A Guide to Caribbean Medical Schools

Padya Paramita

A Guide to Caribbean Medical Schools

The medical school admissions process is undoubtedly grueling - but there are ways to make it easier by opening your options beyond the United States. If you’re unhappy with your MCAT score, or you’ve sadly faced rejection from MD or DO schools, it’s time to consider applying to Caribbean medical schools. Not only do Caribbean medical schools place less value on MCAT scores, they also happen to have multiple application cycles, with rolling admissions in February, May and August. 

Caribbean medical schools - as you can probably guess from the name - are medical schools which are located in the Caribbean. Your interest in them could arise from the appeal of studying in a more tropical area, or you might be panicking at the fact that less than half of the students who apply to medical school in the United States are accepted anywhere. Whatever your reason, use this blog to find the answers to questions you might have. I’ve outlined all of the medical schools in the Caribbean, why you might be drawn to them, the differences between Caribbean and US medical schools, and the application requirements for your top choice Caribbean medical schools

Which schools in the Caribbean offer MD programs?

The Caribbean is a vast region and there are over 80 medical schools among the Caribbean islands, the majority of which offer MD programs. The table below lists the Caribbean medical schools with MD offerings, in order of their location.

The table also lists whether the school is “regional” or “offshore.” Students who attend regional programs practice medicine in the country where their school is situated. Students who attend offshore programs are usually students from the US or Canada, who intend to go back to their home country upon graduation for their residency and clinical practice. Offshore programs are divided into two campuses: basic sciences which is completed in the Caribbean location, followed by clinical clerkships completed at teaching hospitals in the US, Canada, or UK. Offshore schools are much more competitive among American students since almost every one of them hope to return to the States for their medical career. If you’re in that group, look towards offshore institutions! 

Weigh your options in the table below:

Caribbean Nation or Territory School Name Regional vs. Offshore Language of Instruction
Anguilla Saint James School of Medicine Offshore English
Antigua and Barbuda American University of Antigua Offshore English
Antigua and Barbuda Metropolitan University College of Medicine Offshore English
Antigua and Barbuda University of Health Sciences Antigua School of Medicine Offshore English
Aruba American University School of Medicine Aruba Offshore English
Aruba American University School of Medicine Aruba Offshore English
Aruba Aureus University School of Medicine Offshore English
Barbados Xavier University School of Medicine Offshore English
Barbados American University of Barbados School of Medicine Offshore English
Barbados American University of Integrated Sciences Offshore English
Barbados Bridgetown International University Offshore English
Barbados Victoria University of Barbados Offshore English
Barbados Ross University School of Medicine Offshore English
Barbados University of the West Indies Faculty of Medicine Offshore English
Belize Central America Health Sciences University Belize Medical College Offshore English
Belize Washington University of Health & Science Offshore English
Cayman Islands St Matthew’s University School of Medicine Offshore English
Cuba Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina Regional Spanish
Cuba Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Ciego de Avila Regional Spanish
Cuba Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Cienfuegos Regional Spanish
Cuba Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Granma Regional Spanish
Cuba Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Holguin Regional Spanish
Cuba Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Las Tunas Regional Spanish
Cuba Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Matanzas Regional Spanish
Cuba Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Pinar del Rio Regional Spanish
Cuba Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Sancti Spiritus Regional Spanish
Cuba Instituto Superior de Ciencias Medicas de La Habana Regional Spanish
Cuba Instituto Superior de Ciencias Medicas de Santiago de Cuba Regional Spanish
Cuba Instituto Superior de Ciencias Medicas de Villa Clara Regional Spanish
Cuba Universidad de Ciencias Medicas de Camaguey Regional Spanish
Cuba Universidad de Ciencias Medicas de Guantanamo Regional Spanish
Curacao Avalon University School of Medicine Offshore English
Curacao Caribbean Medical University School of Medicine Offshore English
Curacao John F. Kennedy University School of Medicine Offshore English
Curacao St. Martinus University Faculty of Medicine English
Dominica All Saints University School of Medicine Regional English
Dominican Republic Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo Escuela de Medicina Regional Spanish
Dominican Republic Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra Departamento de Medicina Regional Spanish
Dominican Republic Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo Departamento de Medicina Regional Spanish
Dominican Republic Universidad Católica Nordestana Facultad de Ciencias Medicas Regional Spanish
Dominican Republic Universidad Católica Tecnológica del Cibao Escuela de Medicina Regional Spanish
Dominican Republic Universidad Central del Este Escuela de Medicina Regional Spanish
Dominican Republic Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) Escuela de Medicina Offshore Spanish
Dominican Republic Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña Escuela de Medicina Regional Spanish
Dominican Republic Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago Escuela de Medicina, Santiago de Los Caballeros Regional Spanish
Dominican Republic Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago Escuela de Medicina, Santo Domingo Regional Spanish
French West Indies University of the French West Indies Regional French
Grenada St. George’s University School of Medicine Offshore English
Guyana American International School of Medicine Offshore English
Guyana Georgetown American University Regional English
Guyana Lincoln American University Offshore English
Guayana Texila American University Offshore English
Guyana Alexander American University Offshore English
Haiti Université d'Etat d'Haïti Faculté de Médecine Regional French
Haiti GreenHeart Medical University Offshore English
Haiti Université Lumière Faculté de Médecine French
Haiti Université Quisqueya Faculté des Sciences de la Santé Regional French
Haiti Université Joseph Lafortune Faculté de Médecine French
Jamaica All American Institute of Medical Sciences Regional English
Jamaica University of the West Indies Faculty of Medicine Offshore English
Monserrat Seoul Central College of Medicine Offshore English
Monserrat University of Science, Arts and Technology Faculty of Medicine Offshore English
Saba Saba University School of Medicine Offshore English
Saint Kitts and Nevis International University of the Health Sciences Offshore English
Saint Kitts and Nevis International University of the Health Sciences Offshore English
Saint Kitts and Nevis International University of the Health Sciences Offshore English
Saint Kitts and Nevis International University of the Health Sciences Offshore English
Saint Lucia American International Medical University Offshore English
Saint Lucia Atlantic University School Of Medicine Offshore English
Saint Lucia College of Medicine and Health Sciences - Destiny University Offshore English
Saint Lucia International American University College of Medicine Offshore English
Saint Lucia Spartan Health Sciences University Offshore English
Saint Lucia Washington Medical Sciences Institute Offshore English
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines All Saints University College of Medicine Offshore English
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines American University of St. Vincent School of Medicine Offshore English
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint James School of Medicine Offshore English
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Trinity School of Medicine Offshore English
Saint Maarten American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine Offshore English

If you’re planning to return to the United States for your residency, you should only be looking at offshore schools. As you can tell from the names, some medical schools may be operated in Spanish or French. If you’re seeking a primarily English-speaking school, check the language of instruction first. You don’t want to show up on the first day of class and find yourself lost in translation!

Numbers for Caribbean medical schools

The average GPA at Caribbean schools fluctuates between 3.2 and 3.3, while the median MCAT is between 490 and 500. Moreover, only some Caribbean schools look at your MCAT score, and even these only consider them if they’re high enough! So if your MCAT score is high, definitely send it in. 

Schools that look at GPA and MCAT scores are

  • St. George’s University School of Medicine
  • American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine
  • Central University of the Caribbean
  • Ross University School of Medicine
  • Trinity School of Medicine

Let’s take a look at the average GPA and MCAT scores at a few top Caribbean medical schools, along with acceptance rates for schools which wish to publish them.

School Avg. GPA Avg. MCAT Acceptance Rate
St. George’s University School of Medicine 3.3 498 41%
American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine 3.27 496
Central University of the Caribbean 3.5 496 44%
Ross University School of Medicine 3.2 496 42.7%
Trinity School of Medicine 3.15 499
American University of Antigua (doesn’t consider MCAT in admission) 3.27 469

As you can see, you don’t even need to score in the 500s to be considered for acceptance at Caribbean schools. If you’ve taken the MCAT and aren’t happy with your score, Caribbean medical schools could be your go-to. 

What can you do with a degree from a Caribbean medical school?

As you’ve read, Caribbean medical schools offer plenty of advantages for students who might not have scored well on the MCAT. Students who are not willing to wait another year to reapply can also take advantage of Caribbean medical schools’ rolling admissions policy. Caribbean schools open admissions in three different cycles: one in January/February, once in May, and once in August/September. So if you’re rejected from an American medical school in March, you can apply to a top Caribbean school for the May cycle. And of course, the weather in the Caribbean is much warmer. You could be attending medical school near beautiful beaches.

But does attending a Caribbean medical school limit your options? In short, it depends on which school you decide to attend. Not all Caribbean medical schools offer clinical rotations in the United States for the third and fourth years. So if you’re looking at schools in the Caribbean, make sure it’s an offshore school with affiliates in the United States. These are:

  • American University of the Caribbean.
  • American University of Antigua.
  • Ross University.
  • Saba University School of Medicine
  • Medical University of the Americas
  • Spartan Health Sciences University
  • St. George's University.
  • St. James School of Medicine
  • St. Matthews University
  • Xavier University
  • Windsor University of Medicine

Students from the St. George’s University School of Medicine, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Saba University School of Medicine, and Ross University School of Medicine can practice in all 50 states in the US. Graduates from the other schools can practice in states depending on their school - Medical University of the Americas is New York approved and while St. Matthews is disapproved by the Medical Board of California but has New York approval. 

Graduates from the American University have gone on to place in residencies at Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Brown University-Rhode Island Hospital, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the University of Toronto. Graduates from other medical schools usually practice in the Caribbean.

Residency placement

Knowing which schools have American affiliates is especially important for residency placement - it’s best to check whether the hospital where you’re doing your rotation offers residency to begin with. While the match rate for US medical school graduates is 94.1%, the rate for graduates of non-US schools is only 50%. While a low MCAT can still assure you a place at a Caribbean medical school, a degree from a Caribbean medical school won’t always guarantee you a residency spot. Whether or not you want to attend a Caribbean school thus depends on your priorities. If you think you want a higher chance at residency placement, it might be more worth it to wait for another year to reapply to an MD or DO school and raise your chances of residency placement.

While Caribbean schools trail behind MD and DO schools when it comes to residency placements, it’s definitely not impossible to be placed matched into a US hospital, though most Caribbean school graduates go into primary care and family medicine. 73% of the 349 residency placing graduates from the American University of the Caribbean were placed in family medicine. 

Caribbean schools often have a high enrollment - it’s not uncommon for a Caribbean school to accept over 40% of applicants. As a result, in order to qualify for top residency programs, you NEED to be on your A-game throughout your time in medical school. 

US DO schools vs Caribbean MD schools

You might be wondering exactly what you would miss out on if you decide to go to the Caribbean for your medical education, especially if you’re also thinking about trying your hand at MD and DO programs, which require significantly more competitive scores than Caribbean programs. Below are some key differences between US MD and DO programs, and Caribbean medical schools.

Criteria US MD Schools US DO Schools Caribbean medical Schools
Average GPA 3.72 3.54 3.2-3.4
Average MCAT 511 503.8 497
Admission Cycle Fall Fall 2-3 times a year: January/February; May; August/September
USMLE Pass Rate for First Time Takers 92% 82% 70%
Interview to Admissions Decision Turnaround Time Depends on interview process Depends on interview process Within 2 weeks
Residency Options Enter the National Residency Match Program, which would place you in the specialty of your choice Enter either the National Residency Match Program, or choose one of the 500 Osteopathic residency options - 56% of DO students were matched into primary care programs Enter the National Residency Match Program - but difficult to get into surgery; over 70% of students placed in primary care or family medicine
Post Rejection Have to wait until next cycle Have to wait until next cycle Can reapply within same calendar year

Caribbean medical schools do limit your opportunities in certain ways, while offering you the benefit of making sure one rejection isn’t the end of your efforts for the year. It all depends on what your priorities are. 

Application requirements for Caribbean medical schools

Despite their high enrollment and relatively low numbers, Caribbean medical schools are still medical schools, and the demand remains high and with a competitive process. The total enrollment at St. George’s is 6,021, and the total enrollment at Ross is 3,500. If you don’t have an understanding of how big this is - the total enrollment at Harvard Medical School is 726. That is a huge difference! Just because the GPA and MCAT numbers are low doesn’t mean it’s tough. You need to bring your A-game. 

Make sure you submit all the application requirements, as listed below:

  • Required courses: One year of biology or zoology with lab, one year of inorganic chemistry (general or physical) with lab, one year of organic chemistry with lab, one semester of physics with lab, one semester of math (calculus, computer science, or statistics), one semester of English, school specific requirements
  • Individual school’s application form 
  • Application fee
  • MCAT score (depending on school)
  • Two letters of recommendation - Depends on school, usually one should be an academic letter of recommendation
  • Personal statement explaining interest in medicine and the individual school (check individual school requirements for specific prompts)
  • Transcripts
  • Resumé

While these are the typical requirements, be sure to check what each of your schools need. 

Caribbean medical schools may not seem like the perfect option, but if you’re a strong student, you can work hard in order to be competitive enough to fight for  residency positions. Plus, you can go to school close to natural beauty, which could provide you with a tranquil learning environment. There are definitely pros and cons, and once you’ve looked at your scores and weighed your options, you might grow to like them and could end up with a couple of Caribbean schools on your list. Good luck!

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