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Prospective medical students apply to schools all over the world to further their education and become doctors. Every region has their own approach to studying medicine, with the US having particularly unique characteristics to their medical admissions processes. If you’re thinking about studying medicine in the US, this article is for you – we’ll go through the specifics of the application process for medical schools in the US. 


Why study medicine in the US? 

Whilst medical schools are held to a high standard globally, prospective medical students often choose the US for the following reasons: 


Large selection of schools

The US is home to 82 medical schools which accept international students. Therefore, you are able to have more input into deciding which schools to apply for based on personal factors such as cost of living and lifestyle.  


MD and DO options

In the US, medical students can study an MD or DO degree, based on their own personal interests and goals. We will discuss the difference between the two later. 


Recognized degree

US MD degrees are internationally accepted, and DO degrees are also recognized in many places. After graduating from a medical school in the US, you can practice almost anywhere around the world. 


Research programs

If you’re interested in becoming an academic, clinical research physician or want to personalize your medical school experience, you can do so in many US medical schools. US medical schools are closely linked with many research institutions which offer internships and research experiences for medical students.  


What is the difference between an MD and DO in the US? 

As mentioned before, there are two types of medical degrees in the US. Both degrees take 4 years, are recognized medical degrees in the US, and teach the same curriculum. The main difference is between the names of the degree, and what it means:  


Doctor of Medicine, MD

The MD stands for a Doctor of Medicine, which teaches allopathic medicine –  this is the ‘traditional’ medical approach where doctors learn to treat patients with medicine and surgery. The MD degree is the same medical approach which other countries offer and teach.  


Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, DO

The DO stands for a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. This degree teaches the same allopathic medical curriculum, but also includes extra osteopathic medical approaches as well. Osteopathic medicine is a holistic approach to medicine, and the DO degree includes extra training in OMT – a set of treatments which are similar to physiotherapy.  


Should I do an MD or DO degree? 

The choice between studying an MD or DO degree is personal, depending on your interests and goals as a doctor. People who study DO degrees usually become primary care doctors, and find value in knowing OMT. The most important thing to note is that US MD degrees are internationally recognized, but some countries do not recognize DO degrees in the same way. Consider whether the DO is right for you if you intend to practice medicine outside of the US.  


What are the requirements for studying medicine in the US? 

Here are the requirements for medical school applications for international students wanting to study an MD or DO in the US:  


Undergraduate degree

As medical school is a postgraduate degree in the US, you first need to have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a science discipline. The minimum GPA differs between universities, but usually the equivalent of a 3.8 out of 4.0 GPA is required. 


Prerequisite knowledge

The US is unique in that their medical schools require proof of prerequisite knowledge in courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and humanities. The prerequisites differ slightly between each university, and can be taken as individual classes at community colleges or online for students who need to catch up before applying.  


English proficiency test

As medicine is an academically rigorous degree, the minimum English requirement is high. The IELTS test is usually preferred for admission into US medical schools, with a minimum of 7.0 required for admission. 


MCAT Score

The MCAT is the Medical College Admission Test, an aptitude test which is used as an extra criteria for ranking applicants. The required scores will depend on which school and degree you want to apply for. As the MCAT is based on percentile, the potential score ranges differ each year. Generally speaking, international students should aim for a score over 509 for admission into US medical schools.  



This will occur after applying to medical schools, where the university will arrange either a 1-on-1 or group interview for their applicants. The interview score is used for ranking applicants in the subsequent rounds. Not all students will be invited for an interview for every medical school, and some will not be invited at all.  


How do I apply to medical school in the US?  

Applications to most medical schools in the US are conducted through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). AMCAS is simply a portal where students can upload their required application documents for the schools they select. Some schools have their own independent applications process, so be sure to double check for each of your choices.  


Where can I study medicine in the US? 

Here is a list of medical schools in the US for international students, selected by the Intake advisory team: 


Boston University

This MD program has a focus on starting hands-on training from the first year. Boston is also a well-connected research university, which offers MD dual degrees, where you have the option of combining the medical degree with a PhD, Public Health or Clinical Research Degree. 


Baylor University

Partnered with the largest medical complex in the world, Baylor University offers an MD program which focuses on the foundations of medicine first, then integrating hands-on experiences. A leader in US medical research, medical students are also given opportunities for research experience as well. 


Michigan State University

Taught by the College of Osteopathic medicine, this DO degree will teach future doctors with a holistic approach to medicine accredited by multiple osteopathic associations. Graduates from Michigan State have consistently succeeded in attaining post-graduate placements in the US – if you had any reservations about a DO degree, take a look at Michigan State University to find out more.  


Prepare Your Medical School Applications With Intake 

If you are interested in any of the schools mentioned, or about studying medicine in the US in general, reach out to Intake. Intake’s team of advisors can help you with medical school applications, tailoring advice based on your background and goals.  

Find Your Direction

At Intake, we are all about giving great advice to each individual, to help you find the right path forward to reach your goals. Get in contact today to see where you could go in future!