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. The following statistics are quoted from applicants in 2013/2014 year, according to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.

Pre-requisite courses

UBC (listed with UVic equivalent courses)

  • two of ENGL 135, ENGL 146, or ENGL 147
  • BIOL 190A and BIOL 190B
  • CHEM 101 and CHEM 102
  • CHEM 231 and CHEM 232 (or 235)
  • BIOC 300A and BIOC 300B (preferred) (or) (BIOC 299 and BIOL 360 or 361)

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.


  • the minimum acceptable GPA is 2.8 at UBC
  • the average GPA of successful applicants was 3.82


  • 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


  • verbal reasoning: 9.87
  • physical sciences: 11.05
  • writing skills: P
  • biological sciences: 11.40
  • average MCAT score: 32P

*Note, the use of MCAT results is changing for UBC. Please check for latest updates.

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)
  • Aboriginal essay, if applicable

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.


  • accepted 11.4% of out-of-province candidates, compared with 22% of in-province candidates


  • 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



Equivalencies from BME Program, for UBC entrance requirements:

UVic Course Requirement for UBC MEDICINE

Biomedical Engineering Course Equivalency

Any two of ENGL 135, 146, 147

( ENGR 110 and ENGR120, Pending )

BIOL 190A and 190B

(BME 200 and BME 201, Pending)

CHEM 101 and 102

(CHEM 150), (extra course CHEM 102 required [1] )

Remaining course requirements

BME Equivalency

CHEM 231

(CHEM 231, Term 2A)

CHEM 232 or 235

( extra course CHEM 232 or 235 required [2] )

BIOC 300A and 300B (Note 3) or

BIOC 299 and one of

( BIOC 299 , Term 3A)

BIOL 360 or 361

(extra course BIOL 360 or 361 required [3] )

Tuition costs at Canadian medical schools

Tuition at Canadian medical schools generally ranges from ~$5000-$20000 a year. However, many students receive bursaries, which help them pay for their tuition, in later years many schools provide a stipend. As a future doctor, it is generally easy to secure student loans. It is also worth noting that you are paid during residency. Do not let tuition costs discourage you; if you are accepted into medical school, there are ways of overcoming the costs.

Document Prepared by Simon Roome, and N. Dechev.