Students and Graduates from International Institutions

The Center for Global Health (CGH) can help to facilitate research and clinical experiences at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (SOM). Clinical experiences are restricted to students from a small number of international medical schools that have affiliation agreements with the SOM.  CGH does not place medical school australgraduates in clinical experiences but may be able to assist with research placements. 


Eligibility for Clinical Rotations

If you are a medical student from an international medical school seeking a clinical rotation at Penn, we can only consider your request if your home institution has an affiliation agreement with Penn.   There are limited openings and you must be selected by your medical school.  The person/office you should contact for further information is noted below.  If you have questions about this process that cannot be answered by your home school or the FAQs below, please contact :

  • Argentina
    • Universidad Austral Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas
  • Austria
    • The University Hospitals of Graz, Innsbruck, Vienna and Salzburg

    Note: if you are a medical student applying through Going International, please contact Dr.Gerhard Polak, Going International, Vienna, Fasangasse 28, 1030 Vienna, Phone: +43 (01) 798 2527. Students must apply through either the American Austrian Foundation or Going International, but NOT both.

  • China
    • Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine
  • England
    • Kings College London
  • France
    • MICEFA, University of Paris System
  • Guatemala
    • Universidad Francisco Marroquín Facultad de Medicina
    • Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala Facultad de Ciencias Médicas
  • India
    • All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
  • Ireland
  • Japan
    • Keio University School of Medicine
    • Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine
    • University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine
      • Contact:  Dr. Joseph Green, Office of International Academic Affairs, Faculty of Medicine
    • Nagoya University School of Medicine
  • Kenya
  • Korea
    • Seoul National University College of Medicine
  • Netherlands
    • Leiden University Medical Center
    • University Medical Center Groningen
      • Contact:  Dr. J.R. Huizenga, International Liaison Officer, Institute for Medical Education
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Singapore
    • National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
      • Contact:  Ms. Li Li Lee, Senior Assistant Manager (Electives), Dean's Office
  • Spain

Clinical Rotations Available to Eligible Students

Penn makes an effort to provide the greatest possible variety of clinical rotations to our visiting international medical students. Rotations typically available, though not guaranteed, are listed on The Center for Global Health Clinical Elective Application Form.  Please note that if a course is not listed, it is not available.  Penn School of Medicine policy does not sanction other types of clinical experiences (i.e observerships, shadowing, internships, etc.). The courses listed on our application form are the only ones for which course directors have authorized enrollment of international students. Although likelihood of success is small, students with exceptional interest in being considered for unlisted courses may direct a written statement/justification to The Center for Global Health only. Please do not contact physicians or departments directly. Doing so may result in a rejection of your application.

Please note that the maximum number of clinical electives for eligible students is two. See FAQs for additional information.

You have six rotation months to select from each year (see below). Please note that each one has a specific start and end date and that these dates cannot be modified for individual students.  For greatest consideration, your application should be submitted at least four months before the start date of the rotation that interests you (see due dates in parentheses next to rotation dates below).

Rotation Dates

Spring 2016 Summer 2016 Fall 2016

February 29 - March 25
(application due November 1)

July 5 - July 29
(application due March 1)

October 24 - November 18
(application due July 1)

March 28 - April 22
(application due December 1)

August 1 - August 26
(application due April 1)

November 21 - December 16
(application due August 1)

Spring 2017 Summer 2017 Fall 2017

February 27-March 24 (Application due November 1)

July 3-July 28, 2017 (Application due March 1)

October 23-November 17 (Application due July 1)

March 27-April 21, 2017 (Application due December 1)

July 31-August 25(Application due April 1)

November 20-December 15 (Application due August 1)

Clinical Electives Application Form and Grading Process

If you meet the eligibility requirements outlined above and wish to be considered for clinical rotations, you should complete the application form as early as possible (four months before rotation start date is advised -- see due dates in parentheses next to rotation dates above) to ensure that there is time to address insufficient or incomplete sections.  To proceed, open the Clinical Elective Application Form (Microsoft Word Document). Please read all instructions carefully, complete on the computer, print and sign, and attach the required documents. Your complete application must then be given to the designated official from your home medical school. Your official medical school representative should ensure that your application is complete and accurate and then forward it to The Center for Global Health, either electronically or via post mail, ideally four months before the preferred rotation start date. Confirmation of your acceptance for any given elective will not be available earlier than the beginning of each season; i.e. December 31 (for March & April electives), April 30 (for July & August electives), and August 31 (for November & December electives). 

Application Requirements

  1. Official TOEFL scores are required for all students from medical schools where English is not the language of instruction.  Minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are 250 (for computer-based test) and 600 (for paper-based test).  For TOEFL® iBT, minimum scores are:  24 (Speaking) + 24 (Listening) + 20 (Reading) + 20 Writing.
  2. Pennsylvania (PA) Child Abuse Clearance is required for all electives that have potential contact with pediatric populations. To view a list of relevant electives and to apply for clearance, please open the PA Child Abuse Clearance instructions (Microsoft Word Document).

Evaluations / Grading

Within a few weeks of the clinical elective end date, course directors submit evaluations via OASIS, an online system.  The Registrar’s Office notifies students by email when the student can access the evaluation online.  It is the student’s responsibility to forward the evaluation to their home institution, if required.  Additional forms requested by student or student’s home school cannot be completed, signed, or sealed.  Please click here if you would like to see a .pdf of a sample evaluation form.

Research Opportunities for Medical Students

We can accept applications for research opportunities from students from affiliated medical schools only. You must be a current medical student and have already completed the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree and must be returning to your home institution to continue your studies upon completion of your research experience at Penn.

Research Application Form

If you are interested in a research opportunity through the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, please open and complete the application below.  Placement is not guaranteed.  You must be self-funded to participate.  Research placements are two (minimum) to six (maximum) months.  Within these parameters, the longer the time commitment you can make, the more likely we will be able to identify a mentor who can host you. To proceed, open the Research Application Form.  Please read all instructions carefully, complete electronically, save and attach, in an email to along with CV and personal statement.  If we are able to find a placement for you, The Center for Global Health will send you instructions for the provision of documents to complete your application and online J1 visa request.

Important Notes

  1. When completing the Research Application Form, it is essential (in section #20) that you provide specific names of faculty members with whom you are interested in training, using the search engine we provide. It is not sufficient to note your area/department of research interest.
  2. Please anticipate a minimum of six weeks from the time you submit a complete application before you will hear from us regarding potential placement. 

Graduates of International Institutions

The scope of The Center for Global Health (CGH) services does not include clinical graduate medical education (i.e. residencies and observerships) in the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS).  To explore such opportunities, please contact the UPHS Graduate Medical Education office (

International medical graduates from our affiliated institutions may explore potential research opportunities within the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in one of the following ways:

  1. Completing The Center for Global Health research application (recent or imminent completion of a doctoral degree is required; this application is not suitable for individuals who earned their doctoral degree more than two years ago; although the application indicates that it is for visiting "students,” it may also be completed by recent graduates, as defined above).
  2. Applying directly for postdoctoral positions posted on the Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP) website:
  3. Applying directly for positions advertised on Penn’s job site, under the “Job Family” of “Technical/Professional Research:”  Click here for Jobs @ Penn
  4. Writing directly to faculty you have identified who are doing research of interest.  Click here to search BGS faculty    

Preparing for Travel

Housing at Penn

Housing is available on a limited basis so students are encouraged to allow ample time to make arrangements for housing. We recommend that you begin your search at least three months in advance. However, please do not finalize arrangements before The Center for Global Health sends you elective assignment confirmation.

Short-term housing opportunities:

Students having trouble making arrangements through the contacts at the above websites are welcome to contact The Center for Global Health for assistance.

Visa Information

We are advised by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at the University of Pennsylvania, that medical students pursuing a medical degree at a foreign institution, who are coming to engage in a required clerkship (unpaid) may enter the US with a B-1 (visitors for business) category or, if citizens of participating countries, a visa waiver. Details on participating countries and how to apply for the visa waiver are found on the US Department of State website.  The use of the B-1 or the visa waiver program for this purpose is limited to medical students, and does not extend to alien physicians who have already completed medical school. 

For further information regarding visas, please contact ISSS

What to Pack

On clinical rotations, you will be expected to dress professionally -- dress slacks with shirt and tie for men.  Men and women need short (28-30") white lab jackets/consultation coats. If you have to purchase this or other supplies in Philadelphia, Nurses Uniform Place is located at 1104 Chestnut Street. Shorts or jeans are not acceptable for clinical rotations.

Peer Hosts

Once you have been accepted for a clinical or research experience at Penn, please contact The Center for Global Health to request a Peer Host.  As Peer Hosts, Penn medical students welcome you and help you get oriented to Philadelphia, the Penn campus, and the School of Medicine.

Welcome to Philadelphia

Transportation from Airports

Regardless of the airport or the ground transportation route you select, please ask airport ground transportation/information staff for assistance in obtaining approved transportation services and in confirming the fee for the services. 

  • Philadelphia International Airport
    The University of Pennsylvania and International House are located in the "University City" section of Philadelphia.  Therefore, you can take a taxi for the flat rate (not using the meter) described on the Philadelphia International Airport website
  • Newark Liberty Airport
    This New Jersey airport is also served by Dave's Best Limousine service (see above) and a number of other alternatives. Additional information is available on the Newark Liberty Airport website.

The City of Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of the most historic cities in the United States, where the Declaration of Independence was written and the Constitution was drafted. It served as the original capital of the country until the city of Washington was built. Currently, Philadelphia is a vibrant city of 1.5 million population in a metropolitan area of about 5 million. It has outstanding cultural institutions, including world class museums and a renowned orchestra. Center city is readily accessible, 1-2 miles east of the Penn campus.  See useful links below:

University of Pennsylvania Information and Services

At the University of Pennsylvania, you'll find a historic, Ivy League school with highly selective admissions and a history of innovation in interdisciplinary education and scholarship. You'll also find a picturesque campus amidst a dynamic city and a world-class research institution.   There are a number of services you will be able to access but you must first obtain a PennCard.  To do this, contact The Center for Global Health to schedule an appointment upon your arrival in Philadelphia. 

Please see information below that may be useful to you during your stay.

To learn more, visit the Penn website.

The Perelman School of Medicine

The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine is among the top five medical schools in the United States (among about 125 schools), based on its faculty, its educational reputation, the quality of its medical students, its research grants, its health system, and its position as the first medical school in the United States, founded in 1765. With a newly renovated medical campus and its five affiliated hospitals, Penn has a vibrant program of patient care, clinical research, and basic science investigation.  To learn more, visit the Penn Medicine website.

Frequently Asked Questions

May I apply independently if I am from one of the listed affiliated medical schools?

No, students may only apply with and be selected by the representative designated in the eligibility section above.   We cannot accept independent applications given the limited availability of openings in each elective.

Am I eligible to apply if I am a US citizen attending an unaffiliated medical school?

Unfortunately, US citizenship does not determine eligibility.  Eligibility is limited to students attending affiliated institutions.

If my medical school is not affiliated with Penn, can we set up an exchange agreement?

              At this time The Center for Global Health is not establishing new exchange agreements.

Do I need to obtain a special identification (ID) card to participate in clinical electives?

Each elective site has its own identification requirements.  When you report to your assigned elective, you will be instructed on how to obtain identification, if required.  In addition, you may opt to obtain a PennCard. 

I understand that the maximum number of clinical electives is two. However, if I return at another time, may I register for an additional elective or two?

No, the maximum of two is applied to the sum of clinical electives any individual student takes at Penn at any time. The clinical elective experience for students from international medical schools is intended to provide exposure to a new health care and educational system. It is not meant to substitute for the requirements of a student's home medical school. As clinical elective slots are extremely limited, strict adherence to this restriction is mandated.

How is a PennCard useful? 

The PennCard is the official University of Pennsylvania identification card for students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Penn community. The PennCard is also used for many activities including building access, recreation, and library services.

Do I need to obtain a special identification (ID) card for my research assignment?

Yes, students with research assignments are required to have a PennCard. 

How do I obtain a PennCard?

Contact The Center for Global Health to arrange a time to pick up the required form that you will then bring, along with photo ID (e.g. passport, student ID card, driver's license), to the PennCard Center.  The PennCard is provided to you at no charge.

How many days in advance of my assignment start date should I arrive?

You should plan your travel and housing accommodations according to your own discretion/comfort level.  Any administrative issues that may arise can be addressed during the first week of your assignment. 

How can I contact my course director prior to the start of my clinical elective?

Students should only contact their course directors or coordinators if specifically instructed to do so in the reporting details that accompanied the elective assignment provided by The Center for Global Health.  Otherwise, students are strongly discouraged from contacting the hosting department. 

If I am interested in a clinical elective not listed on the CGH application form, should I try to find the course director and ask for permission to enroll?

No, you must NOT contact any department's course director, physician, or administrator unless specifically authorized to do so. You may send a request and justification directly to CGH ( but the likelihood of success is small. Failure to comply can result in a total rejection of your application.

Am I eligible to participate in clinical assignments after graduation from my home institution? 

No, you must be in active medical student status for the entire duration of your assignment at Penn and must be returning for completion of your studies at your home institution.

Am I eligible to participate in research assignments after graduation from my home institution? 

The research assignments arranged through The Center for Global Health are generally intended for medical students who will return to their home institution to complete medical school. On rare occasions, we may arrange a research assignment of no longer than 6 months for a student who has graduated from medical school but can provide official documentation of a position they will have after the research experience; e.g. residency.

How can I improve the likelihood of being placed for a research assignment?

We require a minimum commitment of two months for research assignments.  You are more likely to be placed if you can be available for a longer period (up to 6 months).

Is it possible to obtain a research assignment longer than 6 months duration?

No. The maximum research assignment is 6 months long. This cannot be extended under any circumstances.



Last updated:  July 20, 2016

Top ↑