If medicine is something you have dreamt about since high school, chances are that you are already on the path to becoming a doctor. However, a medical career can feel like a daunting hill to climb. Choosing the right university and medical school tuitions aside, there are a number of other factors to consider: Which specialty do I pick? MBBS vs MD?

In this article, we will delve into the details of MBBS vs. MD and help you understand the key similarities and differences between these two degrees to make an informed decision about your career in medicine.

Understanding MBBS vs. MD

A common question among medical aspirants is “Where do I begin?” It’s always good to have a clear understanding of the preliminary and advanced courses in medicine. The most popular programs worldwide can be divided into two broad sections.

A Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)

MBBS is the first undergraduate degree in medicine you can obtain. The duration of this program may differ depending on the country, but it usually takes about four and a half years to complete.

The MBBS course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of medicine. It covers various fields of medicine, such as physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, dermatology, pathology, otolaryngology, and microbiology. The course is challenging but rewarding as it also offers the opportunity to study pediatrics and general surgery in some semesters.

Doctor of Medicine (MD)

Having an MD degree means that you hold either a postgraduate Masters or PhD degree in medicine, depending on the country where you practice. To qualify for an MD degree, you must first complete an MBBS degree, which provides a general overview of medicine.

MD degree programs require students to specialize in a specific field and usually take two years to complete, with a thesis or dissertation as a mandatory component. In the US, the MD degree is regarded as a professional graduate degree due to its rigorous curriculum and academic requirements. However, in other nations, it is viewed as a research degree equivalent to a PhD.

So the question of whether MD is better or MBBS does not really arise. However, in order to pursue a specialized MD program, you will need an MBBS degree in India or its equivalent, if you are residing in a different country.

Main Differences Between MBBS vs. MD in India

In India, the main difference between MBBS and MD programs lies in their focus on different aspects of medical education. MBBS, or Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, is an undergraduate program that provides students with a broad foundation in basic medical sciences, clinical skills, and patient care. On the other hand, MD, or Doctor of Medicine, is a postgraduate program that allows students to specialize in a particular field of medicine, such as cardiology, neurology, or pediatrics. Here are some other differences:

  • Focus and Depth of Study:
    MBBS: Broad overview of medical sciences with a focus on foundational knowledge.
    MD: In-depth study and specialization in a specific medical discipline.
  • Duration of Program:
    MBBS: Typically a five to six-year undergraduate program.
    MD: Postgraduate program with a duration ranging from three to seven years, depending on the specialization.
  • Eligibility and Prerequisites:
    MBBS: Generally requires completion of high school or equivalent with a strong emphasis on science subjects.
    MD: Requires completion of an undergraduate medical degree, such as MBBS, and may have additional criteria depending on the country and institution.
  • Career Opportunities:
    MBBS: Enables graduates to practice as general practitioners or pursue further specialization.
    MD: Recognizes graduates as specialists in their chosen field, opening up opportunities for advanced clinical practice, research, and teaching.
  • Global Recognition:
    Medical graduates in India can pursue post-graduation studies and practice in countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand since both MBBS and MD are globally recognized. The National Medical Commission (NMC) of India has received the prestigious World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) Recognition Status for 10 years.

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Between MBBS vs. MD

While both programs have their own benefits, depending on your career goals, one may be more suitable for you than the other. Here are some factors you should consider when making a final decision:

1. Career Goals

The choice between MBBS and MD should be made based on your career goals. If you aspire to become a medical practitioner practicing allopathic medicine, then MBBS is the right choice. On the other hand, if you wish to advance your career in medicine, conduct research, or become a specialist in a particular area of medicine, then MD is the right choice for you.

2. Educational Preferences

MBBS is an undergraduate degree, whereas MD is a postgraduate degree. If you want to pursue a medical career right after high school, then MBBS is the right step. However, if you are interested in pursuing research or specialization in a particular area of medicine, then you should further your education and get an MD.

3. Duration and Commitment

Another factor to consider when choosing between MBBS and MD is the duration and commitment required. MBBS is a five-year program, while MD is a three-year program. Additionally, MD requires more commitment and dedication, as it involves extensive research and specialization.

4. Geographic Considerations

Geographic considerations are also important when choosing between MBBS and MD. MBBS is offered in many countries, including India, China, and the United States. MD, on the other hand, is primarily offered in the United States and Canada. Therefore, if you plan to practice medicine in a particular country, it is important to choose a program that is recognized in that country.

5. Financial Considerations

The financial aspect is another important factor to consider. MBBS is generally less expensive than MD, as it is an undergraduate program. However, MD can lead to higher-paying jobs and better career prospects, making it a more financially rewarding choice in the long run.

The Bottom Line  

Both MBBS and MD are highly respected medical degrees that require significant hard work and dedication. While MBBS is an undergraduate degree that focuses on foundational medical knowledge, MD is a postgraduate degree that provides advanced training in specialized areas of medicine. Ultimately, the choice between these two degrees depends on your career aspirations and personal interests.

If you’re a high school graduate interested in pursuing a career in medicine, at AUAMED, right at the outset, we help our students differentiate between MBBS and MD. Our pre-med program is designed for high school graduates interested in pursuing an MD specialist program. Within two years, you can earn 60 undergraduate school credits that give you a comprehensive overview of medicine while making you eligible for a coveted MD program. Take the first step towards your dream career and apply today!


Can MBBS call themselves MDs?

No, MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) degree holders cannot call themselves MDs (Doctor of Medicine). MD is a higher academic degree that requires additional education and training beyond what is required for an MBBS degree.

Can MBBS practice in the USA?

An MBBS degree alone is not sufficient to practice medicine in the USA. However, a person with an MBBS degree can pursue further studies or go through a licensing process to practice medicine in the USA.

Can a foreign doctor practice medicine in the US?

Yes, a foreign doctor can practice medicine in the US, but they must meet certain requirements and obtain the necessary licenses and certifications.

Is a double MD allowed in India?

Yes, a double MD (Doctor of Medicine) is allowed in India.