Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) is a private global medical school and one of the largest in the Caribbean. Established in 1978, its main campus is located in Barbados, with offices in New Jersey and Florida.
Ross holds the record as being the largest medical school on an island and is ranked as one of the best medical schools in the Caribbean, appealing to students with low stats or less chance of acceptance to mainland US schools.
But is it worth the risk?
Is RUSM A Good Medical School?
Yes, RUSM is a good medical school. It’s consistently ranked as one of the best in the Caribbean, providing a global health perspective through a well-structured and taught curriculum. Ross’ 40-year history and an alumni network of 14,000 physicians, coupled with a strong first-time USMLE pass rate, could make it a good choice. But it’s not as prestigious as the majority of US-based medical schools.
Read on to find out more about RUSM and its major pros and cons.
Interested in learning more about specific medical school pros and cons? Check out our Medical School Guides here – we cover all osteopathic (DO) and allopathic (MD) schools.
RUSM: The Positives
More relaxed admission requirements
Offshore medical schools usually have more places available and lower entry requirements than ones in the US.
RUSM boasts an encouraging acceptance rate of 42.7% with the average GPA at 3.22 and MCAT at 493. That makes it easier to get into compared to most US-based med schools.
Ross will also look at your application holistically, not solely academics.
View the full admission statistics here.
Varied degree options (and lengths)
Ross gives students a fairly varied choice when it comes to studying medicine.
Different degree options include:
- 4.5-year MD course consisting of 5 semesters of class and 4 semesters of clinical rotations
- 4-year MD Accelerated Track course
- Combined MD/MPH
Culture and diversity
Students at RUSM come from a variety of backgrounds and ways of life.
Studying in the Caribbean offers something different from the sometimes elitist, super-competitive nature of US medical school.
Getting to spend time on the beach or close to nature provides a nice break from intensive studies.
Good USMLE Step 1 track record
In 2019, Ross had a USMLE Step 1 pass rate of 96.7%. Although that’s slightly below the average 97% pass rate of US MD programs, it’s not too far off (and strong compared to other Caribbean schools).
With the USMLE moving to Pass/Fail, however, students will have to do more than rely on their Step score to increase their chance of landing a great residency spot.
Ross’ curriculum is designed for graduates that plan on practicing in the US and Canada.
The first 2 years cover the Basic Sciences and the last 2 years are the Clinical Science years.
Students have the option to choose between 2 curriculum tracks. The first semester is the same for all students regardless of their educational level. Towards the end of the semester, they can see if they are eligible for the Standard Accelerated curriculum.
In the Standard Accelerated Curriculum, you can complete the Basic Sciences and move on to clinical studies within 16 months. That gives top students the opportunity to earn an MD degree faster.
RUSM’s clinical rotations are in internal medicine (12 weeks), surgery (12 weeks), pediatrics (6 weeks), family medicine (6 weeks), obstetrics and gynecology (6 weeks), and psychiatry (6 weeks).
The rent in Barbados is relatively affordable at around $550 per month (a one-bedroom apartment in the city center).
Groceries and living expenses are also considerably lower than in the US.
This is a unique benefit that not many medical schools provide.
Ross holds admissions interviews across the US (and the world) at local centers. That ensures you don’t have to front the cost of a flight and accommodation to only fail at the interview stage.
Like many other Caribbean medical schools, Ross operates a rolling admissions process.
That means if you graduate from college in December, you will be able to start medical school as early as January of the following year.
Useful for gap year applicants, mature students, or nontrads.
Financial aid options
Students are eligible to apply for multiple financial aid pathways to undergo studies at Ross.
These include general student loans, federal loans, and also scholarships. Students in the MD/MPH program can apply for a scholarship to cover their entire tuition fees.
The option for US Federal Aid in the form of non-need-based loans is something that is not offered by other Caribbean medical schools. This helps differentiate Ross.
MERP (Medical Education Readiness Program)
MERP is a 15-week program for students who were accepted under certain conditions.
It provides those who are not fully prepared to study medicine the chance to build solid foundations.
Candidates can strengthen their basic scientific understanding and develop good study techniques before moving on to the rigors of medical school.
RUSM: The Negatives
High drop-out rate
The typical drop-out rate for students in the US is around 3%.
Ross’ is much higher at around 20%.
This may be because of the intensity of the course and the conditions of study (more on this later).
Stigma and prestige
Caribbean medical school graduates can be subjected by other students or physicians to the idea that they “took the easy way out”, due to Ross’ more relaxed admissions criteria.
This can be difficult for some students to handle, especially when it comes to the competitive match process and building a CV.
Large class sizes
Ross’ class sizes are on the large side, enrolling 900 students every year.
This can lead to some students feeling that they receive less attention and guidance from their professors.
And it can also make it tough to compete for research opportunities, clinical opportunities etc.
Ross does not have its own teaching clinics for rotations.
What they do have is college contracts with hospitals all over the US.
This can make placements complicated, although students can benefit from the networking and teaching in US-based clinics.
Basic tuition fees at Ross are $48,340 per semester. That rivals some US medical schools and even comes at more expensive than most in-state options.
If you include all living expenses and transport, total annual fees can amount to over $70,000.
Important Ross School of Medicine Data
What is RUSM’s Match List Like?
On Match Day for 2021-2022 graduates, Ross reported a 95% first-time residency attainment rate.
A high proportion of students went on to a residency in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Paediatrics.
In 2020, 71% of Ross graduates entered primary care residencies.
View the full 2022 residency appointment list here.
How Many Students Does Ross Have?
The student population is 3695 and the student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1.
When is the application deadline for Ross?
Ross University School of Medicine operates on rolling admissions.
Medical school applicants are welcome to apply up to a year in advance, however, all prerequisite courses should be completed before enrollment.
What are the entry requirements for RUSM?
- MCAT (average is 493)
- Essay/personal statement
- Science GPA
- Non-science GPA (3.22 av.)
- 2 letters of recommendation
See the full list of entry requirements here.
Does Ross have any prerequisites?
- Inorganic/general chemistry
- Organic chemistry
- General biology/zoology
These must be all completed within a decade of enrollment.
Is Ross A Good Medical School? Internet’s Opinion
Positive opinion on Ross:
Post graduation pathways
My classmates and I have landed some great jobs in some big name centers and in many fields. I have classmate/friends in internal medicine, pediatrics, allergy/immunology, cardiothoracic surgery and emergency medicine. Lots of my fellow graduates hold leadership positions in their hospital or company.– Aimee Barton (Quora)
High standard of teaching
The good part of my school is that I am taught everyday by actual professors whose sole job is to teach. These MDs/PhDS (or both) teach the same subject 3 times a year so they know their subject like no other. We’ve had a visiting professor from Columbia teach us autonomics who was amazing and other US professors (from medical schools, granted) who I wouldn’t allow to teach highschoolers. The full time faculty we have are amazing people who love to teach. If you can’t get into a US school then stick to only the big 4 Caribbean schools.– Anonymous (Reddit)
Negative opinion on Ross:
Lastly, there are at present more US applicants than there are residency spots. For the above reasons, residencies are going to favor US grads over foreign grads meaning that grads from Caribbean schools have an uphill battle when it comes to getting accepted.– Chris Lee (Quora)
Fighting for rotations
There was nothing much Ross could do, because there were more students than there were rotations. I myself had to fight for many rotations. hours on the phone with Ross to figure out schedules. I had to do paeds in Chicago, because they could not find me one in NYC. This was a logistical nightmare, since you are working with a limited budget.– Tanay Patel (Quora)
The schools down here are tough. They’re tough because the students have to be prepared very well for the Steps. Our scores have to be high to ensure we’re competitive for residency spots.u/Veedy (Reddit)
Conclusion: Is Ross A Good Medical School?
RUSM is an excellent option for those who want to become doctors but may struggle with the competitive admissions process of most US-based schools. Rolling admissions and lower MCAT and GPA requirements, make Ross viable for a lot of students. Prestige and competing for residency spots with US graduates can be a problem, however.
The video below provides a good intro to life at RUSM…
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Hey guys, I’m Sumran. I’m a British 5th-year international medical student at the Medical University of Varna, Bulgaria. I transitioned straight from completing my A-Levels into university. Currently, I have interests in Psychiatry and Gastroenterology. Outside of medicine, I enjoy reading crime novels and visiting art exhibitions.