Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for the HMS Exchange Clerkship Program


In order to be eligible for our program, all applicants should meet all of the minimum criteria:

  • Must be currently enrolled medical student in the final year of medical school (within 12 months of graduation)
  • Must be in good academic standing at an approved medical school
  • Must have completed satisfactorily the core clinical clerkship requirements comparable to HMS core (minimally, surgery, medicine, pediatrics & OB/GYN. Applicants applying for psychiatry, neurology & radiology will be required to have satisfactorily completed core clinical clerkships in these specialties if prerequisite to advanced elective) 
  • Must be in compliance with HMS immunization requirements – HMS strictly adheres to these immunization guidelines. Immunization Compliance Guidelines
  • Must be fluent in the English language including: conversation, writing, and reading (See English Proficiency under International Medical Students, below)

Those already holding an MD degree, or its equivalent, are not eligible. 

All eligible applicants can apply for a maximum of three months of clinical elective clerkships. Our clerkships are offered in four-week blocks only and visiting students must adhere to HMS rotation dates as posted in the calendar.

International Applicants


Harvard Medical School welcomes international students to apply to the HMS Exchange Clerkship Program. To ensure that students assigned to Harvard-affiliated hospitals are fully prepared to participate in our advanced elective experiences, HMS screens all applications and reserves the right to restrict those who may be assigned.


To participate in the Exchange Clerkship Program, students must be in their final year of medical school. The educational systems of many non-U.S. or Canadian medical schools range in duration from 4 to 6 years; thus, in a 6-year medical school system (e.g., German medical schools), students must be in their 6th year to be considered the equivalent of a U.S. 4th year medical student. To be eligible for participation in the Exchange Clerk Program, students must be enrolled in a medical school that is part of a university. Students in "offshore" medical schools, for-profit medical schools, proprietary medical schools, or stand-alone schools outside of a university are not eligible for this program.

English Proficiency

At HMS, our goal is to provide every student scheduled through the Exchange Program the most successful educational experience possible. To achieve this goal, all students must be able to speak, read and write English with a high standard of proficiency in a fast-paced hospital setting. Students who are scheduled and participate in a clerkship at HMS but are found to be lacking adequate English language skills may be withdrawn or reassigned from their scheduled clerkships.

Many clerkships now restrict international enrollment due to deficiencies in international students’ ability to communicate effectively in English. For students coming from medical schools in non-English-speaking countries, HMS requires attestation of an exchange clerk’s English fluency from the Registrar or Dean of the visiting student’s school. HMS also requires that students from international medical schools call the Registrar’s Office for a brief telephone interview. Your telephone interview must take place before you submit your supporting documentation. Application fees are non-refundable, even if you fail your phone interview.

In order to meet our language proficiency all international students must meet one of the following guidelines:

  • Language of medical school instruction must be taught in English. If your language of instruction is in English, please have this indicated in your letter of support
  • AND successful completion of a telephone interview

– OR –

  • Successful completion of a telephone interview
  • AND a minimum TOEFL score of 100

Telephone interviews are held on Tuesdays, 10:00am - 11:30am and Thursdays 12:30pm - 2:00pm (EST). Please call 617-432-1515. Prior arrangements are not required.  If you get a busy signal, please hang up and try calling again.


Visa Information

International students may require a visa for entry into the United States. HMS cannot provide advice regarding visa status or requirements, which are determined by the U.S. State Department.

If you do require a visa, Exchange Clerkship applicants are eligible to apply for the business visa (B1) because our program is designed as a training program that does not provide employment and does not provide payment or reimbursement for your visit.

HMS does not sponsor student visas because visiting students are not considered full-time degree candidates at Harvard Medical School. Exchange clerks are considered to be enrolled at their home schools.

A number of countries do meet Visa Waiver Program requirements. For any questions or additional information about visas, please visit http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html

Tuition Information

International students are charged tuition for each scheduled clerkship month. Tuition covers instruction, grade reports, and library reading privileges. Tuition does not cover personal health or malpractice insurance, athletic facilities, housing, or library borrowing privileges. Please do not send any tuition payments until you have received official notification from HMS that you have been scheduled.
Tuition amounts are listed on the Calendar for each rotation. Tuition is subject to change annually every September. 

Tuition Payment Options

In order for a payment to be applied, the student’s name, the clerkship code, and the month for which the student is scheduled must be included with the payment. 
There are two payment options:

1. MAIL – Tuition may be paid by a US check drawn on a US bank. If you do not have a US account, a family member or friend living in the US can issue the check on your behalf. Please make check to Harvard University and include the student’s name on the check. 

Tuition payment checks should be sent via airmail or express mail service to: 

Harvard Medical School
Office of the Registrar
25 Shattuck Street
Gordon Hall, Room 213
Boston, MA 02115-6092, USA 

2. WIRE – Tuition may be paid in the form of a wire transfer of US dollars directly to the following bank account:

President and Fellows of Harvard College
Account# 805-09035
ACH ABA# 0110-00138
Wire ABA# 0260-09593
Swift Code - BOFAUS3N

Bank of America
100 Federal Street
Boston, MA 02110, USA

Banks often charge a fee for wire transfer services. You are responsible for this fee. You must contact your bank to determine the exact service charge and ensure that you send the full tuition dollar amount, including any service charge. Tuition not received in full may result in withholding grade certification for clerkships completed at HMS until the account is paid.

Tuition Refunds

If you wish to cancel your clerkship, please contact the Registrar’s Office immediately. If you notify us at least 2 weeks before the start of the rotation, 90% of your tuition payment will be refunded. No refund will be given if notification is received less than 2 weeks before the start of a clerkship or if you withdraw after a rotation has begun.

Tuition Waivers

The Harvard Medical School Exchange Clerkship Program will consider requests for tuition waivers from students from countries underrepresented in the clerkship program. These waivers are limited. Underrepresented country status is based on the country where your medical school is located and not on your citizenship. The application processing fee is never waived and is non-refundable.

Countries currently not eligible for the tuition waiver are, but not limited to: 

  • Egypt 
  • Germany 
  • India 
  • Pakistan 
  • United Kingdom 
  • Ireland
  • Australia

Eligible countries are subject to change based upon the volume of applications. If you feel that you may meet our criteria, please send an email to exclerks@hms.harvard.edu to verify that your medical school country is eligible. 

All tuition waiver requests must be submitted at the time you apply for clerkship(s). Financial documentation must be enclosed with your exchange clerk application. Requests for tuition waivers are reviewed separately from the clerkship application and do not affect your eligibility to the program. 

Requests should be submitted in writing with your required documentation and should include the following information: 

  1. A statement describing the nature of the financial hardship or inability to pay clerkship tuition. Please provide documentation from your bank or other sources as appropriate. 
  2. Documentation from student’s medical school outlining the cost of the student’s education (tuition and fees), if any, as well as past and current source(s) of financial support. These costs must be in American dollars. 
  3. Proposed source(s) of support for living and travel expenses while attending clerkship in the US.