Studying medicine in Saudi Arabia is very competitive but also very high-quality, given the notable investment in state-of-the-art laboratories and research facilities in the last decades. Saudi students are required to have high average grades for their high school studies before applying for medical school in Saudi Arabia, and then to take two entrance exams and pass an entrance interview for the university of their choice. There is actually a test for basic English language as part of the interview.
Medicine is studied in Arabic or English in almost all universities, and a large percentage of the universities are public. As a result, for Saudi students, medical school is free. Residency programs are paid for both Saudi and international students, but the sponsoring hospital covers these fees when they accept a student. In this article, we will be looking at the best medical schools in Saudi Arabia.
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- How to Study Medicine in Saudi Arabia
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How much does it cost to study medicine in Saudi Arabia?
Public universities in Saudi Arabia are free for citizens of the country, however, international students still have to pay tuition fees. At the undergraduate level, tuition can be up to around $6,000 per year.
You will also need to factor in living costs as there is no university housing generally.
How long does medical school take in Saudi Arabia?
In Saudi Arabia, studying medicine involves an undergraduate program that typically lasts five years. This includes practical application of the curriculum in years 4 and 5, and will then involve internships before being able to become a full-fledged doctor.
A lot of students take a pre-medical year of study before the core 5-year curriculum, to ensure that their knowledge of science is at the right standard for medical school. Depending on your high school science levels, this may not be necessary.
Top Medical Schools in Saudi Arabia
1. King Saud University – College of Medicine
Located in Riyadh, the nation’s capital, King Saud University is a public institution founded in 1957. You can study here in both English and Arabic, and it has the highest-ranked medical school in Saudi Arabia. This was the first university in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and now has about 40,000 students of which 7% are international.
Female students study separately from male students and are overseen by female faculty members with the exception of cases where male faculty members also contribute, through the medium of a closed television network.
The College of Medicine opened in 1967, becoming affiliated with King Abdulaziz University Hospital a year later. It is a dedicated research center, focusing on producing scientific publications and employing international experts in their fields. They also work with King Khalid University Hospital, offering students vast opportunities for practical training.
2. King Abdul Aziz University – Faculty of Medicine
Another public university, King Abdul Aziz University is based in Jeddah and started off as a private institution in 1967 before becoming a public one in 1974. In 2016, this was the number one Arab university as per the Times Higher Education rankings.
The Faculty of Medicine has been open since 1975 and counts 22 departments for specialization. Moreover, this medical school in Saudi Arabia has some exceptional research centers such as the Center for Excellent in Genomic Medicine Research and the King Fahd Center for Medical Research. During your studies, you can benefit from top research as well as the teachings of highly qualified international experts. These centers also offer a great place to conduct your own research and residency.
3. Alfaisal University – College of Medicine
This private research institute in Riyadh was established by the King Faisal Foundation in 2002. It is proud to count one-third of its students as international, coming from 40 countries. It also has an exceptional location: the palace of the late King Faisal.
Alfaisal University calls itself a “student-centered university” aiming to benefit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the dissemination of knowledge, research, and expertise, as well as the wider continent and the world.
It is worth noting that, as this is a private university, international students’ fees are considerably higher than at state schools. As such, the first year’s tuition is $26,700 alone.
4. King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences – College of Medicine
This is a public university that has 14 colleges spread between Riyadh, Al-Ahsa, and Jeddah. It has evolved into a research-intensive academy and uses the King Abdulaziz Medical City as its residential training center for all medical students.
The College of Medicine is based in Riyadh and has the vision to prepare qualified physicians with high-quality education, as well as research and community services that promote social accountability.
The medical program will earn you the MBBS degree through a curriculum licensed from the University of Sydney in Australia, and adapted to the local requirements of life in Saudi Arabia. The curriculum employs the model of Problem-Based Learning, leading students to work together in small groups on actual medical problems. There is also a Clinical Skills Lab where students can work to put their theoretical knowledge into practice.
5. King Khalid University – College of Medicine
Located in Abha, King Khalid University was created in 1998 as a result of the merger between Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University and King Saud University in the Southern Region.
One of the best medical schools in Saudi Arabia is located at King Khalid University, which is the College of Medicine. This medical school works closely with local hospitals and facilities, supporting these whilst also giving their students exposure to the real world of medical practice: Assir Central Hospital, Abha General Hospital, Armed Forces Hospital Southern Region, and Primary Care Centers in the Assir Region are some of the institutions affiliated with the university.
The College of Medicine at King Khalid University also houses the Saudi Society of Medical Education and dedicates significant funding to medical research. You can continue your medical studies after the MBBS level, by studying at the Center for Postgraduate and Continuing Medical Education.
6. King Faisal University – College of Medicine
King Faisal University is a public university based in Al Ahsa, founded in 1975. The original goal of the university was always based on scientific research and the institution started out with a College of Agricultural and Food Sciences and a College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry at the main campus in Al Ahsa, as well as a College of Architecture and Planning and a College of Medicine and Medical Sciences in Dammam.
These evolved to more specialized departments and the University of Dammam segregated out of the university to be its own institution.
Nowadays, the College of Medicine at King Faisal University is one of 14. There are several departments, allowing students to specialize in internal medicine, pediatrics, etc. There is also a Center of Excellence in Hematological Diseases Research which will be excellent for those looking to specialize in this area.
7. University of Dammam / Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University – College of Medicine
The final medical school in our list of best medical schools in Saudi Arabia is the University of Damman, College of Medicine. One of the oldest universities in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, the University of Dammam became independent after separating from King Faisal University.
It is one of the leading universities for medical studies for both male and female students in Saudi Arabia. Its new name was adopted after the visit of King Salman bin Abdelaziz to Dammam in November 2016.
Alongside the College of Medicine, IAU dedicates itself only to medical sciences and offers studies in dentistry, nursing, clinical pharmacy, public health, and applied medical sciences. The College of Medicine awards the BMMS degree after the five-year program of studies and compulsory internship, as well as postgraduate degrees where students can further develop their studies of physiology, occupational medicine, and a number of other specializations.
They also host an Annual Medical Symposium and numerous conferences bringing together Saudi and international experts in their respective fields. Additionally, the College has an impressive array of laboratories where students can develop their understanding of clinical biochemistry, clinical pathology, anatomy, microbiology, etc.
Studying at IAU College of Medicine also provides opportunities for exchange programs with notable other universities where the college has partnerships: University of Arizona, Monash University, or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada. There is also a strong network of community service offerings within the university, allowing students to become more involved in the region and apply their knowledge in ways that benefit those around them from their university years.
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