On the path to becoming a successful physician, one of the first and most important decisions you’ll have to make is that of the best pre-med school for you. Where you choose to attend as a premed student will directly determine the kind of opportunities and networks of support that you’ll have both as a student and later on in your professional life.
The process of applying successfully to college can be quite tedious and grueling since there are more than just a few excellent undergraduate programs in the United States. This is why we have compiled the following list of the 10 best pre-med schools. If you use this as a guide, you may find the whole experience of shopping for a good pre-med school less harrowing and more enjoyable. Before we proceed, let us define pre-med first.
This term may sound like a major but its meaning is contrary to this. Pre-med is a college track comprised of various specified courses. Courses that you as a prospective student should take since medical school considers them indispensable.
You can major in any field but you must take the prerequisite courses in pre-med if you are to stay on the pre-med path. If you are in high school and you haven’t set your mind on being a physician yet, you should start by searching for a college that is fit enough to prepare you for a fruitful career.
But, as you go picking colleges that seem fit, keep in mind that med school is the ultimate goal and the institution of your choice should serve you towards this end. So, get a high GPA, make sure your score is exemplary on the MCAT, engage in constructive activities, strive to build a good resume, go through with the application process and you can expect to get into a good excellent medical school in the future.
The pre-med schools that we have included on our list were selected using several factors. These factors include:
Med School Admission History
This should be on the very top of your list of things to consider during your college application. Many schools will offer you an awesome ranking; which is fantastic. But, your main concern should be the rate at which pre-med students from the university get accepted into med school. The higher the rate, the better chances of your medical school application going through. Simple as that.
Now, the main problem with these is not all institutions avail this information to the general public. And, some of those that do just put forward misleading numbers.
For instance, some institutions may intentionally fail to include students that do not meet all the requirements they have for pre-med programs. Or, they may just ensure their students are outstanding by using tough classes to weed out those that seem weaker. Either way, the numbers won’t be an honest representation.
With this in mind, below are various steps you can use to derive a general feel of any institutions admission history:
Start by conducting research online to determine the availability of stats for the institution that picks your interest. You can kick-off by simply typing the name of the institution followed by “pre-med admissions” on any search engine.
Check Profiles of Classes
You can look into the institution’s past and latest class profiles to see where most of its students come from. This, however, may not be easy since most profiles of classes usually exclude any info on undergraduate pre-med institutions.
Search for Other Relevant Stats
You can determine the suitability of an institution by checking out various other stats. These stats may tell you about the quality of the institution in question, ratios of students to faculty members, rates of admission, internship opportunities, rating from past students, and where it ranks nationally.
Research Opportunities at Pre-Med Schools
The impression you’ll make to most medical schools you’ll want to get into is determined by several factors including the amount of research you managed to accomplish. You need to start your research as early as possible to get results that can impress med schools.
As an undergrad, you’ll get the opportunity to immerse yourself into productive research if you are in an institution that has well-funded research departments and labs. Besides, research boosts your CV by ensuring you’re getting your name on as many papers as possible.
Student Advising Programs
Student advising programs are essential in ensuring you don’t stray from the right track especially since from the beginning you’ll have many activities and requirements to keep in mind as you prepare to apply for med school.
One of the main advantages of these programs is most institutions tailor them specialized programs that are simply there to help you be accepted in med school. This means they’ll know what you’ll need and what they can do to get you in. Mentors and advisors with enough experience and knowledge are crucial in your preparation when it comes to selecting a course, applying to med schools, preparing for interviews, and tracking the development of your application.
Ensure you pay your pre-med advisors as many visits as you can as early as possible to ensure you are well prepared for medical school application.
Opportunities Available for Clinical Experience
Gathering hands-on clinical experience is necessary if you want to take a physician’s career path. This means you need to experience a clinical setting as often as possible. Most of the time you’ll find that the available clinical setting is volunteer work.
If you get into an institution that is located in a limited clinical-environment, you are likely to encounter difficulties getting the necessary experience. This, in turn, can dull our, competitive edge considerably.
Pre-Med School’s Curriculum’s Intensity
An intense and rigorous curriculum may sound unappealing to many pre-med prospective students but they are very important in preparing you for med school and MCAT. An institution with a weak curriculum most often than not produces mediocre undergraduates that mostly get their medical school applications denied. If you consider the fact that less than 50% of pre-med undergraduates are admitted to medical school, an intense curriculum is a very good prospect.
Internships offer you much-needed hands-on experience in a working environment. You will find that most of the institutions we have included on our list include excellent internship opportunities that will further your horizons and improve your resume. However, if you happen to be in a pre-med institution with internship opportunities less appealing to you, you can always find yourself something better.
Assurance Programs & Bachelor’s/ Medical Programs
Some institutions will give you the chance to join med school early by offering certain degree programs. These programs include assurance programs and BS/MD programs.
Assurance programs are for exceptional students who are attending an institution that has a solid med school. Not all the students at these institutions are guaranteed acceptance into their assurance programs but it’s worth a try.
BS/MD programs on the other hand are programs that take 7-8 years and are a combination of college and med school. You usually undertake this combination within the convenience of the same institution. These programs are usually very competitive since students apply for them in high school.
Both of these programs are bonuses since they release you from the time-consuming and stressful task of applying to med school and waiting for a response. So you get to time your time and effort immersed in studies and research.
Additional Tips for Prospective Pre-Med Students
If you have an interest in pre-med, you can use these tips to build a successful foundation:
Consider Factors Other Than an Institution’s Pre-Med Program
The kind of pre-med program that an institution offers is important, no doubt. But you shouldn’t let this be the only factor that determines your choice of institution. Numerous other factors will play a large part in ensuring your success. For instance the school’s location, room and board quality, extra-curricular activities and groups, etc. If the institution doesn’t make you happy then your performance will most likely mirror your dissatisfaction.
Your High School Studies Should Focus More on Science and Math
High school offers you the opportunity to build a solid foundation for your pre-med courses. You can only build a strong pre-med foundation by exceptionally excelling in math and sciences because these are the courses that’ll you require in college. And excelling in college cases will be a bonus on your medical school application. If you are struggling in any of these courses, don’t be shy to approach the teacher. You can even request tutoring.
Maintain a High GPA
Student GPAs, as you’ll find out later, are among the things that most institutions include when providing info on their pre-med students’ acceptance rates to medical schools. The major point of this as far we can see is to let you know that students that attended their programs with higher GPAs were more successful in their medical school application than those that had lower GPAs.
Now, let us dive into today’s main topic.
The Best Pre-Med Schools
The Office of Career Services in Harvard stated that an estimated 17% of their classes are bound to apply to med school. From the humongous student body that Harvard has, this percentage is quite impressive.
Coupled with this, research proved applicants to pre-med school that had a GPA of 3.5 or above had a med-school acceptance rate of 93%. This was back in 2013. However, in 2012 this same acceptance rate had stood at a mere 42%.
If you need advice on pre-med, Harvard offers a peer program that offers you a pre-med tutor while you are a sophomore student through to your senior year. To top all this, Harvard University is infamous all over the world. It was ranked as the best medical school in the US and its department of biological sciences is one of the reasons why this university has well-deserved bragging rights. And, your clinical and research experience will be truly boosted by the numerous teaching hospitals that are affiliated with and located near Harvard University.
Harvard has 6,788 undergraduate enrollment total.
If you want the best pre-med experience, Harvard is unrivaled and should be on the very top of your list.
2. Johns Hopkins University
As an institution for medical research and a med school, Johns Hopkins has a solid reputation that they have maintained through the years. This directly implies that if you are a student at Johns Hopkins, you have the opportunity to gain from a variety of clinical and research facilities.
This university’s med school is also affiliated with a teaching hospital that is considered one of the best in the US. Plus, International Medical Aid was founded at this same university and it has gone on to become a stellar NGO that provides pre-med internships that offer a wealth of experience to anyone lucky enough to join.
Johns Hopkins University has an advising program track for their undergraduate pre-med students. This, you should note, isn’t a major. Their advising program track includes: group meetings, personal appointments, and a variety of other programs that are specially designed to assist all those who aspire to be students of med-school to succeed. Undergraduate pre-med school students of this university also stand a chance to build their resumes via well-organized, student organizations.
Johns Hopkins has an undergraduate enrollment of 6256 total.
If you need an institution with amazing links to IMA, an excellent advising program, and a wonderful affiliation with a teaching hospital, Johns Hopkins University won’t disappoint.
3. Stanford Univeristy
Apart from being a college with a top-ranking status, Stanford also happens to house a top-notch medical school. This university offers you specials advisors that are present to ensure: your visualization of long-term objectives is successful; to discuss any ideas you may have; assist in your coursework planning and offer options that are crucial in your quest towards gaining medical field experience. You will also find internship opportunities available for you as a Stanford undergraduate student of med school. These opportunities offer you the chance to get stellar recommendations and vital clinical hours.
One of the things you will love about Stanford’s is its pre-med community. This community happens to be one of the best when it comes to cohesion and organization. You will find Stanford Pre-Medical Association quite informative and resourceful as a pre-med student. And all this within the confines of one place.
However, sadly, there is a shortage of good stats on the number of yearly graduates of Stanford that manage to get into med school. But, the number is probably quite high. This owing to Stanford having degree programs recognized on a global scale.
Stanford’s total undergraduate enrollment stands at 7,087.
So, if you want to get into a reputable med school with plenty of internship opportunities and an amazing pre-med association, Stanford will make you more than just proud.
4. University of Pennsylvania
UPenn, as most people call this university, is home to the Perelman School of Medicine; which happens to be ranked among the best medical schools in the US. If you get into this med school, innumerable research opportunities are right at your disposal. And this isn’t just an unfounded statement, it is a fact. Studies have shown that 76% of pre-med students at Upenn had their medical school applications accepted. This is quite impressive especially when you consider the fact that the national average that year was 43%.
As a student of the University of Pennsylvania, you will also get guidance that will help you fulfill the requirements of pre-med. This institution also ensures your medical school application is successful through its pre-health advising program. A few majors in Upenn even come with a pre-med focus to prepare you for the steps that follow in your journey to med school.
University of Pennsylvania’s total undergraduate enrollment is 10,183.
If you want an institution with a reputable school of medicine and immense research opportunities, we highly recommend Upenn.
5. Columbia University
Columbia’s Medical School is ranked 6th best medical school based on research and 31st when it comes to primary care. As an undergraduate of this university, a pre-med advisor is assigned to you and you get the opportunity to gain immensely from informative meetings that have the Premedical Committee as a sponsor. Columbia University is also conveniently located in NYC. This guarantees that you’ll have relatively easy access to various hospitals and clinics that offer countless opportunities for you to benefit from research and clinical experience.
In addition to all these, Columbia University avails a sample pre-med course curriculum for you as its student. This sample course curriculum is meant to assist you in meeting the minimum applications set for medical school applications. And this is just a taste of what this university has to offer. Couple this with the fact that this university has top-notch services, tailored specifically to advise you, and you get an ideal place that will assist you in getting and maintaining a competitive edge. This edge is what you’ll need when you finally decide to submit your medical school application and get admitted.
Columbia University’s total undergraduate enrollment is 6,245.
Unfortunately, just like Stanford, Columbia University doesn’t avail stats on the number of their graduates that eventually have successful admission into med school yearly.
6. Duke University
It is an irrefutable fact that Duke is one of the best universities in the country. Add another fact that Duke has a pre-med program that is quite robust and you get one of the best options any pre-med student can ever wish for.
As soon as you walk into Duke, you will get dragged into their advising program for pre-med students. This advising program is quite well organized and you will love their dedication. Apart from the amazing program, you will also get opportunities to get into programs for abroad, health-centered studies, and research experiences that are mainly hands-on.
One of the most outstanding facts that makes Duke worth serious consideration is the rates at which their undergrads are accepted to med school. According to this campus, an average of 70% to 80% of its students successfully gets into med school. This rate is near twice the average of the country’s total rate. One of the factors that have made this impressive rate possible is the fact that Duke’s medical school is ranked among the top 15.
Duke has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6682.
If what you need is an institution with an acute academic competition, an excellent pre-med advising program, and high acceptance rates to med schools, we recommend Duke as a good option.
7. University of Washington
When it comes to public med schools, the University of Washington is top in terms of primary care and research. It basically stands out from any other public med school in the country and this list says something to that end. As you may have noticed, all the top-notch schools we have listed above are private schools. UW has broken that streak and with a reasonable cause. If what you need is a public med school with extensive resources, the University of Washington is for you.
As a student of this great university, you will get the opportunity to get your vocational and academic concerns resolved through the help of advisors and pre-health career coaches. Such concerns as volunteering opportunities, research, choosing classes, and job shadowing are well-addressed at UW so you needn’t worry yourself sick.
UW also has various student groups for pre-med students. These groups include the Student Health Consortium and Alpha Epsilon Delta among others. The groups available are established with the sole goal of assisting you in your pre-med education continuation outside the confines of a classroom.
The University of Washington currently doesn’t avail stats on successfully accepted medical school applications from their pre-med students. But the fact that it is considered one of the best universities when it comes to medicine says a lot about this university.
The University of Washington has the highest undergraduate enrollment in this list at 32,099.
If what you need is a public university with an outstanding pre-med school, career coaches, and advisors, the University of Washington is the best fit for you.
8. UNC Chapel Hill
UNC’s reputation across most health fields is quite good. This even though it doesn’t offer any stats to show that it tracks specifics when it comes to the acceptance rates of its pre-med students. But from their aforementioned good reputation, it is safe to deduce that the stats are quite high.
If you wish to venture into medical research, UNC will make your medical school application stand out through their specialization tracks.
UNC also offers a program known as Medical Education Development (MED) Summer Program which lasts for nine unbelievably interesting weeks. This program can only be described as an exclusive program meant for gifted and diligent students who missed opportunities. Opportunities that would have enabled these smart students to have a successful career in the field of medicine. If you’d like to become a physician in the future but you aren’t prepared enough to attend pre-med school yet, this program could be a gold-mine for you.
UNC Chapel Hill’s undergraduate enrollment stands at 19,355.
If you want a university that has outstanding specialization tracks, apply for UNC Chapel Hill and you’ll get the best you can ask for.
9. Cornell University
Cornell, as stats have proven, is one of the best pre-med schools in the US. In 2016, 76% of pre-med students from Cornell managed to get into med school with a GPA of not less than 3.4. And, 63% of all the applicants of Cornell got their medical school applications approved and were accepted that same year.
As a pre-med student of Cornell, you will get the opportunity to explore their Health Careers Program. This program provides pre-med students with important information, crucial advising, and an Evaluation Committee. This Evaluation Committee will come is very useful as it will offer you a much-needed recommendation letter for your medical school applications.
Cornell’s total undergraduate enrolment in 2020 was 14743.
The Health Careers Program makes Cornell University the best option for you if you want an institution that will not only give you mentors and advisors, but an Evaluation Committee too for ensuring your med school application stands out.
10. Northwestern University
Northwestern University ranks among the top 20 best medical schools when it comes to research. This university offers you the opportunity to explore various clinical and research opportunities and build a career from them. It is located in Streeterville, Chicago makes it an attractive prospect if you wish to study in a university located in a busy urban area.
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find statistics on Northwestern’s rate of acceptance to med schools for pre-med students. What this university has is a list of medical schools that admitted its pre-med graduates in the last 5 years. Some of the med schools on this list are such highly commendable schools as Harvard and Columbia.
As a pre-med student of Northwestern, you will get tons of resources at your disposal. Many of their resources are available on Northwestern’s website for pre-med advising. The advisors present have the responsibility of helping students out with whatever concerns they may have; including choice of course or medical school application concerns. You will; also get the chance to schedule private meetings or generally drop in during appropriate hours to request help from the advisors.
Northwestern University has a total undergraduate student enrollment of 8,231.
If what you need is a university with excellent research and clinical faculties and a reputation for getting some of its pre-med students into reputable med schools, Northwestern is definitely worth your consideration.
Is Your College List Balanced?
The institutions we have included in our list are very selective. For most students, they can be “reaches” since they mostly take exceptionally well-perfuming students. It is therefore very important for you to have a rationally balanced college list. A good college list will ensure you get into an institution that fits you well.
As a student, you are advised to apply to a maximum of 12 schools, 8 schools minimum. Make sure 25% of those schools are safety schools. Target schools should be around 40% and reach schools should not exceed 35%. The chances of acceptance are what define whether an institution is a reach school, safety school, or target school to you.
You may still be undecided about taking on the career of a physician and this is quite natural. If you need something that’ll help you make up your mind, then you may want to consider amassing experience through active participation.
If you’re a high school student, you may be led into falsely believing there is nothing you can do yet. However, there is a lot you can do from your current position. For instance, you can find a good physician to shadow and learn from.
The most important thing to remember is the ranking of an institution is important but it won’t be of any use to you if it doesn’t meet your needs. Like we said before, an institution that is an ill-fit will only affect your performance. And if you don’t perform in pre-med then most medical schools are likely to disregard your application.
Last but not least, most people tend to forget the crucial role played by commitment. Becoming a physician isn’t for anyone. You’ll have to put in a solid 10-12 years so make sure you are driven before you apply. Otherwise, look for an institution that will allow you to switch majors if you are still unsure. We hope that with the information we have given you you will choose the best pre-med school.