Difference Between MD & MBBS

Difference Between MD & MBBS

MBBS stands for Bachelor of Medicine-Bachelor of Surgery, while MD stands for Doctor of Medicine.

What is MBBS?

MBBS is an undergraduate, first professional degree in medicine & surgery.  MBBS courses are designed to train students in all fields of medicine.  

The courses include Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Applied Medical Biochemistry, Applied Pharmacology, Human Pathology, Human Microbiology, Otolaryngology, Dermatology, Pediatrics, and even General Surgery. Although it varies between countries, an MBBS degree is typically completed in 4-6 years including an intern year with practical training.  In most countries, the student is required to complete the internship period before being awarded the degree in order to demonstrate sufficient expertise.  

What is MD?

Doctor of Medicine or MD is a Postgraduate degree.  An MD curriculum is normally at least 4 years and is comprised typically of two years of classroom training followed by two years of practical skills training referred to as clinical experience (with core and elective degree requirements).  An MBBS student can also become eligible for MD after successfully completing their MBBS degree and then completing an MBBS to MD pathway program (these programs can vary in duration but are typically an additional 1-2 years of education).  In the USA, the MD curriculum and degree is the most common standard for a professional Doctor of Medicine.  There is also a similar but different medical degree pathway called a DO which is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.  

In the US medical education system, licensure to become an active practicing physician begins with an MD or DO degree followed by a residency program (these are postgraduate training programs at least 3 in length in a specific field).  As mentioned, MD degrees can typically be completed in at least 4 years.  Students in US medical schools also typically complete their United States Medical Licensing Exams during their 4th years (USMLE Step 1, 2CK, and 3) in preparation for applying to the National Resident Matching System (NRMP) to apply for a residency program in a specific specialty.  Following a residency program and depending on state requirements, there is also a board exam for licensure to practice medicine.  

Basic Comparison of Most Common Medical Degree Types in the US Vs India

MBBS (India) MD (US)
Curriculum After 10+2 students must take an entrance test such as PMT, CBSE or AFMC etc. A passing score allows admission into the MBBS program. A MBBS graduate can practice medicine independently or pursue a MD or MS post graduate degree. Pre-Med (four years of Undergraduate program), MD program (Four years) and USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1, 2 & 3).
Admission Requirements Passing 10+2, or equivalent thereof Undergraduate degree or four years of study, preferably from a US-accredited institution.

International students have at least four years of study after 10+2, to apply for a MD program in the US.

Type of Degree Undergraduate double degree;

General medical degree

Masters/Postgraduate Degree
Completion 4 and a half years 4 years

Completion of a Pre-Med and undergraduate program does not allow one to become a doctor or guarantee admission into medical school, but it is a prerequisite to begin an MD program. The field of medicine is extremely competitive.  Students are encouraged to maintain high undergraduate Grade Point Averages (GPA) to secure admission.

United States

In the United States, the most common professional medical degree is known as a Doctor Of Medicine (MD.)  A student must complete an Undergraduate degree and or PreMed undergraduate course of study in order to pursue an MD.  Upon completing undergraduate studies, the graduate is expected to successfully pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before moving on to apply to medical schools with the MD system.  The extensive training and grueling evaluation are expected to prepare students to take on to the nuances and complexities of medicine.

Differences in India and the United Kingdom

In India and United Kingdom, MD is an advanced academic degree in the field of medical science, similar to a doctorate or a PhD. In India, students begin with an MBBS degree as the standard training methodology.  Its completion denotes the kind of training required to be approved as a licensed physician.  An MD degree then can represent a higher post-graduate degree for specialty training. Only medical graduates with MBBS degrees are eligible to pursue an MD degree in these systems.  After successfully completing a 3-year study and the respective exam, both practical and theoretical,  a candidate would be eligible to be conferred with the MD degree.

Basics of ECFMG for International Medical Graduates

For students who complete their medical training outside of the US or Caribbean, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) requires full disclosure of all medical education credentials including MBBS graduate school records and any other degrees thereafter.  Prospective applicants to the residency application system are required to become ECFMG certified prior to being eligible to apply for a residency program.  There are various medical education requirements, completion of at least USMLE Step 1 & Step 2CK, and additional processes to become certified.  You can learn more about this process at https://www.ecfmg.org/certification/

The International Medical Education Directory (IMED) lists and provides information on thousands of medical schools around the world and includes the title of the medical degree awarded in different countries. IMED is maintained by the Foundation for Advancement of Medical Education and Research (FAIMER).  There are various upcoming changes in 2023 & 2024 to the recognized schools and we urge any interested parties to explore this further if interested in eventually going through the process of ECFMG certification.