The 6 Best Colleges for Medicine

Where you can get more than just a degree 

For so many students, medical school is the ultimate goal for their educational pursuits. Attending medical school can open the door to a wide host of engaging and fulfilling careers throughout life. And those jobs can sometimes come with a pretty nice paycheck, too. 

But before you can skip to the good part, you have to start with medical school. Being a graduate student in medicine is notorious for being immensely difficult. So when you make your selection of schools, you’ll want to choose one that will be worth the long nights of studying and endless cups of coffee. 

On this list, you’ll find some of the best colleges for medicine that the United States has to offer. From academics to community partnerships, these universities are the best of the best and will help you achieve all of your dreams in the field of medicine. 

What should you look for in a medical school?

Students often find themselves asking this question — and it’s a tough one to answer. Medical school, like everything else in life, is a deeply personal experience. One student’s time getting their dermatology degree will be entirely unique to someone getting an education in cardiology. 

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you're making your school selection. Below are just a few: 

  • Cost
  • Ranking 
  • The number of graduates who match into a residency program
  • The type of residency programs offered
  • Community involvement

Of course, there are a host of other factors to consider before jumping into a years-long educational commitment, but we’ve offered just a few pieces of information to consider prior to enrolling in classes. 

But beyond the more personal elements of medical school decisions, there are a few general areas that you should keep in mind for any school. That’s where we come in. 

These schools made this list because they are the best that medical schools have to offer. From great academics to phenomenal research, these schools have it all. Read on to find out which schools you should consider attending to jumpstart your career in medicine. 

The best colleges for medicine 

Perelman School of Medicine — University of Pennsylvania 

The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania takes the top spot of our list and many others. Perelman is the oldest medical school in the United States, even beating out more well-known schools like Harvard or Stanford. 

And there’s a reason students have continued to flock to Perelman School of Medicine for dozens of years: students can get an education here that can’t be beaten. 

Perelman has both a master’s degree and a PhD degree option for students who are looking to continue their education. In their master’s program, Perelman structures student learning around three core principles: the medicine itself, how medicine is applied in the field, and how to ensure professionalism and empathy are applied to the practice. 

In the respected PhD program at Perelman, students can choose an array of specialization areas including Pharmacology, Neuroscience, and Immunology. A PhD degree takes a bit longer than the master’s degree offered at UPenn, but for students looking to get their doctorate degree from a school that receives almost one billion dollars each year in research funding, then they should certainly consider the University of Pennsylvania. 

A man with a stethoscope
The University of Washington School of Medicine has a staggering amount of residency options for graduate medical students to choose from with 120 programs. Even if your medical specialization is incredibly niche, you’ll likely find a residency that meets your goals at UW. 

The University of Washington School of Medicine 

In the beautiful Pacific Northwest, you can also find one of the best colleges for medicine in the nation. The University of Washington School of Medicine stands out as a university not just for its superb location but also for its fantastic academic and residency options. 

Like the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington’s medical program receives heaps of funding to support its research efforts. This is good news for graduate students who want to study at top-notch facilities ushering in the newest scholarship in medicine. 

But the University of Washington also takes the cake when it comes to its residency options. Residency is one of the most important elements of medical school, and the more options the better when it comes to being able to make the choice that’s right for you 

The University of Washington offers students the chance to participate in over 120 residency programs in far-ranging areas of medicine so that students can get the training they need in whatever specialization they are interested in. 

Harvard University 

When it comes to lists of the best colleges for medicine, it isn’t complete without at least one mention of Harvard University. This private school in the Northeast is known for a lot, not the least of which is its prestigious medical school. 

While there is a lot that makes Harvard’s medical school an amazing choice for incoming students, one area in particular stands out. Harvard offers students a jaw-dropping array of research and clinical study opportunities. 

At this university, students can choose to conduct research in sleep medicine, deafness, and bioethics, among other areas. The medical field is wide-ranging, and Harvard understands this well: its sheer number of research options available to students displays the school’s commitment to remaining at the forefront of medical innovation. Students looking to attend Harvard will certainly have much to keep themselves busy with here. 

Yale University School of Medicine 

Schools in the Northeast Corridor tend to be pretty killer, and Yale University is no exception. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University School of Medicine has everything a student would want and more. 

The school has an exceptional faculty to teach students, generous funding from the National Health Institute that helps to keep research efforts underway, and a vast choice of options for students to pick from when it comes to their residencies. 

But they also have a strong culture of community service. Students at Yale University are not just encouraged to get involved with their studies. They also volunteer outside of the classroom as much as they are involved inside of it. Students at Yale give their time to fight cancer, decrease loneliness in senior citizens, and assist refugees with their healthcare needs. Talk about well-rounded students! 

A woman hold a medical device
Community outreach is important in any education program, but especially in medicine, where people are at the heart of the field. At Duke University, you’ll have the opportunity to be closely involved with the community through a variety of school programs that work to connect students with the people they serve. 

Duke University School of Medicine 

At most medical schools around the nation, you can expect a fair amount of academic study, clinical research, and exploration of cutting-edge medical science. But Duke University takes all of that to the next level — especially when it comes to staying abreast of new ways to improve health and wellness. 

At Duke University, community partnership is incredibly important. The university has grants that organizations may use to improve the health of their patients. It also programs that stretch beyond the boundaries of a hospital setting and work to improve food security and sustainable food production to improve human health. 

But perhaps most timely is their ABC Science Collaborative initiative that connects students and faculty at Duke with community leaders to better understand COVID-19 and its impacts on communities around Durham, North Carolina. 

At Duke University, community partnerships are just as important as sitting at a desk and learning the material. Students at this university will no doubt have wonderful opportunities to apply their learning and make a difference. 

Stanford Medicine — Stanford University

Stanford University is another school that completes most of the “best colleges for medicine list.” This northern California college is one of the best medical schools in California, and the country, due to its incredible education — but the school also has a few other elements that help make it stand out above the crowd. 

For one, Stanford values diversity in their students and faculty. The university has a program called the REACH Initiative (Racial Equity to Advance a Community of Health), that works to promote an inclusive healthcare space for everyone, everywhere. And in a constantly evolving world, this type of commitment to inclusivity is essential. 

But that’s not all Stanford flexes in their medical school. The university also offers students the opportunity to pursue a dual-degree program while in medical school. Students with varied interests don’t have to settle for just one area of study at Stanford. Instead, they can get an MD/MS in Bioengineering, for example, or even pursue an MD/JD if they prefer! At Stanford, the options are seemingly endless. 

While everyone has a different journey in medical school, if you choose the right one for you, your time studying medicine will be well worth it. The schools on this list can provide you with all the tools you need to be successful in your area of specialization and more. 

Sophia Carlisle
Sophia Carlisle is a professional writer.
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