General Premedical Requirements
So you’ve decided to embark on the path to become a doctor – ultimately to serve people in need, to touch the hearts of those in trouble, to listen to the stories of a patient’s life, and to make a difference in the lives of the people you meet. But before you can get there, there is the path with the landmarks of obtaining an MD degree, completing residency training, and passing national licensure examinations. The first step, before all of this can happen, is a formidable array of minimum requirements, including:
- A Bachelor’s Degree by the time of matriculation (with rare exceptions) in any major of discipline from an accredited institution of higher education (United States or Canada)
- An undergraduate GPA ranging from a minimum 2.7 for Caribbean medical schools to 3.7+ for Canadian and U.S. medical schools.
- A competitive score on the standardized MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) of at least 28+ (~77th percentile) for most medical schools.
In general, one year of pre-requisite courses including General Biology with Laboratory, General Chemistry with Laboratory, Physics with Laboratory, Organic Chemistry with Laboratory, Calculus, and English. Possible additional pre-requisites include a half-year of Biochemistry and Statistics.
- Two or more letters of recommendations may be required from university faculty
- In addition, applicants often apply with exceptional extra-curricular activities, including:
- Research work and/or scientific publications
- A variety of volunteer experiences, some of which may be abroad or in under-served communities
- First-hand exposure to health care and medical work
- Paid Employment
Some schools accept exceptional applicants in their 2nd or 3rd year of undergraduate studies.
Individual program pre-requisites may vary depending on the medical school. Check with the institutions prior to applying.
Applying to Medical School (Canada)
Generally, medical students begin their studies after receiving a bachelor’s degree in another field, often one of the biological sciences. However, not all medical schools in Canada require a bachelor’s degree for entry. For example, Quebec’s medical schools accept applicants after a two-year CEGEP diploma, which is the equivalent of other provinces’ grade 12 plus the first year of university. Most faculties of medicine in Western Canada require at least 2 years, and most faculties in Ontario require at least 3 years of university study before an application can be made to a medical school. The University of Manitoba requires applicants to complete a prior degree before admission. The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) publishes a detailed guide to admission requirements of Canadian faculties of medicine on a yearly basis.
Admission offers are made by individual medical schools, generally on the basis of a personal statement, autobiographical sketch, undergraduate record (GPA), scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and interviews. Volunteer work is often an important criterion considered by admission committees. Medical schools in Quebec (Francophones and Anglophone alike), the University of Ottawa (a bilingual school), and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine do not require the MCAT. Some schools, such as the University of Toronto and Queen’s University, use the MCAT score as a cut-off, where sub-standard scores compromise eligibility. Other schools, such as the University of Western Ontario, give increasing preference to higher performance. McMaster University strictly utilizes the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT to determine interview eligibility and admission rank.
Applying to Medical Schools
Common Applications, such as the OMSAS (Ontario Medical School Application System) and AMCAS (American Medical Colleges Application System), are central processing sites that students use when applying to the medical schools, such as in Ontario and for most schools in the United States. Students fill out their application form and send their transcripts and reference letters to these centralized application systems, which will then distribute the application package to the medical schools that the applicants have selected.
- Ontario medical schools (6 in total)
- Online application available from mid-July
- Must have an account registered by September 15th
- Submit completed applications, send official transcripts (via postal mail), and complete Confidential Assessment Forms by October 1st
- Release MCAT scores from the AMCAS THx system to OMSAS by October 13
- Submit 3 reference letters by December 1st
Application portion completed by students includes a personal profile, academic grades, a sketch (extracurricular activities, volunteering, employment, athletic participation, etc), and specific essay components for selected schools
Your grades will be converted to an OMSAS value (GPA format)
Application fees: $285 for the first school + $75 for each additional school + $10 transcript requests (most schools)