Becoming a doctor isn’t an easy course load to get into. In reality, going to medical school, while admirable, carries with it some caveats. Medical schools are well known for bagging down their students with massive debt, only able to be shunted from their student’s shoulders through many years of hard work. That’s not what we’re to talk about.
Debt or no debt, the medical field is a highly respected craft, wherein the ends justify the means. What’s important is ensuring you put your efforts to their best use. If you’re at the point where you’ve finished your Bachelor’s, and you’re looking at graduate programs to begin work on your medical degree, you might appreciate some help.
The list may be a sliver of the amount of institutions presently open in the United States, but that still leaves 141 programs to choose from. Out of those 141 schools, which ones represent the best medical schools in the country? We’re here to help you figure which graduate programs will optimize your education.
How We Choose Our List
Due to the high cost that medical schools bring down on their students, it seems more and more often that the weight of debt bears significant influence on prospective doctors’ final decisions. The pressures of overhanging debt can cause students to transfer into programs with lucrative opportunities, creating shortage in otherwise important positions.
The cost of these schools, combined with accounting for standards of living in each area, has too much bearing on what schools become accessible. That can’t be ignored, but what’s important is the distinction between cost and quality. The most expensive schools don’t necessarily mean they’re the best.
When it comes to choosing our list, we tried to take both the quantifiable data into account with the less tangible numbers. While quantifiable data can’t be ignored, they don’t always determine what makes the best medical schools.
For that, we’ve taken a few things into account the following:
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University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
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Johns Hopkins University
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University of California - San Francisco
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Here Are the Best Medical Schools in the United States
You’ll notice that there’s going to be a fair bit of prestige behind most of the selections on this list. That’s sort of the natural order of what makes these schools so acclaimed: you’ll have heard their names before.
Keep in mind that there are two different types of medical programs that are focused on: research and primary care. What you’re interested in studying factors into which schools you’ll be a better fit for.
1. Harvard University - Research Program
Chances are you aren’t surprised that an Ivy League school is taking the first spot. Those that fall into this exalted category of academic institutions are expected to fulfill certain expectations that justify their status.
The esteemed Harvard name has earned its place as a highly sought-after university because it fulfills its expectations. Like it or not, Harvard is an excellent school, and its medical program lives up to that.
Deciding between following a research program or a primary care program has mostly to do with your personality. What do you care about doing? Why are you getting into medicine? What are your interests and focuses? That’s something to figure out on your own time.
If you’re interested in pursuing a research program, then Harvard has the best in the country. Its primary care course is also highly regarded as an excellent program, but it’s not where their strengths lie.
As you might expect, the coursework is grueling, ensuring your qualifications to earn a doctorate. However, considering their median GPA sits at 3.93, one of the highest in the country, there’s support provided for your success.
If you’re among the 3.5% who gain admission through the Harvard gates, you’re already on a good track. With a faculty to student ratio of 13:1, the level of availability offered to students for guidance, assistance, and academic improvement easily beats out the national average. The less students there are per faculty member means they’ll be able to provide more time for you, after all.
Harvard Medical School also provides ample supplementary opportunities for extracurriculars, recreation, and organization. The result is a diverse, foundational school providing the best university experience for research focused medical students. Good thing too. When it comes to research versus primary care programs, research programs are notoriously more difficult.
Harvard’s located in Boston, Massachusetts. With tuition and fees adding up to $61,535, it’s a fairly pricey institution to afford. However, Harvard’s known for its financial support and scholarship programs, so there’ll be some assistance covering those costs.
2. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill - Primary Care Program
While the University of North Carolina doesn’t have quite the same name-brand quality like Harvard, it still houses the best primary care program in the United States. Primary care programs aren’t as rigorous as research programs, but that’s like saying iron isn’t as tough as steel - technically true, but you still can’t bend an iron bar with hands alone.
The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill ranks fairly well on both research and primary care programs, meaning it’s a good overall medical school beyond its focus on primary care.
The four-year graduate program can be expanded on through electives, clerkships, and study abroad programs. With plenty of opportunities to bolster their academic standing, the educational backdrop provided by UNC is supportive of the student body.
Expanding on their programs, the school features an accessible 13:1 faculty to student ratio. The ratio, comparable to Harvard’s, is among the best in the country for allowing students ample access to their professor’s guidance and suggestions. This fosters a culture based around learning and success. While not geared toward enrolled students, their Medical Education Development Program provides future access and opportunities for disadvantaged peoples.
The student body also creates access for organization and community service efforts for themselves, involving over 50 student organizations. Student involvement is a crucial part of amassing strong support between peers while building responsible qualities, skill sets, and experiences. To further account for student well-being, every medical student is automatically included in the UNC’s branch of student government, the Whitehead Medical Society.
As the name states, UNC is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. While in-state tuition is affordable in comparison to many other medical universities, clocking in at $27,637, out-of-state is more par for the course at $54,516. If you happen to live in North Carolina, you’re in luck. Otherwise, the price tag is a little bit higher to afford if you’re from another state.
3. Johns Hopkins University - Research Program
Another Ivy League University, Johns Hopkins sits right behind Harvard as one of the best research programs in the continental United States. Their primary care program, still within the top tier of medical programs in the country, does sit quite a bit lower in comparison. With a median GPA of 3.93, equivalent to Harvard’s own, there aren’t many areas where Harvard is better.
If you end up siding with Johns Hopkins over Harvard, you’re not going to get any worse of an education. However, you will have a better chance of making it into the program in the first place. While Harvard’s acceptance rate sits at a pretty sheer 3.5%, Johns Hopkins accepts around 5.3%. It’s still a high bar to make, but 1.8% means more when you’re dealing with high-class schools.
Once you’re admitted, you’ll have access to Johns Hopkins astounding 7:1 faculty to student ratio, easily beating out most any university you’ll find. There’s no vying for professor’s attention here, and you’ll have access to all the knowledge they can provide. As far as learning atmospheres go, it’s pretty healthy.
Their curriculum includes active interaction with experienced medical field workers, accented with simulations, special courses, and other student-focused educational efforts. To help form a communal experience, medical students are separated into four separate colleges, wherein intercollegiate activities provide much needed breaks from their studies.
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, like Harvard, is a bit pricey. All tuition, in-state and out-of-state, rounds out to $57,230. That’s a pretty large chunk for full-time attendance, but like Harvard there’s financial support provided.
4. University of California - San Francisco - Primary Care Program
The next best primary program to get into lies within the <University of California in San Francisco. Unlike the rest of the selections on this list, if you’re looking for a medical school that ranks high in both primary care and research program, the University of California is for you. Regarded as one of the best medical schools in the country, second for primary care and fifth for research, its prized programs make it a challenge to get into.
Low entry rates are no stranger to high-ranking medical schools, and the University of California is no different. Accepting a mere 3.3% into its student body, the standards are high, but they ensure that their student body is provided ample opportunity for development, assistance, and organization.
With an incredible 4:1 faculty to student ratio, the University of California in San Francisco is handily one of the best schools when it comes to faculty accessibility. Their faculty is full of notable, well-established individuals, complementing the coursework with experienced, respected professionals.
Their location is in the name, San Francisco, California. When comparing the University of California with North Carolina, their tuitions come in slightly different averages. While in-state tuition is more expensive, sitting at $34,386, their out-of-state tuition is more affordable with a price tag of $46,631.
Buyer’s Guide - Choosing What’s Best for You
While these are the four best medical schools that you’ll find in the country, there are plenty more that are comparable in tuition, education quality, and accessibility. Any choice is good, but unfortunately a lot of it comes down to price. If you live in California, for instance, you’d have a better deal going for the University of California than the University of North Carolina.
What’s important is finding the school and program that best fits you. When you’re comparing amenities, values, and qualities between institutions, the best schools are all peers of each other.
However, always make sure to compare a few key things between them:
Some of these are more important for quality, whereas others are more for feasibility. As annoying as that is, everything needs to be considered when choosing between the best medical schools.