Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ger Med Sci. 2017 Sep 25;15:Doc15. doi: 10.3205/000256. eCollection 2017.

A comparison of medical education in Germany and the United States: from applying to medical school to the beginnings of residency.

Author information

Institute for Reconstructive Surgery, Houston Methodist Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
Department of Plastic Surgery, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA, USA.
Department of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.
Institute of Molecular Immunology & Experimental Oncology, Technical University Munich, Munich, Germany.


in English, German

Both Germany and the United States of America have a long tradition of science and medical excellence reaching back as far as the nineteenth century. The same tribute must be paid to the medical educational system in both countries. Despite significant initial similarities and cross-inspiration, the paths from enrolling in a medical university to graduating as a medical doctor in Germany and the US seem to have become much different. To fill a void in literature, the authors' objective therefore is to delineate both structures of medical education in an up-to-date review and examine their current differences and similarities. Recent medical publications, legal guidelines of governmental or official organizations, articles in media, as well as the authors' personal experiences are used as sources of this report. Tuition loans of over $200,000 are not uncommon for students in the US after graduating from medical schools, which are often private institutions. In Germany, however, the vast majority of medical universities are tax-funded and, for this reason, free of tuition. Significant differences and surprisingly multiple similarities exist between these two systems, despite one depending on government and the other on private organizations. Germany currently employs an integrated medical curriculum that typically begins right after high school and consists of a 2-year long pre-clinical segment teaching basic sciences and a 4-year clinical segment leading medical students to the practical aspects of medicine. On the other hand, the US education is a two-stage process. After successful completion of a Bachelor's degree in college, an American student goes through a 4-year medical program encompassing 2 years of basic science and 2 years of clinical training. In this review, we will address some of these similarities and major differences.


Germany; United States; education; medical school; physician

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for German Medical Science GMS Publishing House Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center