Medical education has been changing rapidly in Saudi Arabia. In the last few years, the number of medical colleges increased from 5 medical schools with traditional discipline-based curricula to 21 medical colleges with varied curricula ranging from the traditional to more innovative, problem-based, community-oriented programs. The expansion of quantity in medical education has been associated with a drive for greater quality assurance. As a result, top medical universities in Saudi Arabia are getting the highest rankings internationally.
The private sector has started investing in higher education generally and medical education in particular. Also, other government sectors that provide advanced health services have started establishing new medical colleges.
However, medical institutions in Saudi Arabia still lack heavily in physicians. For this reason, the Saudi Arabian government had mandated that medical schools in Saudi Arabia be tuition-free and prioritize Saudi Arabian citizens.
Saudi students are required to have high average grades for their high school studies before applying for top medical schools in Saudi Arabia. Medicine is studied in Arabic or English in almost all universities and a large percentage of the universities are public.
If you aspire to pursue a career in medicine in the kingdom, here are the top medical universities in Saudi Arabia.
King Abdulaziz University (KAU)
Located in Jeddah, King Abdul Aziz University was a private institution in 1967 before becoming a public university in 1974. King Abdul Aziz University was the #1 Arab university as per the Times Higher Education rankings in 2016. The Faculty of Medicine has been open since 1975 and counts 22 departments for specialization.
This medical school has some exceptional research centers such as the Center for Excellent in Genomic Medicine Research and the King Fahd Center for Medical Research. During studies, students can benefit from top research as well as the teachings of highly qualified international experts. These centers also offer a great place to conduct research and residency.
King Saud University
King Saud University is based in Riyadh the capital and it is a public institution founded in 1957. King Saud University was the first university in the Kingdom and now it has about 40,000 students of which 7% are international. Study here is available in both English and Arabic, and it has the highest-ranked medical school in Saudi Arabia.
Female students are separated from male students and are overseen by female faculty members with the exception of cases where male faculty members also contribute, through the medium of a closed television network.
Alfaisal University is a private university and one of the top medical universities in Saudi Arabia in both education and research. As a non-government university, Alfaisal University is open to foreign and local students alike. The development of the university’s medical curriculum is in collaboration with Harvard Medical International.
Moreover, each course in the program is in partnership with King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre (KFSHRC) and Security Forces Hospital. The medical curriculum includes three interconnected phases. Phase 1 encompasses the normal anatomy and physiology of the body. Phase 2 explores its pathophysiology. And Phase 3 is the application of all that knowledge.
King Saud bin Abdulaziz University For Health Sciences (KSAU-HS)
King Saud bin Abdulaziz University For Health Sciences (KSAU-HS) is a research-intensive medical university in Saudi Arabia. Its headquarters is in the main campus in Riyadh, the capital and its two other campuses are in Jeddah and Al-Ahsa.
Revisions of its MBBS program occurred in 2004 in partnership with the University of Sydney, Australia. Their medical program takes seven years but with a different format from other Saudi Arabian medical schools. It includes two-year preparatory training, two-year specialization, two-year clinical training, and a one-year internship. The World Federation of Medical Education recognizes the KSAU-HS medical program for its excellence for several years now.
Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU)
Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU), formerly the University of Dammam, was initially part of King Faisal University until 2009. IAU spearheaded the post-graduate/specialization education in Saudi Arabia and was the first to receive recognition from the Arab Board of Specializations, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties.
This top medical school in Saudi Arabia also enjoys numerous institutional partnerships both locally and internationally, such as the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, University of Arizona, and The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada. These organizations help the school provide globally competitive education and training.
King Khalid University
Located in Abha, King Khalid University was established in 1998 as a result of the merger between Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University and King Saud University in the Southern Region. College of Medicine at King Khalid University is one of the best medical schools in Saudi Arabia.
This medical school works closely with local hospitals and facilities, supporting these whilst also giving their students exposure to the real world of medical practice: Assir Central Hospital, Abha General Hospital, Armed Forces Hospital Southern Region and Primary Care Centers in the Assir Region are some of the institutions affiliated with the university. The College of Medicine at King Khalid University also houses the Saudi Society of Medical Education and dedicates significant funding to medical research. You can continue your medical studies after the MBBS level, by studying at the Center for Postgraduate and Continuing Medical Education.
King Faisal University
Founded in 1975, King Faisal University is a public university located in Al Ahsa. College of Medicine at King Faisal University is one of 14, and it has several departments, allowing students to specialize in internal medicine, pediatrics, etc. There is also a Center of Excellence in Hematological Diseases Research which will be excellent for those looking to specialize in this area.