Which Schools are
the Best Medical Schools?
There are several publications that try to define which schools are the best medical schools. However, this is a question that needs to be answered by you as an individual. This page will help you understand what criteria you should be looking for to choose a number of good medical schools for you.
Even when you do go through this process and choose good medical schools and eventually choose the best medical schools for you, the school has to choose you too!
Now, there are some companies who will tell you which schools are good medical schools and which are not as good. They base their medical school rankings on the amount of
research grants received, opinions of residency directors, and other measures.
Click here for a list of the Top 100 Medical Schools based on research rankings by the US News and World Report. This page also has average MCAT, GPA and tuition information for each school as well as whether they accept foreign medical students. However, although these sources use the best information they can find to objectively rank schools, the problem is that
these rankings do not tell you which school is the best school for you.
Finding the best medical schools for you involves more than just looking at medical school rankings and the MSAR.
In my experience and opinion, you should look for a school that is the best medical school for you in the following categories:
Photo courtesy of mararie
Your best chance for getting into medical school is to apply to your state school. Private medical schools, however, also offer great benefits. Find out why here.
This is an important consideration if you want to be close to family or friends. It's also important if you have a significant other who wants to be close to family. Part of the reason I applied to UCLA was so that my wife could have support from her family since I'd be gone so much. The MSAR provides information on schools by state. Location can make the difference between finding good medical schools for you and the best school for you.
UCLA medical school is a Pass/Fail grading system, as is Harvard Medical School. This means that students are not ranked during the first two years, it's just pass or fail. These are some of the best medical schools in America, and to me this grading system makes them even better!
And even if you fail, the school will help you so you can pass later. They want you to succeed. Good medical schools will treat you this way.
This was a good fit for me. The pressure to score better than everyone else that I felt in undergrad was taken away. I felt I could study more to learn than just to do well on the test.
Other grading systems include Honors/Pass/Fail and letter grades. This is an important consideration as it will greatly influence how you view the importance of your tests and, in my opinion, how you interact with your classmates.
If you thrive on competition, an Honors/Pass/Fail or letter grade school might be the best school for you.
This information is not available in the MSAR or US News and World report, so you'll have to do some research, but it's well worth it. Finding the best medical schools in America for you hinge on knowing this information, in my opinion.
Time in Class
This is one you might not think of in choosing the best schools, but it became important to me during my application process.
At UCLA medical school, during the first two years, we had between 10 and 15 hours of required class time per week. Lectures were optional and were recorded with audio synced with slides. Also, the anatomy lab had prosected cadavers (meaning that we didn't do the dissections).
All of this meant that most of our studying was done out of class vs. in-class. This was a great fit for me since I could spend time with my family instead of at school.
At the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, there were approximately 40 hours per week of required class time, leaving little time to spend outside of class and studying. This was one of the reasons I chose UCLA medical school over Texas.
When interviewing, make sure to ask about required class time, whether lectures are recorded, and if the anatomy lab is prosected. You may want to ask the students you talk to vs the interviewers so you don't sound like a slacker. You don't want one of the good medical schools or best medical schools in America to turn you down!
Of course, you may prefer to spend more time in class and to do the dissections in the anatomy lab yourself. Either way, these are important things to know. At Harvard medical school, they do the dissections themselves.
Again, this information is not available through the MSAR or US News, so you'll have to ask the good medical schools you're interested in individually.
Average MCAT and GPA
While these scores are not the whole story of who gets into medical school, they certainly help.
You should apply to schools where your are above, close to, or not much lower than the average GPA and MCAT of accepted applicants. This information is available through US News and World Report as well as through the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements).
Remember, the best medical schools will generally have higher MCAT and GPA scores. This is very evident on the Top 100 medical schools page.
As discussed above, private medical schools are more expensive than public schools. This includes all schools that award the DO degree. However, most private medical schools are very good medical schools. In fact, 7 of the top 10 best medical schools in America for research are private medical schools.
Also keep in mind that at some public schools, your tuition may be very high if you are not a resident of that state.
Another cost to consider is the cost of living. Most schools will have a budget listed on their websites, and you can get a feel for relative cost of living by searching housing prices on craigslist.
For more on financial aid, click here for information about scholarships and loans.
When you think about it, the main purpose of medical school is to match you into a residency. An important statistic to know is the percentage of students matching into one of their top three residency choices.
Also, you should look at the distribution of residencies. Are you interested in surgery? Look for a school that matches a good number of students into surgery.
If you're not sure what you want to do, it's better to apply to a school that has a good range of specialties since you will have more options on graduation.
The specialty choice information is provided in the MSAR. The percentage of students matching into their top three choices will be a question to ask the schools. The best medical schools will be happy to provide you this information.
Photo courtesy of Bogdan Migulski
You'll get a better feel for this when you visit the school, but it's important to know whether you get along with the students at the school. This can make the difference between your good medical schools and your best medical schools in America.
When I visited UCLA, I felt like the students were friendly, approachable, and not too stressed out. It was the best medical school for me.
When I visited UT Southwestern, I got a feeling that the school was very competitive. Not a good fit for me, but for some people that would be the best fit.
It's important to know yourself and what you want from a school.
Where do Students from Your Premed School Get Accepted?
Spend some time in the premed office of your school and find out where other students from your school have been accepted. Some schools like applicants from certain undergraduate schools. This can help you choose the best medical schools to apply to.
At BYU, for example, many students were accepted to Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Texas- San Antonio.
In choosing the best medical school for you, understand that your best odds of being accepted are at your state school. Apply there, then research other medical school options.
For more information about the best medical schools in America, there are two sources I would suggest. Check out the US News and World Report. A list of the Top 100 Medical Schools based on their research rankings can be found here. My page also has free information about average MCAT, GPA and tuition. You can find the US News site here. They use several criteria to choose the "best medical schools." You can find details of their criteria here.
Another great resource for you is the MSAR. It is published by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) and provides much of the information that will be important in determining your best medical schools.
This book will give you detailed information about each school, like average MCAT and GPA, location, medical school curriculum details and other useful information. As location matters, you can also click here to find a list of medical schools by state. You can also click here for my list of medical schools.
Find schools whose average MCAT and GPA are close to yours. Find out where other students from your school get accepted. As you start to narrow the list, find schools that are in a good location for you, have a manageable cost, and are a good fit for your learning style and lifestyle.
If you follow those steps, you will find the best medical school for you.
Some of the Best Medical Schools in America
UCLA Medical School
Harvard Medical School
California Medical Schools
Florida Medical Schools
Along with the average MCAT and GPA you can find above, you may be interested in other medical school admissions statistics, such as age, race and gender of applicants. For more information about this, click here.
Getting Professional Help
The medical school admissions process can is very difficult. This site is designed to help you get into your best medical school. Check out my admissions page for understanding the admissions process.
Some students find it useful to employ a service to help them with getting into medical school. To get a top medical school, I would highly recommend coaching. There are many companies that will help you with this, but my recommendation is MedSchoolCoach.
MedSchoolCoach is run by doctors with experience on admissions committees. This makes a big difference as many companies are run by business people or others without this essential experience. They also have an excellent track record, placing 100% of students in an MD or DO program and 87% in an MD program for those who sign up for their gold package. They also offer help with personal statements , interviews and help on choosing which schools to apply to. They are the company I recommend.
I also like them because their prices are very affordable compared to other companies you could choose. Also, click here for current discounts from MedSchoolCoach. Remember, about 60% of applicants are not accepted to any medical school! Don't be one of the 60%! The cost of reapplying could easily be as much as getting help the first time around to help you get accepted. You can also specifically request that I work with you on your application if you wish. I served on the UCLA admissions and work particularly with essays, AMCAS applications, general advising, and have experience with California and Texas schools. I'd be happy to help you get into the school of your choice! Click here to visit MedSchoolCoach
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