Understanding the Costs of Becoming a Doctor in the USA

Jan 15, 2024 5 min read
Becoming a Doctor in the USA

Key Takeaways:

  • Each step of the USMLE comes with fees, covering the examination and additional charges for international test delivery if testing outside the US and Canada.
  • Scheduling exam fees vary based on factors like the type of exam, testing location, slot availability, and date of cancellation. 
  • Calculating the total cost of the journey, including fees for each step, permits, and potential surcharges, provides a comprehensive understanding of the financial investment required.

USMLE: Understanding the Costs of Becoming a Doctor in the USA

  • Introduction
  • Cost of Registration
    • Cost of USMLE Step 1
    • Cost of USMLE Step 2
    • Cost of USMLE Step 3
  • Cost of USMLE Steps In A Nutshell
  • For Exam
  • Other
  • Additional Costs
  • English Proficiency Exam
  • Preparation
  • Travel and Accommodation
  • Tips for Cost-Efficiency
  • Compare Study Resource Costs
  • Utilise Online Resources
  • Student Discounts
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Community Study Groups
  • Early Booking Benefits
  • Budget-Friendly Accommodations
  • Contingency Fund
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs

Introduction

Are you an aspiring medical professional dreaming of pursuing the USMLE journey? We know the path is long and tedious. 

The USMLE, or United States Medical Licensing Examination, is a series of standardised tests designed to evaluate the medical knowledge and clinical skills of individuals aspiring to practise medicine in the United States. This exam is divided into steps 1, 2 and 3.

Want to know more about USMLE? Read here.

Embarking on this path involves lots of planning, including understanding the costs of each step. Knowing how much each step costs will help you make smart choices, making sure you use your money wisely as you go through your journey.

In this blog, we will walk you through the financial aspects of your USMLE journey, from eligibility to acing the exams. Are you ready?

Cost of Registration

The first step in the USMLE journey is registering for Step 1. The application for ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) certification is ($160) 13,312 INR. 

Cost of USMLE Step 1

Step 1 evaluates the candidate’s understanding and ability to apply important concepts of the basic sciences to the practice of medicine.

The total cost of the USMLE journey starts with a registration fee for USMLE Step 1 cost India, which is approximately $1000, i.e., 83,203 INR. This includes the examination fee and an international test delivery surcharge if testing is done outside the US and Canada.  

Cost of USMLE Step 2

Step 2 assesses medical knowledge and understanding of clinical science principles, particularly those related to patient care.

For Step 2 CK, the registration fee stands at $1,000, approximately 83,203 INR. Scheduling fees, however, are flexible, ranging from $0 depending on factors like the exam type, testing location, slot availability, and cancellation date.

Cost of USMLE Step 3

Step 3 focuses on assessing whether the examinee can apply medical knowledge and understanding of biomedical and clinical science essential for patient care.

Regarding the USMLE Step 3 application fee, it's crucial to note that it's both non-transferable and non-refundable between applications and eligibility periods. The fee for 2023 is $915 (76,131 INR), and for 2024, it's $925 (76,963 INR).

Cost of USMLE Steps In A Nutshell

For Exam

Exam Name

Description

Registration 

Exam Fee (USD)

Exam Fee (INR)

Step 1A computer-based exam that assesses your basic sciences

Through ECFMG

 

USD 160

1000

  83,203

Step 2A computer-based exam that assesses clinical skills

Through ECFMG

 

USD 160

1000

  83,203

Step 3A computer-based exam that assesses medical knowledge and clinical skills

Through FSMB (Federation of State Medical Board)

  925

    76,963

Other

Category 

Cost in USD

Cost in INR

Extension of Eligibility$100 per exam

8,319

Step 1/Step 2CK Testing Region Change ​$90 per region change

7,487

Score Recheck (Step 1/Step 2 CK$80 per exam

6,655

Step 1/Step 2CK Rescheduling Fee

​$0 – varies

​(depending on exam, testing region, & date of cancellation)

Varies

USMLE Transcript - Paper$70 per request form (up to 10 transcripts)

5,821

USMLE Transcript - Electronic Transmission for ERAS$80 per ERAS season

6,655

Additional Costs

English Proficiency Exam

Candidates must achieve a satisfactory score on the Occupational English Test (OET) Medicine to fulfill the communication skills prerequisite for ECFMG Certification. 

Irrespective of their native language, the language of instruction during medical school, or citizenship, all applicants are obligated to meet this requirement.

OET Medicine, crafted in collaboration with physicians, is tailored explicitly for medical professionals. This assessment evaluates physician’s English language competency and communication skills in a healthcare context. 

Going beyond a standard English language proficiency test, OET Medicine emphasises the language physicians use for effective communication with colleagues and patients in clinical settings.

The cost of OET Medicine is AU$ 587, i.e., INR 33,230.

Preparation

When it comes to preparation, candidates must factor in study materials, including textbooks and online resources, as well as enrollment fees for preparatory courses. 

Choose the right preparation course so your journey becomes smoother, and you will get the appropriate books and resources to ace the exam. One such preparation course is the USMLE Exam Preparation Course by Academically

Travel and Accommodation

Individuals need to factor in various costs when it comes to travel arrangements. This includes the expenses related to transportation, whether airfare or fuel costs, and the costs associated with finding a place to stay, such as hotel rates, Airbnb choices, or even student accommodations. 

Additionally, it's essential to account for daily expenses that cover meals and incidentals throughout the exam period.

Tips for Cost-Efficiency

Compare Study Resource Costs

Explore different study materials and courses, comparing costs to find the most effective yet budget-friendly options.

Utilise Online Resources

Leverage free or affordable online resources alongside textbooks to complement your study plan and reduce material costs.

Student Discounts

Check for student discounts on study materials, preparatory courses, and transportation. Many providers offer special rates for students.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Investigate financial aid options or scholarships offered by preparatory courses to ease the financial burden of enrollment fees.

Community Study Groups

Form or join study groups to share the cost of study materials, books, or preparatory courses, fostering a collaborative learning environment.

Early Booking Benefits

Plan your exam dates well in advance to take advantage of early booking benefits for transportation and accommodation, saving on last-minute expenses.

Budget-Friendly Accommodations

Explore affordable accommodation options, such as Airbnb or student accommodations, to minimise overnight stay expenses.

Contingency Fund

Allocate a portion of your budget for unforeseen expenses, creating a contingency fund to handle unexpected financial challenges.

Conclusion

Becoming a doctor in the USA is not just about studying; it also involves managing your money wisely. When preparing for the USMLE, being mindful of your finances is crucial. 

Recognising the diverse expenses involved, including study materials, preparatory courses, and travel-related costs, allows aspiring doctors to make informed decisions and plan strategically.

By being careful with your spending, you can successfully tackle the challenges, pass the exams, and play a confident and resilient role in the USA as a doctor.

Elevate your USMLE preparation journey with us - because excellence deserves the best! 

FAQs

Q: What is the total cost of USMLE?

Ans:  The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) cost for international medical graduates, including those from India, is the same. For taking the exam, it costs around USD 3085, i.e., INR 257116.55. Preparation, re-attempts, travel, and accommodation are also to be considered.

Q: How much does USMLE cost from India?

Ans:  The cost of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for international medical graduates, including those from India, are the same. For taking the exam, it costs around USD 3085 i.e., INR 257116.55. There’s also preparation, re-attempts, travel and accommodation to be considered.

Q: Are doctors highly paid in the USA?

Ans: Yes, doctors in the USA generally receive high salaries compared to many other professions. However, the income can vary based on factors such as specialisation, experience, location, and the type of healthcare facility. Specialised physicians and those in high-demand fields tend to command higher salaries.

Q: Is an Indian doctor's license valid in the USA?

Ans: No, the license for Indian doctors is not automatically valid in the USA. To practise medicine in the United States, Indian doctors must undergo the certification and licensure process, which includes passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and fulfilling other specific requirements.

Dr. Akram Ahmad
Dr. Akram Ahmad
about the author

Dr. Akram Ahmad is a clinical pharmacist and lecturer with over 10 years of teaching and research experience across various subjects of medicine in India, Malaysia and Australia. He is an educationist and a medpreneur with extensive knowledge of the global healthcare diaspora. Through his articles, videos and engaging sessions, he always aims to impart unexplored knowledge about the healthcare world to interested students and professionals.