Frequently Asked Questions

IVS program pic students jan 2015


Before Applying

How can I find information about the International Visiting Students (IVS) program at UNC’s School of Medicine?

All the information is conveniently located on our website. If after you read though our published information, you still have questions, please contact the Office of International Activities at

Do you offer observerships?

The OIA works with the IVS Program, which is exclusively for current final year students. Observerships are handled by the individual clinical departments.  Here is a link regarding visitors/observers at UNC Hospitals:

What electives are available when I plan to participate in the IVS program?

The availability of electives varies constantly throughout the year, as well as from year to year.  Many electives are not requested and go unfilled.  Other electives are completely filled by our own UNC medical students. The elective preferences on the application are only used for scheduling purposes, not admission decisions.  If you are accepted, but your preferences are unavailable, we will contact you for additional preferences. To help guide your selection process, we have provided historical data detailing availability in previous years. You can find this data here: Historical Data of IVS Scheduled Electives.

When is the elective I am interested in open?

We suggest you visit this link to historical data charts. While availability varies from year to year, classes are frequently popular in certain terms. The elective preferences on the application are only used for scheduling purposes, not admission decisions.  If you are accepted, but your preferences are unavailable, we will contact you for additional preferences.

Does the Office of International Activities offer scholarships for the IVS elective program?

Unfortunately, at this time we cannot offer IVS scholarships. All funds are expected to be paid in full through individual resources or home school institutions.

Can I apply without a USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 CK score?

We welcome students to begin their application prior to taking the USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 CK test. However, your application will not be reviewed by the Admissions Committee for a decision until a score is provided or a waiver is granted. 

An evaluation from a clinical rotation at another US institution may be accepted as a substitute for a USMLE test score in some cases.  Having an evaluation from a U.S. institution is no guarantee of a waiver. We also accept the German Physikum in lieu of a USMLE score.

How can I receive a USMLE waiver?

Please send an email to OIA at requesting a USMLE waiver. Your email should include your request, full name, and attachments of your resume/curriculum vitae and evaluation from your U.S. clinical rotation. USMLE waivers are very limited and will not be available for the majority of applicants.

Can I apply without a TOEFL score?

 We welcome students to begin their application prior to taking the TOEFL test. However, the Admissions Committee will not make a decision on the application before a TOEFL score is uploaded.

  •  Minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are 590 for the Paper-based Test and 100 for the Internet-based Test.  If you are attending medical school in an English-speaking country, you may submit a statement to that effect. However, TOEFL scores may also be required by UNC for any applicant at the OIA's discretion.  Additionally, if you have completed high school (secondary) or an undergraduate degree in the US, Canada, or another predominantly English-speaking country, you may request a TOEFL waiver and should include this information on your CV. A waiver request is no guarantee unless specifically approved by the OIA.

Can I apply without a completed Health Form?

Students should submit a Health Form with as much immunization information as they can provide. Applications will not be reviewed without any health information. After acceptance, students will be required to submit proof of all immunizations, including serological results for titers and any outstanding immunization requirements.  Please note that TB tests are only accepted from certain countries.  Students will have to get a TB test done in the U.S., regardless of prior testing, if the prior test is from an unapproved country.  See the list of unapproved countries.

My documents will not upload to my application, what can I do?

Changing the format of your documents will likely remedy the problem. Documents can be easily uploaded as PDF files. If you are still experiencing difficulty, email any documents that will not upload properly to

How early can I apply?

Prospective students are welcome to complete the application for the upcoming year (August - June of next year) at any time. However, applicants applying for Fall 2014 (Periods 2-6) will not be reviewed or approved until late Spring 2014. Accepted students will be confirmed in an elective course in June 2014 or later. Applicants applying for Spring 2015 (Periods 7-12) will not be reviewed or approved until late Fall 2014. Accepted students will be confirmed in an elective course in October 2014 or later.

Application In-Process

Where should I send my supplemental documents?

All supplemental documentation should be uploaded to your application. Documents are most easily uploaded in the PDF file format. Any documents that will not upload should be sent through email attachment to It is not necessary to ship original hard-copy documents which were uploaded to your online application.

I applied online and uploaded all of my supplemental documents, but the application field/ check box remains empty/ unchecked. Is there something else I need to do?

It is not necessary to "check", or upload any documentation to the application field if you completed your application online. The application field will only appear completed if you submit a paper application, because this field is only necessary for applicants who were unable to apply through the online database.

When and how should I pay the application fee?

The $100 non-refundable application fee should be submitted after the application process has begun. The application fee can only be paid by check or money order. All checks must be valid for deposit in a US bank and be made payable to the ‘UNC School of Medicine.’ Fee payments should be mailed to the address located here. Please include your name in the mailing to guarantee your payment is attributed to your application. There is no option to pay online at this time.

Application Submitted

When will I receive notification of a decision on my application?

Once the application is complete, it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee at the next meeting. Committee Meetings are scheduled throughout the year to accommodate new applicants, but the schedule can be irregular.

Applicants are usually notified of an admission decision within 6-8 weeks of application completion verified through an official email confirmation.  Acceptance means you are generally approved for electives at UNC, but you have not been scheduled or confirmed in a specific course and you should not assume you have a spot.

When will I find out what elective I will be scheduled for?

Specific elective course scheduling will begin in June for Periods 2-6, and begin in October for Periods 7-12. Electives will be confirmed in the order of accepted applications and requested periods (for example, we schedule Period 3 before Period 6). Course confirmation notices will be sent to accepted students listing the elective course title and course dates. Shortly after receiving the course confirmation notice, students will receive an email with a housing list and a student guide that should answer many arrival questions.

I am not a US Citizen. Do I need a visa to participate in the program?

Although you will be participating in an elective at UNC, you will NOT have official student status at UNC and cannot participate on a student visa. UNC does not sponsor student visas for this program and we do not provide I-20 forms or DS-2019s.  Medical electives are allowed under a B1/B2 visa, which is a business/tourism visa.  Students can participate under the visa waiver program if applicable in your home country. If you need a supporting letter to take to the Embassy or Consulate when applying for a visa or a letter for entering the country upon arrival, please contact and we will email you a PDF letter.
US Citizens will not need a visa to engage in electives at UNC.

I cannot attend my scheduled elective at UNC. What should I do?

Notify the OIA of your change in plans through email immediately: We can work with you to reschedule at a more preferable time, or cancel your participation entirely. If you communicate promptly with the OIA, you may be able to participate in other electives in the future. In the event of a cancellation, elective spots can occasionally be redistributed, so the earlier you notify the OIA, the more students we can accommodate in their preferred electives.