Why Study Medicine in Bulgaria?

Updated on 25/01/2023 in
Study medicine or dentistry in Bulgaria

If you’ve researched the best places to study medicine in Europe, chances are Bulgaria has popped up on your radar. And, to be honest, we wouldn’t blame you if you were scratching your head when you first read that. Bulgaria, really? That tiny country most famous for its yoghurt? What does that have to do with studying medicine?

Well, believe it or not, Bulgaria is one of the most recommended countries for medical students by medical experts and fellow students! Yes, even more than countries like Germany and Italy! But what precisely makes Bulgaria such a hot destination for med students worldwide? 

Can I study medicine in English in Bulgaria?

Yes, you can absolutely study medicine in Bulgaria in English! Most Bulgarian universities offer their programmes completely in English for international students. These include the big med schools in Sofia and smaller establishments, like the medical school in Plovdiv. 

Much like most others in the country, Plovdiv Medical University provides its pre-clinical, clinical and internship programmes entirely in English. Yes, even when speaking with patients in your final year, you will have an interpreter to make communication easier.

But it’s tough to live in a country whose language you don’t speak, even if your education is taught in one you know. To help with this, every Bulgarian medical university will also offer its students courses in Bulgarian during their pre-clinical years.

Bulgarian is a complicated language, but those courses should be enough to help students navigate their everyday lives (for example, buying groceries). They should even be able to interact with their patients during their internship, which means that, depending on how much you grow to like the language, that interpreter may not even be necessary!

If you’re concerned about forgetting your own language, there’s no need to worry. Aside from the entire curriculum being taught in English, Bulgaria is home to plenty of international students. Sofia’s “Studentski Grad” (Student City) literally hosts thousands of students from Europe and beyond. There are local communities for students from pretty much any country!

Study Medicine in Bulgaria

Is Bulgaria a good place to study medicine?

Bulgaria is considered one of the best places to study medicine in Europe. Thousands of medical students worldwide come to Bulgaria to begin or resume their medical education every year. Its level of medical education is very high, and degrees earned from Bulgarian universities are internationally recognised.

Many of its universities are quite old and well-established, such as the Sofia Medical University, founded in 1917. While an old university isn’t better than a new one by default, it generally means that the staff is more experienced at choosing lecturers and tending to its students’ needs. After all, universities disliked by their students don’t tend to last even 20 years, let alone a century.

Of course, even the best education is worthless if you can’t practise your knowledge - but this isn’t an issue for most Bulgarian universities. The biggest medical schools in Bulgaria have all been accredited by a host of international organisations, such as the GMC, WHO and AMA. This means that graduates can get licenced in any country to practise medicine there.

But perhaps the most attractive prospect of studying in Bulgaria is just how affordable it is.

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How much does it cost to study medicine in Bulgaria?

For the average student, studying medicine in Bulgaria will cost around £16,000 per year, considering every expense. Both living costs and tuition fees in Bulgaria are much lower than in the UK and other Western countries. In addition, living costs in Bulgaria are low, including rent, food and utilities.

Generally, the living costs in Bulgaria are very low - significantly lower compared to the UK and the US and most of Western and Northern Europe. Sofia, the capital, is the most expensive city in the country to live in, with living costs (rent, utilities, food, etc.) being around €900 a month (around £760). However, Sofia is very much the exception. In most Bulgarian cities (such as Varna, the Sea Capital of the country), living expenses are nearly half, only about €550 a month (around £470).

For those who wish to study medicine in Bulgaria, tuition fees will also be significantly lower than in most Western universities. Depending on where you choose to study (and whether you select medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, etc.), prices range from around €8,000 per year (or around £6,800). That’s about half the tuition price for even the more affordable universities in countries like Germany and Italy and a good third of most medical schools in the UK. 

A natural follow-up question is whether education quality is affected by lower costs, and the answer is no. Medical education isn’t like, say, an off-brand iPhone which costs less due to the lower quality of parts used. Instead, the price of the tuition fee is dependent entirely on the living costs of the average citizen. If medical universities in Bulgaria cost as much as they did in the UK or US, no one would go to school, and the universities would go out of business. As such, the price is adjusted based on what local students can afford - even if the quality of education is exactly the same as in far more expensive Western universities.

In some countries, it’s common for universities to offer a 4-year graduate degree, where the 2 years of pre-clinical study are skipped for students who have already studied those subjects as part of a different degree (i.e. a nursing graduate studying medicine). However, this isn’t common practice in Bulgaria at all, and unless the student is transferring, obtaining a medical degree in less than 6 years is impossible.

What are the entry requirements to study medicine in Bulgaria?

If you’re keen to study medicine in Bulgaria, entry requirements are probably something you’re quite interested in. We’re happy to say that we have some good news… And not so happy to say there is also some bad news.

The good news is that the Bulgarian educational system works very differently from the UK. The concept of going to college between high school and the university doesn’t really exist, as the subjects you’d typically study in college are taught in the final years of high school. Similarly, elective subjects (such as A-levels) aren’t a thing in Bulgaria, as students mostly pick their entire course based on which high school they wish to attend rather than the individual subjects. 

What this means, in practical terms, is that having the proper A-levels or pre-med education isn’t nearly as important for being accepted into a Bulgarian medical university as it is for a UK one. As long as you have grades in biology and chemistry (regardless of whether they’re from A-levels, college or just your regular high school curriculum), you’ll be good to go, and many universities don’t even pay too much attention to school grades anyway.

This is, unfortunately, where the bad news comes in. While grades from school aren’t given too much importance, Bulgaria is quite strict regarding its medical entrance exam. Grades from exams are given significant value, and even a slightly lower grade on those can make the difference between being accepted or rejected for a medical programme. The tests aren’t impossibly difficult, but they will require some serious studying to pass them.

What is the best medical university in Bulgaria?

It’s impossible to say definitively which Bulgarian university ranks as the best. However, these are some of the most popular medical schools in the country and the ones that students are most likely to recommend.

University Of Sofia St Kliment Ohridski

Founded in 1888, St Kliment Ohridski is the oldest university in the country. But its old age isn’t just for show: according to the QS World University Rankings, it ranks among the top 4% of universities worldwide.

While the university isn’t focused solely on medicine, its medical programme is renowned and available in English for international students.

Sofia Medical University

The second medical school of Sofia was founded in 1917 and is considered among the most prestigious med schools in Bulgaria. Every year, it accepts about 400 international students into its English language medicine programme, and another 80 into its English dentistry course.

The school year for international students starts in October and ends in May, with a semester break in February. Transfer students are accepted.

Plovdiv Medical University

Despite being a much smaller city than Sofia, Plovdiv’s medical university is not to be underestimated. Currently, it boasts the biggest medical library in Bulgaria, with the Central University Library offering over 170,000 volumes and access to tools like Medline and Microdex.

For international medical students, the medical school of Plovdiv offers courses in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy taught entirely in English. It also provides students with access to research laboratories and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. 

Trakia University

Located in Stara Zagora, Trakia University is one of the few universities in Bulgaria which offer a veterinary medicine course in English. Despite its small size of only about 600 students, it’s equipped with everything needed to teach the doctors and vets of tomorrow.

Stara Zagora is one of the oldest cities, not just in Bulgaria, but in all of Europe, with roots dating back to 342 BC. Despite not being nearly as big as Sofia, the city is ideal for students who prefer a quiet town with a rich history.

Listen to what medical students say about studying in Bulgaria

So, why study medicine in Bulgaria?

To recap, here are some of the reasons why it’s a good idea to study medicine in Bulgaria:

  • Courses available entirely in English, from pre-med to the internship;
  • Fully accredited universities with degrees recognised internationally;
  • Very low tuition fees and costs of living despite the high standard of education;
  • Most universities don’t require A-levels or pre-med college education;
  • Old universities in cities with rich histories;
  • A wide variety of medical and dental programmes are available in English.

If you’ve chosen to study medicine in Europe, Bulgaria is certainly one of the best choices you can make.

Interested in studying medicine in Bulgaria? We can help!

Our team has helped literally thousands of students from the UK, US, Canada and beyond pursue their dreams and be accepted into medical school in Bulgaria! We’ve close ties with all major Bulgarian medical universities and can work with them to process the necessary documents for you quickly and hassle-free. In addition, our expert student advisors can guide you through the admissions process, assisting you every step of the way.

We can provide you with relevant materials to help you study for your entrance exams, schedule video interviews with the faculty, help you arrange your accommodations, connect you with fellow international students at the same university, and much more. Curious about how else we can help you study medicine in Bulgaria? You can always book a free consultation and ask any questions!

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Article written by Medlink Students
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