New kid on the block

Well, hello everybody! Happy to introduce myself. I am 48 years old and willing to pursue the dream of becoming a doctor to better serve others.

On the academics, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from a foreign university and later received a Master’s degree in Physics at an American university.

My experience has been mainly in three areas. Research: academic and industrial. In both instances, heavily theoretical. Medical Physics: health physics, nuclear medicine and diagnostic radiology (on the Physics side of course), precisely the type of experiences that led me to reflect about wanting to pursue medical training. I also held a technical-executive position in South America, for one of the ‘three sisters’ of Oil & Gas service companies, mine was a three years tenure before it was time for me to get back to the States.

Now, as far as I have been able to understand, the application process to enter medical school is extremely complex, being composed of several stages or phases. Also is very specific as to the type of human resources that they want to recruit in order to produce a high quality graduate and practitioner to support the health system.

Also the prerequisites are narrow and specific. And here begins the story:

For starters, I have never taken College Organic Chemistry (aside from my High School times when we saw a crude introduction to the subject) or Biology or for that matter, English ( well that’s my second language, and I do not know how they will gauge my proficiency–perhaps TOEFL?–I wonder). As for Physics and Math, my strongest points…well, they are not. For different reasons, which I hope to have time later to elaborate–mainly immaturity and also a weird ‘engineering culture’ that made engineering professors prone to give very low grades in comparison the the US system (how do I explain to adcoms that actually I was considered a good student because I was able to pass classes in my first attempt in contrast to the average 3 to 4 timers, Gee!), my GPA is in the two point something realm, even though I have some As sprinkled here and there in Math and Physics, that is not the case for General Chemistry in which I hold solid Cs…only problem is I took those classes 27 years ago!

My present stats go something like this:

B.S Engineering: overall GPA: 3.38

M.S. In Physics: overall GPA: 3.66 (sorry fellas, Physics is hard! And graduate courses in Physics, ridiculously hard, at least for me! Besides, professors always joked: nobody will care about your grades 10 years from now, what is important is your research…Yeah right!)

MCAT: not taken yet. My GRE scores were skewed towards the high end, especially the Math and Verbal portions.

So, in a nutshell, if courses have expiration dates, I am looking at taking:

College Physics I and II, again!..8 credits

General Chemistry I and II, with labs…6 credits

Organic Chemistry I, II?–labs?.. 4 or 8 credits

Biology (I assume, General) I and II with labs…8 credits

English 101 or Literature (in case they do not waive it because my degree in an English speaking higher learning institution)…3 to 4 credits? and, Psychology (I want to keep my options open for DO school, because realistically speaking, there I hold better chances)…4 credits

Regarding my goals, I would like to go into Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and/or Radiation Oncology. I also have unveiled a passion for primary care in a rural setting, not necessarily undeserved population but not excluding them. A combination of radiology with primary care in rural areas would be ideal (does such specialization even exist?). General surgery intrigues me, but I am not in position to speak intelligently about it, so it might very well be my romanticized view of medicine.

Enough with the rant! I am excited to have joined the forum and sincerely hope to hear from you all. Opinions, critics, suggestions, all are more than welcome, are needed. Thank you all in advance for letting me in this forum and look forward to interacting. I will expand on portions of my experience and how I think it might connect with my expectations to become a physician.

At your service,

The acceptance of foreign undergraduate degrees by medical schools varies greatly. Most schools state that 90 credits from an accredited US or Canadian school are required.

However, digging into several websites of schools, some specifically state that no international degrees are accepted, some require the 90, some 60, some 30 in US/Canadian credits. When looking into this about 2 years ago, the real confusion is many schools state the general 90 credit rule then elsewhere make some differing rule for foreign degree holders.

There is a thread on SDN on this which is at least 2 or 3 years old. Also, it often did not dig down to find the rule for each school on foreign degree holders.

So my suggestion to you is to find and confirm at least a dozen schools where only 30 credits from a US school are required as this will be covered by your science post-bacc.

BTW, the MSAR does list schools that accept international applicants. However, this refers to resident status and does not reflect any info on foreign degrees holders.

Thank you for the insight, that is an issue of paramount importance for me. I also would have to check with schools IF the evaluation made by a known credential evaluation service (WES Inc.) of my degree and my transcripts in a course by course basis meets the requirements of the majority of schools, exception made for those that specifically state no acceptance of foreign degrees.

I really don’t think that WES evaluations (or any others for that matter) count towards medsch pre-reqs. Likewise, I don’t think TOEFL will count either. Medsch is a different and completely finicky beast that requires courses taken at “accredited” institutions. If your foreign degree is not from an “accredited” institute, it is very unlikely to count. Of course, these are just my opinions. If you find otherwise, please post here…

Dullhead and gonnif,

Yes, as gonnif pointed out, there is certain variation in policy from school to school, many of them not accepting foreign degrees at all. But on the other hand others even encouraging international students or international graduates to apply and others in a gray zone left to interpretation.

The question if WES credential evaluation might be accepted was geared towards the requirement of a Bachelor’s degree not the pre-reqs as such, which are another story.

I made a preliminary scanning on the websites with the following results:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

From the admissions website ( Link )

“Students who have earned baccalaureate degrees outside the U.S. or Canada are required to complete at least one year of formal coursework in the sciences (about 30 credit hours) in an accredited American college or university prior to making application to the College of Medicine. It is recommended that such students also take courses in English if it is not the student’s first language.”

Darmouth School of Medicine

From the admissions website ( Link)

Among other bulleted points:

The equivalent of at least three years’ college work at an American or Canadian post-secondary institution.”

I underscore equivalent, and interpret it as in equivalent work done elsewhere but somehow validated or recognized (?)

Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Their admissions website (Link ) refers the following:

“It is rare for individuals who have received premedical education at schools outside of the United States and Canada to be offered admission to P&S. This is primarily because the Committee on Admissions has no satisfactory means of evaluating the caliber of premedical education available at many other colleges and universities throughout the world. For such applicants we require that at least one year of premedical training be taken at an institution in the United States. The MCAT also must be taken.”

Which seems to imply that foreign degrees are accepted as long as one year of premedical be taken in the US. The MCAT, of course, is a given.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine

In their admissions webpage ( <a href=“http://(

education/programs/md-program/admissions/academic-standards)” title="(

education/programs/md-program/admissions/academic-standards)" target="_blank">Link):

“Candidates must have satisfactorily completed three years of undergraduate work at an accredited college or university. Completion of the work for an undergraduate degree is recommended.”

Nothing seems to explicitly indicate that foreign degrees are banned but also nothing indicates either those are accepted.

NYU Langone

On their admissions website ( Link ) they highlight:

“Applicants must have attended an accredited college or university…”

And in their Selection Criteria section, it is stated:

“International Applicants

In view of the large number of applications to the School and the difficulties involved in the application procedure for students abroad, foreign candidates are not encouraged to apply if they are not permanent residents of the United States. However, Canadian citizens are eligible to apply to the MD program. They are not eligible for MD/PhD. Students who have failed in another medical school are not eligible to apply for admission. In recent years, the school has not accepted any transfer students.

New York University School of Medicine is committed to a policy of equal treatment and opportunity in every aspect of its relations with its faculty, students, and staff members, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age or handicap. It is the policy of New York University School of Medicine, in accordance with Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin or handicap in any educational program or activity. Furthermore, it is the policy of New York

University School of Medicine, in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, not to discriminate on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity. In regard to all its employees, New York University School of Medicine is firmly committed to a policy of equal opportunity through

affirmative action.”

I highligted the “…if they are not permanent residents of the United States…” which also seems to imply that the issue is related to immigration status rather than foreign credentials.

University of Miami School of Medicine

In ther admissions website ( Link ) they state:

“All coursework must be taken in a college or university located in North America or Puerto Rico and approved by a national accrediting agency and listed in the current Education Directory of the US Office of Education. Except for study-abroad courses taken while attending a qualified institution, credits earned at foreign institutions are not accepted.”

Bummer! is a school where I might have been considered IS. Which is up to some point strange, given the high number of immigrants living precisely in Dade county and its surroundings…but then, that is sooo Florida!

University of South Florida

From their admissions website:

“Academic Requirements

Undergraduate Education

Students applying for admission to the USF College of Medicine MD Program must complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree at an accredited US university or college by the time of matriculation. In addition, all prerequisites must be completed from a United States accredited institution by the time of matriculation into the College of Medicine. Applicants who are currently

pursuing graduate level work toward a PhD. degree or other professional degree are obligated to complete all degree requirements prior to matriculation into the MD Program.”

That sets it, it is a State of Florida policy. I am a resident in the wrong state! I will call anyway just to make sure there is no other way.

Rush Medical College

“Only U.S. citizens and individuals with permanent resident status will be considered for admission to Rush Medical College.

Applicants are required to complete a minimum of 90 semester hours of undergraduate credit prior to matriculation. However, virtually 100% of matriculants [SIC] have earned a bachelor’s degree at a college or university in the U.S. at the time of matriculation.”

This only add to the inherent difficulties of being non-trad that I might only apply to a certain number of schools both MD or DO that openly accept foreign degrees as part of their requirements.

Still the same analysis stands on how will they compute GPAs for example.

Will some or all of them be thrown off by something rarely seen and simply dismiss the application on the spot?

And from the preliminary scanning one also can infer that only highly competitive schools open that door ( which is not relief at all).

Who said this would be easy? Bring it on!

Any and every comments welcome doctors and doctors to be.


Perhaps going back a step and lets create a list of questions that need be answered per school.

  1. Immigration Status: Does the school accept international students on visa or must applicants be permanent residents/citizens?

  2. Does the school accept foreign degrees?

  3. Does school accept courses/credits from foreign degree specifically towards required prerequisites? Does school require that perquisite/required courses be taken at a US/Canadian Institution

  4. Does school require minimum number of credits from US/Canadian School in addition to having acceptable foreign degree? If so how many? (note search past the “general” 90 credit rule)

    BTW, here is a post I had similar to Caesar’s showing the confusion across some schools

    Link sample school info for foreign degrees


Thanks a lot that is certainly a systematic way to go and I take it.

Here I found one school in my home state, Florida: Florida International University

Its admission website ( Link ) states:

“Applicants with baccalaureate degrees from accredited non-U.S. institutions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To provide reasonable grade compatibility with their peers, these applicants must, at a minimum, have taken all required courses for admission to HWCOM, regardless of prior foreign academic history, at an educational institution located in the United States or Canada, approved by a regional accrediting body, and listed in the current Education Directory of the U.S. Office of Education.”

In this case they require at least 30 credits been taken at a US accredited school, which can perfectly and must be done. FIU will definitively be on my list. Vivé le international in Florida Universities. Not sure though if they have IS vs OOS costs.




I think I can speculate on how this works for American Medical Schools and why it is apparently so contradictory.

I will establish a parallel with graduate education in other areas of knowledge, and specifically in Physics, which is the one I have experience here in the States.

Among the requirements to enter graduate school in Physics, and all other ‘hard sciences’ is to “have obtained a Bachelor’s degree at an accredited university.” in Physics or a related field of study, but nothing else is stated regarding the need of American vs. foreign degrees.

In my particular case, all the universities in the USA, which I applied for admission received my transcripts from my foreign undergraduate university. Some of them required translations, some did not care, and some just wanted the originals directly from my institution regardless of language. In addition I had to show GRE scores and TOEFL scores. Some schools I know of, even require a Credential Service to establish the equivalency of foreign degrees and courses to the American system. I for example, had my credentials evaluated for equivalency, but never used them in the end, because admission committees preferred the originals sent directly from my home country institutions, regardless of language–go figure!.

The world is pretty globalized, and it seems that it exists some kind of structure in higher learning that allows to assess the rigor of academic programs abroad and many American universities are aware of it, when not fully participants in the international high education arena, specially in the aforementioned sciences.

Probably, as a result of a general policy of the university that hosts the Medical School, there are mechanisms in place to evaluate foreign credentials with the objective to assess whether a particular bachelor’s degree is suitable for admission to the university at large, leaving a healthy caveats of requiring at least 30 credits taken at US institutions, to fulfill the specific requirements of Medical School as a subordinated, although autonomous, body within the larger framework of a University.

And there is where we see the disparities from school to school, because every university has its own policies and strategic goals. Some will enforce the North-American degrees only, some will not, and some will require some kind of leveling.

As I said, just speculating here, might as well be totally off the wall.


Part of the difficulty for med schools is that AMCAS does not create a gpa for any course work done other than that completed in US and Canadian colleges/universities. Schools can’t make academic decisions without a computed gpa.

Re: Your physics. I’m not sure that repeating physics is necessary. You might want to specifically ask individual medical schools.

Re: English. Those schools which require English want, usually, to see it from the English department, and so noted on your transcript.




Thanks. Your comments about Physics, certainly lift a weight from my shoulders, definitively I must contact schools to make 100% sure.