What is an MBBS?

MBBS stands for “Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery” (Latin: Medicinae Baccalaureus Baccalaureus Chirurgiae). It is the profession degree given to allopathic doctors in countries that follow the tradition of the United Kingdom. In the United States, the equivalent degree is an MD, short for “Doctor of Medicine”. Certain countries abbreviate the “surgery” in MBBS using the Latin “chirurgiae” (e.g. MB BCh).

Many doctors who immigrate from countries that offer an MBBS degree to the United States stylize their name as [FirstName LastName, MD] on their badges.

MBBS Curriculum

The MBBS curriculum in India is described as a 4.5 + 1 year course. The pre-clinical years are for 2.5 years in duration, followed by 2 years of clinical courses. After passing the Final MBBS exams, all medical students must complete a 1 year “compulsory rotating internship”. During this time, medical students practice on a restricted medical license, working as a doctor across various hospital departments. At the conclusion of the intern year, they are awarded a MBBS diploma and unrestricted medical license by the government.

1st MBBS

Duration: 1 year

Major Courses (with final exams):

  • Anatomy
    • Dissection
    • Histology
    • Embryology
  • Physiology
    • Lab
    • Physical examination
  • Biochemistry
    • Lab

2nd MBBS

Major Courses (with final exams):

  • Pathology
    • Gross specimen lab
    • Microscopic specimen lab
  • Microbiology
    • Lab
  • Pharmacology
    • Lab
  • Forensic Medicine
    • Autopsy theater
    • Gross specimen
    • Firearms, weapons, poisons, etc lab

On-going courses:

  • Medicine
    • Internal Medicine rotation: in-patient and out-patient
    • Psychiatry rotation: in-patient, out-patient, long term care
    • ER/Trauma rotation
    • Dentistry rotation
    • Radiology rotation
    • Dermatology rotation: in-patient and out-patient
  • Surgery
    • General surgery rotation: in-patient and out-patient
  • Community Medicine
    • Rural clinics
    • Community survey
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
    • OBG rotation: family planning

3rd Year: Final MBBS, Part I

Major Courses (with final exams):

  • Community Medicine
    • Rural primary care clinics: out-patient
    • Rural secondary care: in-patient and out-patient
  • Ophthalmology
    • Hospital clinics: in-patient and out-patient
  • Ear, Nose, Throat – Head and Neck Surgery
    • Hospital clinics: in-patient and outpatient

On-going courses:

  • Medicine
    • Internal Medicine rotation: in-patient and out-patient
    • Dermatology rotation: in-patient and out-patient
    • Neurology: in-patient
  • Surgery
    • General surgery: in-patient and out-patient
    • Orthopedic surgery: in-patient and out-patient
    • Urology: in-patient
    • Pediatric surgery: in-patient
    • Neurosurgery: in-patient
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
    • OBG rotation: in-patient and out-patient

4th year: Final MBBS, Part II

Major Courses (with final exams):

  • Medicine
    • Internal Medicine rotation: in-patient and out-patient
    • Dermatology rotation: in-patient and out-patient
    • Nephrology rotation: in-patient and out-patient
    • Gasteroenterology rotation: out-patient
    • Cardiology rotation: out-patient
  • Surgery
    • General surgery: in-patient and out-patient
    • Orthopedic surgery: in-patient and out-patient
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
    • OBG rotation: in-patient, out-patient, labor and delivery
  • Pediatrics
    • Pediatric rotation: in-patient and out-patient


Perhaps one of the greatest difference between an Indian MBBS and a US MD course are how grading is assessed. Each course has “sessionals” or “internal assessments” which are similar to midterms and “university exams” which are similar to finals. University/Finals exams count for 80% of our grades.

A passing grade is 50%. On sessional/internal exams, a 35% qualifying cutoff is also present. Students who do not have a 35% average on their sessional exams have not qualified for taking the final exam. They fail the course by default and must remediate. Each course has a “theory” and “practical” portion of the exam, each of which must be passed individually.

Theory Exam

With the exception of forensic medicine, ophthalmology, ENT, and pediatrics, all courses have 2 theory “papers” or written exams. Each paper lasts 3 hours in duration and has the following pattern:

Written Exam

First 20 min:

  • 20 multiple choice – 1 point per question

Remaining 1 hour 40 min:

  • 2 Long Answer / Essay (3-4 pages each, including diagrams) – 10 points per question
  • 15 Short Answer (1 page each) – 4 points per question

Total points = 100

Oral / Viva exam

4 professors will ask you questions pertaining to the course. 2 of the professors are from your own medical school. The other two are “external examiners”, or professors from other universities.

Practical Exam

Practical exams differ in structure between pre-clinical and clinical subjects.


Depending on the subject, pre-clinical practical exams may include gross anatomy/pathology, microscopic anatomy/pathology, biochemical experiments, physical exams, etc.


Clinical courses have practical exams that involve the following:

  • Major cases: full case workup, diagnosis, presentation
  • Minor cases: partial / system of focus workup, diagnosis, presentation
  • Investigation / Gross pathology specimen
  • Instrumentation demonstration / Medication demonstration

The practical exams are also staffed by 4 professors: two “internal examiners” from our medical school and two “external examiners” from other medical schools.


Each course has didactic “theory” classes and practical/lab/clinical hours. 75% attendance is required in both theory and practicals, in each course. Students with insufficient attendance are in-eligible to take the final university exams, and therefore, they fail the course by default.