Are different medical school degrees the same?

You may have noticed when looking at a medical school prospectus or websites that different medical courses sometimes have different abbreviations for the degrees that they award. For example in the course description on the prospectus or website it may state something like “degree awarded: Medicine MBChB” while another medical school may say “degree awarded: Medicine MBBS”. Another medical school may have yet another different abbreviation and so on.

In the UK the degree awarded from a UK medical schools is called a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery. This may appear to be two degrees but they are in fact treated as one degree. Many countries in the world have adopted this UK convention of awarding a bachelor of Medicine, bachelor of surgery degree. Graduates of these degrees take the title Doctor (Dr). North American Medical schools on the other hand award either the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).

So why do different UK medical degrees have different names if they are all a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree? Is an MBChB degree better than a MBBS degree? Well the differences in names are simply due to historical traditions which results in the bachelor or medicine, bachelor of surgery being abbreviated in different ways. The degrees themselves are equivalent qualifications. MBChB and MBBS are some of the most common medical degree abbreviations in the UK and the world but there are others. For example BMBS which is used by the University of Nottingham School of Medicine and several other medical schools or MB BChir which is awarded by Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine.

MBChB is awarded at all Medical schools in Scotland. In England it is awarded by the Universities of Birmingham Medical School, Bristol Medical School, Buckingham Medical School, Lancaster Medical School, Leeds Medical School, Leicester Medical School, Liverpool Medical School, Keele Medical School, Manchester Medical School, Sheffield Medical School and Warwick Medical School.

MBBS is awarded at UCL Medical School, Barts and The London School of Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine, King’s College London School of Medicine, St George’s, Norwich Medical School, Hull York Medical School, and Newcastle University Medical School.

Other medical schools award MBBCh, BMBS, MB BChir, BM BCh and a few others. Ultimately all of these degrees will give the title Dr and allow graduates to practice as doctors and progress into further training to ultimately become a GP or a consultant.

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