Top Medical Schools in the U.S.

A doctor training medical students.
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If you're looking to attend one of the top medical schools in the United States, the list below describes universities that frequently find themselves at the top of the national rankings.

The universities listed here (alphabetically) offer a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree as well as a Ph.D. in medicine, and all have excellent reputations, faculty, facilities, and clinical opportunities. Keep in mind that any list of top schools has its biases and limitations, and the best medical school for your specialization and career goals might not be included here. In total, the United States has 155 accredited MD-granting institutions.

Medical school represents a big commitment of time and money. You'll study for four years after your bachelor's degree, and then you'll have a minimum of three years of residency before you become a practicing physician. It's also not unusual to graduate with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. That said, new doctors can often have their debt repaid if they practice in underserved areas of the country, and some medical schools are beginning to offer tuition waivers.

Once you complete medical school and your residency, the career outlook is excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physicians and surgeons is growing faster than average within the employment marketplace, and typical salaries are over $200,000 a year. Earnings will vary significantly depending on the type of medicine you practice and the location of your employment.

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Duke University

Duke University Chapel

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Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has long been home to a highly regarded School of Medicine. The school's 2,400 science and clinical faculty members have created a culture of cutting-edge research with roughly $740 million in sponsored research expenditures each year. Students receive plenty of support from the faculty with the 3 to 1 faculty-to-student ratio.

Duke's curriculum emphasizes leadership, and traditional training is condensed into three years so that students have the opportunity to pursue their individual interests. The university's Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship Program allows students to follow patients over a longer period of time than is typical in medical school. Students see patients from the time of diagnosis to the time of discharge, and sometimes they participate in follow-up and home visits.

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Harvard University


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Harvard University typically ranks among the best overall universities in the world, and the Harvard Medical School does equally well. With a typical class of 165 students and over 9,000 full-time faculty, the medical school has an impressive 13 to 1 faculty-to-student ratio. The school's location in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also puts it in close proximity to many of Boston's excellent hospitals.

U.S. News often puts Harvard at the top of medical school rankings, and the school earned a #1 spot in several specialties as well: obstetrics/gynecology, psychiatry, and radiology.

Harvard does more to support its medical students than many institutions. A typical scholarship is around $50,000 a year, and students graduate with an average loan debt of about $100,000. That may seem like a lot of debt, but it's a lower average than a significant number of medical schools.

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Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

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Johns Hopkins University has long had a strong reputation in health fields at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine earned the #1 spot in U.S. News for anesthesiology, internal medicine, radiology, and surgery. The medical school is home to 2,300 full-time faculty members, and students are supported by a 5 to 1 faculty-to-student ratio. Many students pursue dual or combined degrees such as the M.D./M.B.A and M.D./Ph.D. options.

Research is serious at Johns Hopkins. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the School of Medicine houses 902 research labs, and Hopkins faculty and alumni hold nearly 2,500 patents and run close to 100 companies with connections to the School of Medicine.

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Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

Mayo Clinic

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Located in Rochester, Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic's Alix School of Medicine frequently finds itself near the top of medical school rankings. The school can boast of a 3.4 to 1 faculty-to-student ratio that helps support small classes and strong mentoring relationships. The Mayo Clinic is also a research powerhouse, and over 80% of M.D. students graduate having published a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal.

Clinical training is not limited to the Minnesota main campus. The Mayo Clinic has additional campuses in Phoenix, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Florida, as well as over 70 smaller medical facilities across the Midwest. All students graduate with a certificate in health care delivery, and you'll also find many dual degree options: students can combine an M.D. with a degree in Health Informatics, Mass Communications, Business Administration, Bioengineering, Law, and more.

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Stanford University

Hoover Tower, Stanford University - Palo Alto, CA
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Located in California's Bay Area, Stanford University consistently sits near the top of rankings of national universities, and its School of Medicine often ranks in the top 10. U.S. News awarded the school the #3 spot for research, and specialties in anesthesiology, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiology, and surgery are all in the top 10.

Research is certainly a top priority at Stanford, and the School of Medicine has far more Ph.D. students than M.D. students. The school's $381 million in NIH funding represents the highest amount of research dollars per researcher of any school in the country. Stanford is also proud to have 7 Nobel Prize winners currently on the faculty, as well as 37 members of the National Academy of Sciences.

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University of California San Francisco

University of California San Francisco

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It's possible you haven't heard of the University of California San Francisco because the school is home exclusively to graduate programs. The other nine UC campuses all have large undergraduate populations. The UCSF School of Medicine, however, is one of the best in the country, and many of its specialties rank in the top 3 in U.S. News: anesthesiology, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, and radiology. Family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery also rank highly. The university takes pride in the diversity of its students and its forward-looking and innovative curriculum.

Medical students have plenty of clinical and residency opportunities. The School of Medicine occupies eight major sites in both the Fresno and San Francisco Bay areas. Admission is highly selective, with an incoming class of 149 students from an applicant pool of 8,078. Students average in the 93rd percentile on the MCAT.

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University of California Los Angeles

UCLA Medical Center

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The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA regularly appears among the top 10 medical schools in the U.S., and it earned a #6 ranking for research and #5 ranking for primary care in U.S. News. As a public institution, in-state students will find that tuition is about $12,000 less than for those from out-of-state. Students are supported by a roughly 4 to 1 faculty-to-student ratio. The School of Medicine offers a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree for interested students, and those who want a career in medical management might be drawn to the joint M.D./M.B.A. program through collaboration with the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Since medicine is a rapidly evolving field, the school is in the process of designing and evaluating a new curriculum for the class entering in 2020.

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University of Michigan

The Medical Campus of the University of Michigan

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The University of Michigan Medical School consistently does well in the U.S. News rankings: #6 for primary care, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, and surgery; #3 for family medicine; #7 for anesthesiology; and #8 for radiology. The school graduates about 170 physicians each year, and medical students are supported by a 4 to 1 faculty-to-student ratio. Students have plenty of opportunities to practice patient care through the University of Michigan's three hospitals and 40 health centers across the state. As an added perk, the campus's home of Ann Arbor often ranks among the nation's best college towns.

With tuition under $40,000 for in-state students and over three-quarters of students receiving financial aid, the University of Michigan is one of the less expensive programs on this list. Admission, however, is highly selective, with 7,533 applications yielding just 445 interviews.

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University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania
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Located in West Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine brings in $814 million in annual sponsored research, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the school came in at #3 for research in U.S. News rankings. Many specialties also rank in the top 5, including a #1 spot for pediatrics. The school is home to nearly 800 medical students and 600 Ph.D. students, and Perelman has a faculty to student ratio of 4.5 to 1.

Rankings aside, Perelman also has the distinction of being the nation's first medical school, and it is home to the first teaching hospital. Founded in 1765, the school of medicine today is a world leader in innovative and cutting edge science.

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University of Washington

Trees and campus building at University of Washington
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The University of Washington School of Medicine draws 95% of its applicants from the northwestern United States, but the school has a strong national reputation. U.S. News ranked UW Medicine #2 for primary care and family medicine, and #12 for research. The school takes pride in the active, hands-on, small group, and clinical features of its entire curriculum.

UW Medicine takes its role in the region seriously, and its students have many opportunities to serve people from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. Clinical education opportunities are available at 60 primary sites as well as 120 sites that are part of the Rural Underserved Opportunities Program—a four-week immersive experience students can complete between their first and second years.

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Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis

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Washington University in St. Louis is one of the schools leading the nation in its effort to make medical school more accessible. The university announced in 2019 that it would be spending $100 million so that half of its medical students could attend tuition-free. Other students will be able to receive partial scholarships. This good financial news is combined with a school that U.S. News ranked #2 for primary care and family medicine.

School of Medicine students have access to 49 clinical sites including the school's two highly regarded teaching hospitals: Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital. Research is also big at the school, with nearly $450 million in NIH funding annually.

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Grove, Allen. "Top Medical Schools in the U.S." ThoughtCo, Dec. 1, 2020, Grove, Allen. (2020, December 1). Top Medical Schools in the U.S. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "Top Medical Schools in the U.S." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).