Need help ASAP: UCLA vs UofT (International)

Hey everyone!

I am an international student from India currently picking between two of my choices i.e. UCLA and UofT. I intend to get into med school (not sure yet though) and preferably residency within the US. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I have 3 days to decide my future.

UCLA ($65k (estimated) /year)


  • US degree - would US med schools favour it more?
  • Abundance of research opportunities
  • Friend (who goes to UCLA) I talk to claims UCLA to be an easy place to maintain a high GPA
  • Better interaction with professors relatively
  • Opportunities for shadowing at UCLA through on-campus hospitals
  • Much better social life
  • Good opportunities for ECs
  • Can easily switch majors + double-major
  • Is a top feeder into medschools across the states
  • Has an insanely strong medschool affiliated with itself
  • Found a roommate + have family in cali


  • Price tag (Will obviously try to bring it down by bunking with a friend off-campus, engaging in part time jobs and if possible applying for paid internships: could be considered a pro in a way) Regardless, I have the financial resources to pay the full tuition as well.
  • Due to international status I’d get one chance to apply to US medschool while staying in the US. Although it is tough, it is doable.
  • Grade deflation occurs to an extent



  • Price point is appealing but not a deciding factor for me
  • Visa situation is better in Canada too as I could potentially apply for PR which would take another 1-1.5 years after my undergrad
  • I got into St. George, so I’ll be situated in Downtown Toronto. In the case, I don’t get shadowing or internships at the University itself, Im pretty sure I can get them from other sources.
  • I’ll be able to apply to Canadian Med schools with a PR after 2 years.
  • My scholarship is subject to maintaining a high GPA throughout my sems
  • Has an insanely strong medschool affiliated with itself
  • On-campus residence throughout the 4 years
  • Amazing research opportunities but competition for spots is extremely tough


  • From the threads I’ve read, UofT seems to practice severe grade deflation which could potentially harm my gpa
  • Its student population is much higher than UCLA’s with many more med aspirants; however, through AMCAS data, I found out that only 200 or so students from UofT applied to US med schools
  • A PR will not significantly improve my chances for admission to all Canadian schools and takes a lot of time
  • UofT’s medschool has an average gpa of 3.95 and accepts more students from McMaster than from their own system.

All these points have been collated and summed up from hours of research. I have no preference for either and would happily consider any advice y’all could offer. Thank you so much!

If I come across any more points, I’ll make sure to mention them


GO TO UCLA!!! you’ll have a better time there, internships in LA are as good/better than ones in toronto, it’ll be difficult to maintain a high GPA at u of t because of the intense amount of pressure they put on students and the deflation. UCLA is better on all fronts, go to UCLA

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Let’s start here. International students have a tough time getting accepted into medical schools here. A VERY small number were accepted and most were Canadian citizens.

Your path to becoming a doctor will not be easy regardless, but it seems Canada might be more welcoming of international medical school applicants. You need to check this.

@WayOutWestMom what did I miss?

So you can afford $65,000 a year to attend UCLA for all four years….without loans?


Thats true but Canadian medschools are extremely tough for Canadian citizens already with an overall acceptance of >20%. They barely accept internationals + the tuition is half a mill at UofT at least for internationals pursuing a MD.

With regard to my finances, 65k is affordable (without loans) but I will definitely work towards reducing any financial burdens through the help of some contacts/friends

Getting into a US medical school as an international student is extremely difficult. Only 132 internationals in total matriculated into all US MD schools combined last years. Most of those matriculants were Canadian citizens**.

UCLA Geffen does not favor its own undergrads in med school admissions and has an acceptance rate of 2.3%.

UCLA is major feeder because it produces more med school applicants than any other single university in the US. Over 1500 UCLA students applied to MD schools last year.

Will you be able to pay for med school in the US?
You won’t be allowed to matriculate should you gain an acceptance until you can prove you can pay 100% of the cost of your US medical education. Most schools require all internationals place 2-4 years of tuition & fees (and some school require living expenses also)–or about a minimum of $250,000— placed into a US escrow account before they are allowed to matriculate. Loans are not available to international students without a qualified US citizen co-signer.

** Because more med schools will consider Canadian for admission and because the Canadian government provides a loan program to its citizens attending medical school in the US. (The guaranteed loan program eliminates the need for Canadians to place funds in escrow.)


Medical school will cost another $400,000 in either country. Very very few international students are accepted to US or Canadian medical schools. Only 51 out of 172 Canadian and US med schools accept international students. After medical school, you have to apply for a residency. Again, citizenship is a major hurdle to obtaining a residency. So, it is possible to pay $700,000 for your education, obtain a M.D. and not be able to practice medicine.

Go to Canada where you have a path to permanent residency because you have a path to citizenship.


What are your long-term goals? If it is to become a doctor in the US, I would think getting a medical degree in your home country and then qualifying to practice in the US would be a more realistic route, though I am not an expert on the subject.


In the 2019 application cycle, 1,890 foreign applicants applied to M.D. granting programs in the United States and 325 of those applicants were accepted. Of those accepted, 272 matriculated into medical school. (This includes applicants who applied via AMCAS and TMDSAS).

I was having discussions with some med students, and I believe what they said is that US or any North American Medschool would generally prefer those who have a degree from an accredited institution in NA over foreign degrees. In this perspective, Canadians have an advantage as they mostly tend to pursue undergrad within NA compared to other foreign citizens. It also gives medschools an incentive to accept the student as he/she would depict interest to continue residing within the states and they’re more familiar with the coursework from NA universities.

Undergrad coursework in the U.S. will give you a stronger advantage. Keep in mind that the American Medical College Application Service will not accept foreign education transcripts, verify them or calculate a grade point average.*

Because of this, almost all U.S. medical schools require international applicants to complete coursework in America before applying. Some require a year of U.S.-based coursework, while others ask that all medical school prerequisites be completed in the U.S.

I agree with the points on UCLA though.

Cost-wise the whole ordeal is intensive and again I understand the competitiveness of such a program. However, residencies are easy to come by if the medical graduate is not an IMG (International Medical Graduate) i.e., they’ve done their MD in NA; moreover, it’s easier to get into a residency of the student’s preference.

Canada is a good option but the length of obtaining a PR in the province of my choice is extensive.

I did the IB so I didnt qualify for the Chem, Bio, Physics aspect for medicine in my country. So that option was out of the window a long time ago 🥲

The realistic although slow path to permanent residency in Canada plus the difference in cost strike me as the main issues.


OP answered this question already.

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Hmm. I suppose you could try for Duke-NUS medical school. Not sure what the best path is to that, though.

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The source you cite is out of date by at least 2 years. (Plus AMCAS tends to be overly rosy in its public statements. After all, it wants to encourage as many people as possible to apply to medical school. Processing applications and providing support services & materials to applicants is how they make their money.)

I linked the most current data.

TMDSAS does not publicly release the data about applicants & matriculants; however, all TX medical schools are required by TX state law to matriculate at least 90% TX state residents each year. I highly doubt TX meds school took in 150 international students.

For US medical schools–only coursework taken at an accredited US or Canadian university fulfills admission requirements. AMCAS, TMDSAS or AACOMAS will NOT accept or process transcripts from countries that are not the US or Canada. They don’t accept transcripts from Mexican, Central American or Caribbean universities ( which, for the record, are all part of North America). A handful of US medical school will consider international transcripts on case by case basis, but most US med schools will not.

The med school application process is much more nuanced that what US News reports. Each US med school has its own specific policies and requirements. For example, my state’s med school says it will accept internationals, but unless you’ve graduated from in-state HS, an international applicant won’t even get a secondary. There are currently 3 international students enrolled, but they’re all DACA-eligible state residents. Nuances.

Per MSAR (Cost $29 at AMCAS–see they’re making money off of you already!) 42 US MD programs claim to accept international students. In reality only about a dozen schools routinely accept internationals. At schools that accept only 0- 1 international students/year–those rare acceptances typically go to special cases like the in-state DACA students I mentioned above.

While it’s true that Canadians almost universally have graduated from US or Canadian university, don’t discount the other advantages I listed.

30% more US medical schools will consider Canadians for admission than will consider other international applicants. And not having to deposit a quarter million US dollars in an US escrow account–a huge advantage!

Gaining a US medical residency for internationals who graduate from a US med school is not so simple as you make it sound. They face some of exactly the same problems IMGs face. A large number of residency programs–including many well known academic programs-- simply do not sponsor visas. (Too much paperwork) Also due to the increased processing time required for a visa, many PDs are now ranking all international applicants --whether US grads or IMGs-- low on their rank list because of the very real likelihood the applicant won’t be able to report on time to start residency. (Missing one resident in a class of 18 IM interns–manageable but a PITA; missing one resident in class of 6 surgery, OB/GYN, psych or ortho interns is a major problem.)


Those numbers don’t include the Caribbean or Irish medical schools, right? Though my understanding is that that route is iffy too.

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DUKE-NUS is considered a foreign medical school and its grads are considered IMGs and must apply through the ECFMG.

The Oschner School of Medicine at University of Queenlsland (Australia) and the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University (Israel) offer similar programs.

Both the Sackler and Oschner programs teach a US based medical curriculum and offer US based clinical training. (Oschner in New Orleans, Sackler in NYC)

Duke-NUS med student train in Singapore and do not have US clinical rotation options.

All 3 programs require a baccalaureate degree–though not necessarily one earned in the US or Canada.

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The 132 internationals do NOT include graduates of Irish or Caribbean med schools.

Grads of those programs are US-IMGs (US citizens who attended foreign non- LCME accredited medical schools) or IMGs (non US citizens who have graduated from a non-LCME accredited medical school)

Both US-IMGs and IMGs can apply for US based medical residencies once they have passed their USMLE exams.

Graduating from a international medical school and applying for a medical residency in the US is a risky path, but it’s a much better bet than trying to get an acceptance to a US med school as an international applicant.

Here’s the 2018 Charting the Outcomes in the Match: International Medical Graduates.

From NRMP 2020 Match press release

The number of U.S. citizen international medical graduates (IMGs) who submitted rank ordered lists of programs was 5,295, an increase of 128 (2.5%) over 2020 and the highest in six years; 3,152 of them matched to first-year positions, a decline of two PGY-1 matched applicants over last year.
• The number of non-U.S. citizen IMGs who submitted rank ordered lists of programs grew by 1,036 to 7,943, a 15.0 percent increase over 2020; 4,356 of them matched to first-year positions, an increase of 134 (3.2%) and the highest number ever.

If you want specific details of the results

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In which case, it seems like saving money (hence Toronto or somewhere cheaper) and going through the Caribbean/Ireland (or possibly becoming a Canadian resident first) makes the most sense.
My understanding is the Caribbean medical schools aren’t as fussy about GPA (still have to be “not terrible”) making grade deflation less of an issue.

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So, given the information between UCLA and UofT, you probably want to stick with UofT. You may be able to get a US education, that doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to get through the whole process.
Edited to add: different situation but outlines other issues of the profession. ‘I Am Worth It’: Why Thousands of Doctors in America Can’t Get a Job - The New York Times

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