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University of Calgary Calendar 2018-2019 Cumming School of Medicine 5. Doctor of Medicine 5.3 Admissions
5.3 Admissions

The details contained in the following sections constitute the definitive account of the regulations relating the admission to the MD program at the University of Calgary. Applicants will also find helpful resources and clarification on the MD admissions website ( The Application Manual includes more detailed descriptions of the admissions processes related to the regulations outlined within the Calendar.


The Cumming School of Medicine welcomes applications from individuals with a wide variety of educational backgrounds. It does not require that a student undertake a formal pre-medical program or specified prerequisite courses. There is no preferred degree.

Eligibility for Admission

As a provincial university, the University of Calgary has a primary obligation to Canadian citizens residing in Alberta. Although priority will be given to Alberta residents, the School also invites applications from residents of other provinces. A maximum of 15 per cent of all available positions may be offered to non-Alberta residents.

The Cumming School of Medicine has a policy on the admission of candidates who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. The School does not accept applications from individual international students. Seats for international students are currently limited to students from institutions or countries that have formal, contractual agreements with the Cumming School of Medicine.

The Cumming School of Medicine is committed to providing an inclusive learning environment. In selecting students, no consideration is given to factors irrelevant to academic performance such as gender, age, race, or religion. Nor will the vocation of an applicant's parent, guardian, or spouse be a consideration in the selection process.

The Cumming School of Medicine is committed to providing appropriate accommodations to students with disabilities in accordance with University of Calgary policy. Physical and learning disabilities must not prevent the student, upon graduation, from communicating with patients, making observations, gathering and analyzing data necessary to arrive at medical judgments, and from performing in a safe and timely manner the therapeutic interventions expected of a physician who has completed the educational program leading to an MD degree. Potential applicants with a disability who are concerned that their disability may impact their ability to complete or apply successfully to the MD program are encouraged to contact Student Accessibility Services ( or the MD Admissions Office to discuss their particular situation.

The Cumming School of Medicine will not normally accept applications from students who have withdrawn, who have been required to withdraw, or who have been expelled from any school or college of medicine.

Educational Background

Students must have completed a minimum of two full-time years of university-level courses at the time of application. A full-time year is defined for the purposes of application as a minimum of 24 units (credits), completed between September 1st and April 30th of the following year. These courses must be completed at an MD/PhD granting institution or be transferable to such an institution. The admissions committee will also consider, on a case-by-case basis, applications from individuals who have been unable to complete undergraduate studies on a full-time basis for well-established medical or financial reasons. Such individuals must first petition the Admissions Committee for permission to apply by contacting the Director of Admissions prior to August 1st of the application year.

The Cumming School of Medicine does not require that students undertake a formal pre-medical program. No specific courses are required for application or acceptance to the MD program. The admissions committee recommends that applicants consider taking courses in as many of the following disciplines as their schedules allow, as the content of these courses will be helpful in preparing for the Medical College Admission Test and during the MD program: biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, literature, indigenous studies, ethics, statistics, biochemistry, physiology, psychology and research methods. Whether or not an applicant has taken these courses at the time of application will not be taken into consideration in scoring the academic record. Students should ensure that the courses they choose satisfy the degree requirements of the undergraduate faculty in which they are registered.

Definition of Alberta Residency for MD Admission

The Cumming School of Medicine Admissions Committee considers an applicant to be “Albertan” if they have been physically present in Alberta on a day-to-day basis for 24 consecutive months at some point between their 15th birthday and the first day of classes of the year for which they are applying. The residency requirement shall not be considered broken when the Admissions Committee is satisfied that the applicant has been temporarily out of the province for vacation, educational exchange or employment.


Applications for the MD program are done online at The deadline for receipt by the Office of Admissions of the online application, all official transcripts, official MCAT scores, three letters of reference, and the application fee of $150.00 is October 1.

Applicants should note that the Office of Admissions will not accept facsimile transmission copies of transcripts. Candidates are encouraged to submit their applications early in the process, preferably well before the deadline. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete and that all necessary forms and the application fee are received by the MD Office of Admissions by the deadline. Completed applications include the following information: a list of courses taken and grades obtained; MCAT scores (if available) and the date of writing; a brief description of past experiences; employment activities, three letters of reference, and original transcripts for all post-secondary education to date.

Applicants will be notified of the Admissions Committee's decision on or before May 15. All applicants accepted into the Cumming School of Medicine will be required to forward a $1000.00 deposit within the time specified in the acceptance letter. Details regarding the submission of the deposit are included in the acceptance letter. Failure to do so may result in the position being assigned to an applicant on the waiting list. The deposit is applied to first year fees. An applicant who accepts a position and later withdraws it will forfeit the deposit.

Deferred matriculation may be granted on a case by case basis at the sole discretion of the Director of Admissions. Students granted a deferral must submit a supplemental deposit of a further $2,000.00 which is credited against first year fees. Deferrals will generally only be granted for a single year.

All medical students must commence a program of immunization before registration day. The Cumming School of Medicine reserves the right to refuse admission to any candidate whose condition of health indicates that medical studies could be prejudicial to their well-being.

Application Assessment

Applications are evaluated by the Admissions Committee and up to four members of the Admissions File Review Sub-Committee. Each application is given an application score which consists of the following components:

  • 20 per cent GPA
  • 10 per cent CARS subsection of the Medical College Admissions Test (2015 version)
  • 10 per cent for each of the following attributes, as scored by the members of the File Review Subcommittee: Academic Merit, Communication Skills, Collaboration, Maturity and Insight, Advocacy on Behalf of Others, Scholarship and Research, Leadership Skills.

Invitations to interview for a position in the MD program are then made based on the file review score obtained.

GPA Calculation and Minimum GPA

The GPA used for the purpose of the application to the MD program is calculated automatically by the online application system once applicants have entered all their undergraduate and graduate grades. It is calculated using the average of all full-time undergraduate years, defined as 24 units (credits) of which 18 units or more must have received a numerical or letter grade completed between September and April. Each such academic year is considered equivalent for the purposes of this calculation, regardless of how many units were completed within it.

This calculated GPA is then modified as follows:

  • Applicants who have completed or will have completed their undergraduate degree prior to matriculation into the MD program will have their lowest GPA year removed from the above calculation.
  • Applicants who have completed or will have completed a graduate degree prior to matriculation into the MD program will have their cumulative GPA for that graduate degree included in the calculation as equivalent to a single full-time undergraduate year.
  • Applicants with both remote and recent post-secondary studies may elect to invoke a 10 year exclusion rule, and in doing so exclude from the GPA calculations any academic work completed more than 10 years previously. Applicants electing to do so, however, must meet the eligibility requirements based on academic work done in the immediately preceding 10 years.

Albertan applicants, indigenous applicants, regardless of their province of residence, individuals currently on active duty with the Canadian Forces or the RCMP, and current students or graduates of the Rural Pre-medicine Program at Selkirk College in Castlegar, B.C., must have an admissions GPA of 3.20 or greater in order to be eligible to apply.

Non-Albertan applicants must have an admission GPA of 3.80 or greater in order to be eligible to apply.

Applications from individuals who do not meet these GPA minimums will not be considered.

Medical College Admission Test

All applicants must write the Medical College Admission Test in sufficient time to ensure that their MCAT scores will then be available to the Admissions Committee by the application deadline. This usually means that writing the test by mid-August of the year of application. The MD Admissions Office will update on its website on an annual basis the last possible MCAT sitting for the current application cycle. Applicants should contact the MCAT Program Office ( for details about the test and they must instruct the organization to release their MCAT results to the University of Calgary.

Applicants to the Cumming School of Medicine should also be aware that all applicants must complete the 2015 MCAT. The results of pre-2015 version of the MCAT, if available, will still be considered by the committee as part of the overall assessment of academic merit.

There is no MCAT minimum for Albertan Applicants or for individuals to whom the 3.20 GPA minimum applies.

Non-Albertan applicants must achieve a score of 128 on the CARS sub-section of the MCAT in order to be eligible to apply.


Applicants will be notified in February regarding whether or not they will be invited to attend a series of short interviews. The interviews take place at the University of Calgary in February or March.

Applicants must attend the interviews at their own expense. Applicants must take part in a series of short, back-to-back interviews, which the Committee will use to assess the candidates' non-academic qualifications.

The number of interviews offered varies from year to year, but usually ranges between 500 and 550 interview invitations.

Each interviewed applicants is assigned an interview score based on performance in the interview. The final admission offer decisions are made based on the final application score, which consists of 50 per cent File Review Score and 50 per cent Interview Score.

Indigenous Applicants

The Cumming School of Medicine recognizes the marked under-representation of indigenous individuals within the medical profession and the importance of producing a medical workforce that represents the demographic diversity of the population we serve. In recognition of these facts, certain modifications to the application process for indigenous applicants are currently in place. Any applicant may self-declare as indigenous and will be invited to submit a supplemental short essay describing their connection to their community and the impact of their heritage on both their preparation for medical school and their plans following completion of the MD. All self-declared indigenous applicants are required to submit proof of status or indigenous ancestry. All Indigenous applicants will also be invited to interview.

Alternative Admissions Process

In a limited number of cases, the Admissions Committee reserves the right to admit eligible individuals to the MD program regardless of their Final Application Score, if the committee is sufficiently convinced that the applicant has the academic and personal qualities necessary to succeed, and that doing so will assist the Cumming School of Medicine in meeting the health needs of the Canadian public.

Admission/Registration Refusal

Admission to the MD program is competitive. Meeting the admission requirements does not guarantee admission to the program or allow students to register in courses. The University of Calgary reserves the right, the published regulations notwithstanding, to deny applicants admission or registration in courses on the basis of their overall academic records, or if, during the course of the application process, the applicant has demonstrated behaviours or characteristics deemed to be incompatible with the practice of medicine. Admissions decisions are final and not subject to appeal.

Admissions Committee

The Admissions Committee of the Cumming School of Medicine consists of representatives of the School, physicians-in-training, other health care disciplines, and the community at large. The committee is charged with the final selection of medical students on the basis of academic and non-academic qualifications.

Admission of Students by Transfer

The Committee is able to consider requests for students from another university to take clerkship education at the University of Calgary in mandatory clerkship courses, or their equivalents, for the entire clerkship year provided that:

  1. There is support from the Associate Dean UME at the University of Calgary and the counterpart at the Canadian university from which the student is transferring. This must include justification for the request and confirmation of good academic and professional standing in the university from which the student is transferring.
  2. There are sufficient resources at the University of Calgary, such that the transfer student will not displace University of Calgary students.

These requests can be considered in the same manner that the Committee will consider requests from University of Calgary students for extensions to clerkships and special leaves of absence.

Students accepted for transfer will become a University of Calgary student, and will, upon completion of all the requirements for an MD degree, be conferred a University of Calgary medical degree.

For more information on Medical Student Transfers, refer to:

Pathways to Medicine

The Cumming School of Medicine offers a Pathways to Medicine program to individuals entering an undergraduate program at the University of Calgary. The program includes a scholarship and guaranteed admission to the MD program upon completion of the undergraduate degree, provided specific conditions are met. Eligibility for the Pathways to Medicine program is restricted to individuals from low-income backgrounds, with a particular focus on rural and indigenous students. For details, visit:

Admission to the MD program upon completion of the undergraduate degree is conditional upon the following:

  • Maintenance of an overall GPA of 3.40 or greater over the course of their undergraduate studies.
  • Achievement of the minimum MCAT score required of regular applicants at the time of application, if such minimums are in place at the time.
  • Completion of the application process in the same manner as regular applicants with a score on the file review and the interview above the twentieth percentile.