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Graduate vs standard entry medicine for graduates

Advice & Insight From Medicine Application Specialists

For many applicants, studying medicine has always been their aim – since before they studied their undergraduate degree. For others the prospect of studying medicine is a new and exciting idea. Whatever your situation, you have several options and pathways that you can take to become a doctor. There are 15 medical schools that offer accelerated four-year graduate entry courses. Alternatively many graduates choose to apply to standard entry medicine with the hope that it will be less competitive and more suited to their needs. It is important to realise that graduate entry medicine is an undergraduate degree. The qualifications and competence of students who have completed the standard entry courses or graduate entry courses is perceived the same.

Where you can study?

The following universities offer 4 year- graduate entry medicine courses:

  • Barts and London Queen Mary’s School
  • Birmingham
  • Cambridge
  • Imperial College London
  • King’s College London
  • Liverpool
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Oxford
  • Southampton
  • St George’s London
  • Swansea
  • Warwick

Your choices are more limited than the list of universities offering standard entry medicine degrees.

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Selection criteria and eligibility

Consider how the entry requirements for graduate and standard entry medicine differ. Most standard entry medical schools use the same admissions processes for those applying with and without undergraduate degrees. However, there are 4 UK standard entry medical courses which require graduate applicants to sit the GASMAT graduate admissions test; in addition, or alternatively to another admissions test. The admissions tests for graduate degrees use either the UCAT score or the GAMSAT. Check out our article ‘UCAT, GAMSAT or both’ to find out more information about which admissions test you may excel in, boosting your chances of application success. Carefully research the application eligibility for graduate courses. Research the specific entry requirements for standard entry medicine for those with your level of qualification. Whilst some universities have stricter criteria on GCSEs and A-levels, other universities provide more lenience, depending on your degree result. Many graduates favour the route of standard entry medicine if their undergraduate degree is not in a science or health-based subject. For these students they may find themselves disadvantaged during the GAMSAT graduate entry exam, ineligible for graduate entry courses or lack confidence with the adequacy of their scientific background. Many courses have additional acceptance criteria. The following universities are only open to applicants from the UK: Birmingham, Cambridge, Kings College, Southampton, ScotGEM and St George’s. Applicants to Sheffield’s graduate degree must meet specific widening participation requirements. Cardiff University is only open to applicants enrolled not a feeder stream course in Wales.

Funding differences

The fact that graduate entry medicine courses are accelerated can have both advantages and drawbacks. Financially it may be more feasible to commit to a shorter degree. The funding available for applicants differs depending on the route into medicine students take. For those applying to the accelerated 4-year Graduate entry course ,students in England are required to pay the first £3465, with fee loans available for the remaining amount for their first year of study. For the remaining 3 years of study, £3715 of fees are funded by the NHS with the remaining amount of up to £5535 being required with fee loans available. For regular 5-year graduate entry medicine courses no fee loans are available to fund the tuition fees of the first 4 years of study. In the fifth year of study, tuition will be funded by the NHS Business Services Authority. 

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Course length differences

As graduate degrees are shorter you will begin practising medicine one year earlier, which may seem advantageous where many F1 year doctors may be several years younger than you. However, in the grand scheme of a 40+ year long career one year is very unlikely to make much of a difference. On the contrary, the teaching is clearly condensed on graduate courses as the learning outcomes and competencies expected by graduates is the same regardless of the course type studied. This is achieved by intensifying teaching where the academic year is often longer. Be sure to research the teaching methods and opportunities available on both course types; graduate entry courses often include more interactive learning and earlier patient contact but have fewer opportunities for intercalation or studying abroad.

Success rates

No route into medicine is going to be easy. However, graduate courses have fewer spaces available per year, meaning that acceptance ratios are more in your favour for standard entry medicine. Graduate-entry programmes only account for 10% of admissions to medical school. Each year over 10,000 students apply with on average 57 spaces available per university. Consider researching the selection ratios for each university you are considering applying to.

Many standard entry medical programmes favour students with an undergraduate degree versus those applying straight from school. With greater life experiences and academic, mature students often succeed in displaying that they have the motivation, skills and attributes required to study medicine.

Graduate vs standard entry medicine for graduates

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