The landscape of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is widely varied. It is composed of towering dunes to gravel plains and rugged mountains. The primary reason for this is because UAE consists of seven hereditary monarchies (emirates): Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Sharjah.

The 19th century, when UAE was still called the Trucial States, marked the beginning of modern health care in the country. During this period, hospitals and clinics were built, which lead to the demand for health professionals. Consequently, the nation invested in prioritizing education, including medicine. UAE medical education has continued to improve since then with one main goal: to deliver a high standard and excellent patient care. In this article, we will be looking at the best medical schools in UAE.

Can international students enroll in medical schools in the United Arab Emirates?

Yes, international students get admitted to medical schools in the United Arab Emirates. UAE is an open country that migrant residents even outnumber native-born citizens. UAE medical schools that accept international students include: United Arab Emirates University, University of Sharjah, Khalifa University and more.

English is also widely used, so the language barrier is less the concern of many international students. However, they do require overseas students to have TOEFL or IELTS certification. Medical education in UAE is young with only approximately 50 years of history, yet, many UAE schools are now appearing at the top medical university rankings globally. Although admission requirements vary depending on the institution, we listed out general criteria and documents an international student must have:

  • Passing the Medical College Admission Test for High School Candidates (MCAT-H) regulated by Pearson, a UK-based company.
  • High school average of 85%
  • Original copy of high school certificate
  • A copy of valid passport and valid residency visa
  • Valid TOEFL/IELTS certificate (some schools needs approval by the British council)
  • A certified copy of a birth certificate
  • Passport size pictures
  • International High School graduates should also have graduated within the last three years.

Since you already have your list of what you will need to apply to UAE medical schools, let us now go over what to expect from their medical education.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

What is the medical curriculum like in medical schools in the United Arab Emirates?

The medical curriculum in UAE consists of six to seven years to complete although, the actual MD program usually only consists of four years. Because once the students fail to meet some of the minimum requirements, they will have to undergo a foundation year which consists of four semesters. Most medical and dental programs in UAE have a pre-requisite of two-year pre-medical education. Here is an example of the general outline of curriculum-based from United Arab Emirates University:

International students can apply directly after high school to UAE medical schools. However, all students must take a two-year pre-medical program to get into the Doctor of Medicine programs which is three to four years of professional study that integrates basic and clinical sciences. During the final year, the student will take a final examination to proceed to a mandatory one-year clinical internship.

The graduates must then take licensure regulated by the Federal Ministry of Health in every emirate except in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In Dubai, the licensure will be administered by Dubai Health Authority, while in Abu Dhabi is the Abu Dhabi Department of Health. After licensure, the students can opt to practice in general fields or pursue a specialization that consists of three to six years with additional licensure examinations.

Best Medical Schools in the United Arab Emirates

1. United Arab Emirates University

United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) is the best medical school established in UAE. It was founded in 1976 yet only started to offer medical programs in 1986. Still, the UAEU Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences was already recognized in 2007 by Hamdan Awards as the Best Medical College in the Arab World. UAEU grew over the years, with enrollees of an average 0f 14,000 from Emirati and international students.

2. University of Sharjah

The University of Sharjah only started offering medical programs in 2006 and has progressively improved to be one of the best medical schools in UAE. Unlike the UAEU, the MBBS program at the University of Sharjah does not need a pre-medical study. Their medical program consists of three phases that take six years to complete.

The first phase is the foundation phase, followed by the second phase or pre-clerkship that lasts three years with a comprehensive examination at the end. Passing the first phase examination will promote students to the last year which, involves clerkship for two years. The university Office of International Relations only came to life in 2018, with their aim to become more globally competitive and attract more international students.

3. Khalifa University

Khalifa University is the first medical school in Abu Dhabi. Like UAEU, Khalifa University also requires a pre-medicine program which students can also take in the university in their pre-medicine bridging program. The students will then need to pass the Medica College Admission Test (MCAT) after the bridging program to proceed to the MD program.

This top medical school in UAE patterned their medical education after the North American medical curriculum to ensure that their medical education is of excellent quality. Khalifa University also cultivated its research department, which covers bioinformatics, biomaterials for Nanomedicine, biomechanics, bio-robotics, and more.

4. Gulf Medical University

Like most universities in the United Arab Emirates, Gulf Medical University is also relatively young, with origins in 1998. The medical school has partnered with the Thumbay group, where lessons, laboratory works, and clerkship occur in Thumbay Clinic, Thumbay Hospital, Thumbay Pharmacy, and more. Gulf Medical University MBBS program only lasts for five years and requires passing a comprehensive Exit examination afterward to be eligible for the MBBS degree. Aside from these, the university also offers Summer Training Program to help students prepare for professional challenges and further practice their skills and knowledge.

5. Ajman University

Among the best medical universities in UAE, Ajman University’s medical education is probably the most recent, which only started in the fall of 2018. Rest assured, they partnered with tenured and outstanding healthcare management firms, specifically with Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Ajman and with the Amina Hospital in Ajman. Like UAEU, Ajman University also offers a 6-year MBBS program with a year dedicated to foundation year. They accept all students, local and international alike, from all curriculum, including the UAE National Curriculum, American, British, CBSE (Indian), French, etc., from different countries.


The United Arab Emirates has transformed tremendously. From a small desert area to the economically striving nation it is today. Through their oil revenues and ever since their independence in the 19th century, UAE achieved progress in all its sectors. Seeing how the nation is still young yet already recognized as one of the richest in the world, we can only look forward to that so will its young, respectable medical universities.


I hope that this article on the best medical schools in UAE was helpful. To know more information like this, check out the Available Programs for International Students!