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

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.

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.  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.

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?

An evaluation or a Letter of Recommendation from a clinical rotation at another US institution may be considered as a substitute for a USMLE test score in some cases.  Having an evaluation or LOR from a U.S. institution is no guarantee of a waiver. In lieu of a USMLE score, we also accept the German Physikumn or the IFOM.

If you meet the above criteria, you may send an email to OIA at requesting a USMLE waiver. Your email should include your request, full name, and attachments of your resume/curriculum vita, medical school transcripts, and evaluation from your U.S. clinical rotation or LOR 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. English speaking countries are predominantly English-speaking countries 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 and must submit your school transcript and include this information on your CV, or 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.
  • Minimum acceptable TOEFL score for ANY medicine and surgery electives is 107 for the Internet-based Test (preferably with a minimum speaking score of 24).
  • 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 (Periods 2-6), if accepted, will not be scheduled/confirmed in an elective course until June or later. Applicants applying for Spring (Periods 7-12) will not be scheduled/confirmed in an elective course until October or later.

Application In-Process

Where should I send my supplemental documents?

All supplemental documentation should be uploaded to your online application. Documents are most easily uploaded in the PDF file format. Any documents that will not upload should be sent through email attachment to no longer accept hard copy applications. All applicants must submit an online application to be eligible for a visiting clinical elective!

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.

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 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 four-digit application ID in the field marked "PID"- therefore you must begin an online application in order to have an application ID. You must save this 4-digit ID for your records in order to make any changes or add documents to your application. Enter your name on the main page of the international visiting student fee page to ensure the online payment is attributed to your application- otherwise, we will now know who the application fee is for and will not check your application for completion.

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.

Application Submitted

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

After your application fee is received and your application is verified as complete, you will receive a "completion" email from the OIA. Applicants are usually notified of an admission's decision within 6 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.

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 November 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 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.

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.