How to Get Into Medical School in Ontario and Succeed on the OMSAS | MedSchoolCoach

How to Get Into Medical School in Ontario and Succeed on the OMSAS

Ontario Medical Schools Admissions Stats, Application Tips, Timelines and More

Careers at MedSchoolCoach

Table of Contents

About Medical Schools in Ontario

Ontario is home to some of the best medical schools in the country of Canada, and the world. If you are going to be applying, you’ll need to complete the OMSAS, which is the Ontario equivalent of the AMCAS. The OMSAS (Ontario Medical School Application Service) is a primary application used by the medical schools across Ontario.

Of the 17 total medical schools in Canada, 6 are located in Ontario! Most of the Ontario medical schools actually do not have strict requirements about applicants’ residence status and accept applications from students all over Canada. While that is true, if you look deeply there is some preference for Ontario area students as their acceptance rates tend to be slightly higher.

In terms of international candidates, Ontario maybe a great spot. Schools like University of Toronto actually accept international applicants! Be warned, your MCAT and GPA have to be really stellar to get in as an international application to Canadian medical schools.

List of Medical Schools in Ontario and their Admissions Stats

School NameAverage GPAMin MCATAutobiographical Sketch RequiredInterview FormatClass SpotsApplicationsAcceptance RateAccepts International Students
University of Toronto3.96125YesTraditional25943196%Yes
McMaster University3.89129 (CARS)YesMMI20358673.5%Yes
Univesity of Ottawa3.5NoneYesTraditional12043943.5%No
Queen's UniversityTBDTBDYesMMI10057812%No
Western University3.87125AbbreviatedTraditional17127527%No
Northern Ontario3.86TBDYesMMI6419753.5%No

Each medical school in Ontario has its own strengths and weaknesses, but all of them will train you to become a great physician. Let’s dive in a little deeper to each school:

1. Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine (McMaster University)

McMaster University runs a three-year medical school program that has training 11-months a year and classes start in the second week of August.  They admit a total of 203 students each year and run distributed classes on campuses in Hamilton (base site), Niagara (St. Catherines), and Waterloo.

McMaster University’s is one of Canada’s leading medical schools. The school offers a unique curriculum that focuses on problem-based learning, and its students are known for their clinical skills and excellence in research. The school has an international reputation for its innovative approach to medical education, and its graduates are in high demand by hospitals and clinics around the world. The school is also home to a world-renowned research institute, which conducts cutting-edge research into new treatments and cures for diseases. McMaster University’s medical school is a top choice for students who want to pursue a career in medicine.

Admission is based upon: Undergraduate course work (almost any 3-4 program is accepted!), GPA (minimum considered GPA is 3.0/4.0), MCAT (the only requirement is a minimum CARS score of 123) CASPer (it was developed at McMaster after all!), 3 References, ABS, and an MMI-type interview.  It is noted that Ontario based applicants receive preference over those from other provinces.

Special Applicant Streams: Indigenous, Black-Equity Stream, Canadian Military, MD/PhD.

Also, McMaster accepts applications from International trainees through their regular process.

2021 application statistics: 5,867 applicants for 203 positions (3.5% acceptance rate).

2. Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM)

NOSM is Ontario’s newest medical school (founded in 2002) and recently attained the designation of ‘NOSM University’, Canada’s first independent medical university!  The overarching theme of most of NOSM’s application criteria for their 4-year program centers upon applicants that have some connection to remote life and/or work, especially in Northern Ontario, and those seeking to continue working as supportive physicians for this often disadvantaged population of the province, including indigenous and francophone community placements.  They admit 64 students each year (only Canadian citizens or permanent residents), divided between the distributed sites of Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is a medical school in Northern Ontario, Canada. It is affiliated with Lakehead University and Laurentian University. NOSM has campuses in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Timmins. NOSM offers a four-year MD program as well as several residency programs. The school also offers Indigenous health programs, rural health programs, and continuing medical education. NOSM’s mission is to improve the health of the people of Northern Ontario by training a diverse group of high-quality physicians, who are committed to serving the region’s communities. In order to achieve this, NOSM focuses on community-engaged education, research, and service. NOSM is one of Canada’s newest medical schools and has quickly become a leader in innovative medical education.

Applicants under 25 years old must have completed a 4-year degree (nearly any program is considered), prior to admission, while those 25 years or older will be considered with at least a 3-year program in nearly any discipline. Applications are initially screened based upon: GPA (minimum considered GPA is 3.0/4.0), ABS, NOSM-specific Supplementary Questions, and term ‘Context’.  Context criteria are spelled out in the online application but refers to the value the schools places on certain geographic and cultural aspects of the applicant’s background.   Interviews (reportedly MMI-type) are offered to those that score highly on the three application segments listed above.   The MCAT is not required.

Special Application Streams: Indigenous, Francophone, Canadian Military, those with Exceptional Circumstances.

2021 application statistics: 1,975 applicants for 64 positions (3.5% acceptance rate).

3. University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa is located in Canada’s capital city and was the first medical school in North America to offer medical education in both of Canada’s official languages, English (120 students) and French (48 students). Only Canadian citizens or permanent residents are eligible for their 4-year training program.

University of Ottawa is the first choice for many aspiring doctors. The University of Ottawa medical school has been consistently ranked as one of the top schools in the country. University of Ottawa offers a unique learning experience that helps students to succeed in their studies and in their future careers. The University of Ottawa medical school has a long tradition of excellence and is recognized for its innovative teaching methods. University of Ottawa medical school graduates are highly sought after by employers and are well-prepared for the challenges of working in the medical field. University of Ottawa offers a wide range of courses and programs that are designed to meet the needs of students. University of Ottawa also offers a variety of extracurricular activities, which help to enrich the student experience. University of Ottawa medical school is an excellent choice for those considering a career in medicine.

Applicants are assessed based upon: GPA (minimum considered GPA is 3.0/4.0), CASPer, ABS, References/CAF, and Interview (traditional panel format).  The MCAT is not required.

Special Application Streams: Black Students, Canadian Military, MD/PhD, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Metis), Non-Ontario/Quebec Francophones, Nunavut-specific applicants, Low Socioeconomic Status (LSES) Initiative.

2021 application statistics: 4,394 applicants for 120 positions (3.5% acceptance rate).

4. Queen’s University

Queen’s University is steeped in history as it was founded 150 years ago and is located in beautiful Kingston, on the shores of Lake Ontario. 

Approximately 100 students are accepted into their four year training program each year within their modern medical training facility. Queen’s University medical school is highly competitive, and only the most outstanding students are admitted. Those who are accepted can look forward to a top-notch education that will prepare them for a successful career in medicine. If you are dreaming of becoming a doctor, then start working towards your goal today by enrolling at Queen’s University.

Admission criteria include: at least 3 years of full-time study in any program of study, GPA (minimum considered GPA is 3.0/4.0), MCAT (undisclosed minimum required scores are determined each year), CASPer, References ABS, and both MMI (primary) and panel interview (secondary) formats (all interviews conducted virtually).

Special Application Streams: Indigenous, Canadian Military, MD/PhD, MD/MSc.

2021 application statistics: 5,781 applicants for 100 positions (2% acceptance rate).

5. Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (Western University)

The Schulich medical program at Western University runs a distributed 4-year program (133 students at the London (main) campus, and 38 students at the Windsor campus).  London is a mid-sized city that embodies the ‘University Town’ ideal, while Windsor is located about 200km southwest and shares an international border with Detroit.

Admission is based on a combination of: degree requirements (must have completed a 4-year-degree program by the time of medical school commencement), GPA (Schulich has specific calculation options for GPA, but they do not publish the minimum GPA required for consideration), and the MCAT (all sections may be considered).  Non-academic requirements include CAFs and a so-called Western Abbreviated Autobiographical Sketch (AABS).    Interviews involve a 3-person panel and are standardized and set at 45 minutes.

Special Application Streams: Southwestern Ontario Pathway (i.e. Ontario applicants with a connection to SW Ontario), Indigenous, Access Pathway (for those that have dealt with challenges of medical, socio-cultural, financial or underrepresented ethnicity), Canadian Military, MD/PhD, or MD + other postgraduate training options.  Additionally, Schulich has a maximum of three (3) positions for International applicants.

2021 application statistics: 2,752 applicants for 171 positions (7% acceptance rate).

6. University of Toronto

Last, but definitely not least, is the historic and world renown medical school at the University of Toronto (U of T).  The U of T medical school is the oldest in Ontario and was founded in 1843.  Based in Ontario’s largest and capital city, Toronto is home to a diverse population and the health campuses offer exposure to world class physicians and researchers.  The U of T medical program is distributed between the St. George campus (U of T main campus) with 205 students, and 54 students based at their U of T Mississauga campus about 30 minutes away. 

The University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine is one of the oldest and most respected in the country. Founded in 1843, it has been a leader in medical education for over 175 years. Today, the faculty offers an MD program that is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. The University of Toronto is also home to Canada’s largest medical research hospital, the SickKids Centre for Learning Health. As a result, it is no surprise that the University of Toronto’s medical school is one of the most competitive in the country.

Admission criteria include: GPA (the minimum considered GPA is 3.6/4.0, though they suggest a competitive GPA will be closer to 3.8/4.0), MCAT (only meeting the minimum score of 125 in section, with one section of 124 is required.  Overall MCAT scores are not used competitively!), and only a few course perquisites. Non-academic requirements include the ABS (including an additional ABS statement), References, and U of T specific Brief Personal Essays.  Past interviews have employed a Modified Personal Interview format with multiple short interviews in sequence (non-MMI format).

Special Application Streams: Black Students, Indigenous Students, MD/PhD, Canadian Military.  Also, U of T accepts International applicants and requires they meet the same minimum requirements as Canadian applicants.

2021 application statistics: 4,319 applicants for 259 positions (6% acceptance rate).

To summarize, Ontario offers a group of medical schools that all offer high quality training programs that attract many more applicants than they can train each year.  In 2021 there were 25,496 individual school applications from a total of 7,102 applicants.  When we consider there were 965 medical student positions that year, the acceptance rate per applicant is 13.5%, or 1 in 7.5.  You can beat the odds through excellent preparation and expert support to create a high-quality application and exemplary interview skills when your time comes

Timeline for the OMSAS for 2022/23

OMSAS Application Timeline

Applying on time, or even early, to medical school is extremely important! As a pre-medical student, showing that you have the organization skills to get your application ready is going to be a must!

August:
August is the deadline to submit an application to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada for the Ontario Medical School Application Fee Waiver Program.

This program allows students who do not have the financial means to apply to defer the costs for up to three Ontario medical schools for the 2022-2023 application cycle (normal application fees are around $120 on average per school) and the $220 Ontario Medical School Application Service processing fee. 

September:
By September of each year, you should send your references so that they have enough time to submit it. The OMSAS includes a Document Tracking page in your application frequently to ensure that all documents are received by their respective deadlines.

October:
October 3rd! That is the deadline to submit applications (and there are no exceptions to this rule). OMSAS should have received your transcripts, your references, and all application fees.
By October 21st, you should have your MCAT scores into OMSAS. Remember, it can take a few days for OMSAS to receive your scores after the AAMC releases them, so make sure to plan ahead!

January
In January, applications have been reviewed by medical schools and interview invites start to go out!

May
In May, Ontario medical schools start to send out offers of admissions to accepted candidates!

The OMSAS Autobiographical Sketch/Verifiers (ABS)

The main things to remember for the OMSAS are to stay organized, and give yourself plenty of time! This is especially true of the ABS section, which is is an autobiographical sketch that allows applicants to provide information about the following:

  • Academic activities
  • Employment activities
  • Volunteer experiences
  • Extracurricular experiences
  • Research experiences
  • Awards and accomplishments

The format should be able to be verified by OMSAS. The purpose of the OMSAS ABS is to provide OMSAS with a more complete picture of the applicant than what is possible through grades and transcripts alone.

In order to complete the OMSAS ABS, applicants must first create an account on the OMSAS website. Once an account has been created, applicants will be able to access the OMSAS ABS through their account. OMSAS will then use the information provided in the OMSAS ABS to generate a report that will be sent to the schools that the applicant has applied to. The OMSAS ABS must be completed by the deadline specified on the OMSAS website in order for the applicant’s application to be considered complete.

For many applicants, they will also be fililng out the AMCAS (if they are applying to US based medical schools). The major difference between the AMCAS Work and Activities section and the OMSAS Autobiographical Sketch is the amount of space given to describe each activity. While AMCAS allows you 700 characters per activity, OMSAS permits just 150 characters! That’s a tiny amount where you’ll have to be clever with utilization of space. Try bullet points instead of paragraphs and focus on the most impactful portions of this!

Overall, you are allowed to include up to 32 items in the Autobiographical sketch section of the application. You’ll also need to include a “verifier” of each of these items (note, these are people who can verify you’ve participated, but not nessecarily people who need to be able to speak to you as a person like the reference letters will).

References for OMSAS

OMSAS Reference LettersMedical school letters of recommendation are always an important part of the application process, both for medical schools in the United States as well as in Canada. For OMSAS, you need to send 3 letters of recommendation, specifically:

  • 1 academic- or employment-related reference

  • 1 non-academic reference

  • 1 reference of your choosing

OMSAS recommends sending requests to your referees no later than September 15th in order to get your references in by the deadline (see above). As with anything else, make sure to get your references in as soon as possible (aim for end of August). 

FAQs about Ontario Medical Schools

The average acceptance rate to medical schools in Ontario is 7% making all of the schools highly selective and thus very competitive to gain admission.
To apply to Ontario Medical Schools, you need to complete all application requirements of  the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS). OMSAS application requirements are similar to the requirements of the US basedAMCAS, TMDSAS, and AACOMAS. You will have to submit your personal details, an autobiographical sketch (comparable to a personal statement), academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, MCAT scores (not applicable for all Ontario schools) essays (requirements vary depending on the medical school you are applying to) and other important information. Some schools may have pre-med course conditions.
Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine do not require MCAT scores from their medical school applicants. All other medical schools require applicants to submit their MCAT score, and sometimes their averages are quite high.
There are very few Canadian medical schools that accept US medical students. The Ontario medical schools that do accept international students are McMaster University Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. These schools allow out of province applicants, but some may have regional specific allotments to encourage local students to apply.
You can only change specific parts of your OMSAS application after submission.. After submission, no changes are permitted to the following sections: academic record and transcripts, prerequisites, school submissions, autobiographical sketch, verifiers, and Canadian status.
Given that French is an official language of Canada, you may be wondering how the education is taught. Keep in mind, English is a universal language for medicine. That said, Ontario is a great option for students who speak French. The University of Ottawa provides French language instruction and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine encourages francophone applicants. The remaining schools in Ontario teach in English.

Yes, Canadian medical schools are notorious for having high MCAT score requirements. These range from some schools like McMaster, which requires a 129 on CARS to University of Toronto, which requires at least a 125 on each section. Other schools don’t have the MCAT required.

Need Help Getting into a Medical School in Canada? MedSchoolCoach can help!

Schedule a free consultation with our enrollment team to get help on the OMSAS application! Our physician advisors have admissions experience at Ontario Medical Schools and can help you put together the best possible application.

Ayan Dey, MedSchoolCoachDr. Dey has been a medical school consultant since 2014, coaching many applicants to success in both MD and MD+ programs across Canada. He also has experience working with international medical graduates and MD/Ph.D. candidates.

Dr. Dey completed his undergraduate degree in psychology, neuroscience and behaviour at McMaster University in 2011 before joining the University of Toronto’s MD/Ph.D. program. He completed his PhD in cognitive neuroscience via the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto under the supervision of clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Brian Levine, at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest. He was co-supervised by cognitive neurologist, Dr. Sandra Black, at Sunnybrook Hospital. His Ph.D. centered on using functional neuroimaging (functional MRI and EEG) combined with detailed cognitive testing to study individual differences in cognition among older adults with vascular risk factors. In addition to his doctoral research, Dr. Dey was involved in various quality improvement projects while in medical school and co-founded IREACH, a medical student initiative aimed at breaking down barriers to accessing healthcare for newcomers and refugees.

Tyler Hickey, MedSchoolCoachDr. Hickey has sat on faculty of medicine admissions committees for multiple universities. He
knows the importance of refining each application detail for maximum value and avoiding
admission committee “red flags.”

Dr. Tyler Hickey grew up in rural Ontario and attended the University of Guelph. After graduating, he made a cross-country move to complete his PhD (studying tuberculosis) and MD
at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Always drawn to the underlying science and physiology of medical illnesses, Dr. Hickey pursued a specialist medical career in pathology and
laboratory medicine (anatomical pathology) and subsequently completed fellowship training in forensic pathology.

Today, Dr. Hickey currently enjoys a full and rewarding career that includes interesting and challenging work as a forensic pathologist, supervision and guidance of medical trainees from two of Canada’s preeminent universities, and active research in a program that explores causes of preventable accidental deaths.

Dr. Hickey has had the opportunity to sit on medical admission committees for universities in British Columbia and Ontario during both residency training and as a faculty member. His guidance has led to multiple successful medical placements in recent years. As someone who was not accepted to medical school on his first application, Dr. Hickey understands the trials and stresses of working through the challenging medical admission process and how best to enhance your application after an unsuccessful first attempt or, better yet, find success on your first application

Canada Package

Helping you get in!
$ 2750
  • Personalized Attention with a Canadian Physician Advisor
  • Complete Strategic Planning for Your Application
  • Review and Editing of Your Autobiographic Sketch
  • Support for up to 6 OMSAS Schools
  • CASPer Exam Prep
  • 3 Hours of Mock Interviews