Bachelor of medicine
Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, or in Latin Medicinae Baccalaureus et Baccalaureus Chirurgiae (abbreviated MB BChir, MB BCh, MB ChB, BM BS, MB BS etc.), are the two degrees awarded after a course of undergraduate study in medicine and surgery at a university in the United Kingdom and other places following ths same convention. This includes medical schools in India, Australia, Egypt, Hong Kong (People's Republic of China), Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Guyana, Singapore, Libya, Republic of China (Taiwan), Malawi, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Barbados, Fiji, Ghana, Myanmar, Jordan, Iraq, Nepal, New Zealand, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Pakistan, Samoa, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  The naming suggests that they are two separate degrees; however, in practice, they are usually treated as one. (At Oxford and Cambridge it is/was possible to be awarded the two degrees on different dates.)
The degrees are often used as the Commonwealth equivalent of what is known elsewhere as the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD).  In countries that award bachelors' degrees in medicine, however, the MD refers to a Higher Doctorate, and is reserved for medical practitioners who do research and submit a thesis in the field of medicine.
Because they are considered equivalent allopathic medical degrees, in the United States each state board of medicine allows those who have been granted a "bachelor of medicine" overseas the right to use the title "MD" while practicing in the United States.
The specific names and abbreviations given to these degrees vary from country to country and from one institution or awarding body to the next; this is mostly for reasons of tradition rather than to indicate any significant difference between the relative levels of the degrees. The Latin names are usually given as Medicinae Baccalaureus, Chirugiae Baccalaureus or Baccalaureus in Medicina et in Chirurgia, abbreviated as MB ChB, MB BCh or otherwise; the English versions are Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery or Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, usually abbreviated as MB BS, and rarely as BM BS, even though most MBBS-awarding institutions do not use Latin on their diplomas.
These degrees are not offered in the United States, Canada and other countries. In the United States a medical student typically completes a bachelor's degree (not necessarily in science) during which they take courses meeting pre-medical requirements before pursuing a medical doctorate, or MD. Unlike the British model (where the MD is a postgraduate degree along the lines of a PhD), the US MD is a "first degree".
The following is a list of the specific names used, arranged by country.
MB BS are conferred by most Australian medical schools (undergraduate and graduate-entry).
The graduate-entry Flinders medical school confers BM BS.
The University of Newcastle offers the five-year undergraduate degree BMed. Although no degree in surgery is formally awarded by Newcastle, this degree is equivalent to the MB BS, and students may go on to a career in surgery the same as any other graduates in medicine and surgery.
All 50 medical colleges in Bangladesh (14 public and the rest private) award MB BS.
All medical schools in Egypt award MB BCh.
Various abbreviations are used for these degrees in England:
- MB ChB are used at the universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Keele, Manchester, Sheffield, and Warwick.
- MB BS are used at the University of East Anglia, Hull York Medical School, Imperial College London, the University of London, and University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
- BM BCh are used at the University of Oxford.
- BM BS are used at University of Nottingham, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry and Brighton Sussex Medical School
- BM is awarded at the University of Southampton. Although no degree in surgery is formally awarded by Southampton, this degree is equivalent to the MB ChB, and students may go on to a career in surgery the same as any other graduates in medicine and surgery.
- MB BChir are awarded by the University of Cambridge.
At Oxford and Cambridge universities the preclinical course leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree (upgradable after three or four years to Master of Arts), after which most students used to go elsewhere to complete clinical training. They could then take the degrees of their new university or return to their old university to take clinical examinations.
The English Triple Conjoint Diploma of LRCP, LRCS, LMSSA were non-university qualifying examinations in medicine and surgery awarded jointly by the Royal College of Physicians of London, Royal College of Surgeons of England and Society of Apothecaries through the United Examining Board. These qualifications were registrable with the General Medical Council until 1999. Prior to 1994, the English Conjoint diploma of LRCP, MRCS was awarded for over a century, and the LMSSA was a distinct and sometimes less-esteemed qualification.
The awarding of qualifications in Hong Kong has continued to follow the British tradition despite the handover of the territory's sovereignty from the hands of the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China on 30 June 1997. The dual degree is awarded as:
Medical schools in India (popularly known as "medical colleges") award MB BS. Licenciate qualifications in medicine and surgery, LMS, were also formerly awarded after a shorter course, originally at a "medical school" rather than a "medical college"; the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Bombay awarded a licentiate at LMS level, a membership (MCPS) at MB BS level and a fellowship (FCPS) at MD level. The State Medical Faculty of West Bengal (previously of Bengal) also gave licentiates and memberships.
All medical schools in Iraq award MB ChB.
The three degrees of MB BCh BAO are awarded by all medical schools in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland - namely Queen's University Belfast, University of Dublin (Trinity College) and some constituent institutions of the National University of Ireland (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Dublin, University College Cork and National University of Ireland, Galway).
BAO is Baccalaureus in Arte Obstetricia (Bachelor of the Obstetric Art), which the Irish Universities began to award in the 19th century after legislation insisted on a final examination in obstetrics. This third degree, however, is not registrable with the British General Medical Council or the Irish Medical Council.
LRCPI LRCSI, or simply LRCP&SI, denotes a holder of the historical non-university qualifying licenciates awarded jointly by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to students of the RCSI's medical school. Unlike the corresponding licentiates awarded by the Royal Colleges in Scotland and England (which were external qualifications), these qualifications may still be used for registration purposes with the IMedical Council. Students at RCSI still receive these licenciates but now also receive the degrees MB BCh BAO, due to RCSI's status as a recognised college of the National University of Ireland.
The RCSI students also received a Licence in Midwifery (LM) from each college, in the same way that the Irish Universities granted BAO degrees, so their qualifications were sometimes expressed as L & LM, RCPI, L & LM, RCSI or more misleadingly as LLM, RCP&SI.
LAH formerly denoted a licentiate of the now-defunct Apothecaries' Hall, Dublin, and is no longer awarded.
The traditional route of pursuing a medical degree in Kenya requires one to have high marks in KCSE, a national exam administered at the conclusion of high school. In recent years however, students who can pay their own tuition and those from other countries have been accepted into these programs. It is hoped that these new regulations shall promote the number of locally trained doctors as many are leaving the country in a phenomenon that has been regarded by others as a brain drain.
The University of Malaya and Universiti Teknologi MARA both award MB BS. Other public universities such as Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, however, follows the North American model and style their degrees as Doctor of Medicine. There is an increasing number of private medical schools in Malaysia, offering either full programs (with the whole course completed within Malaysia) or joint programs (where part of the course is completed at an overseas institution). The entrance into the medical faculty in the public universities is very competitive,and often causes controversy and tension among students and their respective parents nationwide.
All four medical schools in Myanmar award MB BS. The duration of the MB BS course in Myanmar is five years plus one year residency in rural areas or in big cities depending on the school transcript.
The two New Zealand medical schools, Auckland and Otago, style their degrees as MB ChB. The New Zealand MB ChB degrees take at least 6 years after commencing university study depending upon graduate or undergraduate entry.
All medical schools in Pakistan award the MB BS degree, which is given by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council. The duration of the course for the degree is five years and a one year residency or house-job is required for those graduates who wish to practice in Pakistan. Graduates who wish to practice outside of Pakistan are not required to complete the one year house-job/residency.
The University of St Andrews awarded MB ChB until the early 1970s, but since the incorporation of the clinical medical school into the University of Dundee (the former Queens College St Andrews), the University of St Andrews now only awards a pre-clinical BSc or BSc (Hons), and students go elsewhere to finish their clinical training, usually to the University of Manchester where they are awarded an MB ChB after a further three years' study.
The Scottish Triple Conjoint Diploma of LRCPE, LRCSE, LRCPSG (earlier LRCPE, LRCSE, LRFPSG) is an old non-university qualifying examination in medicine and surgery awarded jointly by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, previously through a Conjoint Board and from 1994 through the United Examining Board. These qualifications were registrable with the GMC until 1999.
The University of Pretoria, University of Cape Town, University of the Free State, University of Stellenbosch and MEDUNSA all award MB ChB, whereas the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of KwaZulu-Natal style their degrees as MB BCh. All South African medical degrees are awarded under the auspices of the Health Professions Council of South Africa and take at least 6 years to complete.
The only medical school in Singapore, the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, confers MB BS.
MB BS is offered only by the government universities. The University of Colombo, University of Peredeniya, University of Kelaniya (Ragama), University of Ruhuna and University of Jaffna each has a medical faculty. The course lasts 5 years. Students are chosen on a merit basis from local advanced level examination from the biological sciences stream. Students have to complete 1 year of internship before they are awarded the medical council registration which is needed to practice medicine in Sri Lanka.
All four public and private medical schools (University of Dar es Salaam - Muhimbili, Bugando, HKMU, and KCMCollege) offer MD degree after completion of five year of studies, followed by one year of internship. The entrance to Medical School is usually after completion of A-level studies, especially within study combinations of PCB and CBG.
All medical schools in Wales award MB BCh.
Classification of degrees
The degrees of MB ChB and MB BS are rather difficult to classify. The degrees of MBChB and MBBS are awarded after successful completion of the appropriate undergraduate course; however, one year of practice as a PRHO/FHO1 is completed under the supervision of the graduate's undergraduate medical school, and is required if they wish to become registered with the General Medical Council (without this, the graduate will not be able to undertake a career in medicine).
The degree is generally received both after an undergraduate course, lasting five or six years. In some cases, an honours graduate in another discipline, such as physiology or pharmacology, may subsequently enter a medical course which has been reduced to 4 years in duration to take into account relevant material covered during the first degree. One year of practice as a PRHO/FHO1 is required of these individuals, again under the supervision of the relevant undergraduate medical school.
The degrees differ from other undergraduate degrees in that they are professional qualifications which entitle bearers to enter a particular career upon receipt. This is not the case with most other undergraduate degrees, apart from dentistry, so whilst the MBBS and MBChB are undergraduate/graduate degrees, they are perhaps more accurately conceptualised as a so-called 'First Professional' degree.
However, at many institutions (for example the University of Manchester and University of Dundee) it is possible for the degrees to be awarded with Honours (i.e. MB ChB (Hons)) or with Commendation, if the board of examiners recognises exceptional performance throughout the degree course. Very few of these are awarded.
More often, it is possible to study one subject for an extra year for an intercalated honours degree. This is usually a BSc, BMedSci, BMedBiol or similar: at Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin it is a BA. At a few universities most medical students obtain an ordinary degree in science as well: when the University of Edinburgh had a six year course, the third year was followed by award of an ordinary BSc (Med Sci). In Australia, The University of Melbourne offers an Arts Degree (BA) to a medical student on the completion of two extra years of undergraduate study, and Monash University offers a Law degree (LLB). If the optional Law degree is undertaken, on completion of their degree the student may choose to do a one year internship at a hospital and become a doctor, or spend one year doing articles to practise thereafter as a lawyer.
An exception is at the University of Nottingham where all medical students on the five year course obtain a Bachelor of Medical Sciences (BMedSci) degree without an extra intercalated year.
As Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degrees are generally regarded by the awarding universities as undergraduate non-doctoral degrees, strictly speaking they do not in their own right entitle the holder to be called Doctor. Graduates of these degrees are only entitled to use the title Doctor upon registration as a medical professional with the relevant regulatory body in their country.
As a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, graduates are also eligible to sit various postgraduate examinations, which include examinations for membership and fellowship of professional institutions (such as Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons), postgraduate Masters degrees (such as a Master of Surgery or Master of the Art of Obstetrics) and a postgraduate doctorate in medicine (eg MD).
- Bachelor's degree
- Medical school
- Medical education
- Doctor of Medicine - for more about the degrees of MD and DM
- Master of Surgery - for more about the degrees of ChM, MCh, MChir & MS.