Pathways to medicine

As a biomedical engineering student, you might be considering a career as a medical doctor. This page provides information for possible pathways to get into medical practice. There are 17 medical schools in Canada, and they all have different admission requirements and standards. Some put more focus on academic achievement, while others put more focus on non-academic experience. Some have specific course requirements, while others have very general course requirements. In fact, there is such a diversity of programs and requirements, that you should learn what specific programs are looking for in candidates, to best align yourself with a particular program.   

General information on being a doctor

Being a physician yields many rewards: personal growth, intellectual stimulation, financial security, and being able to make a difference in the lives of others. It also yields many challenges: challenging ethical dilemmas, high-stress environments, dealing with loss, demanding work hours, and many other factors. If you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, you should be prepared to work very hard and be dedicated to your discipline. Becoming a doctor requires attending four years of medical school (with the exception of University of Calgary's three year program). Upon graduation you will receive an MD degree. Following graduation, you must complete a residency in your specialty of choice, where you work under supervision. Residencies generally last between two to six years depending on your area of specialty.

Application to medical school

The application process for most medical schools takes a year, starting in the fall prior to the year you wish to begin. It can include writing your MCAT; sending in applications, resumes, transcripts, and letters of recommendation; verification of references; and interviews. Completing a bachelor's degree will greatly improve your chances of acceptance to medical school, but it is not required for some programs. Most medical programs require you to be a full-time student for at least three years.

Medical school general admission requirements

It is important to know what medical schools are looking for in candidates. The following information is intended as a quick overview of the medical school requirements for a just a few schools. These requirements are subject to change every year, and statistics depend on the pool of applicants every year. If you wish to apply to a specific school, it is highly recommended that you read the admission requirements on the website links listed below for that university. It is also helpful to take a look at the admission statistics, which are provided by some medical schools on their websites. As a general rule, it is considerably easier to be admitted to in-province medical schools, in comparison to out-of-province medical schools. 

Pre-requisite courses

UBC (listed with UVic equivalent courses)

  • 6 credits of English: any two of ATWP/ENGL 135, ENGL 113, 125, 146, or 147; ENGR 110 is accepted for half of the requirement
  • Strongly recommended courses: General biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry (for specific recommendations, view Science Courses Chart)
  • Other optional courses: Physics, statistics, social sciences

University of Toronto

  • 2 natural sciences courses
  • 1 humanities course

University of Calgary

  • only two years of undergraduate studies required
  • no prerequisite courses
  • recommended courses: biology, chemistry, physics, English, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, psychology, sociology, anthropology and calculus/statistics.

University of Alberta

  • only two years of undergraduate studies required
  • two semesters of organic chemistry
  • two semesters of general (inorganic) chemistry
  • two semesters of biology
  • two semesters of physics
  • two semesters of English
  • one semester of biochemistry
  • one semester of statistics

Undergraduate GPA for admission

All GPAs below are listed on a 4.0 scale or as percentages.


  • the minimum acceptable GPA is 75% for BC residents and 85% for out-of-province applicants
  • in 2020, the average GPA of successful applicants was 89.22%


  • average GPA of those invited to interview (not necessarily successful candidates) was 3.8

University of Toronto

  • average GPA of successful applicants was 3.94

University of Alberta

  • average GPA of successful applicants was 3.8

University of Calgary

  • average GPA of successful applicants was 3.73

Mean MCAT scores of successful applicants


Applicants must achieve a minimum score of 124 in each of the four sections on a single exam. (Starting with the 2017/2018 application cycle, only the new version of the MCAT – i.e., MCAT 2015 will be accepted.)

Non-academic requirements

Most medical programs have an interview process included in their acceptance criteria. Medical school interviews are rigorous, and if granted an interview it is essential to prepare well for it. Taking philosophy courses on biomedical ethics or ethics in general can help you to prepare for the interviews. Thinking on your feet, confidence, and interview skills are very important.


UBC in particular puts an emphasis on non-academic criteria for candidates. The requirements listed by UBC on their website are as follows:

  • report of non-academic experiences
  • employment history
  • research
  • awards
  • interview, when offered
  • three references, only for applicants invited for interview
  • Indigenous essay, if applicable
  • Rural / Remote Suitability evaluation, if applicaable

Considerations for out-of-province application

If you do wish to attend a medical school out-of-province, it is worth knowing the acceptance rates for out-of-province candidates at different schools.


  • a maximum of 29 seats (of 288) are available to out-of-province applicants each year


  • accepted 2.8 % of out-of-province candidates

University of Alberta

  • accepted 5.8% of out-of-province candidates

University of Toronto

  • did not show statistics on how many out-of-province candidates they accepted

University of Calgary

  • accepted 10.2% out-of-province candidates


Applicants with special considerations

  • aboriginal applicants, applicants from graduate school, and applicants with disabilities
  • extra criteria and considerations for these groups