Canadian Applicants/Canadian Medical Schools

Canadian Citizens Applying to U.S. Schools

U.S. medical schools vary in terms of whether they classify Canadian students as international students or not. Penn State, George Washington, Albert Einstein, Medical College of Wisconsin, and Yale all view Canadian citizens the same way as U.S. citizens. Many other schools classify Canadians as international students. To see an accurate list of schools which that accept International students, as well as an additional list of schools which that accept Canadian applicants, see the International Students page of the Pre-Professional Advising website. When in doubt, check the Medical School Admissions Requirements or the website of the particular program.

Regarding financial information, as is the case with other international applicants, Canadian citizens are typically asked to complete a Financial Certificate at the time of interview showing sufficient funds to pay for educational expenses.

A SPECIAL PROGRAM: One special connection for Canadian students applying to Michigan State University—College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSU-COM) has a PDF Document: pipeline program established specifically for Canadian students. This initiative has been so successful, that the Canadian Osteopathic Association has on its website a section devoted to the Canadian Osteopathic Medical Student Association!

Canadian Citizens Applying to Canadian Schools

Canada has 17 medical schools and of these, three have French as a first language for instruction. They range widely in terms of class size (55-256), location, area of focus, and other factors. According to the Canadian Faculties of Medicine, in 2014-2015 there were 41,093 Canadian citizens and permanent residents applying to medical schools in Canada (excluding the University of Toronto and Western University) and 2,921 accepted and enrolled. This speaks to the competitiveness of the application process as well as the smaller number of Canadian medical schools.

Generally, medical students in Canadian medical schools 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. This is obviously not an option for Canadian applicants attending U.S. undergraduate schools. 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 application can be made to 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 PDF Document: 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.

Most recently, we have been informed that the MD Program at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto welcomes applicants from the United States and has dedicated admissions personnel to receive inquiries and provide more information to any interested students. Please contact our Associate Registrar, Ms. Becky Smith, at for further details.

Handling of Letters of Recommendation

Canadian medical schools do not have a central application service that will accept letters of reference (they typically do not use the term “recommendation”) and distribute to participating medical schools. However, all Canadian medical schools in Ontario use the Ontario Medical School Application Services (OMCAS). Medical schools in other provinces in Canada vary considerably in how they request and handle letters of reference and the information is not readily apparent at some schools. To the best of our knowledge, letters of reference at Canadian medical schools are handled as follows:

  1. Ontario Medical School Application Services (OMSAS). All Canadian medical schools in Ontario use OMSAS. The service requires 3 letters of reference, all of which require the completion of an assessment checklist forwarded to the recommender by OMSAS. In their wording, “The submission of a University Premedical Advisory Report (provided by some schools in the United States) will be accepted but will not replace the requirement for 3 OMSAS references. These reports will be sent to the medical schools as supporting documentation.” If you choose, one of the letters may be your Committee letter (not including your individual letters)or an individual letter from an advisor in the Pre-Prof. Office. If one of these options is pursued, the other two letters must be from two recommenders. Your recommenders will not use veCollect. They will receive an email from OMSAS requesting that they complete an online checklist, attach their letter of reference (on stationary), and return to OMSAS. Finally, pleases note that, “Applicants to Ottawa, Queen’s and Toronto should note that their Confidential Assessment Forms must be received at OMSAS by December 1 in order for their application to be considered.”
  2. The University of British Columbia. According to the frequently asked questions page on the UBC medical school admissions page, “applicants granted interviews are required to find one community, one academic, and one additional community, academic, or professional contact to complete a specific electronic reference form.” For more information, go to:
  3. The University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. According to the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry admissions website, “The University of Alberta requires two (2) letters of reference. When you complete the Secondary Medicine Application you will provide the name, address, phone number and email address of your two referees. The referees will be contacted by email and will submit a letter of reference electronically as per the instructions they receive.”
  4. McGill University Faculty of Medicine. According to the McGill University Faculty of Medicine admissions website, “Applicants are required to ensure that three (no more, no less) referees complete a secured web-based report before the relevant submission deadline. Letters of reference and other paper formats are no longer the regularly accepted medium.” However, it is also stated, ”Where applicable, a pre-medical advisory committee report may be used as an acceptable substitute. If such is your case, do not enter any names in the MedOAS system. The Committee package should be sent directly from a Committee representative or coordinator either by post-mail or e-mail to our office. The Admissions Committee will base its review on an aggregated report of referee responses.”
  5. Others. Other medical schools in Canada (e.g., Dalhousie) will have school-specific instructions on their website that you must follow. Do your best to investigate and let us know how we can assist!

Other Resources

The Ontario Medical Schools Application Service (OMSAS) is the centralized application service for applying to Ontario Medical Schools.

The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) represents Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine and is the voice of academic medicine in this country. For more admissions-related statistics, please visit the website.

The Association also publishes an annual guide to the Admissions Requirements of each Canadian medical school.

There have been several studies done about Canadian physicians here in the U.S., including looking at where they went to medical school. According to the studies, nearly half (47.8% [5761/12, 040]) of the Canadian-educated physicians in the United States graduated from 3 Canadian medical schools: McGill University, the University of Toronto and the University of Manitoba. While these seem to be the most popular schools for Canadians hoping to come to the U.S. to practice, all of the Canadian schools offer a solid medical education. Here are a few more resources:

American and Other Foreign Citizens Applying to Canadian Medical Schools

It is extremely difficult to gain admission to a Canadian medical school if you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. To explore further, visit the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada’s statistics page.