Gaining admission to a U.S. medical school is challenging for applicants without U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status, but not necessarily impossible. In 2016 the AAMC reported 1,351 international applicants to U.S. medical schools with 140 matriculating, which is about 10%.

One difficulty is the limited number of medical school spaces available to international applicants. Some medical schools do not accept international students at all while others hold a limited number of spaces for non-U.S. students. Applicants will want to choose schools carefully when applying and search the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) online for schools that accept international applications. Some U.S. medical schools will accept applications Canadian applicants, but not other international applicants, considering them equally within their applicant pool.

Another challenge is paying for medical school. Some medical schools ask international students to put money for 1-4 years of tuition and expenses in escrow before beginning medical school. International applicants are not usually eligible for financial aid and will likely need a U.S. citizen to co-sign any private loans. An exception to this would be students admitted to MD/PhD programs, which are funded.

International students interested in applying to medical schools in the U.S. should work closely with their academic and pre-health advisors to build a strong application and should keep alternate training and career paths in mind. Admission to a U.S. medical school is not impossible, but knowing the challenges ahead of time will help you make plans for the future.

The AAMC's document How Do I...Apply as an International Applicant is helpful reading.