Study Medicine in Cuba for Free; Review of Latin American Medical School – ELAM, Scholarships, Application, Requirements and Visa

I have reviewed available scholarship, admission requirements, cost of living in Cuba and how to apply for admission. This is a complete guide on how to study medicine for free in Cuba with Latin American Medical School – ELAM.


Cuba is home to one of the best medical institutions in the world. Since it has the lowest doctor to patient ratio in the world, Cuba has been training and sending medical doctors all around the world to countries that are underserved.

On top of that, they now provide free tuition medical studies to students from all over the world at their largest medical school ELAM, located 22 miles (35km) west of Havana. ELAM is currently the largest Latin American Medical School which was founded and established by former President Fidel Castro following devastating Hurricanes George and Mitch, which destroyed parts of Central America and the Caribbean in 1998.

How to study medicine in Cuba for free at Latin American Medical School – ELAM; scholarship, how to apply, admission requirements and Cuba study visa discussed

Please note that students at ELAM will spend up to a year learning Spanish, Cuban history and culture, and then deep dive into a curriculum that is curated on preventative health.

Admission or Entry Requirements at ELAM

Students interested in applying must be;

  • Aged between 18 and 25 years when they apply
  • High school graduates or possess a bachelor’s (BS or BA) degree from their country of origin
  • Without a criminal record and free from drug abuse or addiction
  • From a low-income or underserved communities
  • Willing to live by ELAM rules and regulations
  • Able to pass the basic admission test

Please note that preference is given primarily to low-income applicants. In return for receiving free medical education, students are expected to make a non-binding pledge to practice medicine in underserved communities where the need is greater.

How to apply for admission to study medicine free at ELAM – Application Procedure

The Cuban government offers new students annual entry to the Latin American Medical School. The application is processed through the accredited Cuban diplomatic missions in the student’s home country.

It is necessary to contact the Cuban Embassy or Cuban Interests Section to request accurate information. The application process has been designed especially for young people from economically disadvantaged families who meet the following requirements;

  • High school diploma
  • High school transcripts

One of these two documents should come with the stamp of the Ministry of Education from your country, or International Relations Department from your country, or embassy or the Cuban interests office in your country.

  • Birth certificate
  • Certificate of Health including HIV test and pregnancy test.
  • Age not exceeding 25 years at the time of enrollment.
  • Be physically and mentally fit to pursue medical studies.
  • Criminal Records.
  • Scholarship application form
  • Five photos 3cmx3cm (International Relations); six photos 2cmx2cm (Registrars Office)
  • Documents for registration required for filing at the Registrars Office

To be considered for the US scholarship program, applicants must be US citizens (with a US passport), between the ages of 18 and 25, with proficiency in college-level sciences, and a commitment to practice medicine in low-income and medically underserved communities in the US after graduation.

Scholarships for Students

The scholarship includes full tuition, free accommodation, three meals per day at the campus cafeteria, textbooks in Spanish for all courses, school uniform, basic toiletries, bedding, and a small monthly stipend of 100 Cuban pesos ($4).

The scholarship does not include travel expenses to and from school which is not necessary in the first three out of six years as all classes during those years are walking distance from the dorms. The scholarship also does not include travel to and from Cuba.

Cost of living in Cuba

Though the Cuban currency is the Peso, US dollars are widely accepted for transactions within the country. This makes foreign exchange transactional problems almost non-existent.

The cost of living is very modest. For instance, one can eat a decent meal in an inexpensive restaurant for about $5; purchase a monthly pass for transport around the city of Havana for just $1. For fans of coffee, $1 is all that is needed to purchase a cup of cappuccino.

Also, international students can also benefit from the excellent health care that is free for everybody in Cuba.

Other items that might affect a student’s living cost include;

  • Rent outside the city center – $115/month for a 1 bedroom apartment
  • Utilities – $4.49/month
  • Internet – $155/month
  • Milk (1liter) – $2.21
  • Eggs (dozen) – $1.51
  • Beef (1kg) – $7.32
  • Tomato (1kg) – $1.58

As in most cases, these prices can differ from one location to the next. And the overall living expenses can differ for individuals depending on their lifestyles.

Cuba Student Visa

In order to study medicine in Cuba as an international student, you will require a student visa. To apply, please contact the Cuban Consulate in your home country and request information, as requirements differ from one country to another.

To enter Cuba you need a passport which has to valid for at least six months from the date of entry. Three months before you arrive, you will be asked to supply your chosen university with: your full name, address, passport number, expiration date, date and place of birth, name of father and mother, planned residence time in Cuba, planned date of arrival in Cuba.

Please visit their website to learn more.

Note that the content of the site is in Spanish so you will have to auto translate it. Studying medicine on free tuition in Cuba is a really worthwhile experience. I would really encourage you to give it a try.

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