Applying to Medical School as an International Student

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Session 221

What is the best path to medical school as an international student? How do med schools view international coursework? Let’s find out!

If you haven’t yet, listen to The Premed Years Session 383 where I interviewed Dr. Rivera from NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine. It’s all about what’s going on in our world with COVID-19 and how that’s going to affect the application cycle. He also talks about how it’s affecting the current application cycle as students are wrapping up and second looks are canceled.

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

Your Podcasts have made a big impact in my journey and have been the best guide I could ever find. However, I didn’t come across any discussion on how international students changing careers in USA will have to deal with the process or maybe I haven’t reached there yet. I have tried asking these questions on various platforms but couldn’t get an answer. I would like to know if you could Answer this Question to me. I feel very helpless in this area. I will be very Grateful!

I have questions pertaining to whether I need to take my pre-requisites all over again or the ones that I have under my belt are enough to get accepted by US Medical schools

All of the following are from one of the Top colleges and Universities in India.

  • I have a Bachelors degree in Organic Chemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Microbiology and Zoology
  • I have a Masters degree in Clinical Microbiology-Immunology, systemic bacteriology, general bacteriology, mycology, parasitology, virology
  • The pre-requisites that I have under my belt are Anatomy, Biochemistry, and Physiology.

The following are from the US

  • Entered USA in 2016 for my MBA and during this period I had taken Business Statistics, Accounting and Finance which are Math coursed.
  • I am now pursuing my Masters in Information Technology Management and will be graduating in 2020

So my questions are:

  • Do I need to take my pre-requisites all over again since I am an international student or the ones that I have under my belt are enough to get accepted by US Medical schools?
  • If they are enough, what can I do to convert my grades and percentages into the U.S.’s GPA? is there a tool?
  • I don’t have any math pre-requisite so is it okay if I rely upon my Master level Business Statistics, Accounting and Finance courses that I have taken in the USA or should I take a math pre-requisite anyway?”

[03:48] The Rule of Thumb

As a nontrad, international credits are very hard. I would advise you to go and read the requirements for every school whether they accept international credits or not. The majority rule of thumb out there is that you need at least 90 credit hours from a U.S. institution.

'You don't need a degree from a U.S. institution, just 90 credit hours, typically.'Click To Tweet

Reach out to the schools. Let them know your situation. Find out what they recommend. But the general rule of thumb is that you likely just have to redo your bachelor’s here. With 90 credit hours, you might as well just get your degree.

[04:40] U.S. Equivalent GPA

Unfortunately, international degrees are just very hard to standardize. There’s not a tool but there’s a service where you send your transcripts to. They will verify those international transcripts.

If you want those classes counted in your application then you have to go through those services that create a U.S. equivalent GPA.

You don’t have to use your international grades at all if you want to take classes over again in the U.S. You can just take those classes and ignore your international transcripts when you apply to medical school.

'Read the instruction manuals first and foremost. Talk to schools.'Click To Tweet

All those being said, every student I’ve seen go through this process almost always will just go and redo a bachelor’s degree. Or they get very close to completing a bachelor’s degree to meet the requirements needed from the medical schools.

[06:48] Getting Into Medical School

Applying as an international applicant is very hard. And if you’re able to get your permanent resident status, your green card, then you would have a much better shot of getting into medical school.

Think of this process as:

  1. The ability to take your undergraduate classes.
  2. Start that process of getting your undergraduate degree.

Lastly, I recommend that you check out some podcasts over at The Premed Years Podcast where we cover topics related to international students.


Meded Media

The Premed Years Session 383

Nontrad Premed Forum

topics related to international students on The Premed Years Podcast