Have you ever wondered about the different types of medical schools? Whether you’re a premed student considering which medical schools to apply to or are a high school student exploring a future in medicine, knowing the different types of medical schools is essential. From traditional medical schools to emerging online medical schools, there are many options for you to choose from.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different types of medical schools and discuss each type in more detail, including admission requirements, accreditation status, and other considerations. Join us and discover how the type of medical school you choose can shape your future in medicine. 

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Types of Medical Schools

As you ponder medical school, there are five types of medical schools that can lead to practicing medicine as a physician. Every medical school aims to prepare you for residency training and practicing medicine. However, each type of medical school has its own specific curriculum and course format. Let’s take a detailed look at each of them. 

Traditional medical schools

Traditional or allopathic medical schools are the more widely available medical training programs that reward you with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. To gain admission to a four-year traditional medical school, you must earn a bachelor’s degree with a strong foundation in science courses like biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and physics. Moreover, you’ll also have to submit your MCAT scores, letters of recommendation, and personal statements and participate in interviews. 

This type of medical school typically has a curriculum that includes the pre-clinical and clinical phases. The pre-clinical phase consists of two years of basic science courses followed by the clinical phase, which consists of two years of clinical rotations. 

Allopathic medical schools generally utilize lecture, case-based learning, and small-group discussion teaching methods. As they also employ clinical rotations, you’ll be able to apply theoretical knowledge in clinical settings and develop clinical skills. 

Moreover, during your studies in an allopathic medical school, you can participate in research opportunities and extracurricular activities that will enrich your experience. This way, you’ll also be able to explore specific interests within the field of medicine. Some traditional medical schools will also allow you to pursue combined degree programs, such as MD/MS (Master of Science), MD/MPH (Master of Public Health), MD/MBA (Master of Business Administration), and MD/JD (Juris Doctor).

Osteopathic medical schools

Osteopathic medical schools award Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degrees, which emphasize a holistic approach to medicine. The unique philosophy of osteopathic medicine focuses on the whole person, including physical, emotional, and spiritual components, rather than focusing on specific symptoms or illnesses. Therefore, osteopathic medicine focuses on preventive health care and uses a hands-on system of diagnosis and treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Typically, the admission requirements for entry into an osteopathic medical school include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in an accredited institution;
  • Premedical coursework in biology, physics, English, and chemistry;
  • An average overall GPA of 3.61;
  • An average MCAT score of 503.90;
  • Letters of recommendation;
  • Criminal background checks;
  • Overall, being a well-rounded applicant motivated to pursue a career in osteopathic medicine. 

Like M.D. programs, D.O. programs typically consist of two years of basic science courses, followed by two years of clinical training. However, as a medical student in a D.O. program, you must complete 200 hours of training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) beyond the typical medical curriculum. 

After completing your educational and training requirements, you’ll have full practice rights and can pursue residency training in all medical specialties. This includes internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, etc. 

Caribbean medical schools

Caribbean Medical Schools

Another popular option for attending medical school is enrolling in medical schools located in the Caribbean region. Caribbean medical schools are an alternative pathway to becoming a physician as they typically have less stringent admission requirements to schools in the U.S.

Even though admission requirements vary depending on the school, they generally include a bachelor’s degree with prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and English. You may also have to submit MCAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. 

A key factor to consider before applying to a Caribbean medical school is the accreditation status. By thoroughly researching the accreditation status, you’ll ensure your education meets the standards required for licensure. As a Caribbean medical school, AUA is accredited by the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP). Moreover, we’re approved by the U.S. Department of Education as an institution holding standards comparable to those used by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). 

With only 41.87% of applicants being accepted in a medical school in the 2023-2024 period in the U.S., Caribbean medical schools stand as a beacon of hope for fulfilling your dreams of becoming a doctor. But why are they a good option, and what are some drawbacks of choosing this route?

As Caribbean medical schools take a holistic approach to evaluating you as an applicant, you don’t necessarily need a high GPA and MCAT score to gain admission. Many Caribbean schools, such as AUA, offer clinical rotations in esteemed teaching hospitals throughout the U.S. Moreover, Caribbean medical schools offer rolling admissions, allowing you to apply throughout the year and matriculate soon after. 

On the other hand, some residency programs may have unfounded hesitations against Caribbean medical school graduates. Fortunately, this is gradually changing. You may also face difficulty adapting to a foreign country and culture. 

International medical schools

International medical schools are schools located outside the U.S. and the Caribbean. They offer medical education to students interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

Countries with popular medical programs include the U.K., Australia, Ireland, Israel, and Canada. Different countries and medical schools have their own specific admission requirements. However, they’re similar to those in the U.S. and include academic transcripts and standardized test scores such as MCAT, UCAT, and GAMSAT.

If you decide to attend an international medical school, make sure the school’s accreditation body is recognized by the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation of the U.S. Department of Education (NCFMEA) as having standards comparable to the LCME process. Moreover, you must ensure that the school is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools (WFME). If you choose to return to and practice in the U.S., you will still have to take the USMLE three-step exams and be considered an IMG (international medical graduate).

Enrolling in an international medical school will offer you several benefits, such as providing you with a global perspective in healthcare, allowing you to immerse in a new culture, and offering you quality education. On the other hand, you may still face challenges in accessing financial aid and adjusting to a new educational system. 

Online medical schools

While there aren’t any accredited medical schools in the U.S. and Canada that offer their curriculum exclusively online, there are emerging medical schools that incorporate hybrid learning. This means they offer a blend of online coursework with in-person clinical training and lab work. 

In these programs, you can attend some lectures, discussions, and theoretical training remotely using technological platforms, virtual communication tools, and interactive simulations. On the other hand, lab work, clinical rotations, and patient interactions mandate in-person attendance.

These programs are becoming more popular because they offer flexibility in scheduling, allowing you to study at your own pace. Moreover, they will enable you to study some portions from any location if you cannot relocate or attend on-campus programs due to financial or personal problems.

Lastly, if an institution offers an entirely online M.D. or D.O. program, check the accreditation status to ensure you receive quality education.

Which Type of Medical School Should I Choose?

As an aspiring medical student, you should consider a number of factors before choosing a medical school, including:

  • Personal preferences: You may prefer a busy campus in an urban setting rather than a more intimate environment. Therefore, consider location, teaching style, curriculum, and extracurricular opportunities when choosing a medical school.
  • Career goals: As you may have already determined what specialty you want to pursue in your future, you should choose a prominent school for the preferred specialty. Moreover, look for schools with strong hospital affiliations that can lead to valuable clinical experience. 
  • Financial considerations: You should also compare the financial aid packages for each type of medical school. Moreover, you must also compare tuition costs and living expenses to determine the most affordable option for you. 
  • Residency placement rates: You should thoroughly research the school’s match day outcomes, including the percentage of students successfully matched into residency programs. 


Whether you want to study in the U.S. or explore other countries and study simultaneously, there are different ways to earn a medical degree and pursue a career in medicine. Each type of medical school offers unique opportunities and challenges. Therefore, you should carefully consider your options based on personal preferences, career goals, financial considerations, and residency placement rates.

Here at AUA, we strive to provide you with a high-quality medical education that will lead to highly competitive residencies and successful careers in medicine. Explore our M.D. program and take the opportunity to study in a vibrant environment. 


What factors should I consider when choosing a medical school?

 When choosing a medical school, you should consider factors such as:

  • Duration of the course;
  • Certainty of entry into the school;
  • Location;
  • Financial resources;
  • Curriculum;
  • Accreditation;
  • Research opportunities;
  • Diversity of student intake;
  • Prestige. 

What are the accreditation standards I should look for when considering different medical schools?

Accreditation is an essential factor when considering different medical schools. The accreditation standards to look for include organizations such as LCME in the U.S. or the Committee for Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) in Canada. Moreover, international schools strive to be listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools or recognized from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). 

Are there financial aid options available for students attending different types of medical schools?

Yes, financial aid options are available if you attend different types of medical schools. These options can include scholarships, loans, and grants. Here at AUA, we offer various financial aid options to fit different situations. 

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