The United States of America (USA) has been at the forefront of the world’s significant achievements. It is a powerful country leading in the economy, military power, and education. The USA includes 50 states in North America with a federal government. And located in those 50 states are 157 medical institutions. Among them are the top 10 medical schools in the world.

Accordingly, getting into US medical schools is challenging both academically and financially. They do have public schools, but they will most often not accept non-State or international students, as they are government-regulated to ensure enough physicians in every state. The wise option for foreign nationals then is to opt to attend their private schools. Now, let’s learn more about the prestigious medical education that the USA can offer. In this article, we will be looking at the best medical schools in the United States.

Can international students enroll in medical schools in the United States of America?

Yes, the USA is one of the topmost choices of medical students in and out of the country. However, the acceptance rate is low. Eighty-eight percent of international students who apply to USA medical schools do not make it, which is much lower in US public medical schools where competition is much higher. However, do not despair as it may be difficult but it is certainly not impossible, so dare try applying in your medical school of dreams. Here are the general requirements.

  • A Bachelor’s Degree (3-4 years) preferably with biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics courses.
  • A high GPA with a minimum at 3.00
  • TOEFL/IELTS certification
  • Letter of recommendation from the previous school
  • MCAT result which minimum requirement varies for each medical school
  • Excellent extracurricular standing (hospital volunteering, premedical camps, etc. )

Unlike public institutions, private medical schools tend to be more open to international students, although they may cost more. Fear not, as it will definitely be worth your money and effort since some private medical schools in the US that accept international students are top schools like Harvard University, Stanford University, John Hopkins University, Yale University, and more.

Find Out: How to Study in USA for Free (3 Tips)

What is the medical curriculum like in medical schools in the USA?

The candidate must have taken an undergraduate or pre-medicine degree prior to entering medical programs in the United States. The medicine program in the country lasts four years of rigorous hours of lectures and laboratory works. Here is an overview of the medical curriculum from Harvard University:

The MD program at Harvard Medical School has three stages. The pre-clerkship phase, principal clinical experience phase (PCE), and post-PCE phase. The pre-clerkship has two parallel curricular tasks: Pathways and Health, Sciences & Technology (HST). The majority of MD students take the Pathway track. The track cultivates the active learning and critical thinking of students through immersion in basic and clinical sciences. Followed by an academic project to help build the students’ pathway in the medical degree. Health, Sciences & Technology, on the other hand, is a path that focuses not only on medical education but research and molecular science as well. However, only 20% of the students take this track for it is longer than Pathways, conducted with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is also noteworthy that the US Medical Licensure Exam (USMLE) takes place in three different years throughout medical education. The first part is a one-day test after the second year or, in this case, after the academic tracks.

The main clinal experience phase involves a 12-month clerkship rotation. It often begins in the third year of the students. This stage helps students to apply their knowledge, train their skills and help them decide their specialization. The second step of the USMLE occurs between the fourth year and the residency year. The post-PCE stage is where students begin their residency on their chosen specialty. The students will have to take at least one year in residency to be eligible to take the last part of the US Medical Licensure Exam (USMLE). Once licensed, the individual can now practice medicine in the USA and many countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, India, Singapore, and more.

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Best Medical Schools in the USA

1. Harvard University

Harvard University is a private research university renowned as the best educational institution in the world. It is home to Harvard Medical School (HMS), the best medical school in the United States.

Founded in 1872, HMS had been a venue of many scientific breakthroughs, including the introduction of anesthesia for surgery, the first use of insulin as a treatment for diabetes, treating anemia with vitamin B12, and more. HMS offers learning opportunities tailored to the different strengths and interests of its students.

There are two different tracks the students can take as early as their freshmen year. Along with 200 elective courses they can pursue simultaneously during their medical program. They only accept around 165 students per year despite having thousands of medical faculties to ensure that students can have many mentors in their individually chosen medical path.

HMS students can also explore the realm of medical research and service in partnership with Boston-based institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other high-class institutions globally. As Mr. Edward Hundert, the Dean of HMS says, “If the medicine is your calling, there is no better place to be than Harvard Medical School.”

2. Stanford University

Stanford Medicine comprises three organizations that work hand-in-hand to provide excellent education, research, and healthcare. It includes Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Healthcare, and Stanford Children’s Health. The Stanford School of Medicine, one of the best medical schools in the United States, offers a Discovery Curriculum catering to the individual learning pace of its students.

The pre-clerkship phase of the program can take up to two to three years based on the student. The Discovery Curriculum of five different pathways, which are MD+ Scholarly Concentration (4-5 years), MD+ In-depth Research Experience (5 years), MD+ Master’s Degree (5 years), MD+ Berg Scholars (6 years and MD + Ph.D. (7-8 years).

Stanford University pioneered the flipped classroom model where lecture delivery is through online videos instead of the traditional classroom setup to maximize hands-on learning with mentors and peers. It is also the first to offer Medical Massively Open Online Courses or MOOCs, which help provide health education content to medical students and professionals alike in different parts of the world.

Read More About 10 Steps to Become a Doctor in the United States

3. Johns Hopkins University

John Hopkins University naming is in honor of John Hopkins, a philanthropist who built the medical school linked to a hospital that caters to all ages, sex, and race. Consequently, John Hopkins Medical School is the first to admit women in the United States. Moreover, the medical school also introduced the use of rubber gloves during surgery and performed the first renal dialysis and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The medical school also pioneered stricter regulations for student admission and was the first to require an undergraduate degree.

The medical program in John Hopkins Medical School follows the Genes to Society curriculum, an organ system-based curriculum combined with the Longitudinal Ambulatory Clerkship for clinical experience. Research also plays a vital part in the program. The medical school aims to develop not just an ordinary physician but a clinician-scientist

4. University of California

University of California, Los Angeles is one of the few public universities included in this list. Its David Geffen School of Medicine began operating only after World War II. From only Quonset huts with no hospital or research facilities then, the medical school had continuously expanded and improved to be one most elite medical schools now in the USA.

This top medical school in the United States established many educational infrastructures and partnered with 23 hospitals across the Los Angeles area. It highly integrates the Practice of Medicine curriculum in its education with includes Doctor and Clinical skills. In addition, it also offers a Problem Based curriculum, which is a mentoring program that supplements their medical education.

5. Yale University

Yale University has its origins in the 1640s and was named officially in 1718 after the Welsh merchant Elihu Yale who had contributed generously to the school funding and library. Founded almost a century later is the Medical Institution of Yale College, which is presently known as Yale School of Medicine. Its medical program is composed of an Integrated Course curriculum which is in conjunction with the Yale School of Nursing and Yale Physician Associate Program.

Instead of classroom discussions, students are grouped into four and assigned a medical coach in the second year of the program. It then continues with integrated clinical clerkship in the latter years. Yale University also has a large international community, with 22% of its study population having foreign origins.

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology does not have a medical school yet offers a Health Sciences and Technology (HST) program in its Institute for Medical Engineering and Science in collaboration with Harvard Medical School and other Boston teaching hospitals. HST encompasses programs in biomedical engineering, clinical medicine, and other medical sciences.

The most noteworthy achievements brought by the HST interdisciplinary education include treatment for HIV/AIDS and observing the brain function using the world’s first non-invasive technology. The highlight of being an HST student is having access to health facilities and academic resources of both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

7. University of California, San Francisco

California holds several top-tier medical schools in the United States. As aside from the UCLA mentioned above, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) also made it on this list of best medical schools in the United States. UCSF’s roots can be traced back to 1864, with a South Carolina Surgeon, Hugh Toland, as its founder. Its former name was Toland Medical College before its affiliation with the University of California in 1873. The university is also in partnership with the Hooper Foundation for Medical Research, which became the first research facility linked to a university in the united states. The Bridges curriculum is the base of the university’s medical program that revolves around training and education in interprofessional team-based care. With this, the university aims to produce accountable, compassionate, and expert physicians.

8. Columbia University

Columbia University is one of the oldest private Ivy League research universities in the United States. Part of Columbia University is the Irving Medical Center which consists of four schools: Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, School of Nursing, College of Dental Medicine, and Mailman School of Public Health. The MD program offering is by the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Despite being a private school, Columbia University offers debt-free graduation to its students through their financial aid policy which started in 2018. It partners with the New York-Presbyterian Hospital to deliver patient-based training to its students. Like Harvard University and Stanford University, Columbia University also offers a one-size-fits-you medical curriculum that varies depending on the student’s medical interests and strengths.

9. University of Pennsylvania

The oldest medical school in the United States is the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) at the University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1765. It is also home to the first teaching hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, which dates back to 1751. This top medical school in the United States has also partnered with Henry A. Jordan Medical Education Center, which is also one of the first medical education facilities incorporated in clinical research.

The medical education PSOM offers consists of three themes: professionalism and humanism, the science of medicine, and the technology and practice of medicine. Due to all of these, the Perelman School of Medicine had established a long-standing history of excellent medical education and scientific discoveries.

10. Duke University

The Duke University commencement was in 1838, but its School of Medicine only began in 1930. When James Buchanan Duke left a hefty sum which also helped build the Duke University School of Nursing and Duke University Hospital, which with Private Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) presently comprises the Duke Health System.

Its medical education shortens the regular four-year program to three and dedicates the fourth year to specific interests, allowing students to have a second degree while still pursuing medicine. Duke University is rich in research and clinical service opportunities, which leads Duke University to be one of the leading medical universities locally, nationally, and globally.

11. University of Washington – School of Medicine

The School of Medicine at the University of Washington first opened its doors in 1946 and has since become one of the leading providers of medical education in the United States. Over the years, it has created excellent doctors and researchers, including five Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine. The School has four hospital campuses in the greater Seattle area to help with clinical education.

The UW School of Medicine offers a range of programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

The MD program trains students who have a passion for medicine and social service. Available across five diverse states, the program is known as one of the most innovative training programs in the country. Students benefit from the exposure to diverse cultural, racial, and socio-economic environments, and gain invaluable experience in both rural and urban settings. Through residency and fellowship programs, the school offers accredited training in about 120 clinical specialties at the graduate level of education.

The school also offers competitive Ph.D. and research programs, training students to make advancements in biomedical sciences. The MD/Ph.D. program, or the Medical Scientist Training Program, integrates traditional medical school training with graduate-level courses of the student’s interest. Usually completed in eight years, this academically rigorous degree produces excellent medical scientists who integrate clinical work with social action.

12. The University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine

Established in 1968, UC San Diego School of Medicine is the leading medical school in its region and attracts students from all over the world. It aims to equip medical students with the knowledge, skills, and behavior to help them become innovative and compassionate doctors.

The school’s MD program provides excellent training, access to cutting-edge innovations, and numerous opportunities and produces graduates who are focused on improving the quality of global healthcare. The school also offers about 90 accredited fellowship programs and residencies, housing more than 870 fellows and residents every year.

UC San Diego School of Medicine not only provides superior clinical training but also has great research potential. The school offers Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, where students engage in research to improve their knowledge of human disease and wellness, contributing to the development of innovative diagnostic and treatment practices.

In addition to this, the Medical Scientist Training Program is a collaboration between the School of Medicine and well-known research institutions. It is a multidisciplinary program that combines clinical training and biomedical research training. It aims to train students to become excellent academic physicians.

The graduates of the school are committed to advancement in healthcare, translating research carried out in the labs and clinics to help improve patient care through innovative treatments. Alumni of the medical school make a difference in healthcare through their achievements as clinicians and scientists across academia, public and private sectors.

13. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan established its medical school in 1850 and was the first professional school in the university. It became a pioneering department, being the first in the country to own and run its own hospital, and has produced doctors and scientists of the highest order.

About 170 physicians graduate every year. The school has many notable alumni including Nobel Prize winners, leaders of multinational companies, academicians, and researchers at high posts in the best global institutions.

The MD program integrates systems-based science courses, clinical training, and valuable mentorship. Medical graduates can advance their knowledge and skills in the range of residency and fellowship training programs. The school also offers an MD/Ph.D. degree through the Medical Scientist Training Program, which trains the students for academic and research careers.

14. University of Chicago – Pritzker School of Medicine

The University of Chicago, founded in 1890, is one of the best universities in the United States. The first batch of medical students from the university graduated in 1927, and the school has continued to grow by leaps and bounds since then. In 1968, the school was renamed the Pritzker School of Medicine, to recognize support from the Pritzker family.

Located in the university’s Biological Sciences Division, the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine offers a range of programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. The university has unique interdisciplinary study opportunities, which leads to the emergence of groundbreaking multi-disciplinary knowledge.

The MD program provides quality medical education and clinical experience, training medical students to become leaders in their field. Apart from this, the school offers three MD/Ph.D. programs. The Medical Scientist Training Program is the most traditional of the three, which integrates medical school training with research training in the sciences. The program in Medicine, the Social Sciences, and Humanities allows students to get medical school training along with a Ph.D. in subjects outside the traditional sciences. The Growth, Development, and Disabilities Training Program is an opportunity for enrolled medical school students to pursue a biomedical research doctoral degree after they have already started their medical degree.

The school also offers dual degree programs where students can pursue other degrees with their MD training, such as MBA, public health, public policy, and bioinformatics.

Medical students usually begin their second program after finishing the first three years of medical school. These unique opportunities make this school an attractive option for those who are interested in interdisciplinary study.

15. New York University (NYU) – Grossman School of Medicine

The roots of New York University’s medical school can be traced back to 1841 with the opening of its medical college. The small college gained an excellent reputation for medical education, later becoming NYU School of Medicine, as it was known until 2019 when it was renamed Grossman School of Medicine.

The school is an attractive destination for many aspiring doctors. All students in the MD program are awarded a full tuition scholarship. Students also have the option to personalize their medical training – they can pursue the accelerated three-year MD program, the traditional four-year MD, or even opt for a dual degree pathway taking 4-5 years.

The school also provides intensive training in many specialties, with over 1300 fellows and residencies across 156 fellowship training and residency programs.

The dual degree option combines the MD with a master’s degree program from another graduate school at NYU, such as business administration or public health. This gives trainees the freedom to explore academic and professional interests along with their medical training and opens up a range of career options. New York University also offers interdisciplinary Ph.D. training programs and MD/Ph.D. programs such as the Medical Scientist Training Program, integrating basic sciences research with insight from the clinic.

In addition to this, NYU Grossman School of Medicine also offers postdoctoral positions, for those who have completed an MD, Ph.D., or MD/Ph.D. in the last five years. At the forefront of medical breakthroughs, and with four Nobel Laureates amongst its reputed alumni and faculty members, NYU Grossman School of Medicine is a great choice for medical education.

These leading medical schools in the United States offer exceptional education, training, and research opportunities for aspiring medical professionals. Renowned for producing some of the best doctors and medical researchers in the world, these schools are competitive to get into but offer students the chance to work with cutting-edge technology and innovative practices. It should not cost you an arm and a leg to get into these top schools. You are welcome to sample the currently open scholarships on our page to explore your financing options.

We hope that this article on the best medical schools in the United States was helpful. If you’re interested in studying abroad, make sure to check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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