Studying Medicine in Canada – The Complete Guide to 2023


What do I need to do to enroll in a Canadian university? How can I realize my dream and studying medicine in Canada?

The truth is that there is a lot of competition in this field, especially between Canadian and foreign students. This is simply due to the evidence that the number of places decided by the Canadian government is not very high.

Indeed, for them, the project to study medicine in Canada requires the cooperation of its citizens or permanent residents with serious and precise criteria.

Indeed, the Canadian government partially finances medical universities. In return, it wants to ensure that it trains high-level doctors, which makes it difficult to register in medical universities.

But don’t worry…

There is always hope in us to persevere and achieve our goals.

Basically, Canada is still a great place to study and practice medicine, so roll up your sleeves and follow us!

For how long will it take to study medicine in Canada?

The length of the medical program at Canadian universities varies from four to five years, depending on the specifics and requirements of each university.

First of all, to enroll in a medical school in Canada, a student must have either a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field or an undergraduate degree.

From that point on, the student will have to follow a preparatory year that will allow him or her to acquire a solid foundation in biology, humanities, and social sciences.

This is followed by the pre-externship years (usually two years), during which the student acquires basic skills and begins to put them into practice.

Last but not least, the last two years are the clerkship years, which consist primarily of hospital internships.

At the end of these 4 or 5 years, the new doctoral student must complete his internship. To do so, he/she must practice in a hospital, in general medicine, or in specialized medicine for 2 to 5 years before being able to legally practice medicine.

Academic System

All seventeen medical schools offer integrated programs of study for the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, which is the primary professional degree that a medical student can earn in Canada.

The provincial government determines the number of seats available based on capacity and funding, as well as the future needs of healthcare settings.

Although a student may apply to more than one faculty, most Canadian citizens or permanent residents admitted are from the province to which the faculty is attached.

As mentioned in the introduction, only some Canadian universities allow international students to apply.

Therefore, we will now discuss the general admission requirements and the steps to be followed for international students.

Of course, some faculties sign agreements with governments and international institutions. We invite you to contact the Ministry of Education in your country to find out about these possibilities.

Prerequisites to study medicine in Canada

Language tests

In principle, the accepted English language tests are TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB, & CAEL. Some schools may require other tests, please inquire.

Covering the cost of studying

In fact, unlike Canadian students, international students without permanent residency in Canada must cover all costs associated with full medical training in order to proceed with initial registration.

In addition, some medical schools in Canada require that the student not make a request for postgraduate training (resident physician) in Canada. In this case, the student will return to his or her country of origin to practice medicine.

We encourage you to find out the requirements for each university and each fellowship you wish to pursue.

Request for a student visa

It is obvious that an international student who wishes to study medicine in Canada must have a student permit and a visa to enter the country.

All relevant considerations are the student’s own research and requests for information from the Canadian embassy or consulate in their home country.

Steps to admission to medical studies in Canada

If travel to Canada is possible and there are no legal considerations against it, we come to the application and admission criteria of the faculties. Of course, these criteria differ from one faculty to another.

However, we will discuss here the general standards summarized in three steps:

Initial selection

In fact, most governorates require that students have already completed at least two years of studying. These studies must be in basic science courses that qualify them to study medicine in Canada.

The selection process then begins with a minimum GPA of 3.5/4.0. Please note that most admitted applicants have a GPA of approximately 3.80/4.0.

In order to get to know applicants better, faculty often request a cover letter or chart describing their accomplishments, aspirations, and personality.

In addition, students must submit letters of recommendation signed by institutions or organizations with which they have studied or worked. These letters should demonstrate the student’s ability to interact positively with issues and their serious commitment to the path of studying medicine.

In addition, some of the colleges in Canada require results from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or the Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer).

Admission tests: MCAT Test

The MCAT is the gateway to the other selection stages at most Canadian medical schools. It is a standardized test that includes MCQs, designed to assess problem-solving, logical reasoning, and writing skills.

In addition, the student is also assessed on prior knowledge and previously acquired concepts.

The exam is divided into four sections, each with multiple choice questions, scored from 1 to 15.

  • Biological and biochemical foundations of living systems.
  • Chemical and physical foundations of biological systems.
  • Psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior.
  • Critical analysis and reasoning skills.
    The MCAT is 7.5 hours in length.

CASPer Test

This online test takes 90 minutes. It is essentially designed to determine the personality, as well as the professional skills that will allow the student to succeed and obtain the degree.

The test consists of 12 steps. Some of them involve answering 3 questions in 5 minutes after watching a video or reading about a specific topic. Others are related to general questions to discover the ability of self-analysis.

In addition, it should be noted that this test has been approved by some medical schools as a substitute for the MCAT.

Oral Interviews

There are two types of interviews that students undergo after the initial selection based on their application and successful completion of the written test:

  • The first type: is the traditional standard interview.
    Here, the applicant faces a review committee composed of distinguished professors, students, and some faculty members.
  •  The second type of interview: The Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI):

This is a competition of six to ten short interviews that are conducted in stages. Each interview has different objectives. First, the candidate is tested on a series of questions. Only after passing one test can he or she move on to the next set of questions.

In fact, the MMI method of oral examination is widely used in most Canadian medical schools. It has also found its way into many medical schools around the world.

The top medical schools in Canada

There are 17 universities in Canada that teach medicine and its different specialties (medical, dental, pharmacy, and nursing…). But only 8 of them open their doors to foreign students to benefit from their program.

We list them here according to their geographical location from east to west:

1) Memorial University

First of all, this university is located on the island of “Newfoundland”. It takes 4 years of studying since students must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in one of the introductory fields of medicine and a certification in English.

  • GPA required: 3.85 / 4.0
  • Successful completion of the MCAT: Yes.
  • Successful completion of the CASPer: No.
  • Type of interview: MMI.
  • The number of seats in 2019/2020: 80.

Link to Memorial College of Medicine registration.

2) Dalhousie University

This university is located in the province of “Novascotia”. Four years of studying are required, without the need for a bachelor’s degree, but with accreditation in English.

  • GPA required: 3.86 / 4.0.
  • Successful completion of the MCAT: Yes.
  • Passing the CASPer: Yes.
  • Type of interview: MMI.
  • The number of seats in 2018/2019: 109.

Link to Dalhousie University Medical School application.

3) Laval University

The Faculty of Medicine of Laval is located in Quebec City. Studies will last 4 to 5 years, depending on whether or not you have previously obtained a university degree. If not, an integrated preparatory year will be required.

Université Laval offers instruction in French.

  • Required grade point average: Not available / not required.
  • Passing the MCAT: No.
  • Passing the CASPer: Yes.
  • Type of interview: MMI.
  • The number of seats in 2019/2020: 221.

Link to registration on the Université Laval Faculty of Medicine website.

4) University of Sherbrooke

The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the Université de Sherbrooke is located in Quebec City. Its teaching is in French and extends over four years.

In addition, the candidate is required to provide a degree from the preparatory departments accredited by the Quebec Ministry of Education.

In fact, Quebec City has public institutions that have preparatory departments for various scientific and technical disciplines. These are the general and vocational colleges (CEGEP).

The particularity of this university is that its primary selection is essentially based on the results of the first high school and university. It does not require traditional tests.

  • Type of interview: MMI.
  • The number of places in 2018/2019: 199.

Check out this link on the University of Sherbrooke website.

5) University of Montreal

The University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine teaches in French. Its initial medical program, which lasts 4 to 5 years, depends on the student’s previous years of studying.

This university does not request applicants to take tests during the initial selection process. Instead, it relies on the student’s application and academic record, and then on the student’s academic record for the preparatory years, he or she has committed to.

  • Type of interview: MMI.
  • The number of places in 2018/2019: 291.

Link to the application file of the Faculty of Medicine of Montreal.

6) McGill University

The Faculty of Medicine at McGill University is also located in Montreal. Instruction is provided in both French and English in a four-year program.

For this reason, students are required to present a preparatory year certificate for the specialization in medicine. Specifically, a CEGEP certificate is required as an introduction to studying medicine in Canada.

  • Required GPA: 3.5 / 4.0
  • Pass the MCAT: Yes.
  • Pass the CASPer: Yes.
  • Type of interview: MMI.
  • The number of seats in 2018/2019: 179.

Link to the request for admission to the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University.

7) University of Toronto

The Faculty of Medicine is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Courses are taught in English. The initial medical program lasts four years. In addition, a degree in a field that introduces the student to medicine is a prerequisite.

  • Required GPA: 3.6 / 4.0
  • Successful completion of the MCAT: Yes.
  • Passing the CASPer: No.
  • Type of interview: MMI.
  • The number of seats in 2018/2019: 259.
  • The province of Ontario is distinguished by its Ontario Medical School Admissions Service (OMSS).

Essentially, this service receives and reviews requests for and collects application fees. It also announces the results of the various selection and review stages.

Link to OMSAS for university registration and follow-up appointment.

8) McMaster University

This university, located in the province of Ontario, also uses the OMSAS service.

In addition, the initial program at McMaster University’s Faculty of Medicine is 3 years long and is taught in English.

Therefore, the applicant must provide an undergraduate certificate in one of the tracks leading to the medicine of at least 3 years.

  • GPA required: 3.0 / 4.0.
  • Successful completion of the MCAT: Yes.
  • Successful completion of the CASPer: Yes.
  • Interview type: MMI.
  • The number of seats in 2018/2019: 203.

There are 6 medical colleges at the Canadian University of Ontario, but international students can only choose between McMaster and Toronto.

How do I apply for medical school in Canada?

As mentioned in the previous sections, each university’s application and admission process begins with the review of your application.

Using the links we’ve provided, you can follow each school’s request for the admission process.

After the initial selection process, comes the written and then oral exams.

The question now is: How much does it cost to study medicine in Canada?

The cost of studying medicine in Canada

The cost of studying medicine in Canada paid for by students, is only a fraction of what is spent by provincial governments and colleges. This is because of the fees associated with these courses and the extensive training they require.

These fees depend on the type of program chosen and where the student lives. In other words, they will be different for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident than for an international student.

They may also vary from one university to another.

On average, the cost for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident is estimated at $16,798 CAD per year, while in Ontario it can be as high as $27,304 CAD per year.

For international students, the cost starts at $27,379 CAD at the Université de Sherbrooke and reaches $72,840 CAD per year at the University of Toronto. These figures are provided by the Canadian Association of Faculties of Medicine statistics for the year 2017.

Last but not least, the registration fee, which is mandatory for all students, ranges from CAD 75 to CAD 2,208.

Scholarships to study medicine in Canada

As mentioned above, international students are required to pay high fees to study medicine in Canada. However, there are some scholarships that cover almost the entire cost of tuition. These include

Canadian Scholarship Program

Overall, this program offers full scholarships for preparatory years, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in various disciplines.

Citizens of the following countries are eligible for this scholarship: Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Comoros, Djibouti, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Liberia, Mauritania, Micronesia, Palau, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu. Palestinian students from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem are also eligible.

Please note that the application period is from January to March.

Link to the application form for the Canadian Scholarship Program.

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship is designed to attract distinguished students from Canada and abroad to pursue a doctorate at one of its academic institutions.

As such, the criteria for admission to study medicine at a Canadian university are academic excellence, research ability, and communication and leadership skills.

To learn more about the Vanier Scholarship, click here.

Working as a physician after graduating in Canada

Basically, becoming a doctor in Canada means having a comfortable life with a good salary and a guaranteed career path. On average, a doctor earns about $339,000 CAD per year, according to data from the Canadian Qbank Blog.

However, you will need to obtain permanent residency in one of the Canadian provinces. This is true as long as you are an international student.

Then, the requirements to work as a doctor in Canada will be determined as follows:

  • Have obtained a Bachelor’s degree in one of the university specialties leading to the field of medicine. In addition, this must be attested to in a university accredited by Canada.
  • Have been admitted to a Canadian medical school open to foreign students, and have obtained a medical degree after four years of studying and training.
  • Pass the Canadian Physician Placement Test, known as the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE). This test is one of the most difficult tests in the world. The graduate is tested in the various areas of knowledge and skills required for the profession.
  • Enter the training program through work experience. Continuing education is mandatory for all physicians in Canada.

In conclusion, choosing to study medicine, in Canada or elsewhere, means that you want to do something to save human lives. And of course, that requests patience and sacrifice. In addition, it means striving to find the top way to study and acquire the skills needed for the profession.

But it also means securing a comfortable life. So studying medicine in Canada is well worth it!