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Underrepresented and International Applicants

Underrepresented Applicants

There is a critical need for underrepresented doctors in the United States. Many medical schools are looking specifically for individuals who are committed to serving communities with high underrepresented populations. Accordingly, special consideration may be given to such students when their applications are reviewed. Less emphasis may be placed on GPA and MCAT scores and more on life experiences, the personal essay, and the interview. If you belong to an underrepresented group, have a respectable academic record, and are committed to serving underrepresented communities, then your chances of being accepted to medical school are very good.

There are also several summer programs intended to provide educational and training opportunities for students from groups that are underrepresented in US medicine, including Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians. One such program is the Summer Health Professions Education Program, SHPEP. Each SHPEP site offers a unique program: some designed for students who have finished their first or sophomore years, some for upperclassmen, and some for those who have graduated from college. You can only attend one of these programs, so be sure to closely evaluate what they have to offer and what you need to strengthen your credentials. For example, only some of the sites offer help in preparing for the MCAT.

Summer programs are also offered by individual medical schools and new programs are being developed.

International Applicants

International students face two major obstacles to pursuing an MD degree at a US medical school: limited number of available slots and scarcity of funding. Many medical schools do not accept any international applicants (i.e., not a US citizen or permanent resident); other schools may accept only a few. A table compiled by AAMC titled, “Applicants to US Medical Schools by In- or Out-of-State Matriculation Status, 2023-2024,” notes that of 1,297 foreign applicants in 2023-2024, only 143 matriculated. You should refer to individual schools’ websites or see Dr. Larochelle for more information. International students should consult the individual medical school entries in “Medical School Admission Requirements” to determine whether applications are accepted from international applicants.

Most federally funded scholarship and loan programs are available only to US citizens and permanent residents. Accordingly, international students must often assume the full financial burden of applying to and attending medical school. This can be done using personal resources or securing non-federally funded loans. An additional hurdle at some schools is a requirement to put from one to four years of costs (tuition, fees, and living expenses) in escrow before matriculation.

There are schools that have privately-funded programs for which international students may be eligible. There are also private loan services to which international students may apply. In many cases, you will need a US citizen to co-sign your loan application (i.e., someone willing to pay back the loan if you are not able to).

Research-oriented international applicants may also want to explore joint MD/PhD programs in which the student might be supported by his or her research mentor’s grant.