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What Are the Different Types of Medical Degree Requirements?

By W. Joyner
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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Medical degree requirements differ greatly, depending upon the country in which a person is residing and the type of degree being sought. Generally, the requirements can be quite stringent and include completion of a requisite number of courses and study hours in a medical school program. Additionally, most programs require achieving a certain number of hours of practical training, usually referred to as clinicals. Medical schools in the United States and Canada require several years of college studies prior to entry into a medical program. Curriculum guidelines lean heavily toward the areas of natural and physical sciences, necessitating mastery of these areas for conferment of a medical degree.

In some countries, medical degree requirements include pre-admission testing before entering a medical school program. In the United States, for example, all prospective medical students must successfully complete the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT measures critical thinking, problem solving, and writing, and evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of physical and biological sciences.

Medical school programs vary in length from three to six years. Some of the factors that impact the program length are the number of university-level courses achieved prior to admittance to the program and the type of medical degree sought. Degree requirements for someone looking to enter into general medicine will often be fewer, and will encompass less time, than for someone seeking to work in cardiovascular surgery, for example.

Clinicals are mandated at the majority of medical schools to meet medical degree graduation requirements. These training hours provide the student with practical, hands-on experience in working within the medical environment. They are designed to pull the medical degree candidate beyond the traditional classroom and textbook learning model and into an experiential mode of education. Successful completion of clinicals is required along with mastery of classroom curriculum.

Historically, medical degree requirements have included completion of an internship program. Internships are usually completed by the medical degree candidate at an assigned hospital. Requirements for an internship are often completed in the final year of medical school studies.

Course work designed to meet medical degree requirements covers a broad spectrum of disciplines. The heaviest emphasis is in the area of science. Medical degree students will generally be required to complete studies in biology, anatomy, chemistry, and physics. A firm academic foundation in the sciences is among the primary medical degree prerequisites.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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