About the Program

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill accepts a limited number of foreign medical students into clinical electives during each academic year for what we hope is an educational, engaging, challenging, and positive segment of your medical education. You must be in your final year of medical school when you arrive at UNC for an elective. Each elective is approximately four weeks in duration, on a fixed block schedule. Students may take more than one elective if availability allows, and if they perform satisfactorily in their initial elective, up to a maximum of three electives. Most students complete electives at UNC Chapel Hill, but electives are also available at affiliated hospitals throughout North Carolina in cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington.

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Our office is dedicated to guiding you through the application process, assisting you with the logistics involved in completing an international elective, and serving as a helpful resource during your stay in Chapel Hill. We understand that your final year of medical school is a very busy year, and we want to make planning your elective at UNC as easy as possible.

We’ve included a lot of information on our website for your convenience. Please take a moment and look over all of the sections before contacting the OIA Office directly.

Application Overview

Applications are accepted year-round, and students are encouraged to apply 4-6 months in advance. You may apply at any time and students are usually notified of admission or rejection within 6-12 weeks of application verification through an official email confirmation. However, we cannot begin confirming specific elective courses until about 3 months before the block begins. We confirm specific electives in the order of accepted applications. Though students may apply to 5 elective options, the maximum number of electives a student may be scheduled in at UNC is 3.

Email is the official mode of communication for the 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.

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.

Confused about how the process works? Wondering about the status of your application? Check out this detailed explanation to help you understand better.

Everything You Need To Know about Applying:

To be eligible for participation in the IVS Program, students must be in their final year of medical school upon arrival at UNC for an elective. You must be in good standing at your home institution and have completed a criminal background check and/or have no criminal violations. To participate in electives at UNC School of Medicine, you must submit the following completed documentation to the Office of International Activities:

  • Application form– This is the first information you will put in to the online application system.
  • Supplemental Documents– To upload the remaining documents electronically, use your email address and password to log back into your online application. After you log in you should have two choices “update application” and “upload documents/forms.”
  • Visiting Medical Students Health form, vaccination, and serological records. Please note that the TB test must come from within the United States. No outside TB tests will be accepted. Please see Frequently Asked Questions for more details.*
  • Letter of Intent– This letter should outline your personal educational goals that you hope to realize through engaging in a clinical elective at UNC Hospitals as well as your long-term career plans.
  • CV or Resumé
  • English translation of your medical school transcript and grades
  • Copy of your USMLE Step 1 or 2 score report– To participate in electives at UNC School of Medicine, you must have a passing score on the USMLE Step 1 examination or Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (a passing score on the German ‘Physikum’ exam or a passing score on the ‘IFOM CSE’ may also be acceptable in certain circumstances). An evaluation from a clinical elective at another US institution may be accepted as a substitute for a USMLE score in some instances. However, UNC reserves the right to require a USMLE Step score for any applicant.
  • Copy of your TOEFL score report– Minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are 590 for the Paper-based Test and 100 for the Internet-based Test (107 for MEDI or SURY courses with a minimum of 25 in Speaking). If you are attending medical school in a predominantly English-speaking country (Ireland, Canada, UK, South Africa, Off-Shore Caribbean American branch school), you may submit a statement to that effect. This does NOT include Poland, India, Germany, or Pakistan. Alternatively, if you attended secondary school or university in a predominant-English speaking country, you may submit a copy of your transcript or diploma in order for the TOEFL waiver to be considered. Lastly, if you completed a clinical U.S. elective, you may submit the Letter of Recommendation or elective evaluation. However, TOEFL scores may also be required by UNC for any applicant at the OIA’s discretion. The University of North Carolina Office of International Activities in the School of Medicine reserves the right to request a telephone interview to determine adequate fluency.
  • Dean’s Office Certification form printed on your school’s stationery or containing signature and seal/ stamp of your institution and your graduation date
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty members at your home medical school or from faculty/physicians who have observed you during other clinical visiting electives
  • $100 non-refundable application fee-The application fee can be paid online using a credit card. Only MasterCard or Visa are accepted at this time. If you would like to pay online using MasterCard or Visa, please follow this Payment Link. *Please note: you must enter your Application ID number – therefore you must have started an online application before you can pay your application fee.The payment ID is a four-digit number located on your online application. Alternatively, you may submit the $100 non-refundable application fee by check or money order. All checks must be valid for deposit in a U.S. 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. Please include your name in the mailing to guarantee your payment is attributed to your application. The application will NOT be checked for completion until the fee is received. If a check is returned due to insufficient funds, the sender is responsible for the $25 returned check processing fee.

We recommend documents be submitted in PDF format for easy uploading. Applications will not be reviewed for a decision until all documentation is successfully submitted and the application fee is received. Please notify the office via email of any changes or updates you make to your application after acceptance..

The tuition cost per four-week clinical elective, including the $500 deposit, is $2,500 total in addition to the non-refundable $100 application fee. The tuition cost for two subsequent clinical electives effective January 2016 is $5,000.


When offered an elective by the Office of International Activities, in order to accept the offer, you will be required to pay $500 of the total $2,500 tuition fee within a week of the offer to secure your placement. Your payment schedule will be the following: When applying, you will pay your $100 application fee. When offered a course, you must pay $500 to accept. Before beginning your course, you will pay the remaining $2,000 of your elective fee.


You do not need to pay the elective fee unless you are confirmed for electives at UNC. The non-refundable $100 application fee is a one-time fee, regardless of the number of requested electives or a change to your application. The application fee can be paid online using a credit card. Only MasterCard or Visa are accepted at this time. If you would like to pay online using MasterCard or Visa, please follow this link. Please note: you must enter your application password in the field requesting an “AMCAS ID.” Enter your name on the main page of the international visiting student fee page to ensure the online payment is attributed to your unique application.


Tuition cost is subject to increase with every new academic year. If submitting the $100 application fee by mail, please ensure all checks are valid for deposit in a U.S. bank and made payable to the ‘UNC School of Medicine’.


Fees do not include housing. Each student is responsible for arranging their housing, although we send a list of potential housing contacts to all students accepted into our program..

Course descriptions are listed in the Fourth Year Course Electives Visiting Electives Book. Please note the following special circumstances for certain courses:

  • Visiting students cannot participate in APSM courses, or SURS (not the same as SURY) courses. However, if the course is cross-listed under a second course code, you may apply for the course under a different course code. (For example. you may NOT apply for APSM 402 20, but you may apply for the cross-listed course MEDI 413).
  • Visiting students are not eligible to participate in Internal Medicine (MEDI), Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGN), or Family Medicine (FMME) courses located outside of Chapel Hill, NC. In order to Apply for MEDI 465, you must have a letter of recommendation or evaluation from at least 1 US clinical elective.
  • If you intend to apply for an elective in the department of Dermatology (DERM 401, 402) email Cherie Ezuka for pre-approval before submitting your application materials to our office.
  • If you intend to apply for pediatric (PEDS) electives, you must have received high marks in your core rotations in pediatrics and internal medicine, and these grades must appear on your transcript or a letter from your school must provide this information
  • If you intend to apply for family medicine (FMME) electives, please note that FMME 417 is only available for blocks 7-12

Study visits must conform to the beginning and ending dates of the UNC School of Medicine elective periods. Refer to the UNC-CH elective calendar to see UNC established elective periods.


If your application is approved by the Admissions Committee, we will then work on confirming your specific elective course from the list of your preferences. If you are accepted and your preferred electives are unavailable, we will contact you for additional preferences. When your elective is confirmed you will receive a Course Confirmation Notice via email that lists your elective course title and course dates.


Since UNC students have priority for registration, it is not possible to guarantee that you will be able to take the particular elective for which you apply. Please note that some departments (example: PEDS) are completely full with our own UNC students for certain months, but you can always review the Historical Data for IVS Scheduled Electives. You are expected to attend the elective every day unless you have received authorization from the course director to be absent. Failure to comply may result in immediate termination of your participation in the elective.


If you cannot attend a scheduled elective, please notify the by email immediately. If you fail to notify the Office of International Activities of your cancellation at least 8 weeks prior to the start of your elective, UNC will withdraw you from any future scheduled electives and your school will be notified.


Please always keep our office notified of your changing preferences and availability as soon as possible. If you are offered a course on your elective preference list, during one of your specified block preferences, and you choose to decline– the OIA reserves the right to remove you from our scheduling list. Please only list courses and block periods that you intend to accept.

The grade for student performance in an elective will be given as “Fail,” “Pass,” “High Pass” or “Honors” on an evaluation form, which may also contain comments. You will receive the same evaluation form as our UNC medical students. This is the only evaluation that you will receive in our program.

If you have read and understood the information above, please proceed to the online International Visiting Students Application Form. After completing the initial application form, please log back in to upload the required documents in electronic format. Please note, it is not necessary to “check,” or upload any documentation to the field labeled “Application”. We are also now in GHLO! If your school is a GHLO affiliate, then please use this system instead of our internal online application. DO NOT apply using both GHLO and our UNC application methods. See FAQ section for more information about using GHLO.