Decoding the MBBS vs. MD Debate

Decoding the MBBS vs. MD Debate

2 weeks ago by Chris

Embarking on the path to become a doctor is a journey laden with choices, and a common question from aspiring doctors revolves around the type of degree pursued—Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) or Doctor of Medicine (MD). As the landscape of medical education evolves, it's useful for aspiring doctors and their parents to understand the nuances of these degrees, particularly the variations in MD programs that can serve as both undergraduate and postgraduate pathways.


Understanding the MBBS Degree

The MBBS degree, a time-honored choice for aspiring doctors, traditionally spans five to six years in Australia. This comprehensive program integrates theoretical knowledge with hands-on clinical experience, offering a well-rounded foundation in medical sciences. Early coursework delves into foundational sciences, gradually transitioning to clinical rotations in hospitals where students apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios.

The MBBS degree is renowned globally, opening doors to diverse medical specialties. The program's structure is relatively standardized across Australian medical schools, providing a consistent and recognized foundation for medical practitioners.


Exploring the MD Degree

In recent years, the MD degree has emerged as a dynamic alternative to the MBBS. It's crucial to note that MD programs in Australia can vary, and some are designed as undergraduate degrees spanning five to six years. Unlike the traditional MBBS pathway, the MD often incorporates research elements throughout the curriculum.

MD programs, whether pursued at the undergraduate or postgraduate level, usually offer a blend of theoretical understanding and a research-oriented approach. The integration of research into the MD program reflects the evolving nature of medicine, emphasizing the importance of innovation and scientific inquiry.


Comparative Analysis

Apart from the aforementioned minor differences, the MBBS and MD courses are essentially identical. Melbourne University started the trend of renaming MBBS to MD in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage, but now nearly all universities have changed their medical degrees to MD, so there is no advantage.

Universities will try to market the degree they offer over the other, but this is all window dressing and should not form part of your decision making process in determining which university to attend for medicine. There are many more important factors to consider, which are outlined in our blog on factors to consider when choosing a medical school.


Universities in Australia and New Zealand offering MBBS and MD

MBBS (Undergraduate)
  • University of Auckland
  • Curtin University
  • James Cook University
  • University of Otago


  • University of Adelaide
  • Bond University
  • Charles Sturt University / University of Western Sydney JMP
  • Griffith University
  • Monash University
  • University of Newcastle / University of New England JMP
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Tasmania

Graduate (provisional entry pathway)

  • Flinders University
    • Charles Sturt University
  • University of Queensland
    • Central Queensland University
    • University of Southern Queensland
  • University of Notre dame (NSW Campus)
  • University of Western Australia

Graduate (graduate entry pathway)

  • Australia National University
  • Deakin University
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Notre dame (WA Campus)
  • University of Sydney


Practical implications for Aspiring Doctors

Importantly, there are no practical implications in terms of the ability to practice medicine in Australia and New Zealand for students choosing an MBBS or MD. Both will provide a licence to practice Medicine in Australia and New Zealand. Neither offers a competitive advantage over the other in terms of future careers / specialty training. 

So in summary, MD is not superior to MBBS, and MBBS is not superior to MD, so there is no need to stress over this decision!



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