A medical degree typically takes four years to complete, and part-time medical school does not exist. Night-only medical school is also not an option, though you can earn your pre-med bachelor’s degree at night. Even for medical schools in the U.S. that offer a five-year medical school degree or combined bachelor’s and medical degree, you’ll still need to carry a full-time schedule in order to finish on time. Below, we discuss the details of attending medical school, including pre-med requirements and alternative schooling options.
How Medical School Works
Becoming a medical doctor in the U.S. requires four years of education and training. The first two years are spent in the classroom and focus on reading, studying, and lab work; the last two years are dedicated to hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics.
While researching medical school length, requirements, and options, we were unable to find any medical schools in the U.S. that offer an option of part-time attendance. This is because proper training is crucial for doctors, and medical school is only one step in the lengthy process of becoming a doctor.
After completing your bachelor’s degree, which typically takes four years, the second step is to get a four-year medical degree. In your last year of medical school, you’ll choose a specialty and apply for residency programs — this is the third step. The fourth step is spending three to seven years doing a residency before becoming a doctor, then continuing your education with certifications and ongoing training throughout your career. So, if you want to be a doctor, you are looking at 11 to 15 years of school and training after you complete high school. Once you’re a doctor, you’ll need to obtain a license in your state and do continuing medical education classes; this fifth and final step is ongoing.
While the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) doesn’t directly state that part-time medical school is not allowed, it does set the standards and requirements that medical schools must meet in order to become accredited schools. One of the AAMC’s accreditation standards is that educators in each medical school should be able to reinforce complex topics of study again and again so that students can successfully retain this important information. Going to school part time can make it difficult for educators to reinforce certain complex and critical topics that students must learn and commit to memory in medical school.
Other Medical-Related Degrees You Can Earn Part Time
You cannot become an MD or DO by attending school part time. However, note that other schools of medicine and medical-related fields have part-time degree and certification programs. A few of these career options include:
- Anesthesia Technologist
- Dental Hygienist
- Nurse/Registered Nurse/Licensed Practical Nurse
- Respiratory Technician
Is Medical School at Night an Option?
We were unable to find any medical schools during our research that allow night-only classes. Generally, the first two years of medical school are spent in the classroom during the day, abiding by a set and limited schedule. While this doesn’t give you the option of going to school part time, it does give you the option of working part time at night (if you are able to manage it on top of coursework and studying).
Many schools do offer pre-med classes or bachelor’s of science classes at night, but not medical degree courses. Other schools, such as Georgetown University, offer a medically based lecture series at night taught by their medical school professors. Note that these are for anyone in the community to come and learn about what medical students study, and they are not part of earning a medical degree. While continuing education credits may be issued for participating in such programs, academic credit is usually not issued.
Combined Degree Options
Some schools offer combined undergraduate and medical degree programs. With a combined degree program, you can earn your pre-med degree and your medical degree back-to-back at the same school. Both degrees are full time and the course load is intense, but doing a combined program can save you one year overall. At some schools with combined degrees (Boston University, for example), you’ll take seven years to complete the two degrees, rather than the eight years it would take to do them separately. However, at other schools where the degrees are combined (Wayne State, for example), it still takes eight years total.
Choosing a Medical School
If you are interested in attending medical school in the U.S., you can visit the AAMC website for a list of schools and requirements. You can filter your search by factors like private or public school, campus type, and combined degree programs, but there is no part-time option. If you are interested in pursuing a medical degree at a specific school, you should contact the school directly to have it find out if it has implemented any part-time options.
You may also be interested in our article about side jobs for medical students.