There are so many young men and women who dream about becoming a doctor. Most of these aspirations start when we are much younger, wanting to save other people’s lives and wanting to wear a stethoscope around our necks with our white coats.
Of course, becoming a doctor is more than just a dream; it is an intense career path where you not only learn about how to help others but how to be the best doctor you can be for yourself. If you are a dreamer who wants to be a doctor like the thousand other people in the United States and you want to know how much medical school is, you came to the right place. In this brief guide, you will learn about the cost of medical school and who you can reach out to for more information.
Medical School Requirements
Before we can get into how much it costs to go to medical school, let’s get into the requirements you need before you can even apply. If you want to study medicine, you must first complete a bachelor’s degree in biology, physical sciences, or medicine. Some undergraduate programs provide pre-medical tracks to ensure that you have the proper prerequisites needed to apply for medical school.
Other requirements needed for medical school:
- Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
- Essays (the topic will depend on your medical school of choice)
- College transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
The essay you will have to write can vary from your own personal statement to describing a leadership role you’ve taken. Your school may ask you to write about your favorite novel or your most outstanding academic achievement.
What Is the MCAT?
The Medical College Admission Test, also known as the MCAT, is a standardized multiple-choice exam used to examine your skills and knowledge. The questions on the exam are set by medical educators, physicians, residents, and medical students who have identified the key prerequisites that applicants need to know to be successful in medical school and while practicing within their specialty.
The exam is divided into four different sections:
- Critical analysis and reasoning skills
- Physical and chemical foundations of biological systems
- Social, psychological, and biological foundations of behavior
- Biochemical and biological foundations of living systems
The Association of American Medical Colleges, also known as AAMC, administers this exam three times a year across thousands of test sites within the United States. The highest possible MCAT score is 528, and the mean score is 500. The AAMC recommends for medical school applicants to score at least a 500 to show understanding and competency.
When Should I Take the MCAT?
It is best to take the MCAT by April in the year that you apply for medical school. You also can take the MCAT after you complete all of your medical school prerequisites. Taking the exam around this time ensures that you are well prepared to complete other parts of your application, such as creating your personal statement or other school prerequisites.
Medical School Class Overview
Once you receive your letter of acceptance into your dream medical school, you can pursue two different medical degrees. You can either pursue to be a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O) or a medical doctor (M.D.). Both of these routes require four years of medical school.
Your first year in college will usually include preclinical mentoring, classroom studies, and lab time. In your second year, you will start your rotations in different areas of medicine. For example, you will get to explore surgery, pediatrics, anesthesiology, and other areas of interest.
During your third and fourth years, you will have to prepare and sit for your licensing exams. Keep in mind that you must pass these exams to graduate.
Post-medical School Residency
Once you pass your medical exams, you will then need to enter a residency program. While you are in this program, you will serve directly under a physician who will supervise you during this time.
Depending on the specialty you choose, you can expect to stay in this program for about seven years. Some specialties only require three years, while others take up to seven.
After you complete your residency, you will then apply for your unrestricted medical license so you can practice without supervision. You also have the option to complete a one to two-year fellowship within your specialty. You will also need to become board certified by passing another exam.
Private and Public Medical School Prices
The cost of your medical school tuition also depends on if the institution is private or public. Out-of-state and in-state school tuition rates also apply.
If you live in the state you want to apply to, you will have in-state tuition rates. If you want to go to a school outside of your home state, you will have to pay out-of-state tuition rates.
It is also crucial that you factor in your costs for books, housing, food, and school supplies. You also will want to consider any additional fees that you may have to pay to your institution.
The average in-state private school institution tuition costs around $55,000 per year. Factor in your health insurance, which is around $3,000, and your institutional fees, which are about $2,000. You can expect to pay approximately $60,000 per year as an in-state resident for a private medical school.
If you want to go to a school out of state, the tuition may be much higher. For example, out-of-state students at The Columbia School of Medicine pay about $40,000 more a year than in-state students. If you plan to go to school outside of your home state, make sure that you have enough funds or scholarships to pay for your tuition and living expenses.
Public Medical School Averages
If you intend to go to school at a public institution within your home state, you can expect to pay less intuition. On average, public medical schools cost around $35,000 a year.
When you add in your health insurance and other additional fees, you can expect to pay approximately $38,000 a year. If you wish to attend an out-of-state public medical school, the average cost is about $56,000 a year for tuition. You can expect to pay around $62,000 per year at public out-of-state medical school when factoring in your health insurance and fees.
You will notice that attending in-state medical schools that are public can help you save a lot of money over time. Over the course of four years at a public institution, you can expect to save at least an extra $90,000.
On the other hand, you may have also noticed that the out-of-state costs are similar for public and private schools. If you are looking for out-of-state colleges, make sure not to limit yourself to just the public medical schools if there is a private school that you wish to attend instead.
Overall, it is essential to note that regardless if you attend private or public school, the cost of college for medical students can add up quickly. Make sure that you have the proper planning and budgeting skills to avoid going into medical school blindly.
So, How Much Is Medical School?
As mentioned earlier, the total cost of medical school depends on the college you choose and whether you are attending an institution out of or in your home state. There is no concrete answer to “how much is medical school,” as many different variables are at play.
Over the course of the four years, the average medical student can expect to pay between $150,000 to $250,000. These large amounts may seem scary, especially after just spending thousands in undergrad, but there is hope!
Medical professionals make some of the highest salaries in the United States. The average salary is around $208,000 a year.
Paying for Medical School
There are several different ways that you can pay for your medical school education. You can either take out private student loans, or you can take out government-backed student loans.
If your parents have a 529 savings plan set up for you, you can use that money to pay for your education as well. It also helps to reach out to friends and family who may want to help you pay for your medical school.
Most institutions offer scholarships based on your merit, so you should keep your grades and test scores as high as possible to meet these scholarship requirements.
If you cannot find any scholarships or grants through your medical school, there are great websites such as Fastweb where you can find scholarships you can apply for. Some scholarships do not require you to do anything but apply, while others may require you to write an essay on a given topic.
Why Is Medical School Expensive?
Compared to other fields you can go to school for, the medical field can be a pricey career path. The main reason for this is because doctors need to have intense training to properly take care of the human population.
Pre Med Education
Pre-Med is the start of this career path and is the first initial investment before medical school. Public institutions rely on government funds and your tuition to operate. In-state colleges depend on enrollment and government subsidies to pay for research and education.
The main reason private institutions cost more than public schools is that they do not receive any government support. These private institutions depend on the tuition from their students.
Medical School Education
Medical schools also rely on government funds and your tuition to keep their institution operational. Like public undergraduate schools, public medical schools depend on government funding and the tuition you pay to keep the school afloat.
The same goes for private medical schools. Just like private undergraduate schools depend on your tuition for funding, private medical schools do the same.
At this point, you are already a licensed doctor, but you still need training to refine and sharpen your skills. The difference between residency, medical school, and undergrad school is that you receive payment through residency.
The hospital will pay you for your services at their establishment. They will pay for your benefits in addition to your salary. You may have to pay a few registration fees to be matched to your residency, but other than that, the hospital will pay for your services.
On average, depending on your specialty, most medical residents earn between $40,000 to $50,000 a year. This number can go higher if you are interested in interventional cardiology or gastroenterology.
Medical School and Mental Health
In today’s world, mental health conversations are becoming more and more relevant. This applies to medical school applicants and students. Just like any college career path, medical school can prove exhausting and depressing if you are already someone with a mental illness.
If you plan on applying to medical school, do not let your mental illness discourage you. You, too, can still be a successful doctor!
Regardless if you have a mental illness or not, make sure that you take care of yourself throughout your medical school journey. Make sure to drink water, eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep when you can, manage your time, and seek counseling if you start to become overwhelmed.
Start Your Medical School Journey!
Now that you know more about how much is medical school, it is time to get the ball rolling. Regardless of whether you are a recent high school graduate or someone who already has a bachelor’s, there are so many different resources you can use to ensure your success in medical school.
Ensuring that you have the proper resources and funding to get you through this beautiful career change is absolutely important. If you want to learn more about the cost of college, or you need more information on the resources available to you, check out our recent blog posts!