The Best Medical Schools for Pediatrics

May 7, 2024
7 min read


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/7/24

Pediatrics is one of the most commendable and benevolent schools of medical practice. However, becoming a pediatrician requires more than goodwill. This post includes a list of the best medical schools for pediatrics and a rundown of significant information any future pediatrician should know.

As an aspiring medical practitioner, you possess a drive to help other people. A pediatric practice is among the most caring schools of medicine as it entails helping infants, children, and young people through all stages of their physical development.

Caring for young patients is serious business. Before you are allowed to practice, you must undergo a long and thorough educational process. 

This post will clue you into the top medical schools for pediatricians. We will also detail what you need to do to get into the top pediatric medical schools and answer a few frequently asked questions. Read on, for the sake of the children!

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What Future Pediatricians Should Know

Choosing a medical specialization is one of the greatest career decisions a medical practitioner can make. In the interest of keeping you well informed about pediatric practice, we’ll detail what it means to be a pediatrician, the pediatric educational process, and relevant career information.

What is a Pediatrician?

A pediatrician is a medical practitioner who specializes in the development and treatment of infants, adolescents, and young adults still in their mothers' wombs. As a rule of thumb, pediatricians usually do not care for patients over 18 years of age.

In working with younger patients, it is only natural that a pediatrician frequently interacts with parents. This is especially true with regard to pregnant women. 

A significant part of being a primary care pediatrician is working with expecting parents to ensure the healthy development of their child. This means working with parents before, during, and after pregnancy.

Once you decide to get into pediatrics, you have the choice to become a primary care pediatrician or pursue a medical fellowship and subspecialize. You can always practice as a primary care pediatrician for as long as you wish before continuing your education for a subspecialization.

Like other primary care practices, such as family and internal medicine, primary care pediatricians serve as the first front of medical care. In this case, primary care pediatricians are the first stop for any young patient needing general care, diagnosis, or treatment.

Pediatric subspecialties tend to concentrate on the medical responsibilities of a pediatrician. However, certain subspecialties may also focus on the age group of patients that the subspecialized pediatrician sees. Here’s a list of several pediatric subspecialties with brief summaries of their focuses:

Adolescent Medicine

 Focused on the “unique physical, psychological, and social characteristics of adolescents and their healthcare problems and needs.”

Child Abuse Pediatrics

Diagnoses and treats child abuse and neglect.

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

“Evaluate[s], treat[s] and manage[s] infants, children, and adolescents with a wide range of developmental and behavioral concerns and conditions.

Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine

“Concerned with the care of critically ill newborn and premature infants.”

Pediatric Cardiology

Specialized in caring for young patients with cardiovascular issues.

Pediatric Critical Care Medicine

Experts in advanced life support for newborns up to adolescence.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine

“Manage[s] emergencies in infants and children.”

Pediatric Sports Medicine

“Responsible for continuous care in the field of sports medicine,” including enhancement of fitness and injury prevention.

Becoming a subspecialized pediatrician entails a few years of continued education, depending on the particular subspecialization you wish to pursue.

How to Become a Pediatrician

Like any medical practitioner, an aspiring pediatrician must undergo pre-med, medical school, and residency before they can begin their practice. In total, it is at least an 11-year educational process before you can be a pediatrician. 

Pursuing a subspecialization will add another two to six years of learning, depending upon the particular subspecialization.

After high school, the road to becoming a pediatrician begins with four years of pre-med. During these years, you should focus on relevant biology and chemistry courses and maintain an adequate grade point average. You will also have to prepare for and take the MCAT exam.

It’s also a great idea to pursue work experience opportunities such as shadowing a general practitioner, volunteering at a hospital or elderly care home, and working as an EMT. In anticipation of your medical school applications, you should get involved with extra-curriculars, especially those that include leadership roles that you may occupy.

After your undergraduate years, you will have to complete four more years of medical school. Typically, the earlier part of your medical school education will focus on basic science and clinical practice courses. Later on, you will participate in clerkships that will give you the chance to actually work with patients and acquire hands-on clinical experience.

For pediatrics, you will have to complete three years of medical residency. These years will be spent in clinical practice, where you will diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of experienced doctors and more senior residents. You will also be able to dabble in pediatric subspecialties to get a better idea of your future career aspirations.

Once you’ve completed your resident years, you can now take the three-part USMLE licensing exams in order to become a practicing primary care pediatrician. These exams will test your knowledge of the basic sciences and clinical concepts needed for unsupervised medical practice.

Becoming a pediatrician is a long and difficult journey. However, the opportunity to help parents and children through their medical difficulties makes it all worthwhile. Plus, the annual salary will drop your jaw.

How Much Does a Primary Care Pediatrician Make?

You are pursuing a pediatric profession out of the kindness of your heart, not to get rich. The fact that you will become rather rich as a result of your pediatric practice is merely incidental.

The salary range for Primary Care Pediatricians varies, with an average of $192,934. The lowest reported salary is $135,143, while the highest reported salary reaches $275,437. Moreover, the smiles that jewel the faces of your young patients are absolutely priceless.

Top Pediatric Medical Schools in 2024 

Getting an excellent pediatric education in medical school will make your residency and licensure exam experiences much easier. Here’s a list of the best medical schools for pediatrics so you know where to go to excel in your chosen field.

College/University Institution Type Location Estimated Graduate In-State Tuition
University of Pennsylvania (Perelman) 4-year, Private Philadelphia, PA $39,000
Harvard University 4-year, Private Cambridge, MA $47,000
Johns Hopkins University 4-year, Private Baltimore, MD $56,000
Ohio State University 4-year, Public Columbus, OH $12,000
Northwestern University (Feinberg) 4-year, Private Evanston, IL $55,000
Columbia University 4-year, Private New York, NY $48,000
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor 4-year, Public Ann Arbor, MI $23,000
Yale University 4-year, Private New Haven, CT $42,000
Duke University 4-year, Private Durham, NC $55,000
Baylor College of Medicine 4-year, Private Houston, TX $26,000

1. The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

The Perelman School of Medicine is not only the third-best research-focused medical school in the country, but it’s also the unsurpassed US medical education for pediatrics. The University of Pennsylvania is also the home of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the “oldest hospital in the United States dedicated exclusively to pediatrics.”

In addition to its excellent pediatric clinical care, U Penn also cultivates a medical curriculum that is invaluable to any future pediatrician. This is in large part due to the “cutting-edge research” available through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Research Institute. Moreover, the university is home to nationally recognized divisions in adolescent medicine, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, and neonatology.

2. Harvard University Medical School

The Medical School at Harvard University is a close second place behind UPenn for the best medical school for pediatrics. However, Harvard beats UPenn by being the very best in research-focused medical education in the nation.

Medical education at Harvard is unique in that all its pre-clerkship courses are graded on a pass/fail basis. Still, the passing standards at Harvard are high. As an HMS student, you will have to study harder and perform better than you would at any letter-grade-based medical school.

3. The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

While the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine offers a rather mediocre general medical education, it still excels in pediatric-focused instruction. In fact, the Cincinnati College of Medicine offers the third best medical education for pediatrics in the entire country.

UC’s impressive pediatrics education is largely due to the medical school’s relationship with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The medical school’s affiliation with Cincinnati Children’s is especially beneficial to residents as they are appointed to the pediatric medical center.

4. The Johns Hopkins University Medical School

The Medical School at Johns Hopkins University is the nation’s fourth-best school for pediatrics, but it beats every previously listed medical school on this list in terms of research-focused education. The school also includes the Johns Hopkins Hospital, which houses the only pediatric center in Maryland.

One reason why medical education at Johns Hopkins is so invaluable is the unique method of the medical school’s curriculum. Instead of separating preclinical and clinical years of study, Johns Hopkins offers concurrent theoretical and practical learning opportunities.

5. The University of California - San Francisco Medical School

Much like Harvard Medical School, the University of California - San Francisco Medical School offers a well-rounded education. According to US News, UCSF provides students with the fifth-best primary care education and fourth-best research education in the entire country. Additionally, UCSF is the fifth-best medical school for pediatrics.

The Medical School at UCSF possesses an impressive student support system. Students who are interested in pediatrics can benefit from mentoring, electives, and special events that are geared toward the medical specialization. Relevant fourth-year electives include ambulatory pediatrics, pediatric intensive care, pediatric gastroenterology, and many more.

6. University of Colorado Medical School

Students who want the fifth-best pediatric education in the country but can’t make the trip to California can still attend the University of Colorado Medical School. CU’s medical school comes in as the eighth-best in the US. Colorado also provides a nearly identical primary care-based medical education with the eighth-best in the country.

Additionally, the University of Colorado Medical School provides students who are interested in pediatrics the opportunity to study within a broad range of subspecialties and related programs. In total, the school offers 24 different pediatric subspecialty electives and 14 pediatric programs.

7. The Baylor College of Medicine

Like the University of Cincinnati, the Baylor College of Medicine makes up for its somewhat mediocre general medical education with an excellent specialized education in pediatrics. Baylor offers the seventh-best pediatric education in the country, complete with a massive range of pediatric educational training opportunities.

8. Duke University Medical School 

While Duke University School of Medicine is tied with Baylor for the tenth-best pediatric education in the country, it stands as a much more well-rounded overall medical education. In addition to its impressive pediatrics department, Duke is the third-best research-based medical education in America.

A large part of Duke’s pediatric excellence is the school’s extensive pediatric curriculum. By the second year of medical studies at Duke, you can participate in a pediatric clerkship. The third year of study includes pediatric research opportunities for students. The final year of study opens students up to 17 electives related to pediatrics.

Students at Duke Medical School can thrive in an academic environment that is carefully designed to cultivate expert pediatricians.

How to Find More Great Medical Schools for Pediatrics

Getting into the top medical schools for pediatrics isn't a walk in the park. They're looking for students who excel academically, but they also want practical experience and community involvement. 

Nowadays, many of these schools are taking a more holistic approach to admissions. That means they care just as much about what you've done outside the classroom as they do about your grades and test scores.

If you're serious about getting into one of the best medical schools for pediatrics, get some experience working with kids. Whether it's volunteering or a part-time job, showing that you've spent time with children demonstrates your dedication. 

Think about getting involved in tutoring programs or becoming a teaching assistant. Actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to showing your commitment to helping young patients.

If none of the ones listed here catch your eye, that’s okay. You've got plenty of options. Our interactive selection quiz makes it easy to find great medical schools for pediatrics that match your preferences. Just let us know you're interested in pediatrics, and we'll give you personalized recommendations.

FAQs: The Best Medical Schools for Pediatrics

Choosing a medical specialization is a massive career choice. It’s only natural that you should have any questions about becoming and being a pediatrician. Here are some frequently asked questions on the subject to make things a bit clearer for you.

1. What Makes a Good Pediatrician?

Several key attributes make an ideal pediatrician. One of the most obvious is a thorough clinical knowledge of one's medical specialty, which any of the listed best medical schools for pediatrics should provide.

Beyond the classroom, a great future pediatrician is great with kids of all ages, patient enough to handle working with young people and driven by compassion to help children through healthy development and any required treatment.

2. What Are Some Challenges Related to Pediatric Practice?

You may find it difficult to diagnose your patients when it means you have to communicate with a child who may lack the needed powers of articulation. This is why patience is a required virtue for any pediatrician. Likewise, you will have to deal with parents who may have strong opinions regarding their child’s development and treatment.

Moreover, you will likely have to witness a child suffering from an ailment at some point during your pediatric career. While this may be difficult to face, you will at least play a key role in treating the child and easing their suffering.

3. Is Board Certification Required to Become a Pediatrician?

Board certification is not required to become a pediatrician. You simply need to complete your undergraduate education, your medical education, a pediatric residency, and the USMLE examinations for licensure.

However, you can pursue board certification with the American Board of Pediatrics if you wish. This essentially reinforces your expertise in pediatrics.

4. Which of the Top Medical Schools for Pediatrics is Easiest to Get Into?

With an acceptance rate of about 15%, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is one of the easiest medical schools to get accepted to. It’s also known for its strong pediatric program. 

5. What are the Highest Paying Pediatric Subspecialties?

With an average annual salary of $427,782, pediatric cardiology is the highest-paying pediatric subspecialization you can pursue. A close second is pediatric emergency medicine at $366,779, and pediatric critical care medicine is a more distant yet still considerable $236,466 average annual salary.

6. What are the Best Paying States for Pediatricians?

The following list should illustrate the five best-paying states for primary care pediatricians in the US:

State Average Pediatrician Salary
Mississippi, MS $259,780
Alaska, AK $257,230
New Hampshire, NH $253,750
Texas, TX $250,850
Iowa, IA $245,460

Final Thoughts

Becoming a pediatrician is a long and difficult educational process. Our list of the best medical schools for pediatrics will help you acquire a relatively early expertise in the medical specialization, making the rest of your education much easier. Attend any one of the medical schools on this list, and you will be a practicing pediatrician in no time.

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