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How Many Years  to Become a Doctor in USA?

If you’ve always dreamed of becoming a doctor but are unsure how long it takes, you’re not alone! Many people are interested in healthcare but wonder about the years of schooling required. Here’s how many years it takes to become a doctor in the USA. To understand the duration, we need to know about the training and licensing process for doctors. Medical school in the United States lasts four years, while in other countries, it ranges from 3 to 6 years. However, the educational journey begins earlier, during high school and college, as aspiring doctors need to take Advanced Placement exams and complete college-level coursework before getting into medical school.

Can you go straight to medical school after high school?

To become a doctor, you need three things: an undergraduate degree, 4-8 years of medical school (depending on the specialty), and an accredited residency. While most pre-med students can go directly to medical school after high school, they don’t become doctors until they successfully graduate from medical school. Even then, they need four years of on-the-job training as a resident before they can be board certified and practice independently.

Do you need science prerequisites for medical school?

To enroll in medical school, you typically need to have completed one year of full-time undergraduate coursework with a GPA above 3.0. Most medical schools don’t require pre-med courses before applying, but some may request letters of recommendation from science professors. Overall, it takes four years to earn an undergraduate degree and then another four years to become a doctor in the USA.

How long does it take to become an MD?

Becoming an MD usually takes eight years, including four years of medical school and four years as a resident, according to the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges). The total time spent on higher education is about 12 years, with high-achieving students spending around 13.5-14 years after college graduation before becoming an MD.

Applying for Medical School

One significant requirement for medical school admission is an undergraduate degree. The nature and type of degree obtained vary. Some people enroll in pre-med programs and major in subjects like biology, chemistry, or physics, while others pursue liberal arts degrees like English or history. Good grades, involvement in extracurricular activities, and recommendations from professors can help with acceptance into prestigious schools.

Taking the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)

Before taking the MCAT, you need four years of undergraduate coursework and at least three additional years. After completing all the required schooling, you can sit for the medical school admission exams. Passing these exams allows you to enter the last three years of undergraduate education, with research opportunities available. After that, you can complete your residency training.

Becoming licensed and board certified

To become licensed and board-certified, doctors must complete an undergraduate degree, which is necessary for medical school admission. After medical school, residency training is required before obtaining a license from the state and approval from professional bodies. Residency typically takes 3-7 years. After completion, doctors can apply to take exams from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for certification.

How long does it take to become a doctor in other countries?

In countries other than Canada or the US, it usually takes around thirteen years to become a doctor on average. Canadian and American doctors receive extensive education, with an eight-year-long training process. In contrast, doctors in countries like Switzerland are not certified until they complete around 15 years of schooling, and in Japan, doctors are certified after around 20 years of training. American doctors graduate after three years of medical school.


Becoming a doctor is a lengthy process that requires many years of education and study. It takes around 4-6 years to earn an undergraduate degree and another 3-7 years for medical school. During medical school, you’ll study subjects like biology, chemistry, anatomy, physics, and pharmacology. After graduating from medical school, you must complete a residency program, which can last 5 or more years. Your education isn’t complete until you pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) or the Royal College of Psychiatrists Qualifying Examination (RCPE) for psychiatry. Once your qualifications are certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties, you’ll receive a specialty designation that indicates your type of doctor.




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