Medical education in Canada underwent major shifts in perspectives and practice during first decades of the 21st century.
Most medical schools adopted curriculum revisions designed to involve their degree candidates more directly in shaping the direction of their study.
Small group observations and discussions, active and recursive learning models, peer and faculty mentorship and one-on-one reviews, and increased time for elective pursuits represent some of the innovations implemented among the medical schools in the Canadian top ten, listed here.
In Canada, the term “undergraduate’ refers in medical programs to the MD degree, while “postgraduate” designates the residency and fellowship period of study.
“Graduate” and “postdoctoral,” as in the United States, indicate degrees like a Master of Science or PhD program.
Not every program requires the same elements for admissions candidates. While many departments require MCAT scores, some schools require the CASPer test, and a few require both.
Citizenship or permanent residency status can be a requirement. Some programs accept applicants primarily from their province or region and accept no international applicants.
Those who do accept international applicants do not guarantee eligibility for the Canadian residency match program for physicians.
Canadian medical schools lead in curriculum innovation, research, and commitment to community. From the maritime regions of the Northeast to British Columbia and the Northwest territories, excellent medical programs exist throughout Canada, as this list of the top schools shows.
These are the 10 best medical schools in Canada, ranked according to their appearance on Maclean’s list of best Canadian medical schools. Maclean’s is a prominent Canadian news magazine.
Tied-8th. Western University Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (London, ON)
The Schulich School of Medicine at Western University has been training medical professionals since the 19th century, adding a dental school in 1964.
Home to the Robarts Research Institute, Schulich has several primary research areas, including biomedical imaging, cancer, maternal and family health, and neuroscience.
Schulich’s curriculum follows competency-based medical education models.
The program evaluates students on their ability to implement tools and training, encouraging the building and retention over time of a working bank of professional knowledge.
This relatively new system demonstrates the efforts of medical schools and administrations to create a system supporting lifelong learning with built-in structures to give students the time necessary to master various activities and concepts.
Schulich requires a four-year undergraduate degree or admission, though no specific major or coursework is designated. MCAT test scores, an interview, and Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status number among the other admissions criteria.
Western University in London, Ontario, about equidistant from Detroit, Toronto, and Buffalo. The medical research centered at Western University and its affiliate hospitals contribute significantly to the town’s economy.
In 2013, Phase I clinical trials completed for Schulich researcher Dr. Chil-Yong Kang’s HIV vaccine, one of the only HIV vaccines in development anywhere in the world.
Tied-8th. University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine (Ottawa, ON)
With its location in the capital city of Canada and a student population of 42,000, the University of Ottawa represents an internationally-known research campus with a faculty known for its depth and breadth.
The University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine offers an MD program in French and in English. A few seats open annually in a seven-year combination MD/PhD track as well.
Within the medical school, candidates can also pursue twelve specialty areas like anesthesiology, pathology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and others.
The Ottawa Research Institute, along with multiple specialty clinics in fields like mental health and palliative care, provide the space and support for Ottawa’s many contributions to medical advancement, including the first artificial heart transplant in Canada.
Eligible applicants must have completed at least three years of undergraduate coursework, including the specified number of credits in each discipline as required by Ottawa’s admissions department.
Candidates must hold Canadian citizenship or classify as a permanent resident. Ottawa does not require MCAT test scores for admission, but it does require the CASPer test.
Tied-8th. University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine (Calgary, AB)
Moving to the western region of Canada, the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary in Alberta recently renovated its medical curriculum under the RIME, or Re-imagining Medical Education project.
Early clinical experience, a focus on generalist skills, and strong scaffolding for medical candidates ground this new approach to medical training.
Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents; Albertans benefit from residency within academic requirements and financial considerations.
MCAT scores and a series of mini-interviews make up critical features of the application process.
Fitting Calgary’s geographic location, the school offers rotations in rural communities, along with specialized programs and support for students interested in practicing rural medicine.
Calgary demonstrates its commitment to Indigenous medicine by providing clinical services, training medical professionals in the field, and recruiting future doctors from Indigenous youth through school visits, career fairs, camps, and workshops.
Clinical departments include neuroscience, critical care, medical genetics, family and emergency medicine, among others.
Originally part of a midcentury mission to extend health care training across Canada, the Cumming School of Medicine recently received a $100 million private donation matched by the Alberta government, leaving it well-poised to enter its next 50 years.
7. Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine (Halifax, NS)
In the Maritime region, Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine’s recently updated curriculum features distributed learning: training across a variety of clinical and community experiences.
With over 600 Dalhousie residents and specialists providing care in clinical settings across the region, this institution trains flexible medical professionals who can draw on a wide breadth of experience and knowledge.
At Dalhousie, students begin to interact with volunteer and simulated patients from the first weeks of the program. The Health Mentors program brings volunteer patients with chronic health issues to share their stories and insights with Dalhousie students, offering future medical professionals a way to understand what patients want and expect from long-term care.
Most of the over 400 MD candidates at Dalhousie come from Maritime Canada: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island.
With an overall approach fostering team support and group problem-solving, Dalhousie trains individual doctors ready to form and function within a closely-knit medical community.
6. University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (Edmonton, AB)
Located in Edmonton, Alberta, the school’s curriculum centers on learner experience and input, cultivating problem-solving skills, and team interaction.
Clinical experience increases through each of the four years of the program, designed to foster the competencies necessary for a successful practitioner.
Over 24 research facilities on campus research a wide variety of medical topics, including fields as varied as diabetes and nuclear magnetic resonance.
Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents; candidates must take both MCAT and CASPer tests. The admissions department demonstrates a strong interest in candidates’ work and volunteer experience as well. A number of positions are reserved for qualified rural Albertan applicants.
The department operates a military medical training program, an initiative for rural and regional health, and the Indigenous Health Initiatives Program. The University of Alberta Health Hub & Accelerator serves as a kind of medical commerce think tank, growing health-related startups to benefit students, the university, and the community at large.
5. Queen’s School of Medicine (Kingston, ON)
Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario is home to the Queen’s School of Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Besides the MD program, Queen’s offers combination degrees in order to give candidates a way to acquire advanced research skills in areas like neuroscience, public health, pathology, or translational medicine.
Queen’s admits 100 candidates to their four-year MD program annually. Only five of those positions can be filled by international (non-Canadian citizen) students; all others must be citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Admissions specifies GPA requirements and requests MCAT and CASPer scores for applicants.
The curriculum follows competency-based training models, characterized by individual learning plans, flexibility, and frequent faculty assessment. ‘
A state-of-the-art medical simulation facility allows students to practice in low-risk but realistic clinical settings.
Students at Queen’s get their clinical experience at Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu Hospital, and Province Continuing Care Center, as well as the Kingston Regional Cancer Center, where students can train as radiation specialists or participate in the center’s vital ongoing research.
4. McMaster University Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine (Hamilton, ON)
The DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario offers a rare three-year MD program. By running on an 11-month calendar, the problem-based program graduates candidates with their medical degrees at the end of the third year.
Students learn core knowledge through learning how to assess patient presentations rather than through lectures. Small group tutorials resembling group orientation in clinical settings provide the educational context.
McMaster accepts over 200 medical candidates annually. Applicants should have completed three years of undergraduate university work, along with MCAT and CASPer tests. International students may apply, but may not be eligible for the Canadian Residency Matching Program.
Students may choose an MD/PhD path through the medical school and the departments of biochemistry, neurosciences, chemical biology, biomedical engineering, health research methodology, or health policy, but the candidate must be accepted separately to the medical school and to the graduate department.
3. University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine (Vancouver, BC)
Twenty-first century landmark research and innovation at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine includes the development of a midwifery school and the sequencing of the SARS genome.
Over 12,000 staff and faculty provide training for UBC students preparing for careers as doctors, researchers, and medical professionals across the province.
Four separate campus sites house 288 incoming students, most of whom go to the Vancouver Fraser campus.
There, students can complete clinicals at Vancouver General Hospital, or they might participate in integrated clerkships where they follow patients through their sequence of treatment in a community clinic.
Residents of British Columbia, the Yukon, and Northwest Territories are eligible to apply. A few spaces may be offered to Canadian applicants from outside the province. UBC School of Medicine does not admit international students.
2. University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine (Toronto, ON)
The MD program at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto ranks #5 among medical schools internationally, according to U.S. News, in the company of schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins.
The curriculum again follows a student-centered model, using evidence-based content delivery. Four academies create smaller learning environments while students retain the benefits of a large, metropolitan, research university.
Beyond the MD, students may choose collaborative degree programs including MD/PhD, MD/MEng, MD/MSc Systems Leadership and Innovation, or the Comprehensive Research Experience for Medical Students (CREMS).
CREMS allows candidates who plan careers as practitioners to gain research skills and experience with the world-renowned medical researchers at the University of Toronto.
UT accepts international applicants with a study permit from the Canadian government.
In order to obtain such a permit, the candidate must supply evidence that he or she can pay for tuition.
At least three years toward a Bachelor’s degree with a strong GPA, including several prerequisite courses, along with competitive MCAT scores, make up the requirements for application.
1. McGill University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (Montreal, QC)
The McGill University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences hosts more than 30 departments educating health care professionals of all kinds.
Numerous research centers focus on brain research, tropical diseases, autism, genomics, and more. The Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning provides realistic training for medical students, preparing them to focus confidently on patients in clinical situations.
McGill students can choose the Montreal campus (English-speaking) or the Gatineau campus (French-speaking).
Combination degrees include the seven-year MDCM & PhD program, the Med-P program which includes a year of preparatory coursework in the Faculty of Science in advance of the four-year MDCM program, and the MDCM & OMFS, the doctor of medicine and master of surgery with an oral and maxillofacial surgery program.
McGill is selective, but accepts applications from students throughout Canada and from abroad. MCAT and CASPer tests are required, along with a competitive GPA and multiple mini interviews.
The McGill Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences dates back to 1829, the first medical faculty in Canada.
The department remains a leading medical research university in Canada, complementing renowned teaching hospitals, including McGill University Health Centre, St. Mary’s Hospital Center, the Jewish General Hospital, and the Douglas Mental Health Center.