which takes between 3-6 years, depending on your area of expertise.

Here are a few medical schools we recommend in Italy:

  • Vita-Salute San Raffaele University
  • Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
  • Humanitas University

Medical school admission and becoming a doctor in Finland

In Finland, you need to know Finnish for both basic studies and postgraduate training.

The only way to enrol in a medical school is to pass the entrance examination, which is held every year in May. The exam is in Finnish or Swedish.

The medical degree is a 6-year programme, which combines Bachelor’s and Master’s courses into a Licentiate degree. After graduation, med students can continue their education with postgraduate specialisation programmes.

Here are a few medical schools we recommend in Finland:

  • University of Turku
  • University of Oulu
  • Tampere University

2. Admission requirements for medical school studies in the U.S.

In the US, Medical degrees are considered second entry degrees, meaning you cannot enrol directly in a Medicine Bachelor’s. You first need to do a Bachelor’s (undergraduate) degree in a related Science subject (popular choices are Biology and Chemistry) before you apply to a medical school. Then, you can enrol in a Medicine degree that usually lasts 4 years.

Here are the general med school requirements for the US:

  • High school diploma
  • Undergraduate degree in the field of Sciences (3-4 years)
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Good TOEFL language scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Minimum MCAT exam result (set by each university individually)

Some American med schools have additional requirements, like completing premedical courses, such as:

  • College Biology with laboratory, one year
  • General college Chemistry with laboratory, one year
  • Biology, Chemistry – minimum of 24 semester hours in areas of Humanities
  • Mathematics (Calculus and/or Statistics, one year (6-8 semester hours)
  • General college Physics with laboratory, one year (8 semester hours)

Here are a few medical schools we recommend in the US:

  • University of South Dakota
  • Liberty University
  • School for International Training

What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a multi-choice exam created by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Almost all US medical schools require applicants to submit MCAT exam scores during their university application.

The MCAT exam takes approximately 7 hours and a half to complete and it is comprised of 4 main parts:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
Group of doctors performing a surgery

Becoming a doctor in the US

Throughout the Medical degree, students develop their soft skills (communication, empathy, cooperation, etc.) and advance their medical knowledge.

During the last year, students choose a specialisation based on their interests and other factors and apply to residency programmes. The vast majority are matched through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

During residency, medical graduates train in hospitals with other healthcare practitioners. The residency can take between 3-7 years to complete depending on their specialisation. After completing this stage, residents can undertake a fellowship, which lasts 1-2 years and focuses on a sub-specialisation.

To practise Medicine, physicians or doctors have to be licensed by the state in which they want to work. The criteria for certification are established by 24 Specialty Boards. These boards require regular recertification due to the fast changes that occur in Medicine and Healthcare.

3. Admission requirements for medical school studies in the UK

We’ve listed below some of the most common requirements for applicants to medical schools in Britain. Be aware that each university is free to set its own criteria, which is why we encourage you to check the admission details on the webpage of the study programme.

Bachelor’s degree in Medicine (MBBS) in the UK

  • Previous (high school) studies it at least two Science subjects. Usually, Chemistry and Biology or Physics/Maths are mandatory.
  • Proof of English language proficiency: IELTS – average score of 6.0 or 6.5, or PTE Academic
  • UCAT test score. Each university can use it differently. Some establish a minimum UCAT score they’ll accept. Other universities use a “points system” for evaluating applications and will offer you more points for a higher UCAT result.
  • International Baccalaureate, with at least 36 points overall, including three higher level subjects (including Chemistry and Biology), and three standard level subjects. Each subject must be passed with a minimum of six points. International Baccalaureate is not required by all universities from the UK.
  • Successfully passing the interview(s)
  • Evidence of voluntary or work experience related to medicine and healthcare
  • Reference letter from teachers/academic supervisors

Here are a few medical schools we recommend in the UK:

  • London South Bank University
  • University of Birmingham
  • Aston University

What is the UCAT?

The UCAT (previously called UKCAT, UK Clinical Aptitude Test) is an online test required by medical schools in the UK. It is designed to test cognitive abilities, attitudes, critical thinking, and logical reasoning.

The UCAT helps universities select applicants with the right abilities to pursue careers in the healthcare field. The UCAT test is not based on a science-related curriculum. The format of the test covers questions that assess logical skills, such as decision making, quantitative reasoning, and situational judgement.

Becoming a doctor in the UK

After completing the 4 or 5-year degree in Medicine, you get a provisional license.

The next step is the Foundation Programme, which involves different practical placements and training in healthcare institutions. The Foundation programme provides salaries, and it takes 2 years to complete (F1 – first year and F2 – second year). At the end of F1, you can apply for a licence and receive full registration from the GMC (General Medical Council).

You can then start General Practice or Specialty training, which can take between 3-8 years depending on what you want to focus on.

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Top questions about medical school application answered

What degree do I need to graduate before applying for medical school?

It depends. The US is the only country where you need to have a Bachelor’s and/or premedical courses to apply for a Medical degree. This is not the case in the UK or other European countries, although you are required to have studied Biology, Chemistry, and other related subjects during high school and/or pass an admission exam proving your logical skills and knowledge in Science-related subjects.

What are the most common names for Medical degrees?

The name of your Medical degree can vary greatly depending on where you study. In the UK and countries that follow the British system, it’s common to encounter the abbreviations MBBS, MB ChB, MB BCh, BMBS. They all refer to the Bachelor of Medicine, which is awarded to medical graduates.

Other European countries can use different names, like Licentiate degree in Finland or DES (Diplôme d’Études Spécialisées) in France.

In the United States and countries that follow its model, the medical degree is called Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). The DO is only awarded in the US.

Do I need to take an exam to get into medical school?

In the United States, yes. Almost all medical schools require applicants to pass the MCAT exam.

In the UK, many but not all universities require you to pass the UCAT examination.

Other European universities might ask you to pass their own admission exams, a national test, or other international exams, like the IMAT.

What subjects are accepted when applying to med school?

Most universities worldwide require that you have prior studies in Biology, Chemistry, and other Science subjects, like Physics or Maths.

How many years do I need to study to become a doctor?

It varies from one country to another. It generally takes 6-7 years to graduate with a Medicine degree. In most countries, med students will then start the internship or residency period, which can take between 3-8 years, depending on your specialisation.

What grades do I need to get into medical school?

Most universities will pay close attention to the grades you took in Biology, Chemistry, and other Science subjects. They want to see if you have the capacity to understand complex notions and memorise a lot of information, which is essential for all medical students.

If the university requires an exam, like the MCAT or UCAT, each institution decides how the examination impacts the students’ applications. For example, some universities have a minimum score, while others allow all students to apply and only accept the top students with the highest results. Other med schools give students with great results at the exam more points, which makes their application stand out and increases their chances of being admitted. So, there’s no universal formula.

We encounter a similar situation with the GPA (Grade Point Average). You’ll find study programmes mentioning a minimum GPA, while others accept all students, select the best ones, and then draw the line.

Medical Schools that don't require the mcat

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Medical Schools That Don’t Require The MCAT [Full List]

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You may get surprised when I tell you that there are medical schools that don’t require the MCAT. Since the MCAT can be challenging, it’s understandable that some aspiring medical students may want to skip it.

The MCAT is a computer-based examination that determines your qualifications and readiness for med school. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) developed it to measure whether you have what it takes to build a successful career in medicine. 

There are different ways to get into a medical school without going through the MCAT. Keep on reading to know more about this and which schools offer an MCAT-free application process.

List Of Medical Schools That Don’t Require The MCAT

how to get into med school

St. George’s University

Founded in 1976, St. George’s University is an independent school of medicine located in Grenada, West Indies. It has three other campuses offering quality and accessible education in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

This school offers a BS/MD Dual Degree Program where you can take your undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Science), then proceed directly to finishing your Doctor of Medicine. 

Aside from the typical graduate requirements, you will have to formally submit an application for admission into SGU’s School of Medicine. You must also present a graduate addendum to explain some weaknesses you may have in your records. 

Then, it will be evaluated by the Admissions Committee for your requested program. When accepted, you will be invited for an interview. 

University Of Alabama School Of Medicine

As stated from the 2022 US News rankings for the best graduate schools, UAB’s School of Medicine is ranked number 32 for the best medical school for research and number 17 for primary care.

The University of Alabama School of Medicine offers EMSAP or the Early Medical School Acceptance Program, where dedicated students can apply in their senior year in high school. This project is available for dental, medical, and optometry programs. 

Applicants must have a minimum score of 1360 in their SAT and at least a 3.50 GPA. To be qualified, they must also have taken four years of English and mathematics, a year for biology, and one year of physics or chemistry in their high school.  

The number of students they accept varies per year, but the medical program only takes in up to 20 students. So, make sure to check with this school first for slot availability before applying.

medical schools that don't require the mcat

California Northstate University College Of Medicine

For students committed to taking a career in medicine, the California Northstate University College of Medicine is a good pick in achieving this goal. This university is committed to giving excellent education to produce graduates with competent skills in healthcare. 

California Northstate University offers a BS/MD pathway to provide opportunities for high school students interested in CNU’s medical degree program. Unlike UAB, this school offers accelerated undergraduate coursework and MD for qualified applicants, lasting six to eight years. 

Once you get accepted, you will begin your undergraduate studies. You’ll do this while also finishing your prerequisites to meet the requirements for the BS/MD program. 

CNU also requires students accepted in this combined degree program to attend and participate in several activity programs set by the College of Medicine. 

Howard University College Of Medicine

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive school, how about considering Howard University College of Medicine? This school has a dual degree program where applicants can enjoy six years of combined BS and MD degrees instead of the traditional eight years. Only a limited number of students get accepted each year.

Howard University College of Medicine will require applicants for the BS/MD program to have at least a 3.25 GPA for science-related subjects and a minimum of 3.50 overall GPA. Of course, the higher your score will result in better chances of getting in. 

To get in, you will need to pass the interview with flying colors and present strong letters of recommendation. 

medical school timeline

The State University Of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University

SUNY Upstate Medical University is the first on our list that offers both Early Assurance and a BS/MD Program. This institution ranked 17th among Forbes’ 2021 list of the Best Employers in America. 

The State University of New York offers an Early Assurance Program where selected students may enjoy a guaranteed admission or early acceptance into the medical program they’re interested in. However, it doesn’t exempt you from taking the MCAT. 

Another opportunity offered by SUNY is their UAS or Upstate Accelerated Scholars program which is intended for students who wish to direct their education into a more medically inclined path. 

If accepted, you will enjoy a guaranteed acceptance into SUNY’s College of Medicine after completing your undergraduate studies. As long as you submit all requirements in this program, you will no longer need to take the MCAT. 

Albany Medical College

Like SUNY, Albany Medical College also has two programs available for students who have a passion for healthcare. The first one is the Early Assurance Program (EAP), where MCAT is waived to qualified applicants.

To get into this program, you will need a grade requirement of at least a 3.50 GPA for biology, physics, chemistry, and math subjects. You must also attain a minimum of 3.50 for a cumulative GPA

You are also required to have at least two science sequences completed by the end of your second year. Lastly, you have to participate in relevant extracurricular activities in the institution, such as doing research, volunteering, community outreach, and so on. 

Albany Medical College also provides its prospective students with combined undergrad and graduate programs. However, they only accept students with strong academic records, so be prepared for that. 

Depending on your chosen graduate program, the credit requirement can vary from 138 to 193 credits.

medical school timeline mcat

University Of Rochester

Don’t like bigger universities? Then, the University of Rochester may just be for you. 

With just a little over 4500 undergraduates, this institution is one of the smallest among America’s top research colleges. On top of that, they also have an Early Assurance Program for students in their sophomore year. 

The University of Rochester requires an overall 3.60 or higher GPA, recommendation letters, and a minimum of 60 credits remaining to finish the Spelman degree. Also, having relevant experiences such as research, volunteer work, and clinical-related activities are required. 

Pretty much anything to make your application look good is recommended. If accepted, you won’t have to take the MCAT anymore. 

University Of Toledo College Of Medicine And Life Sciences

As of this writing, only a few institutions offer the Flexible Admission Program. It will grant you an acceptance to medical school without needing to fulfill prerequisite courses. 

It means that you can now enjoy other fields of study in your undergraduate degree. You don’t have to worry about what subjects you must go through because you already know that you’re going straight into medical school after graduation. 

The University of Toledo requires interested students to partake in the College of Medicine’s activities during the summer of their last two years of undergraduate studies. 

In return, these programs are beneficial to the students as they give necessary information about the campus, community, and the MD program.  

medical schools that don't require the mcat

Icahn School Of Medicine At Mount Sinai

Another institution with the Flexible Admission Program is the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, formerly known as the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. A leader in medical and scientific education, this school has been around since 1963. 

Icahn School of Medicine offers what they call the FlexMed Admission Program. As stated in the name, it will allow you to “flex” your humanistic, creative, intellectual, and scientific skills during college. 

You can apply for this at the end of your sophomore year. If accepted, you’ll go through your third year knowing that you just secured a spot for yourself at the Icahn’s School of Medicine. If that isn’t enough, it also exempts you from the MCAT and traditional pre-med requirements.

University Of Florida College Of Medicine

At the time of this writing, only the University of Florida College of Medicine offers the Medical Honors Program. It is like a BS/MD combined degree program and you can apply for it at the end of your second year in college. 

Then, you will go through the following year (which the UF also calls the “Honors Year”) with research, academic, and service constituents. You will be matriculated into the University of Florida College of Medicine in that same year upon completing your honor requirements. 

This one is different from the dual degree program because the university only takes highly talented students and prepares them for their future in medical school. 

UF exposes these students to different fields in clinical medicine. It gives the students the chance to think about which branch of medicine they would like to focus on. 

The Medical Honors Program also includes leadership training that will teach them the importance of responsibility, especially inside the operating room. 

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How To Get Into Medical School Without The MCAT

For more than 90 years, many schools have used the MCAT as a requirement to get into a medical degree program. If you didn’t pass the MCAT, most universities wouldn’t even invite you for an interview. 

The following are available programs to help you get into med school without taking up the MCAT:

BS/MD Or BA/MD Program 

It is a combined program where you take your undergraduate and medical degrees in just one school. 

However, you won’t be considered a medical student right away. The first three to four years into this program are filled with liberal arts requirements and core classes to help you get ready for the MD part of the program. 

Once you pass your undergraduate prerequisites, you’ll gradually shift into the traditional curriculum for medicine. Depending on the school you’re eyeing, some will require a high GPAextracurriculars, and job experience matters as well. urn:uuid:486ddd2e-c8b9-a22d-dccd-a22dc8b9486d

Early Assurance Program 

EAP grants you an early acceptance into your chosen medical school. You can apply to this program by the end of your second year or the beginning of your third-year undergraduate degree. 

Just like the earlier option, EAP is very competitive. It often accepts academically talented students with a high GPAexcellent extracurriculars, and those who took core biology classes

intern vs resident vs fellow

Flexible Admission Program

Like the EAP, an institution will grant the Flexible Admission Program to students who do not meet the standard requirements for admission, but the experiences made outside the classroom are deemed relevant. 

This program accepts students from any field of academic studies such as biomedical science, humanities and social sciences, and even engineering-related courses. As of this writing, only two schools offer this program. 

Medical Honors Program

Lastly, the Medical Honors Program is only offered by the University of Florida College of Medicine at the moment. It is a combined BS/MD Program that lasts up to 7 years. 

The selection process for this program requires college coursework, extracurricular activities, job experiences (if there are any), and medical or non-medical volunteering work. The university will also need a GPA of at least 3.7 and higher on math and science-related subjects.

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Medical school takes so long to complete because it ensures that you will be capable enough to handle a person’s life, and that’s no joke. Knowing which medical schools do not require the MCAT doesn’t mean you’re taking a shortcut in your education. 

Skipping the MCAT may be difficult, but it can also be convenient for some students that really want to be medical professionals. Check out the schools we mentioned above and see what works well with your situation.

And if you’re still not sure about what you should be doing to get into med school, try this step-by-step blueprint. These are the tips, videos, and products I wish someone would have pointed out to me when I began as a pre-med and medical student. 

There are so many lessons I’ve picked up since starting my medical journey. So I want to share them with you through the Pre-Med Blueprint Video Course.

You can also check out The Pre-med Journey, which is a book that I wrote when I was in medical school. You can find that book on Amazon for just 99 cents! So if you’re trying to increase your chances of getting into medical school make sure to get this book.


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