The Dutch Medical School system differs from a lot of the medical school known to most of the people who can read in English. The biggest differences are in the way to get into med school, the curriculum of med school and the tuition fee you have to pay to your University.

Med School in the United States and Canada

In the North American continent students who want to become a doctor first have to receive their bachelor degree in a biological science field before they can get into medical school. And getting into med school isn't as easy as it sounds. Admission is one of the hardest things where you have to promote yourself to make sure the commission see why they should get you into their school.

And after you finally got into med school, there come the tuition bills. Depending on your University the prices can range from $25.000 in public institutes and $50.000 in private institutes.

During your time in med school you will spend most of the time in the clinic with clerkships. You will learn a lot when you are beside the bed of a patient and even more when the residents or the staff physicians are explaining more about a case.

Med School in the Netherlands

The Dutch medical school system works a little different, I will go by and explain the differences shortly.

Medical School Admission in the Netherlands

This is the biggest difference. Instead of receiving your Bachelor degree first, you can get straight into med school from high school.

The admission is based on a draw and on a selection.

The draw is done central, by governmental institutes. Students who want to go to med school apply to the program and they have to submit their grades from high school. The higher your grades are the higher your chance is to get in. (If you have a grade higher than an 8 (on the scale of 1-10) you will get straight into med school). You also say what University you want to go to. The draw is executed by a central committee which divides all the people to all the Universities.

Besides the draw, there is also a selection based on extracurricular activities and academic talent. This is relatively new and more like the system in North America. This is something which is increasing, the Dutch government want to get rid of the drawing system and go to the selection based admission more, as the students with the highest grades don't have to become the best doctors! For instance, somebody with straight A's in math is of course really smart, but if the person doesn't know how to talk to a patient with less of an educational background, what use is he as a doctor?

The Curriculum of Med School in the Netherlands

Because students don't already have their bachelor degree when entering med school, they don't know anything. Therefore, the first three years are solely focused around knowledge. Physiology and pathology are the core principles in the first three years of med school. Besides knowledge there is also a focus on patients, especially on the communication with patients. There is a lot about being professional and about ethics as well.

The way the students learn all the material is different at every medical school, in Groningen and Maastricht there is a lot problem based learning for instance, while the Universities in Amsterdam are way more academic with a lot of lectures. After the three years the medical student will do something like clerkship for three years. Three years in the clinic, in all different fields of medicine.

The last of the three years is divided in a research part and a part where you can choose your own clerkship, probably in the field you want to specialize in later on.

The Tuition Fee in the Netherlands

Another important difference is the tuition fee. Every medical student pays 1700 euros tuition fee yearly. This is aside from the books you have to buy. You are wondering how it this cheap is possible? Well, the Dutch government wants to give everybody an equal chance to an equal education, so although the tuitions costs are 30,000 euros a year, every student only has to pay 1700. This is similar to every other college degree.

This is all because education is seen as a right in the Netherlands, so all the people, including the less wealthy people, can go to college and use their full potential.


Medical School in the Netherlands is pretty different from Med School in Canada or the United States, whether this difference is good or not? You have to decide for yourself. The similarity though is all the student in medical school, wherever on the world, are all motivated to become the best doctor they can! And that is exactly why I go to medical school in the Netherlands.