Frequently Asked Questions
For a detailed overview of the entire International Visiting Student (IVS) Program process, refer to this page
All the information is conveniently located on our website. If after you read through our published information, you still have questions, please contact the Office of International Activities at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I contact the department directly to inquire about an elective?
Students may NOT contact hospitals, departments, clerkship directors, program directors, or program coordinators directly regarding interest in a clinical elective placement. All scheduling must be done through the UNC Office of International Activities.
The OIA works with the IVS Program, which is exclusively for current, enrolled final year students.
Observerships or Shadowing opportunities are not for currently enrolled medical students but those for whom are exploring a career in medicine or qualified physicians considering opportunities in the U.S. There are many learners of all levels who are part of UNC/Chapel Hill and finding opportunities is challenging. The Office of International Activities cannot arrange clinical experiences for individuals who are not currently enrolled in medical school.
Those interested in shadowing must have a faculty physician willing to take personal responsibility for them to set up the experience. If you are able to find someone to work with, then Volunteer Services (https://www.uncmedicalcenter.org/uncmc/support/volunteer-services/shadowing/ can assist with the arrangements and paperwork necessary. Please see this website and the attached UNC policy for more information.
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. Visiting students are not eligible to participate in courses labeled APSM, AHEC, and SURS. Additionally, visiting students are not eligible to participate in Internal Medicine (MEDI), Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGN), or Family Medicine (FMME) courses located in Charlotte, NC or Wilmington, NC. These are electives which are only available to UNC students. Please do not list these on your application.
To view the electives that are available to international visiting students, you may view the link here: Fourth Year Curriculum Visiting Student Electives.
We suggest you visit this link to historical data charts. While availability varies from year to year, classes are frequently popular in certain terms. We suggest submitting your completed application approximately 4-6 months before the start date of your desired elective. Please note that electives themselves are typically not scheduled until about 2-3 months prior to the start date.
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.
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.
We also accept the German Physikum and IFOM (CSE) in lieu of a USMLE score.
In lieu of a USMLE score, we also accept the German Physikum or the IFOM (CSE). We will not accept an official letter from your Medical School Dean stating that your school approves a waiver.
If you meet the above criteria, you may send an email to the International Visiting Student Program within the Office of International Activities at email@example.com requesting a USMLE waiver. Your email should include your request, full name, and attachments of your resume/curriculum vitae, and medical school transcripts. USMLE waivers are very limited and will not be available for the majority of applicants.
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 a combined score of 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 evidence to that effect. Acceptable countries are predominantly English-speaking and include regions such as Canada, Ireland, UK,Off-shore Caribbean, and South Africa, for instance. Additionally, you may be eligible for a TOEFL waiver if you have attended secondary school or university in the US, Canada, or another predominantly English-speaking country; you must submit your school transcript or diploma, and include this information on your CV. Alternatively, we accept a Letter of Recommendation from a former U.S. clinical elective addressing your English proficiency. If your medical school is not located in a predominant English-speaking country, we will not accept an official letter from your Dean stating that your school is conducted in English. Please do not request a waiver without meeting the above criteria. However, TOEFL scores may also be required by UNC for any applicant at the OIA’s discretion. If you choose to take the paper-based test, we will also require a phone interview.
- Minimum acceptable TOEFL score for ANY medicine and surgery electives is 107 for the Internet-based Test (preferably with a minimum speaking score of 25).
- A waiver request is no guarantee unless explicitly approved by the OIA.
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 within the United States. Students will have to get a TB test completed in the U.S., regardless of prior testing. If you cannot get this test done prior to arrival (like the majority of applicants), you will have an appointment made on your behalf at UNC Campus Health Services to be completed at your orientation (Cost $15). Influenza vaccines, consistent with current US flu shot, are required for electives taking place from October through April, at UNC Campus Health Services, this vaccination costs $17 with a vaccine administration fee of $13, ($30 total). Any immunizations that students are unable to complete prior to arrival will be completed on the student’s first day- and they are responsible for billing. Our required Health Insurance does not cover Immunizations. You are not required to get these done at UNC Campus Health, but you must provide evidence of their completion before your elective. Please note that you may not begin your elective until your immunization requirements have been met.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prospective students should apply six months in advance of their desired elective start date. 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 (August-December), if accepted, will not be scheduled/confirmed in an elective course until June or later. Applicants applying for Spring (January-May) will not be scheduled/confirmed in an elective course until November or later.
Email is the official mode of communication for the International Visiting Medical Student Program. Notification of application acceptance and/or denial will be provided via email. Official acceptance letter and supporting documentation will be provided via email notification to all approved and scheduled students. Please do not call the office.
Alternatively, you may also pay the $100 non-refundable application fee 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.’ Check or money order fee payments should be mailed to the address located here. Include your name in the mailing document to guarantee your payment is attributed to your application.
The application will not be checked for completion until the $100 application fee is received.
If you are applying through VSLO– you may use the last 4 digits of your AAMC number as your application ID.
After your application fee is received and your application is verified as complete, you will receive a “completion” email from the OIA within 4 weeks time. Applicants are usually notified of an admission’s decision within 6-9 weeks of the date of that email.
The completed application will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee at the next meeting. The Committee attempts to meet on a monthly basis, but there is no guarantee that a Committee Meeting will occur every month.
The decision regarding your application will then be sent to you in an official email confirmation. Acceptance means you are 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.
Specific elective course scheduling will begin in January for Periods 13-5, and begin in November for Periods 10-12 (2016-2017). 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 emailed from the UNC School of Medicine Scheduling Coordinator to accepted students listing the elective course title and course dates. Shortly after receiving the course confirmation notice, students will receive an email from the OIA with a housing list and a student guide that should answer many common arrival questions.
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 based on a clause in the Foreign Affairs Manual: 9 FAM 402.2-5(E)(3) (U) as a participant in a Medical Clerkship at a US medical school.
We recommend looking into the details of getting this Visa from your home country as soon as your application is pre-approved, but do not confirm a Visa appointment until an elective has been secured on your behalf. You may request further support regarding your Visa once you have secured an elective. Keep in mind that Visa appointments can take place between 1 and 4 weeks after scheduling an appointment, and that wait times are unique to each U.S. Embassy (ex: Mumbai averages 17 calendar days wait time; Islamabad averages 7 calendar days). It is best to have your appointment scheduled for about a month prior to your planned departure. Please refer to the website of the Embassy nearest to you to determine when you should make your appointment. Some countries may require multiple interviews. The required fees differ from each country, see your local U.S. Embassy for fee information. 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 email@example.com and we will email you a personalized PDF letter.
If your country has a Visa waiver program, you may use this for your elective.
If your Visa is not granted, or you are not placed in an elective after having obtained a Visa, please note that the OIA does not reimburse for any Visa fees. US citizens will not need a visa to engage in electives at UNC.
Notify the OIA of your change in plans through email immediately: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can sometimes 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.
NO. Each elective course-block combination is treated individually. Being accepted for a course in one block does not mean you will be accepted again in a later block or that there is any availability for a later date. All course confirmations are considered final. Do not confirm any elective courses that you do not intend to attend. You may apply to additional electives at later dates, but if you drop your confirmed elective, you will not be considered for any future electives. Please keep the OIA well-aware of your changing availability to avoid being scheduled in one of your preferred blocks if you can no longer attend.
The OIA expects that any course or block you have listed in your five preferences, is one that you are willing to accept if offered. If you are offered one of your listed courses in one of your listed blocks, and choose to decline, then you will not be scheduled for any further electives. For this reason, you must be sure to keep ONLY courses and blocks that you intend to accept on your application at all times. If your schedule changes, notify the OIA via email immediately.
If your home medical school has a partnership with GHLO, then we encourage you to apply through that system. Please DO NOT apply through both the UNC Application AND through GHLO. Choose only ONE application system.
To do so, log in to your GHLO account and search for University of North Carolina School of Medicine. There you will be able to view our electives, application requirements and submit an application to our elective program.
What do the Statuses in GHLO mean?
“Ready for HOST review.”
When your home medical school has approved your application for our electives, your status will read “Ready for HOST review.” Once your application payment has been received, we will review your application for completion, but your status in GHLO will not yet change. Instead, if your application is deemed complete, you will receive an email notifying you that we have successfully received your completed application. Your name will then be added to our list of applications to review at the Monthly Review Meeting.
It is not until AFTER the UNC Office of International Activities Monthly Review Meeting, that your status will change in GHLO.
“Application Denied by HOST.”
This status indicates the UNC OIA review committee has rejected your application for admission to our program.
“HOST Review in progress.”
This status indicated the UNC OIA Committee has pre-accepted you into the program. What this means is that you have been accepted into the program, but that an elective has not yet been scheduled for you. Your name has been added to our scheduling list, and scheduling will occur in an effort to secure an elective for you throughout the following months. This status is no guarantee that you will receive an elective, but we try to accommodate as many applicants as possible depending on elective availability at that time.
Your status will read “Conditionally Accepted only when a UNC elective course for you has been approved and confirmed. From here, you must either accept or deny the elective being offered to you.
If you accept, you will then need to complete the post-decision items in your to-do list, and your status will be changed to “Elective Offer Accepted by Student.” This will be your elective confirmation and you will be contacted via email with the necessary follow-up documents and information you will need to prepare for your elective.