Students with international or DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrival) status may encounter a number of barriers while preparing for professional school, including eligibility for admission consideration, financial preparation, and the ability to participate in some extracurricular activities such as employment or certain research programs. Additionally, some states may restrict eligibility for professional licensing based on citizenship status.
Visa Compliance and Preparation for Professional School
When pursuing clinical experience or research opportunities, international students must ensure that they are in compliance with their visa requirements. For questions regarding visa requirements, International Student and Scholar Services may provide assistance.
Eligibility for Acceptance Consideration at Professional Schools
Professional schools may accept only U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or they may exercise a preference for applicants with one of these statuses. Some schools have different admissions policies for international students, Canadian applicants, and/or undocumented or DACA-status applicants. Generally, many more medical schools place restrictions on admissions eligibility based on immigration status than dental, optometry, podiatry, or veterinary medical schools. However, it is imperative that students confirm that they meet the admissions eligibility requirements of each program that they intend to apply to.
According to a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), 45 medical schools that grant MD degrees consider applications from international students, 92 do not, and 19 report that international applicants may be considered on a case by case basis. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) provides information on DO programs that consider international applicants. Details on policies, restrictions, and/or requirements for these schools may be found here.
Schools may have additional requirements for international or DACA-status applicants. Applicants may be required to demonstrate English language proficiency by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination. Additionally, some schools may require that students complete a certain amount of coursework at a US college or university, or attend a US institution for a certain length of time.
Funding for Education
Except in a few cases, international students are not eligible for federal financial aid. Students are responsible for determining how they will prepare financially for professional school. Some professional schools may require that applicants prove that they have the necessary funds to cover part or all of their educational expenses prior to matriculation.
Students must consider how much they or their families are able to contribute to funding their education. Students may also explore potential funding sources through their home country’s embassy or consulate, private loans, scholarships or other institutional aid from professional schools, or other sources.
Application Fee Assistance Programs may or may not restrict eligibility based on citizenship status. Check individual program websites for details.
The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) provides information and resources that may be helpful for any international student preparing for professional school: https://www.adea.org/GoDental/Money_Matters/International_Students.aspx
Information from Professional Education Websites
The following medical and dental education associations provide information for international students:
A Final Note
Laws, policies, and opportunities may change at any time. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that they are aware of any relevant laws or policies that may impact their preparation for professional school.
International Student and Scholar Services may answer questions related to an international student’s undergraduate career at UMBC.