Erudera's Complete Guide to Studying Medicine in Canada
Canadian medical schools have an excellent reputation when it comes to their academic quality and the graduates they produce. If you decide to study medicine in Canada, you will have to go through a competitive admission process; but, this should not discourage you. If you meet all the requirements and gain admission, you will be part of an internationally recognized education system that trains excellent doctors each year.
Here’s everything you need to know about studying medicine in Canada:
Reasons to Study Medicine in Canada
High Academic Ranking
Universities in Canada are reputable and among the highest-ranked in the world. This is one of the main reasons why getting your medical degree in Canada will be well worth your time and money. You will be part of world-class medical schools that provide the necessary expertise, equipment, and facilities to help you succeed. A medical degree from a Canadian university will give you internationally renowned qualifications and shape you into a well-rounded physician.
Programs Taught in English
Medical schools in Canada offer both English and French-taught medical programs. The good news is that there are numerous English-taught medical programs you can undertake in Canada. However, medical schools offering English-taught programs will ask that you submit proof of English proficiency through tests like IELTS or TOEFL. This is an essential requirement for all applicants whose first language is not English.
If you think you cannot cover all the expenses related to medical school and studying abroad, you will be able to find numerous scholarship opportunities in Canada. Whether you are aiming for government, non-government, or university scholarships, you will likely find one that meets your financial needs and circumstances. In addition, universities usually offer different grants and financial aid to help you fund your studies.
Diverse and Challenging Environment
Canada is home to over 600,000 international students across all fields of study. You will find yourself in a diverse and multicultural environment in Canada, where you will learn, grow, and create friendships with people from all over the world. Besides, because of their competitiveness and excellence, Canadian medical schools attract some of the best students, which means you will be surrounded by ambitious and highly motivated students.
Top Universities to Study Medicine in Canada
Some of the top universities to study medicine in Canada are:
- University of Toronto
- McGill University
- University of British Columbia
- McMaster University
- University of Montreal
- University of Calgary
- University of Alberta
- University of Ottawa
- Dalhousie University
- Laval University
Students should meet a strict set of requirements to enter medical school in Canada. Of course, the set of requirements depends strictly on the respective university. One thing you should keep in mind is that competition is typically rather demanding. To enter medical school in Canada, students usually already have an undergraduate degree in a relevant field of study, such as biology (or other). Canadian medical schools offer programs such as the MD, BSc Medicine, BMSc (Bachelor of Medical Science), so requirements will vary depending on which degree you intend to pursue.
When it comes to the requirements to study medicine in Canada, medical schools have one common component. Specifically, the CanMEDS framework is a series of roles that lists a few qualities that are essential to future medical students. According to the CanMEDS framework, to become a “medical expert” and meet the health care needs, an individual will need to be a communicator, collaborator, leader, health advocate, scholar, and professional. Universities in Canada will test these capabilities through their admissions process and requirements.
Some of the main requirements to study medicine in Canada are:
English Proficiency Evidence
Applicants wishing to study medicine in one of Canada’s English-taught programs must prove their English proficiency through specific assessment tests. Such tests include TOEFL, IELTS, CAEL, or other tests, depending on the university-specific requirements. If English is not your first language, English fluency evidence will be one of the main requirements. Scores vary from university to university, but you should aim for good scores due to high competition.
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
The Medical College Admission Test is also one of the requirements to enter medical school in Canada, for numerous (not all) Canadian universities. The MCAT is a standardized computer-based exam aimed at prospective medical students. The test assesses critical thinking, problem-solving, written analysis, as well as scientific knowledge. Along with your GPA, this test plays a crucial role in admissions at some Canadian medical schools.
The GPA is essential to medical schools in Canada, and admissions teams usually pay attention to the applicants’ performance during pre-med undergraduate school. The specific required GPA depends on the university but the higher the GPA, the better. Some universities have a particular GPA threshold, others a particular percentage. Either way, you should aim to do well during your previous education to increase (not guarantee) your chances of admission.
CASPer is used by most medical schools in Canada (around 12/17 medical schools use CASPer). This is an online test that you must take to give the admissions team an insight into your communication skills, empathy, ethics, and motivations. You can expect to go through a set of hypothetical situations and give explanations through a series of questions. There are no right or wrong answers in this test, but you still need to prepare and practice.
Canadian medical schools use different interview formats, such as the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format or a combination of MMI with panel interviews. The interviews aim to evaluate your ability to think and communicate, among other things. Canadian medical schools usually have their interview format listed on their websites. The interview process also requires preparation, so make sure you stay on top of your game.
Extracurricular Activities (Short Descriptions)
Another requirement to study medicine in Canada includes describing your extracurricular activities in a specific number of words. The specific number of words/characters depends on the university. However, you will be allowed to include anything from jobs, leadership roles, volunteering, internships, etc., for as long as the contents of the description are relevant, in one way or another, to medical school and your aspirations.
Medical School in Canada Accepting International Students
The thing about Canadian medical schools is that some do not accept international students into their medical programs. Some accept international applicants from countries with whom they have signed a contract, while others accept non-contractual international students, but only at a limited number. This is partly because domestic medical school graduates are more likely to continue practicing in Canada after graduation.
Some of the universities that accept non-contract international students in Canada are:
- University of Toronto
- McMaster University
- McGill University
- University of Montréal
- Laval University
- Queen’s University
- University of Sherbrooke
- Memorial University of Newfoundland
Prospective medical students in Canada usually apply online through a centralized application system or the university’s website. It is important to meet all the deadlines (as specified on your chosen university’s website) and submit all the necessary documents. When you decide to apply to a medical school in Canada, the first thing you should do is go to the medical school’s website and check whether or not you are eligible.
Medical schools located in Ontario use the centralized application system known as the Ontario Medical School Application System (OMSAS). Medical schools outside of Ontario use their own online application platforms, which you will be able to find on their respective websites. The application process is not and should not be difficult, for as long as you meet the requirements, follow each step carefully, and stay within the deadlines.
Generally, the documents required for application to medical school are:
- Personal ID documents.
- Academic transcripts.
- Bachelor’s degree in relevant field (biology or other).
- English proficiency test scores (TOEFL, IELTS).
- MCAT scores (when applicable).
- Letters of recommendation.
- Statement of purpose.
- Extracurricular activities/certificates.
Degree Duration: How Long Does It Take to Study Medicine in Canada?
Depending on the degree program you wish to pursue and your previous academic qualifications, a medical degree in Canada usually takes three to five years to complete. Students who take the five-year study program typically spend the first year preparing for medical school. This additional year is designed for students who do not have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree in biology or other sciences can gain admission to a three/four-year medical program in Canada.
Tuition Fees: How Much Does It Cost to Study Medicine in Canada?
The cost of medical school in Canada differs depending on the medical school. Moreover, Canadian students pay lower tuition fees compared to international students. Medical school tuition fees at Canadian universities can be comparatively lower than in the US, for example. You should also keep in mind that highly reputable universities in Canada usually have higher tuition fees.
Approximate tuition fees at some medical schools in Canada are:
|Medical School||Domestic Tuition Fees||International Tuition Fees|
|University of Toronto||~CA$23,000||~CA$91,800|
Medicine Career Prospects in Canada
Career prospects for medical graduates in Canada are satisfactory. In fact, there is a demand for doctors in Canada due to labor shortage as a result of the sector growth and retirements, among other reasons. Salaries for medical professionals are also highly rewarding in Canada. For example, the average annual salary for family doctors in Canada is around CA$281,000 (~US$224,200). In addition, medical specialists earn an average of CA$360,000 (~US$287,200) per year, while surgical specialists earn approximately CA$481,000 (~US$383,700) per year.
To practice as a doctor in Canada, medical graduates must obtain a medical qualification known as Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC), granted by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC). This license is granted to medical graduates who meet the eligibility requirements and pass a two-part qualifying examination in Canada.