Looking for a top 10 medical schools list is a good step to take for researching medical schools. Why do the work if someone else did it for you already?
Before I present to you the top 10 medical schools in the US, let me just say that as long as you go to a medical school in the US, you are in good hands.
The main goal of going to medical school is to become a doctor. And to do that, you must graduate. For US medical schools, the graduation rate is 90% or more. So more likely than not, you will graduate. (I do not feel the same way for Caribbean medical schools as the fail out rate could be up to 50%.)
As a US medical student, your destiny is in your own hands. You can become any type of doctor or go to any residency without going to one of the top 10 medical schools. Obviously, the harder you study, the better your scores, and the more likely you can get into a competitive residency.
How Does the U.S. News Rank Medical Schools?
The U.S. News is one of the most popular sources for under-graduate and post-graduate schools rankings. Medical schools are ranked as post-graduate schools. So every year, it would create two main rankings for medical schools: primary care rank and research rank.
You may be familiar with U.S. News rankings. Perhaps you used it in your research regarding which schools to apply to. However, are you familiar with how it came up with the results?
No? Well, read further.
It is based on four criteria:
- quality assessment – weighted at 40%
- proportion of graduates entering into primary care – weighted at 30%
- ratio of full-time faculty members to students – weighted at 15%
- selectivity of admissions – weighted at 15%
Quality assessment is basically a survey sent out to medical school deans and residency directors in internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics programs. The survey asks them to grade each school (both allopathic medical schools and osteopathic medical schools) on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being bad and 5 being the best. The higher a school gets rated, the better rank it will get.
I personally think that this criterion is not very meaningful for you as a medical student. Sure, if you went to Harvard Medical School (which is the best in the country, according to U.S. News), you may receive a slight preferential treatment just because of the name. But past the top 10 most well-known medical schools, it won’t really matter.
Proportion of Graduates Entering into Primary Care
The proportion of graduates entering primary care is based on the percentage of a graduating class entering into internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics residencies. If a larger percentage of a class enters into a primary care residency, the respective school will receive a higher rank.
Will this criterion help you as a medical student? No. It is easy to go into primary care.
It would be more useful if it showed the percentage of students entering into competitive residencies (as listed by the acronym “ADORE” – Anesthesiology, Dermatology, Opthalmology / Orthopedic Surgery, Radiology, and Emergency Medicine). If a higher percentage of a class is entering into the competitive residencies, maybe the school is doing something well to help them really know the materials. Or maybe the school just has the cream of the crop in terms of applicants. I’m looking at you, Harvard.
Ratio of Full-Time Faculty Members to Students
The next criterion, ratio of full-time faculty members to students, is self-explanatory. Again, higher is better. This should help you as a medical student. Supposedly, a higher ratio means that a student at the school will receive more attention and possibly a better education.
Selectivity of Admissions
The last criterion, selectivity of admissions, is just the GPA and MCAT scores of the accepted applicants. Higher GPA and MCAT scores equal a higher rank for the school.
Does it help you? Not really.
In fact, I will argue that it will hurt you. If the GPA and MCAT scores are higher, that means your classmates are smarter. You will have to work harder or you will fall behind in class rank. Yes, you will get ranked in medical school. And your class rank will influence how your letter of recommendation from the dean reads.
U.S. News Rankings and You
So, what does the U.S. News rank mean to you? Absolutely nothing!
Only a small portion really matters to you: ratio of full-time faculty members to students and possibly what other people think of your school (if you are in the top 10 medical schools in terms of reputation). Other than those, everything else is rubbish.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a very good article about school rankings in The New Yorker. The article’s main point is quite similar to the point I am making: the rankings are all subjective and some are even meaningless, especially if the criteria does not suit your needs.
Introducing: Alex’s Top 10 Medical Schools in the US
Now, let me present to you Alex’s Top 10 Medical Schools in the US (which actually do matter). Here it goes:
- East Carolina University (Brody) – Brody School of Medicine [$11,554]
- Texas A&M Health Science Center – College of Medicine [$13,582]
- University of Texas Health Science Center–Houston [$13,609]
- University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill – School of Medicine [$14,400]
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center – School of Medicine [$14,561]
- University of North Texas Health Science Center – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine [$15,630]
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center–Dallas [$15,640]
- Baylor College of Medicine [$15,668]
- University of Massachusetts–Worcester – School of Medicine [$15,738]
- whatever the next least expensive school is
The numbers in bracket are the in-state tuition and fees based on the 2010 data.
This list is basically the 10 cheapest medical schools in the US based on data for 2010. Unlike the ranking provided by U.S. News, this will matter to you more than what some guy thought of your school or how high your class’ GPA was. (This list may not apply to you if you are one of the few who is doing a MD/PhD and got a full ride or is born with a silver spoon and daddy is paying for everything.)
Looking at my list of top 10 medical schools, it makes me wish I was from North Carolina or Texas.
You Hold the Keys to Your Own Future, Only Cost Should Matter
As I stated in the beginning of this page, pretty much any medical school in the US will prepare you to be a doctor, just like any college (even community colleges) will prepare you for medical school. It is mainly dependent upon your own effort (and in my case, divine intervention) to get to medical school and residency. Medical schools (not just the top 10 medical schools) have a graduation rate of 90% not because they employ such great teachers (although there are a few good teachers in medical schools, but most are not very good), but because almost each and every one of the students are motivated and smart.
With that being the case, assuming all medical schools are pretty much the same, the main factor then would be the cost. See the medical school loan section to see how scary student loans can be. With a smaller debt load, you will be freer to pursue your dreams. If you want to do primary care, you can do so without worry about getting crushed by the loans. If you want to do radiology, you can still do so and keep more of the money for yourself.
Other Top 10 Medical Schools (Based on Wacky Criteria)
On the flip side, there are the top 10 most expensive medical schools in the US:
- Tufts University – School of Medicine [$52,992]
- New York University – School of Medicine [$51,129]
- Columbia University [$50,962]
- Case Western Reserve University – School of Medicine [$49,090]
- George Washington University [$49,062]
- Washington University in St. Louis – School of Medicine [$48,800]
- Boston University – School of Medicine [$48,716]
- Harvard University – Medical School [$48,517]
- Cornell University (Weill) – Weill Cornell Medical College [$48,348]
- Creighton University [$48,284]
My school is closer to the expensive side at more than $30,000 for tuition and fees. That is with an in-state tuition. Scary.
And if you are interested, here are just some more top 10 medical school lists.
Smallest Class Size:
- Mayo Medical School 
- University of South Dakota (Sanford) – Sanford School of Medicine 
- University of North Dakota – School of Medicine and Health Sciences 
- University of Nevada–Reno – School of Medicine 
- University of Hawaii–Manoa (Burns) – John A. Burns School of Medicine 
- East Tennessee State University (Quillen) – James H. Quillen College of Medicine 
- Ponce School of Medicine 
- San Juan Bautista School of Medicine 
- University of Pikeville 
- East Carolina University (Brody) – Brody School of Medicine 
The numbers in brackets are the total full-time students.
Smaller class sizes are sometimes favored because you can get more personal attention from the professors and attendings, but I don’t think it really matters.
Largest Class Size:
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine 
- University of Illinois 
- Indiana University–Indianapolis – School of Medicine 
- Wayne State University – School of Medicine 
- Drexel University – College of Medicine 
- Michigan State University (College of Osteopathic Medicine) – College of Osteopathic Medicine 
- Jefferson Medical College 
- University of Minnesota – Medical School 
- University of Texas Health Science Center–Houston 
- Nova Southeastern University – College of Osteopathic Medicine 
The numbers in brackets are the total full-time students.
Closing Remark: Do Your Own Research
When deciding on which schools to apply do, make sure you do your own homework. Come up with your own top 10 medical schools (although I think my list is pretty darn good). Do not rely on someone else to rank them for you because his criterion may be totally different from yours.
If you are not yet in medical school, remember to apply broadly but don’t forget about the in-state schools because most likely than not, that will be the best option for you in terms of value. You also have a better chance of getting accepted from your state school.
And if your school did not make the list of the top 10 medical schools, don’t worry about it. My school didn’t make the list either. In the end, what really matters is your own efforts in achieving medical school success.
This article is part of the Get into Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about getting accepted into medical school.