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  • Foto do escritorMarcia Farias

Medical School in the US vs. in Brazil/ Medicina nos Estados Unidos ou no Brasil?

If you are interested in studying medicine and in studying abroad, you should pause and consider your options. One of these may exclude the other!

Medical school is challenging no matter where you are. It is a challenge to get in, and a challenge to graduate!

But a high sticker price may be added to your personal efforts. So do your research before choosing the best path for you.

Here is information you may need to consider in deciding if studying medicine abroad is right for you.


The process to practice medicine in the United States is outlined below. If a student goes to college, participates in a post-baccalaureate program, and then goes on to medical school, this is an 11-year educational journey. The residency years (3 to 8 years) will ensue.

The process to practice medicine in Brazil is outlined below. Because Brazil has direct-entry programs for medical students, the usual time for completion of medical school is 6-years. The residency years (2 to 5 years) will ensue.



COST OF MEDICAL SCHOOL IN BRAZIL FOR DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS - US$ 52,000 – US$ 196,000 for the diploma of medical doctor (private university, associated costs not included)

COST OF MEDICAL SCHOOL IN THE USA FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS – US$ 250,000.00 – 330,000.00 or more + $120,000.00 to $ 320.000,00 for 4 years of college = $ 370.000,00 to $650.000,00 or more for the diploma of medical doctor (public and private universities associated costs not included)



Medical School in Brazil

Medical school in Brazil is a direct-entry program, meaning that you can sit for the medical school exams and matriculate at university straight from high school. You will need a state-recognized high school diploma to matriculate.

If you want to study medicine in Brazil, you may do so at a public university or a private university.

The entrance exams vary by institution. The ENEM is a national exam used by many public and private universities; universities will accept the only the ENEM, only their own exams, or either.

Brazil has a doctor/patient ration of 2.11:1000, similar to that of Japan (2.2:1000), but over 55% of medical doctors work in the southeast region of the country, with 30% in the state of São Paulo alone. Only 4.4% of the nation’s doctors work in the northern region of the country.(1)

As shown in the flow chart above, if you are educated abroad, you may be able to practice medicine in Brazil, after your diploma has been validated. However, this is not an automatic recognition, and you will have to follow the steps to validate your diploma, as with any foreign diploma, in any other area of knowledge. The difference is that with the REVALIDA exams, the student will not have to undergo a course-by-course evaluation, as happens with all other foreign diplomas.

Still, if you wish to practice medicine in Brazil, your shortest path is studying medicine in Brazil.

Additionally, if you study at a public university, you will only be responsible for books and housing: tuition is free, and meals are subsidized.

You may be interested in practicing medicine in the US with a Brazilian diploma.

In this case, you may qualify to do your residency in the US. Please refer to the website of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates for information on matching of foreign-educated professionals.


Let’s break down the cost mentioned above.

If you study at a private university, you may have to pay R$ 48,000 – R$ 180,000 per year, a total cost of R$ 288,000 - R$ 1,080,000 for the diploma (6 years of study), which today is approximately US$ 52,000 – US$ 196,000. You may qualify for a student loan, with lower interest rates. Additionally, you will not be subject to exchange rates – tuition will be fixed in the national currency, the Real. But, if the Fx rate continues to increase favorably to the dollar, your tuition cost in dollars will decrease each year.

You may be interested in practicing medicine in the US with a Brazilian diploma.

In this case, you may qualify to do your residency in the US. Please refer to the website of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates for information on matching of foreign-educated professionals.

Application Process to Brazilian medical schools

The application process consists of a written exam, the ENEM, or other exams. Please consult the webpage of each school you are interested in. If you are not fluent in Portuguese, it will be difficult to pursue this avenue.

Important Tip!

There are a few other choices for international students to be admitted to medical school in Brazil. Please get in touch with us if you are interested in becoming a medical doctor in Brazil.


Medical School in the United States

Medical school in the USA is not a direct-entry program. This means that before you qualify to apply to medical school, you will need an undergraduate diploma, preferably from a US college. It is nearly impossible to apply to medical school with a Brazilian undergraduate diploma.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges - AAMC, 50 medical colleges accept international students. Research these schools thoroughly.


Let’s break down the cost mentioned above.

Applying to medical school will cost at least US$ 678. This is the cost to apply through AMCAS, to 15 schools, and does not include interviews or secondary essays costs.

The cost of attending medical school as an international student can vary between US$ 250 to US$ 330,000, or more. To be able to attend medical school as an F-1 student, you will need to show proof of financial resources of all four years of your graduate education.

Please take into consideration that the yearly budget above is merely the cost of medical school.

Before you even get there, you will have to pursue a 4-year college education, which will likely have a total cost of attendance between US$ 30,000 – 80,000 per year. Please expect an increase of 3-5% in tuition each of the four years.

As an international applicant to college, you should expect to provide proof of funding for your education. A certificate of finances will be required with your application, shortly after, or if you decide to enroll, depending on individual institutional policy. While you may receive merit-based scholarships, these do not usually cover full cost of tuition or full const of attendance. A certificate of finances is one document that the college will require to be able to issue you an I-20 form, which will be necessary for consular processing of your F-1 visa petition.

Important Tip!

If you go to college in the US and decide you want to become a medical doctor, work closely with your academic advisor. You should be in a pre-med track, so that your advisors are experienced in the medical school admissions process. Be sure to create strong professional relationships while still in college, as you will need letters of recommendation in medical school applications.

When you graduate from college, you may benefit from a post-baccalaureate program, which can add time and cost to your education, but may be important if you need to do medical research or obtain a higher score in the MCAT. As applications to medical school are very competitive, you will need to present an outstanding application to be considered for a spot in the few institutions that do accept international students.

Please reach out to us if you are interested in going to medical school in the United States. Again, it is highly advisable that you attend a US college.

The Application Process to US Medical Schools

If you decide to apply to medical school, instead of the Common Application or the Coalition for Success platforms, you will use one or more of the following:

AMCAS – MD (doctor of allopathy) schools in the US and Canada

AACOMAS – for DO (doctor of osteopathy) schools in the US and Canada

TMDSAS – for Texas public medical schools

The services open in May, which is when you will be able to apply as explained below:

· Complete a primary application, which will include personal and demographical information, test scores, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and a description of your extracurricular activities.

· Write and send secondary essays, which are specific to each school.

· Receive interview invitations, and interview

· Wait for an acceptance.

Medical schools offer rolling admissions applications, but many schools use a hard deadline. Additionally, these services will certify documentation in batches, so it is wise to be within the first batch of applicants.

There are alternative pathways to medical school. Two of these are: early assurance programs, and BS/MD programs.

These programs do not all accept international candidates; you should check each program to learn if you are allowed to apply as an international student.

In early assurance programs, the student may apply to medical school while in college, usually in their sophomore year, and then take the MCAT. Students may then receive an interview offer and an offer of admission into an affiliated medical school.

In BS/MD programs, students are admitted to college to graduate with a BS degree, and an MD degree. CollegeVine has a blog post with 2021 BS/MD programs. Acceptance rates vary between 1 and 10%. These are very competitive programs. They have advantages and disadvantages, and in a way, can be compared to direct-entry programs in other countries, including Brazil. Be advised though that these programs vary, and not all guarantee acceptance to medical school. If you are interested in applying to a BS/MD program, but studying abroad is your priority, be sure to have a solid college list – it is extremely difficult to secure a spot in one of these few programs, and you should be prepared to apply to other bachelor programs too.


I hope that this information is useful to you in researching your paths to becoming a medical doctor.

If you are certain you want to be a medical student and also to study medicine abroad, you may consider direct-entry programs in other countries. This will provide you even more options to be able to make an informed choice. Please reach out to us if you need more information or if you want to consider your options in order to make an informed choice about your future. This post does not cover all of the information you need in to understand the different pathways to medical school. It is intended to give you an overview and a starting point.

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