Canada has one of the best medical education globally, offered by universities included in the top 20 best medical schools in the world by Times Higher Education and QS World University Ranking for Medicine. That said, Canada experiences a shortage of medical professionals since it only has a few medical schools with limited capacity to cater to students.
Although the country does not offer international scholarships, in comparison, to US and UK medical schools, the tuition fee is less expensive at only $13,000 for Canadians and $25,000 for international students. Due to its affordable tuition and world-class medical education system, it is not surprising that many medical students aspire to pursue their studies in Canada. But a word of caution, getting into medical universities in Canada is slim and highly competitive. In this article, we will be looking at the best medical schools in Canada.
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Can international students enroll in medical schools in Canada?
The answer is yes and no. Since Canada lacks a sufficient supply of physicians, the government highly subsidized medical schools and lowered the admission qualifications for Canadian students to encourage citizens to pursue medicine. Since Canada only has 17 medical schools, most student slots allocation are for in-province and out-province Canadian students who are more likely to contribute to their medical personnel pool. Only a minuscule percentage remains for international students and less for the uncontracted ones.
Only 10 out of 17 medical schools in Canada accept international students. And this can still be narrowed down, as two of them (Dalhousie University and University of Calgary) only admits students from countries with a signed contract with them. And three of the remaining ones, the University of Laval, University of Montreal, and University of Sherbrooke, only offer medical courses in French. So if you are an uncontracted and non-French speaking candidate, you are only likely to get accepted into five Canadian medical schools, including the University of Toronto, McGill University, McMaster University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Queen’s University.
However, there is still no assurance of getting into these five medical schools, as only 2-3 slots overseas students qualify for these universities. To get accepted or even be considered for these limited slots to study in Canada, you must prepare an impressive application file that contains the following basic requirements:
- A very high GPA and sufficient University credits in biology, chemistry, and English.
- MCAT scores
- An autobiographical sketch of all your accomplishments, extracurricular activities, employment, and other academic activities you have had from age 16 to present.
- Supplementary Application Questions which vary from each school
- CASPer Test
- Letters of Recommendation
- For students from a non-English country, TOEFL or IELTS certificate
- For students who want to study in schools that offer instruction in French need French Proficiency Language exam scores.
- A personal statement
- WES transcript assessment of a Bachelor’s degree.
Having complete and outstanding application requirements will make or break your chances of getting into a Canadian Medical Schools, so be sure to take it seriously. For increased possibility, start planning and working on growing your profile as early as possible.
What is the medical curriculum like in medical schools in Canada?
Canada doesn’t offer undergraduate programs in medicine. Instead, it requires completion of any four-year bachelor’s degree as long as it has full-course equivalents (FCEs), two in life science and one FCE in social science, humanities, and language. The medical program in Canada only lasts for four academic years, divided into the pre-clinical (Foundations) and clinical (Clerkship). Here is a curriculum guide from the University of Toronto MD program:
The first two years occur in a laboratory, classroom, and clinical/community settings; and are called the Foundation curriculum (formerly pre-clerkship). The Foundation curriculum has three major dimensions, namely, components, courses, and themes. During the first year, the subjects will mainly be an introduction to medicine and study of Concepts, Patients, and Communities, which contains extensive instruction on the differential diagnosis of all the body systems.
The second year will be a continuation of the Concepts, Patients and Communities, plus a discussion of health and disease and chronic disease management. In between these courses, there are four primary components embedded, such as Toronto Patient-Centred Integrated Curriculum (TOPIC), Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE), Portfolio, and Health Science Research (HSR). Alongside the courses and components are the themes, including those related to priority population groups, CanMEDS roles, and specific content areas.
The Clerkship in the last two years, on the other hand, will help students further develop the skills and knowledge they acquired during the Foundation years. The third-year consists of 50 weeks of rotation-based internship and the fourth year would be an additional clinical experience of 25 weeks. After graduation, the students must complete a residency to be able to practice in Canada.
However, the candidate needs to be a citizen or a permanent resident in Canada to qualify. For international students, you can apply for Canadian citizenship after two years of post-secondary Canadian education. Only after residency completion can you be certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and Canada and be eligible to practice or open your clinic.
Best Medical Schools in Canada
1. University of Toronto
With its extensive medical education and cutting-edge research, The University of Toronto has been recognized as the top university in Canada by almost every ranking platform. The institution also belongs to the top 20 medical schools in the world. Its medical education is evidence-based and student-centered, which allows students to be extremely knowledgeable.
And with the training conducted on world-renowned hospitals, it is no wonder that their student success rate is high. The best thing about it is despite being the best medical school in Canada, the University of Toronto is one of the few medical schools in the country that is open to international students.
2. McGill University
McGill University is the oldest medical faculty in Canada, established in 1829. As one of the present leading medical research universities, the school values innovation; and practice putting the patient at heart, Science in hand, which translates into their medical education as transforming students to become highly skilled empathic physicians. The university also accepts international students but of a small proportion.
3. McMaster University
Unlike the previous two medical universities, the medical education at McMaster University only lasts for three years with 11-months per school year. But like the first two, it requires completion of a four-year undergraduate program for international applicants and Canadian students, at least three years of post-secondary studies. Aside from the excellent medical education, this top medical school in Canada also claims to provide one of the best clinical clerkship experiences in partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences faculties and Hamilton Hospitals.
4. University of Montréal
The University of Montréal, one of the best medical schools in Canada, is a French-speaking schools in Quebec with 175 years of service. The school also has one of the largest admission of students in medicine and produces a third of the medical personnel in Quebec. It is recognized globally for its outstanding education, research, and contribution to health care improvement.
Their medical program duration is 4-5 years consisting of a preparatory year for those who did not meet the minimum units required from previous undergraduate programs; a two-year pre-clerkship, and the last two-years for clinical internships. If you want to study at the University of Montréal, learn French and pass the proficiency language exam, as their only language of instruction is French.
5. University of Calgary
Like most medical schools in Canada, The University of Calgary gives priority to Canadian citizens or permanent residents, especially to students in the same province, in this case, in Alberta. The University of Calgary generally does not accept individual applications of international students.
The only international students they admit are those from institutions or countries with formal and contractual agreements with their Cumming School of Medicine. The completion of their medicine program only takes three-years. It is patient-centered and presentation-based learning that the students can already work with patients in their first year.
6. Queen’s University
Unlike the previous schools, Queen University has a relatively high percentage of international students, with 11.9% in the undergraduate and 27.4% in the graduate population. The Queen’s University School of Medicine accepts up to five international students per year. They offer a four-year medical program with an emphasis on hands-on clinical engagement. This top medical school in Canada also provides post-graduate medical education or residency program, a pre-requisite to practice in Canada.
7. Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University also offers a four-year program for medicine accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS). The program has three phases: Med 1, Med 2, and a Clerkship (Med 3 and 4). Med 1 and 2 focuses on basic sciences like Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, and more. It also includes a discussion of the different philosophical, ethical, and practical views in health care.
Between the succeeding sections, from Med 2 to 3, 3 to 4, and 4 into the residence, there will be four discussions incorporating the Introduction to Clerkship and Critical Review and Mastery (CRAM). The Research in Medicine program will also be introduced during the first year in Med 1 and resumed during the last year in Med 4 as part of the requirement to graduate. After graduation, the students can also opt to take their post-graduate training at Dalhousie University concerning family medicine.
8. Laval University
The three medical universities in Quebec, namely: University of Montréal, University of Sherbrooke, and Laval University, are all French-speaking institutions. The medical program Laval University offers usually lasts for four years. They do not have a preparatory year as such in the University of Montréal, but if the student did not pass the French Proficiency test, he/she must have to take one or more French courses before admission. The program also has two consecutive and complementary stages. After at least two years of fundamental medical education, the students can then take pre-externship courses and proceed to the clinical internship for the remaining two years.
9. University of Sherbrooke
Next on our list of best medical schools in Canada is the University of Sherbrooke, whose medical program also takes place for four years. The first and a half years involve pre-clinical training and the remaining one and a half years to clinical training, done on-campus or international-partnership facilities. The program is competency-based with an emphasis on clinical practice and collaboration. The University of Sherbrooke is also the first Canadian francophone medical university recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) for its excellent health education.
10. Memorial University of Newfoundland
The Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty of Medicine is at the heart of many health facilities and hospitals such as H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre, Janeway Children Hospital, Medical Education Centre, and a Health Sciences Centre. That said, medical education in the university is highly conducive to medical research and training. Memorial University only accepts five international students per year despite being one of the largest medical schools in Canada.
Do not let the slim chances of getting into Canadian Medical Schools discourage you from applying, as it is not anything but worth it. Since what awaits you after the rigorous process from application to admission is a world-class medical education and a competitive lifestyle and employment.
I hope that this article on the best medical schools in Canada was helpful. Visit the Canada Scholarships Page for more information about studying in Canada!