undergraduate degree from overseas and graduate degree from canada

Hi all,


Just wanted to first say thanks for forming such a supportive community. I have been browsing through the topics for a few days and have learned quite a bit… but since my situation is kind of unique, just thought I would post it here. Any advice would be highly appreciated!


I got my BSc in Zoology in 1996 from an Asian country. That means I had general chemistry + lab, general physics + lab, general biology + lab, organic chemistry + lab, calculus, and biochemistry. In addition, I also had cell biology, molecular biology, parasitology, zoology, genetics + lab, molecular genetics, animal physiology, cellular biochemistry, biomatrics (statistics) etc. My grades were average (A’s and B’s and C’s) with a GPA of 3.37.


Then I got my Ph.D. in parasitology from McGill (Canada) in 2003. In addition to the thesis, I only took a handful of courses which included Immunology, Cell biology and Infection, Host-Parasite Dynamics, and some other parasitology-related topics. My GPA was 3.94 (16 semester credits).


Since then I have been doing stem cell research as a postdoc fellow in a US institute. I have been seriously considering applying for medical schools for a few years although people around me told me I am nuts. (Part of the reason I am so glad to find this community). I have retaken several courses that I did poorly 10 years ago (mostly in the second semester when the sport season started in my college back home) at the local community college and university I work at: organic chemistry (3 quarters without lab), calculus (2 quarters), English 101 and 102, and biochemistry (2 quarters). My GPA so far is 3.99 (37 quarter credits).


So here are my questions:

  1. I read that courses taken overseas do not count toward pre-reqs… does that mean that I have to redo all the other pre-reqs including labs?

  2. If the answer is yes to the first question, would I be able to get away without redoing general biology… After all, I have been working in the field for all my adult life…

  3. Can I take inorganic chemistry instead of general chemistry? Any other courses you would suggest me to take/retake?

  4. Do I actually have too much research experience? Would medical schools that are research-oriented think that I am worthless for quitting research? (although I hope that one day I would be able to come back to the research community and do some research that is more clinically relevant. Whether NIH would have any faith in me and fund me again is another story.)


    I would really appreciate your inputs… I am trying to come up with a plan that would work with my 12-hours/day, 6-days/week work schedule. If I need to redo everything. I probably would have to quit my job…


    Thank you all!


    Kaihsin

I happen to be reading this about this the other day on the Einstein medical school site


“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.


Canadian Grade 13 English will satisfy our one year college level English requirement.


All students, including international students, must take the MCATs by September of the year preceding matriculation.”


However, since you have been in a hardcore science w/PhD and research, you should probably compose a letter and all the medical schools that you are considering what they think. You might want to think of it as a “mini” application outlining your background, and why you motivation towards medicine. They followup with each school. I would suspect that many schools would not require prereqs over.


You will have to take the MCATs of course. I think more importantly if seeing if you need any courses to refresh your knowledge for MCATs.

  • kaihsin Said:
1. I read that courses taken overseas do not count toward pre-reqs… does that mean that I have to redo all the other pre-reqs including labs?



Tough question. I would suggest contacting a couple of medical schools and seeing what they say. Your graduate degree from Canada and post-doc work in the US make your situation a little different from someone who just has the equivalent of an undergrad degree from a foreign university.

  • In reply to:
3. Can I take inorganic chemistry instead of general chemistry? Any other courses you would suggest me to take/retake?



My understanding was that general chemistry is mostly inorganic chemistry, but I could be wrong. Whatever you take, you will want to make sure you have a pretty solid knowledge of all the topics covered for the MCAT.

  • In reply to:
4. Do I actually have too much research experience? Would medical schools that are research-oriented think that I am worthless for quitting research? (although I hope that one day I would be able to come back to the research community and do some research that is more clinically relevant. Whether NIH would have any faith in me and fund me again is another story.)



I don't necessarily think so, although it's hard to give a definite answer. I have run across more than a few PhDs who decided to go back to med school (successfully), some of them research oriented.

Welcome and good luck!

Thanks so much! I will contact a few schools and see what they say. I will post the answers here.



Hi All,


I am new member. I am glad to find that there are people out there like me who want to pursue medicine at a later age.


My situation is very similar to kaihsin.


I did my undergrad in Southeast Asian country. BSC in microbiology, zoology and chemistry (organic and inorganic) with labs and English. I had a good GPA of 3.6. I went to do my master (southeast asian country) in biotechnology (where we had Immunology, Cell biology, Developmental biology, Biomaths, Biostatistics, Enzymology, Biochemistry, Bioreactor engineering with labs in basic enzymology, biochemistry, cell biology, Cell and tissue culture. My GPA was 3.1.


I just completed my PhD in molecular biology and genetics (2008) from an accredited American university with a GPA of 3.7.


With this background, I have following questions.


1)Do I need to take the all pre-requisites with lab?


2)If yes, can I get away with biology pre-req.


3)Will my Grad school credits satisfy the criteria of the total number of credit required to apply to med school.


I would really appreciate all responses and advice.


Thank you,


RC29