Caribbean medical schools are less competitive than most US medical programs, providing opportunities for medical students who struggle to secure spots in US institutions. Many US students consider a Caribbean MD program if their MCAT scores or GPA are below average.
Plus, tropical climates and rolling admissions policies certainly don’t hurt.
Some of these programs have a lot to offer (such as varied start dates throughout the year), but there can be significant drawbacks if you don’t know how to choose a program that aligns with your future career goals.
The MedSchoolCoach advising team chose the top 6 institutions where you can get a medical degree and enjoy all the Caribbean has to offer.
We identified the top Caribbean medical schools by selecting those that:
Plus, we answer the questions our students ask most often when considering moving to the Caribbean for med school.
St. George’s University, established in 1976, is a leading Caribbean medical college. Known for its rigorous academic programs, it attracts students from around the world.
The university’s state-of-the-art facilities, experienced faculty, and strong emphasis on clinical training for competitive specialties contribute to its reputation as one of the best international medical schools in the Caribbean.
SGU graduates have a 95% Match rate, on par with many US-based medical programs.
Saba University School of Medicine, established in 1992, offers a comprehensive medical education designed as an alternative to traditional US institutions. They boast a 98% first-time USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 pass rate and a 97% Match rate for US and Canadian residency students.
Saba is laser-focused on small class sizes to allow personalized attention for every student, with an incredible 7:1 staff-to-student ratio. This medical program is also one of the few non-US med schools that still qualifies for US and Canadian financial aid.
Ross University was founded in 1978 and is renowned for its global reputation and extensive network of clinical sites. They have strong affiliations with U.S. hospitals, making it a preferred choice for many aspiring physicians.
This medical program emphasizes hands-on learning — first-year med students often get their first clinical experience within the first month of attendance. Ross has an 89% first-time USMLE Step 1 pass rate and a 98% residency Match record.
Established in 1978, the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC-Med) has a very respectable 97% Match rate for graduates, including many who go on to become Chief Resident. They also boast an 88.5% pass rate for first-time USMLE Step 1 attempts.
AUC prioritizes partnerships with teaching hospitals throughout the world (including opportunities in the US, UK, Dominican Republic, India, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe). They also offer a second location in the UK, offering students the chance to study in several countries over the course of their medical education.
Some AUC students may qualify for financial aid in the US and Canada.
Founded in 2004, the American University of Antigua offers many scholarship and grant options to incoming students. It’s affiliated with more than 40 teaching hospitals throughout the US, Canada, UK, and India.
AUA has a remarkably cutting-edge facility so students can learn techniques on the forefront of modern medicine. It also partners with Florida International University so that students have the option to complete their core clinical rotations in Florida, rather than Antigua.
Their USMLE Step 1 pass rate is 89%. 2023 graduates matched to over 175 residency programs, although no figures are available to determine the exact Match rate for AUA.
The Medical University of the Americas was founded in 1998. Its 96% Match rate, 95% first-time USMLE Step 1 pass rate, and small class sizes (7:1 student-to-faculty ratio) make it an attractive option for a Caribbean college of medicine.
MUA is the most affordable on the MedSchoolCoach list at less than $20,000 per semester. This institution also offers multiple BS/MD programs for high school students interested in pursuing a medical career or those with associate degrees.
Yes, many Caribbean medical schools are legitimate and accredited medical programs, providing a pathway for individuals to pursue medical education.
However, you should carefully research and choose accredited schools that will allow you to succeed in the NRMP Match and practice in the US. The quality of education and recognition can vary among institutions in the Caribbean.
Do your due diligence to choose well the first time so you don’t contribute to the high attrition rates.
An MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine-Bachelor of Surgery) degree is a medical degree for physicians offered in commonwealth countries, such as those in the Caribbean, Great Britain, and India. The MD (Doctor of Medicine) and DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) degrees are the United States’ medical degrees required to become a licensed doctor.
Students in commonwealth countries can pursue an MBBS as a single program, rather than getting a traditional Bachelor’s degree, then going to a school of medicine (like in the US). MBBS degrees take 5-6 years of schooling.
In the United States, an MBBS degree is not technically equivalent to an MD or DO degree. Physicians with this degree are IMGs (international medical graduates) and must complete additional testing and (sometimes) coursework to qualify for Residency Match or become fully licensed.
An MD or DO degree typically takes around 8 years to complete, including undergraduate pre-med studies. Doctors in the States must complete a Bachelor’s degree and prerequisite courses before getting accepted to and attending medical school.
Offshore Caribbean medical schools offer their graduates equal standing with any US medical school graduate, including for residency Match and licensure.
These medical schools are typically designed for international students, including those from the United States, who do not necessarily intend to practice medicine in the Caribbean.
These schools often follow a curriculum and standards similar to those in the United States, making it more accessible for students aiming to return to the U.S. for residency and practice.
Graduates from regional Caribbean medical schools, on the other hand, are considered IMGs (international medical graduates). They must complete additional certifications and coursework to qualify for the Match in the US and Canada and are statistically disadvantaged for residency placement.
It’s also harder for IMGs to become fully licensed in the U.S. because they must:
All of these difficulties start even before residency application and continue through their medical training.
Regional Caribbean medical schools are primarily oriented toward training physicians who plan to practice within the Caribbean region.
These institutions may place a greater emphasis on aspects of healthcare relevant to the Caribbean, such as tropical diseases and public health challenges specific to the region.
In general, we do not recommend attending a regional Caribbean medical school unless you plan only to practice medicine in the Caribbean.
It depends on the type of degree and which institution the degree is from. If you get an MD or DO degree from a medical school in the Caribbean accredited for US students, it is valid in the USA. If you get an MBBS degree, then you’re considered an IMG (international medical graduate) and must pass additional certifications to practice in the US.
IMGs must go through the process of obtaining ECFMG certification, passing the USMLE exams, and securing a residency position to practice medicine in the United States.
Graduates from Caribbean schools pursue a wide range of specialties. Some of the most popular for Caribbean medical school graduates include internal medicine, family medicine, psychiatry, and emergency medicine.
Yes, like US schools, many Caribbean medical schools offer financial aid options to help students with the cost of their education. Financial aid may include scholarships, grants, and loans. While it should be the last option, student loans are also a viable way to fund your medical education.
Depending on the institution, you may have access to financial aid from the US or Canada, just as you would at any other medical school in-country. Check with the financial aid office at any schools you’re considering to be sure of their individual requirements.
If you choose your school wisely and dedicate yourself to success, your medical degree from a Caribbean school can certainly be worth it. In our experience, choosing an offshore (not regional) Caribbean medical school and taking advantage of unique clerkship opportunities are vital factors in making the most of your Caribbean medical degree.
If you choose a school that offers only an MBBS degree, you’ll be at a statistical disadvantage for residency placement (not to mention the additional certifications you’ll need to practice in the United States or Canada).
USMLE pass rates for Caribbean medical school graduates vary. Good offshore programs, like the ones we featured above, have similar USMLE pass rates to US MD and DO programs.
However, regional Caribbean medical school graduates typically score lower on USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 exams, compared to US med school graduates.
The offshore Caribbean med schools on our list have NRMP Match rates between 96-98%. Regional Caribbean medical schools typically have Match rates from 40.9-50.0% for their IMGs (students from the United States who study internationally have slightly better Match rates).
For comparison, the Match rates for students throughout all US-based programs is 94% for MD graduates and around 70% for DO graduates.
Most Caribbean medical schools accept international students. Students who graduate from offshore programs are not considered IMGs, while regional program graduates are considered IMGs if they wish to apply for the US residency Match.
All international students must meet their chosen schools’ prerequisites in order to be considered for acceptance.
We can give you personalized guidance to make sure you find the best medical program that matches with both your personal goals and test scores.
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