Studying medicine in Malaysia involves taking a multi-step approach to your degree.
First, most students take a one-year pre-medical course in order to ensure that they are prepared appropriately for the study within a medical school. Next, a five-year MBBS degree follows, which is a Bachelor-level degree – Bachelor of Medicine – Bachelor of Surgery. This confers upon the professional a general knowledge of medicine and is a prerequisite for anyone wanting to practice as a doctor in any profession. Finally, if you are looking for further specialization, you can pursue your studies for M.D. level, with a specific focus on one discipline.
The Malaysian Ministry of Health has made it compulsory that all graduates of the MBBS degree should complete a 2-year housemanship program. International students, however, are not allowed to complete this in Malaysia and will have to look for opportunities in their home countries.
Studying medicine in Malaysia will place you in a varied multicultural setting, with interesting locations to live and work, and with first-class research and medical facilities. Let’s have a look at the best medical schools in Malaysia.
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How much does it cost to study medicine in Malaysia?
Malaysian universities are relatively costly and come closer to their Western European and North American counterparts when it comes to tuition. You should expect to pay anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000 per year – depending on which school you pick and whether it is state-funded. Additionally, living expenses will vary greatly depending on your location.
How long do you have to take medical school in Malaysia?
The general pathway to earning a medical degree is to follow a one-year pre-medical course and then enroll in a 5-year medical school program. This will award you the MBBS degree, after which you will be required to undergo 2 years of internship, and eventually, you will be a qualified general medical doctor.
In order to specialize further, you can pursue postgraduate studies in fields such as podiatry, pediatrics, etc. These take about 4-5 years.
Top Medical Schools in Malaysia
1. Universiti Malaya – Faculty of Medicine
This is Malaysia’s top state university and the highest-ranked medical school in Malaysia. They have their own university hospital and a specialist center which sets the Universiti Malaya head and shoulders above the rest of medical schools for Malaysian students.
Located in Kuala Lumpur, the university was established in 1949 in Singapore as the King Edward VII College of Medicine, and then due to rapid growth opened a second campus which is now Universiti Malaya. It has been officially in operation in the Kuala Lumpur location since 1962.
Alongside the other 11 faculties where students can obtain a degree here, the Faculty of Medicine works in conjunction with the Medical Center to provide a well-rounded medical education rooted in theoretical and practical learning.
In order to study for your MBBS at the Universiti Malaya, similar to everywhere else in the country, you will have to take the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) – a 2-hour exam assessing various skills as well as knowledge of science and mathematics.
2. AIMST University (Asian Institute of Medicine, Science, and Technology) – Faculty of Medicine
AIMST University is a private institution that models its curriculum at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. All courses are taught in English. They are based in Bedong and were initially set up by the Malaysian Indian Congress in order to provide higher education for Malaysian Indian students in particular.
The Faculty of Medicine is highly rated by the government educational review body and works to promote strategic partnerships worldwide to continue to further its research and high-quality tuition. They won the global award for “Leadership in medical sciences education excellence” in 2013. They are also recognized by the Medical Council of India and have a strategic partnership with the Queen Mary University of London.
3. International Medical University
This private medical school in Malaysia is situated in Kuala Lumpur and offers courses exclusively in English. It was the first private higher education institution in Malaysia to be given the right to award academic degrees.
The university is wholly owned by IHH Healthcare, a private healthcare group that, in turn, is majority-owned by the Malaysian government’s sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah. IHH Healthcare is the biggest private healthcare group in Asia.
You can study medicine here as well as dentistry, pharmacy, and many other topics such as nutrition or psychology. The university has partnerships across the world and notably with the University of Edinburgh, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Manchester, the Australian National University, and the University of New South Wales.
4. Monash University, Malaysia Campus – Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Monash University is one of the foremost universities in Australia and they opened a campus in Malaysia in 1998, located within the Bandar Sunway township. This was the first foreign university in Malaysia. The Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences offers an undergraduate program that awards the Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine degrees.
This medicine program is very ambitious and aims to produce world-class doctors. They aim to have the same curriculum as the Australian university campus, and they replicate the same stringent selection criteria for admission too. The BMedSci/MD program is a truly international degree and will confer you the qualification to practice medicine not only in Malaysia but also in Australia and New Zealand.
5. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia – Faculty of Medicine
Next on our list of top medical schools in Malaysia is the Faculty of Medicine located in the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. This university is the National University of Malaysia. It is state-owned and located in Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor, south of Kuala Lumpur.
It has its own teaching hospital – Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Center, located in Cheras with a branch in Kuala Lumpur.
A very large university hosting 17,500 undergraduate and 5,105 postgraduate students, the Universiti Kebangsaan is among the most respected in Malaysia as well as Southeast Asia generally. The Faculty of Medicine is one of the ones added later after the founding of the university, which started off based on an agenda to preserve the Malay language (the original university was made up of three schools: Social Science and Humanities, Science and Technology, and Islamic Studies).
6. UCSI University – Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
According to the 2019 QS World University Rankings, UCSI University is Malaysia’s best private university. Located in Kuala Lumpur, it offers many disciplines of study, among which medical studies are included in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The university works with a strong network of corporate companies, creating a university-industry link that gives students access to internships and job opportunities during and after their studies. The UCSI is also closely linked with the United Nations and is the first and only private university in Malaysia that has been named a regional center of expertise by the United Nations University.
UCSI University has a five-year MD program split across two phases. In the first phase, you will spend two years at the Kuala Lumpur campus. In the second phase, you will be based out of the clinical school at the Terengganu campus, focusing more on the practical application of teachings.
7. Universiti Malaysia Sabah – Faculty of Medicine and Health Science
The Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) is a public university located in Kinabalu, Sabah, and established in 1994. They have three campuses and 10 faculties – the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science is based in Kota Kinabalu. They also have numerous research centers of which the Biotechnological Research Center will be of most interest to medical students.
This Malaysian medical school was established in 2003 and originally focused on increasing the number of highly trained medical staff in the Sabah region. To be admitted for the MD program, you will need to pass the government-recognized exam or an equivalent. International students are required to have a high school degree with a science base and a pre-medical course certificate with foundations in science (other options, such as British A-levels in science, can also qualify you).
UMS School of Medicine is unique in that it offers a university-family partnership as part of its Community Wellness Program. Each student is engaged with a foster family from the rural region of Kudat for the duration of their studies.
They are thus exposed to a range of issues within the community and the family, unmet needs, etc., and they assess their foster family’s health-related behaviors through visits that take place three times a year. The goal of this setup is for the students to appreciate the way family influences wellness and health and also to learn about how life events related to medicine impact a regular family and its dynamics.
Beyond this, the UMS Medical School also has a few other community outreach programs such as free clinic sessions, World Diabetes Day celebrations, and some medical outreach programs in parts of the Sabah region.
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