5 most affordable cities to study medicine | Top Universities

5 most affordable cities to study medicine

By Aisha K

Updated August 25, 2022 Updated August 25, 2022

If you’ve got your heart set on studying medicine, it’s important to think about where you can get the most out of your degree without breaking the bank. As many popular study destinations continue to see tuition fees and living costs steadily increase, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most affordable cities that are also home to the world’s best institutions for medicine.  

Read on as we run through our top 5 affordable cities for aspiring medics:  

Munich 

Munich

First on our list is Munich, ranking 45th for affordability in the QS Best Student Cities 2023 ranking, where it also ranks an impressive second place overall. The Bavarian capital offers lower prices compared to other European hubs, along with a consistent high rank for quality of life, great infrastructure and efficient transportation.  

Despite being more expensive than Berlin, renting is 33 percent cheaper than London, with rent costing around €1,378 (£1,162) per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre, according to Numbeo.com.  

Costs aside, Munich is also well-known for its cultural richness with attractions such as the world-famous beer drinking festival, Oktoberfest, and the English Garden - one of the largest city parks in the world.  

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, you’ll be pleased to learn that no tuition fees are charged for undergraduate students in Germany’s public universities – regardless of nationality. That being said, students can expect to pay an administrative fee which only amounts to 300-400 euros per semester.  

In terms of study options, the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) is Germany’s second-best university for medicine (joint 44th globally according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022). The Technical University of Munich (TUM) isn’t far behind, ranking joint 59th. TUM’s School of Medicine, together with the university hospital, is one of the strongest medical research locations in Germany. 

In fact, preclinical studies in medicine are organised in co-operation between TUM and LMU and are held mainly at LMU facilities. Students can then choose to complete their clinical studies at either university.   

Seoul 

Seoul

Climbing six places this year to rank 51st for the affordability indicator, Seoul is one of the most culturally diverse and thriving cities in Asia. South Korea’s capital also ranks joint second overall, tied with Munich, and has seen improvement in areas such as desirability and employer activity. 

Understandably, one of its most prestigious universities, Seoul National University (SNU) (which ranks 29th in the QS World University Rankings 2023), is also the country’s best institution for medicine. Medical students will have access to Seoul National University Hospital, one of the oldest and biggest hospitals in South Korea.  

It’s worth considering language requirements as some medical degrees may require a good level of Korean if your chosen course isn’t taught in English. However, many universities, such as SNU’s Korean Language Education Center, offer courses for international students, so there’s definitely support available if you want to learn Korean.  

Typical prices for a university dormitory are around ₩1,000,000 to ₩1,500,000 per semester (£632 - £948). Alternatively, a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will set you back ₩1,028, 571 (£650), as estimated by Numbeo. Living in South Korea also means taking advantage of the country’s speedy internet services, but luckily they’re reasonably priced at around ₩26,571 (£17) a month.  

With regards to tuition fees, international students can expect to pay £5,064 per semester. Although this may be on the more expensive end, international students can apply for the Global Korea Scholarship, which provides tuition costs and living expenses for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.  

Leuven 

Leuven

As one of Belgium’s most charming cities, Leuven is considered an affordable alternative to many other European destinations. The city is also well-known for the country’s highest-ranked institution, KU Leuven, which ranks 76th globally. 

Tuition fees for non-EEA citizens are €3,900 (£3,289), cheaper than many popular European cities such as London and Paris. According to KU Leuven, monthly rent for a student room including utilities is €340-€520 (£287 - £439) or €600 - €800 (£506 - £675) for a one-bedroom apartment.  

Language requirements are worth noting as studying medicine requires passing an entrance exam organised by the Ministry of Education and Training of the Flemish Government. It’s held in Dutch so good knowledge of the language is required. There’s a wide range of support available if you want to learn Dutch, including the university’s language centre, Leuven Language Institute, which offers language courses and services for staff and students affiliated with the university.  

Becoming a medical professional in Belgium happens in three cycles: students will complete a bachelor and master’s degree, and will then take an advanced master’s that includes a professional medical residency lasting three to six years depending on the medical speciality. 

Outside of studying, life in Leuven offers plenty of entertainment, whether you’re interested in enjoying a music concert in the city’s main square or taking in the sight of its medieval buildings on a cycling tour.  

Montréal 

Montreal

If the idea of studying in North America sounds exciting, Montréal could an interesting option for you. The city ranks within the top 80 for affordability, surpassing top-ranked European cities as a cheaper place for students to study. Renting is almost 50 percent cheaper than London, as a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost you C$1,382 (£903) per month.  

Another benefit of studying in Canada is that you’re able to attend some of the world’s most prestigious universities. McGill University, ranked joint 22nd in the world, and second best for medicine nationally, offers a four-year undergraduate medical programme, leading to the conferral of a MDCM (Medicinæ Doctorem et Chirurgiæ Magistrum) degree.  

As you might expect with some top-ranked institutions, applying to McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences is very competitive. In the past few years, around 3,000 applications have been received per cycle and 500 interviews have been conducted for approximately 180 available positions in the first-year class.  

Annual tuition is more expensive than some of the other cities mentioned here, at around C$55,504.89 (£36,274), but it’s worth looking at the university’s resources for international student funding, including the Entrance Scholarships Program for MDCM students.  

Known for its diverse cultural makeup and embodiment of French Canada, Montréal ranks 19th for desirability and ninth for the student view indicator, bolstering its position as a city that is highly regarded among students.  

Edinburgh 

Edinburgh

Ranking one place behind Montreal for affordability in 78th place, Edinburgh remains one of the most popular UK study destinations for obvious reasons. Edinburgh is globally renowned, partly because of the University of Edinburgh, which ranks 15th globally. 

Students can apply for the university’s six-year Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) degree, which is accredited by the UK General Medical Council and recognised by overseas accrediting bodies in the US, Canada and Australia. In the sixth year of the degree, students will have the opportunity to undertake a medical elective - a period of study at another medical school or clinical placement provider, usually taken abroad. 

According to the university, it costs around £8,500 – £11,000 a year to live and study as an undergraduate at Edinburgh, but it could be more or less, depending on factors such as your choice of accommodation and your lifestyle. 

Medical scholarships are available for those interested in postgraduate study. The Glenmore Postgraduate Scholarship which offers scholarships for a wide range of master’s such as Integrative Neuroscience, Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Urology and Trauma and Orthopaedics.  

The Scottish capital is brimming with culture and with attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Royal Mile, it’s clear that there’s no shortage of things to do when you’re studying here.  

This article was originally published in August 2022 .

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Written by

Aisha is Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, creating and publishing a wide range of articles for an international student audience. A native Londoner, Aisha graduated from the London School of Economics with a degree in Philosophy and has previously worked in the civil service. 

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