How to study MCA abroad

Medical degree in the USA

The structure of medical studies in the USA is fundamentally different from that in Germany. In the USA, medical studies are divided into two courses: pre-medical education and medical education.

Pre-medical education refers to college studies that are started after high school and are preparation for medical studies at the university. However, pre-medical education is not yet the actual medical course, but a science-oriented course with a focus on biology, physics and chemistry, which ends with a Bachelor of Science. The pre-medical education cannot be equated in form or content with the scientific or medical preliminary examination (Physikum) in Germany.

The completion of pre-medical education does not yet entitle you to study medicine at a university, neither in the USA nor in Germany. However, it is one of several admission requirements.

Development of medical studies in the USA

The actual medical studies in the USA (medical education) at a university lasts 3 - 5 years. The respective medical schools offer the pre-clinical and clinical study content in different sequences and combinations; these are only defined in terms of scope. Clinical internships (medical externs, clinical clerkships) are integrated into the courses as compulsory services.

The medical degree is awarded with the M.D. (Doctor of Medicine or medical doctor) completed. However, this title is not yet a professional qualification.

Medical education is followed by graduate medical education, which consists of a compulsory medical internship and / or special training. In order to obtain the US professional qualification corresponding to the German license, the examination of the National Board of Medical Examiners be passed.

For German students, studying medicine in the USA seems cumbersome, as the pre-medical education must first be completed at a college before the actual medical studies can be started. However, the college degree does not guarantee admission to the university. It is impossible to start studying medicine at a US university with just a German Abitur. Even for transfer students who want to switch to a medical school in the USA after a few semesters in Germany, there is hardly a chance. Most of them fail because of the entrance tests and the high financial outlay.

Application to study medicine in the USA

Admission to the renowned medical schools is very selective. The most famous universities do not even accept 10% of applicants, some only 5%. Almost all of the prestigious American universities are private. In contrast to the procedure used in Germany, the allocation of medical study places via a state central office, applications in the USA are made directly to the universities. If you want to apply to 5 different medical schools, you have to send 5 different applications accordingly. The applications are very similar, but not identical. Therefore it is not possible to send exactly the same documents to several universities.

The student years generally start in autumn. Application forms are available from the respective universities about a year in advance and the complete application documents should be submitted at the end of the previous year. The deadline runs until spring, but we recommend that you apply in good time. The dates can vary from university to university.

The following criteria are observed during admission:

  • MCAT
  • Essays
  • Testimonies
  • Letters of recommendation
  • interview
  • Proof of funding
  • curriculum vitae

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) must be completed by anyone who wants to study in the USA but whose mother tongue is not English. Since July 1998, the TOEFL has only been offered as a computer version in Germany. The test, including instruction, takes about 4 hours, the duration and number of questions vary. A maximum of 300 points can be achieved. The number of points required depends on the university in question. However, a renowned university will require 250 points.

The TOEFL is designed as a multiple choice test and is divided into 4 sections. The Listening Section is intended to check how well the test-taker understands American English. The Structure Section tests formal, written English. In the Reading Section short texts must be read and questions answered. In the Writing Section an essay has to be written on a given topic.

The questions in the Listening and Structure Section must be answered one after the other in the new computer version of the TOEFL. No question can be skipped. A reset is also not possible, because the level of difficulty of the following questions depends on the answers to your questions.

In the reading section, questions can also be skipped and answered later. The following questions do not depend on the answers to the previous questions.

Software for preparation and the English language homepage can be found at Other providers such as B. Barron’s and Kaplan Test Prep offer practice material.

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) lasts almost 6 hours and consists of four sections: Verbal Reasoning, Writing, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences. Each section is rated with up to 15 points. Further information can be found on the English language homepage and at Kaplan Test Prep.


The study plan and the choice of university must be justified in one or more essays. With the help of these essays, the universities try to find out more about the personality of their future students. Depending on the university, the number of essays and the required length may vary. For German applicants, however, essays are unusual as an application criterion, which is why important points are discussed here.

The essays should not be written all at once. It is recommended that you do several drafts and be well prepared for them.

The essays should be individually tailored to the respective university. It is not recommended to send standard essays to different medical schools. The websites of the universities often give clues as to what is important.

Be sure to bring your thoughts forward clearly. Don't digress and don't write more than necessary. The essays must be easy to read and make a positive impression.

University admissions committees have to read a lot of essays. Therefore, you should try to write a letter that stands out from the large number of applications.

Before you even start, think about what you want to write about in the first place. Make bullet points for yourself and, if necessary, reflect on your ideas with third parties.

Many thoughts and drafts are necessary before a finished essay is drawn up. Under no circumstances can such attachments be shaken out of your sleeve.

The admissions offices of the universities often make different decisions. It is therefore important to answer the respective questions, answer them seriously and ascribe the essays individually to the respective university.

The English-language website EssayEdge is recommended for suggestions and examples. Our online dictionary will help you create your essays in English. American applicants can have their essays corrected by their college student counseling service. Grammar and spelling errors are an absolute knockout criterion for admission. If you are not 100% sure about this, you should use a translation service.

Certificates from the first degree

Certificates are a crucial criterion for medical schools to assess the academic performance of their applicants. American universities also require a transcript. This is a listing of all the courses that the applicant has taken. In addition to the name of the course and the semester, the content, grades and weekly hours must generally be specified. All certificates and transcripts must first be translated and then certified by the university.

Example of a transcript / academic record:

If possible, you should put your final grade in relation to the year. Inquire at the responsible examination office at your university for statistics on the distribution of grades.

Example grade distribution:

Letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation are important selection criteria. Usually two letters of recommendation are required, which have to be drawn up by professors or employers.

With the application forms there are forms for the reviewers. Here the reviewers have to answer how well they know you and how often they have been in contact with you. In addition to an assessment in letter form, your reviewers must characterize you in a given table and place you in relation to your colleagues or fellow students. These predefined assessment criteria include: integrity, intellectual and analytical skills, creativity, motivation, ability to work in a team, self-confidence, expression.

Example of an assessment in tabular form:

These reports are unusual for German exhibitors and mean a expenditure of time that should not be underestimated. It is therefore important that the exhibitor does not only briefly know you. Supervisors of the diploma thesis, professors in the special subjects and superiors during an employment relationship can therefore be considered as reviewers.

It is important to the US universities how well the reviewer knows you and whether he can assess you accordingly. Attention is also paid to the exhibitor's title. It is also advantageous if your reviewer is a graduate of the university to which you are applying, which will, however, pose difficulties for German applicants.

Once your reviewer has created the form and the informal letter, they must seal it in an envelope before giving it to you. You then send the sealed reports with your other application documents in a large envelope to the respective universities.


Only some universities generally conduct interviews. International applicants are generally not interviewed. If an interview does happen, you need to prepare well and know what was in your application documents and essays. You have to expect the question of why you want to study at this university of all places. Wear formal attire.

Proof of funding

Proof of sufficient financial means to finance the studies can be issued by a bank. This proof is not only necessary for the university, but also to apply for the corresponding visa.

The cost of studying medicine at a well-known American university is very high. The tuition fees alone at the top universities are around $ 30,000 per year. Added to this are the cost of living, which, especially in large American cities, is significantly higher than the German average. The exact tuition fees of the individual universities and the estimated total costs can be found under US News and the homepages of the respective universities.

There is no way to finance the cost of the entire medical course. During the course of studies, a position as a research assistant can possibly be accepted. However, studying medicine is an enormous amount of work, which is why a professional activity is only possible to a limited extent. Foreigners with an F-1 student visa are not permitted to work outside the university.

In principle, there are no scholarships for the entire medical course, only for parts of the course. A total of at least three years of pre-medical education and four years of medical school have to be paid out of pocket.

The following organizations award scholarships for study sections, e.g. clinical traineeships: