Study medicine in Croatia: Where and how (full guide)

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Croatia is a small country located at the crossroads of central and southeast Europe. The country gained its independence in 1991 when it broke away from the Yugoslavian republic. Shortly after gaining independence the country became engulfed in a civil war as conflict emerged over territories.

The country has been at peace since the civil war ended in 1995. It joined NATO in 2009 and gained EU membership in 2013. Situated along the beautiful Adriatic sea coast, the country has become a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors every year. 3 Universities located in different cities offer medical students in English to international students:

  • University of Zagreb (Zagreb)
  • University of Split (Split)
  • University of Rijeka (Rijeka)

Medical school in Croatia

Medical school in Croatia is a 6-year undergraduate program that leads to an M.D degree. Students are eligible to apply for enrollment if they have or will have a high school diploma before enrollment. Students should have good grades in natural sciences(Biology, chemistry, and physics). Furthermore, students should be proficient in the English language.

The final decision for which applicants are accepted is determined by their application (grades, motivation and recommendation letters, etc.) or by an entrance exam with multiple-choice questions in biology, chemistry, and physics.

Once enrolled, students typically follow a module that starts out with basic science subjects, from which students are gradually introduced to clinical subjects and clinical rotations. After successfully passing the final examination, the degree is recognized across the European Union, as well as in North-America (and more).


University of Zagreb

The University of Zagreb is the oldest and largest university in Croatia. It is located in the capital of Zagreb, Croatia’s largest city, which is found inland towards its northern border with Slovenia. It was founded back in 1669 and is currently made up of 29 faculties that enroll over 70 000 students. The faculty of medicine was established in 1917 and is the oldest and biggest medical faculty in Croatia.

The faculty launched its English program back in 2003. The program is a 6-year undergraduate program that leads to an M.D degree. The program currently enrolls over about 50 international students every year. Ever since launching the program, over 700 international students from all over the world have earned their degrees at the university.

Admission requirements

As an applicant, you are required to have completed secondary school/high school, and be eligible for higher education in your home country. You should preferably have taken courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. Also, students who are not native English speakers, or graduated from an English language school, have to document their English proficiency. This means having documentation of passing an internationally recognized English language proficiency test.

Before being accepted for enrollment, students have to pass a written entrance exam. The subjects on the exam include biology, chemistry, and physics. The exam is taken in Croatia or in selected cities abroad, hosted by local representatives.

If you hold certain degrees you may be exempted from the entrance exam. This includes: 

  • If you have completed a pre-medical college or passed internationally recognized exams (MCAT – with a minimal score of 125 for each section)
  • If you hold a BA/BSc degree in natural sciences with good credits in Biology, Physics, Chemistry
  • You have taken SAT Subject Tests in Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, with a minimum score of 600 in each subject.
  • You have taken the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) 

Application process

About 50 students are enrolled for the academic year which starts in October. The university starts accepting applications during winter. As an applicant, you have to send your application by mail. The deadline for receiving applications is set to June 20th. For students who may be exempted from the entrance exam, the deadline is May 20th. The application must include the following documents:

  • Application form (found on the university website)
  • Certified copies of secondary school/high school diploma and grade transcript
  • Officially attested English or Croatian translation of high school diploma and grade transcript (if the original language is not English)
  • Certified copy of other degrees (if any)
  • CV in English
  • 4 passport-size photographs (no older than 6 months)
  • Proof of payment of 200 EUR application fee
  • Medical certificate stating general health status (no older than 1 month)
  • Copy of passport
  • Certified copy of your birth certificate
  • A statement certifying that the applicant has adequate financial backing for the studies (bank statement or statement of financial credibility)
  • Copy of an English language proficiency certificate (TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge, and Oxford English language exams)

If you have sent in a complete application and meet the application requirements, you are eligible to sit for the entrance exam. The exam is hosted in Zagreb in July, as well as in selected countries around the globe through local representatives (at different dates). Based on the application and exam score, you can be selected for enrollment. In this case, you will receive an Offer of enrollment followed by a Letter of Acceptance and contract.

Follow this link to head over to the University website. Here you can read more about the application process and requirements. Here you can also see if the university has any representatives in your country. You can also check out a neat video of the city of Zagreb below.

Tuition fee

The tuition fee for each academic year is 12.000 Euro (approx. 13.500 USD). This can be paid in bulk, or in 2 installments at the beginning of each semester for an additional 200 EUR fee.


University of Split

The University of Split was founded in 1974. It is located in Croatia’s second-largest city, Split, which lies along the shore of the Adriatic sea. The university is organized into 13 faculties and enrolls about 25 000 students.

The medical faculty was established in 1997 and launched its English medical program in 2011. The course is a 6-year undergraduate program that leads to an M.D degree. In later years, around 60 students have enrolled in the English program every year.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for enrollment you have to have completed secondary school/high school, and be eligible for higher education in your home country. The total duration of your primary education should be minimum 12 years.

You should preferably have taken courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. Also, students who are not native English speakers, or graduated from an English language school, have to document their English proficiency. This means having documentation of passing an internationally recognized English language proficiency test.

Application process

When applying, you have to provide a complete application that is to be sent by mail AND email. The application must include the following documents:

  • Completed and signed the application form (found on the university website)
  • Proof of nationality. Copy of passport or photo ID card.
  • Copy of your birth certificate. 
  • Originals or certified copies of secondary school/high school diploma and grade and final exam transcripts.
  • Proof of English language proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, CAE etc.) 
  • CV with a photo
  • Motivation letter for applying to the program
  • Proof of payment of a 100 EUR application fee paid to the University.

In addition, students are encouraged to include any recommendation letters from relevant individuals (your mom does not count). Also, if you have any exam results from MCAT or SAT tests or other university degrees in natural sciences you should include a certified copy of your diploma/certificate/transcript as it might help you in the selection process.

Once the university has received your application, you will receive a confirmation email. It is very important that you confirm that this email has been received (check spam folder etc). If you do not receive the confirmation, you should contact the university. 

Make sure to include everything in the application and send it by both mail and email in good time before the deadline. Incomplete or late applications, as well as applications sent by email or mail only will not be considered.

After going through a preselection based on the application, selected candidates will be invited for an interview with the university Selection Committee. The interview is done in person in Croatia or through skype. From there, selected students are offered to enroll in the program.

Follow this link to the Universities website to read more about the application process, requirements. If you want to see more of the lovely city of Split you can check out the video below.

Tuition fee

In addition to the application fee. Students have to pay 12.000 EUR tuition fee annually.


University of Rijeka

Rijeka is Croatia’s third-largest city, located on its northern coast. The modern-day university was established in 1973, but The Faculty of Medicine dates back to 1955. The faculty launched its English program in 2016 and offers a 6-year undergraduate program that leads to an M.D. degree.

Admission requirements

As an applicant, you are required to have completed secondary school/high school, and be eligible for higher education in their home country. You should have taken courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. An overall high-grade average is preferable, especially in natural science subjects. 

If you are not a native English speaker or didn’t graduate from an English language school, you have to document proficiency in the English language. This means having documentation of passing an internationally recognized English language proficiency test

Before being accepted for enrollment, students have to pass a written entrance exam. The subjects on the exam include biology, chemistry, and physics. The exam is taken in Croatia from spring to early autumn on selected dates

If you hold certain degrees or certifications you may be exempted from the entrance exam. This includes those who have:

  • Completed a pre-medical college or passed internationally recognized exams (MCAT – with a minimal score of 9 for each section)
  • Completed a BA/BSc degree in natural sciences with good credits in Biology, Physics, Chemistry
  • Taken SAT Subject Tests in Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, with a minimum score of 600 in each subject.

Application process

The university enrolls a maximum of 50 students for the program every year. The application period starts at the beginning of the year. The deadline for sending in the application depends on when you want to take the entrance exam, but the latest is by August 23rd.

The application is to be sent by mail to the university and must include the following

  • Completed Application form (found on university website)
  • Original or certified copies of their secondary school diploma (for all years and the final certificate) with an official grade transcript. These have to be in officially attested and translated into English if the originals are not in English or Croatian.
  • A CV in English (Europass)
  • 4 photographs measuring 4×6 cm (no older than six months)
  • Proof of payment of 200  EUR Application fee.
  • Original medical certificate of general health status (no older than 1 month) issued by an authorized family physician (not a family member)
  • Copy of ID paper (Passport with the data and picture).
  • Original or certified copy of your birth certificate.
  • Certified financial statement, stating that you have adequate financial resources to finance your studies (can be a bank statement or statement of financial credibility, certificate of being granted student loan, scholarship, etc.)
  • A certificate documenting English language proficiency. 

If you hold any degrees or certificates of higher education (college/university), you should include it. Keep in mind that all applicants who obtained their high school or other university education abroad must have their diploma recognized in Croatia before enrollment.

If you are found eligible, you will be invited to sit for the entrance exam. Students are then selected for enrollment based on their overall application and exam score. The students will be offered to enroll for the academic year, which starts with the winter semester at the beginning of October.

Follow this link to head over to the University website. Here you can read more about the application process and requirements. If you want to see more of the city of Rijeka you can check out the video below.

Tuition fee

In addition to the one-time 200 EUR application fee. Students have to pay an annual Tuition fee of 9,000 Euro. This can be paid in bulk, or in three equal consecutive installments.

English language test

As mentioned, all the universities require all non-native English speakers to provide documentation of English language proficiency. The following tests are considered acceptable:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Cambridge English language exams.

Also, certificates issued by language schools with a B2 English level are also accepted, in addition to certificates of English language proficiency issued by a secondary school a candidate attended

If you are unsure whether you meet the criteria for English language proficiency (e.g. you had English in high school but are unsure of the level), contact the individual university for more information

Recognition of degree

All the universities above are registered in the world directory of medical schools. Due to Croatia’s membership in the EU, the degree should be recognized and accepted across all member states. This means that graduates are eligible to apply for a license to practice and work as doctors in any EU country

Students are eligible to practice in North America and Canada upon graduating, granted they pass all necessary examinations. All the universities are listed in the world directory of medical schools as meeting ECFMG requirements. This means that students are eligible to sit for the USMLE Step 1 and 2 exams and apply for an ECFMG certification before being able to complete the US certification process by passing the USMLE Step 3. 

Degrees from the universities are also accepted by the medical council of Canada. This means that graduates are eligible to practice medicine in Canada granted they pass the required examination (MCCQE part 1 and 2).

The degrees are accepted in many more countries across the globe, however, most countries have their own requirements for foreign medical graduates before they can start practicing medicine. Before applying, make sure to contact the appropriate regulatory body in your country with regards to recognition of the degree upon completion.

Cost of living in Croatia

The cost of living in Croatia is around the average for most eastern European states. Students can find accommodation for anywhere between 250-400+ EUR per month (with utilities). On average, the larger cities are more expensive. On average, apartments are less expensive if you move away from the city centers and if students rent together.

The cities have cheap and efficient public transportation networks with buses and trams (Zagreb). A monthly student travel pass usually only costs about 14 EUR. Food is cheap, especially if you cook at home. Depending on how much you eat a student spends anywhere between 100-200 EUR on food every month.

Every once in a while you can enjoy a dinner at a restaurant which will cost anywhere between 20-35 EUR depending on the restaurant and the food. A big mac menu costs around 5 EUR, and most importantly, a regular size (0,5L) beer will cost around 2 EUR.

Overall, the cost of living is comfortable for most international students, but everything depends on your budget.

Closing remarks

Overall, medical studies in Croatia offer an exciting opportunity to study medicine in a historic Mediterranean country. The opportunity is especially enticing for European students, as the degree is accepted in most (if not all) member states without the need for extra examinations.

If you are interested in the possibility to study medicine in Croatia, make sure to check out the links provided above. Here you can get additional information about the application process. 

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any experience with studying medicine in Croatia, feel free to share your experience in the comments below. If you have any unanswered questions, comments or other inquiries, please leave it in the comment section.