The path towards becoming a doctor involves obtaining either an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) or an MD (Doctor of Medicine).

An MBBS is an undergraduate degree that qualifies graduates to practice basic health care, requiring further training for specialization. On the other hand, an MD can either be an undergraduate degree, as seen in Malaysia, or a postgraduate degree, as in the UK and historically in Australia. The MD is often pursued after completing an MBBS to enhance medical knowledge and skills.

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Regional Variations


In Malaysia, both the MBBS and MD are considered bachelor’s degrees of the same level. Universiti Malaya is an exception, offering the MD as a doctoral degree, which requires an MBBS and a master’s or specialist qualification. The standard course length for both degrees is 5 years, or 4 years for graduate entry programs. Both degrees are recognized by the Malaysian Medical Council, and graduates must complete a housemanship for full registration as a medical officer.


In the UK, the MBBS is a bachelor’s degree, while the MD is a postgraduate doctoral research degree. The MBBS typically takes 5-6 years to complete, with some programs offering an intercalated year for additional study. The MD usually takes 2 years full-time or up to 6 years part-time.


Australian medical schools are transitioning from awarding MBBS degrees to MD degrees. The MD is offered as a graduate entry program or combined with a science degree, taking approximately 5-7 years to complete. As a standalone graduate entry program, the MD takes 4 years. In Australia, the MD is recognized as a ‘Masters Degree (Extended).’

Course Structure

Both MBBS and MD degrees include two phases: pre-clinical training and clinical training. The pre-clinical phase, which lasts for the first 2 years, focuses on basic medical sciences. The clinical training phase provides hands-on experience in hospitals and clinics. Clinical specialties in Malaysia include Allergy and Immunology, Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, and Pulmonology.

Career Path

MBBS graduates in Malaysia are qualified to treat basic health matters and must undergo 2 years of additional training before specializing. An MD, pursued as a postgraduate program, enhances career prospects and specialization opportunities. In Malaysia and the UK, MD degrees are typically pursued after an initial medical degree (MBBS).

Choosing Between MBBS and MD

Both MBBS and MD degrees comply with local medical council standards and provide the necessary skills to become a doctor. When choosing between them, consider program costs, structure, facilities, clinical exposure, and degree recognition. In Australia, the combined science/MD degree includes a research component during the clinical years, adding another dimension to the training.

Key Takeaways

Both MBBS and MD degrees are essential in the medical field, structured to provide comprehensive medical education and training. The choice between them depends on regional differences, individual career goals, and specific program offerings at universities. Both degrees pave the way to becoming a qualified and skilled doctor.

Ready to take the next step towards a rewarding career in medicine? Explore RUMC’s MB BCh BAO undergraduate medicine degree today!