Deciding which medical school to attend is not always easy. You know you want to go to one of the top medical schools in the U.S., but you aren’t sure which one specifically.
There are many factors to consider, and researching each medical school can take weeks--even months--before you come to a decision. Thankfully, we are here to make your life a little easier.
With this guide, we’ll help you decide which schools are best suited for you and tell you exactly what you’ll need to apply to them.
Before discussing the top medical schools in the United States, you should know which schools made it into the top 10 rankings. Here is a list of the top 10 medical schools for research in the country:
Due to their top-ranking status and intense competition, getting admitted to one of these 10 medical schools will be challenging. However, once you understand each school’s admission process and review our top tips for getting accepted, you’ll feel a lot more confident in your abilities. Let’s dive right in!
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard Medical School has been the school of “firsts” since the 18th century. Faculty members and alumni of Harvard have made significant contributions to medicine since 1799; introducing the smallpox vaccine is just one example of their many achievements.
In fact, over 15 researchers have won nine Nobel prizes for work conducted at this school. Harvard Medical School has imprinted itself in the world of science and health care advancement, making it one of the most desirable medical schools in which to get admitted.
Because of Harvard Medical School’s low acceptance rate, your application must be top-notch. In a recent report directly from Harvard Medical School, there were 6,708 MD applicants, and only 168 were offered admission.
That is a 2.5% acceptance rate. With high admission standards and low acceptance rates, you must understand the application process for Harvard Medical School.
If you decide to apply to Harvard Medical School, you will need the following materials in your application:
Academic records showing completion of prerequisite coursework:
As with all of the top medical schools in the United States, you will apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). When you apply, you will designate Harvard Medical School as the school to which you are applying.
Applicants are ineligible if they are already enrolled in medical school or have previously applied to Harvard Medical School two times prior. Transfer students are also not accepted.
The admissions committee does not pre-screen applications. All applicants that apply to Harvard Medical School through AMCAS will automatically receive a secondary application. You will need to complete the secondary application and return it to the admissions committee to move forward in the application process.
If selected, the committee will invite you to interview for a spot at Harvard Medical School. Successful completion of the primary application, secondary application, and interview are required before an offer of admission is extended.
Unlike most medical schools, Harvard Medical School does not have a rolling admissions policy; you must submit all application materials before the final deadline. Therefore, it is crucial to know the following deadlines for Harvard Medical School:
Harvard Medical School will review your application to see if you are a good fit for their community. The admissions committee bases their evaluation on the materials you provide, focusing on academics and extracurricular activities. Here are a few key features to include in your application:
Harvard Medical School does not explicitly give preference to applicants that majored in science over applicants with a non-science degree. The school prefers students to pursue a balanced, liberal education rather than specialized training in just the sciences.
As long as you have an adequate science background, Harvard Medical School believes you can be successful in medical studies.
While it is not required, mastery of a foreign language is a valuable skill that enhances your application. It reinforces your preparation for patient care in a multicultural society.
As previously stated, Harvard Medical School encourages applicants to have a balanced, liberal education. The school recommends courses and extracurricular activities that pertain to literature, the arts, social sciences, and humanities as great additions to your arsenal.
These helpful tips are great elements to include in your application because Harvard Medical School likes applicants to have a well-ranged background. By including the items on the list above, your application has a stronger chance of getting you into Harvard Medical School.
The University of Pennsylvania is the oldest school in the United States, so the fact that the Perelman School of Medicine is one of the top medical schools in the country is no surprise. The school prides itself on creating leaders in patient care, biomedical research, and medical education.
Some of the most important medical advancements have spawned from Perelman School of Medicine or were developed by a Penn Medicine alumni. These achievements have placed the Perelman School of Medicine in the top three medical schools in the country.
Similar to Harvard Medical School, Perelman School of Medicine has a low acceptance rate of around 4%. Perelman accepts less than 150 applicants out of the thousands they receive.
When applying to Perelman School of Medicine, you will follow a similar process as you would with Harvard Medical School. A complete medical school application for Perelman will consist of the following:
Apply through the AMCAS application and designate Perelman School of Medicine as the medical school to which you apply. Once your application has been verified through AMCAS, the admissions committee will decide if you will be a good fit for Perelman.
Unlike Harvard Medical School, Perelman School of Medicine will ask you to complete a secondary application if your primary application meets their criteria.
When you apply to the Perelman School of Medicine, you need to be aware of your application deadlines. Please keep in mind the following dates:
The best way to enhance your application for the Perelman School of Medicine is to highlight your research and work experiences. While Perelman stresses a strong science background in students, they want to see your field experience and how it has benefited you.
If you are invited for an interview, the admissions committee will ask about these experiences to better understand who you are. If you have a passion for medicine they seek in their students at Perelman, make sure you discuss it.
Research experience is crucial to have when applying to the Perelman School of Medicine. While you don’t have to participate in several research projects, you will want to include one or two high-quality research experiences.
Many universities offer opportunities to participate in research projects; this would be an excellent way to enhance your application if you do not have such experiences. Another essential experience to include is shadowing. Even though it is not technically mandatory to shadow a physician, we cannot recommend it enough.
Shadowing is your opportunity to put yourself in a physician's shoes and learn first-hand what a typical day is like in this profession, while increasing your chances of being accepted into Perelman School of Medicine.
Focus on the quality of your experiences rather than the quantity. The admissions committee would rather see a candidate with two or three high-quality research and shadowing experiences than dozens of one-off experiences. By doing so, your application becomes more appealing to the admissions committee at the Perelman School of Medicine.
The New York University Grossman School of Medicine makes the list as one of the top medical schools in the United States. Their 29 academic departments include nationally and internationally recognized faculty in clinical and basic sciences.
Grossman School of Medicine has been one of the leaders in research and medicine for over 175 years, making it one of the country's oldest medical schools. Grossman offers full-tuition scholarships to all current and future students enrolled in the MD program regardless of financial need as long as the student maintains excellent academic standing per NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.
Due to the tuition-free education, there has been a rise in applications to the Grossman School of Medicine. However, with an increase in applications, there is also a decrease in acceptance rates. Most recently, the acceptance rate has hovered at approximately 1%.
Your application must go above and beyond Grossman’s essential criteria to be offered admittance at this medical school.
To be eligible to apply to the Grossman School of Medicine, you must meet the following criteria and provide the following materials:
You must apply to Grossman School of Medicine through the AMCAS application. Once AMCAS verifies your application, they will send it to the medical school to which you are applying. Grossman requires one copy of your transcripts through AMCAS. You will not send transcripts to Grossman unless you are accepted.
After your application is verified through AMCAS and sent to Grossman School of Medicine, you are sent a secondary application to complete. It may take up to two weeks to receive the secondary application. You will complete the secondary application for Grossman School of Medicine through AMP, a secure online application portal.
A $100 nonrefundable application fee is required before you complete the secondary application. The Grossman School of Medicine provides all applicants with the required questions for the secondary application well in advance to expedite the application process.
You must be aware of the following timeline when applying to the Grossman School of Medicine:
There are a few tips and tricks that are beneficial for you when applying to Grossman School of Medicine. The first is to take advantage of the secondary application questions. Grossman provides students with the required questions they must answer in their secondary application in advance.
This allows you to expedite the application process and gives you a chance to answer each question with the extra time. Read over each question given and outline what you wish to convey for each one. The more organized your thoughts are, the better chance you have of your personality coming through the application.
The interview portion will be another critical part of the application process. While Grossman does conduct interviews, their methods are different from other medical schools. The Grossman School of Medicine conducts multiple mini interviews, consisting of six online interviews and one final one-on-one interview.
The first six interviews are each six minutes long, and you have a scenario you must answer. You are given two minutes to prepare an answer and you're scored after you respond. The final one-on-one interview lasts approximately 15 minutes.
During this time, you can ask the interviewer any questions you may have and bring forth any final thoughts about yourself you feel the admissions committee should know. If this sounds daunting, we provide mock interview services to help you prepare for an interview that comes your way. This will help ease your anxiety when it is time for the real interview.
By thoroughly preparing for the secondary application and interviews, applicants are more likely to be accepted into the Grossman School of Medicine.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is one of the most diverse medical schools on our list. In terms of academia, 14% of the entering students in the last admissions cycle had a non-science background.
Johns Hopkins looks more at an applicant’s leadership qualities and passion for medicine rather than their educational background. Like Harvard, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine believes anyone can succeed in the field of medicine.
Compared to the 2.5% acceptance rate at Harvard Medical School and the ~1% acceptance rate at Grossman School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has a 7% acceptance rate.
While it sounds like your chances of getting accepted into medical school would be better here, Johns Hopkins is just as challenging to get into as the other top medical schools in the United States.
There are four steps in the application process for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:
Applicants must meet all academic requirements set by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. This includes a thorough background in the sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics. Students must provide proof of completion of required coursework along with MCAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a resume with work or volunteer experiences relating to medicine.
Applicants will apply through AMCAS just as you would for other medical schools in the United States.
Once you have completed your primary application through AMCAS, and it has been verified, Johns Hopkins will send you a secondary application to complete. Your application will not be processed until the university receives your primary and secondary application.
Letters of recommendation are required for all programs at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. You will need anywhere from 3-5 letters of recommendation. The following are acceptable letters to include: committee letters, faculty letters, and letter packets.
Failure to provide any of the information listed will result in a delay in your application being processed.
These are the following deadlines you must adhere to when applying to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:
The admissions committee at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine looks for a well-rounded, compassionate student who is ready to be a leader in the future of modern medicine. In your primary and secondary applications, you will discuss any meaningful interactions that you have had with patients.
Expanding upon those experiences during the interview portion is a great way to convey your passion for medicine. If you have experiences in the medical field that translate well, include them in your secondary application. It will increase your chances of being accepted into Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
According to U.S. News, Stanford Medical School is one of the top medical schools in the United States, ranking #4 in research. Like all the other leading medical schools in the country, Stanford Medicine has a low acceptance rate of 2.2%.
It is almost as challenging to be accepted here as it is at Grossman School of Medicine, but by playing your cards right, your application will be the one to beat.
Before you apply to Stanford Medicine, you must make sure you are eligible. Stanford Medical School does not have requirements; instead, they have recommendations for potential students regarding what they wish to see in an applicant. It’s a recommendation, but consider it mandatory if you’re dedicated to getting accepted at Stanford Medical School.
Applicants should have strong knowledge in the following areas: biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and behavioral/social sciences. There should also be lab or field experiences included in your application.
The admissions committee can see how your background in the sciences has applied to patient care and your overall desire to pursue a medical field career. You must complete your application for Stanford Medical School through AMCAS. Once verified, AMCAS will forward your primary application to Stanford Medicine.
The primary application must include your MCAT scores and letters of recommendation. You will also submit transcripts through AMCAS; Stanford will request a copy of your transcripts if necessary.
The Stanford Supplemental Application will consist of application fees and personal essays. The interviews, conducted in MMI format, will be the final part of the application process. If you succeed in all three parts of the process, you will be offered admittance to Stanford Medicine.
Here is a rough timeline of important dates and deadlines when applying to Stanford Medicine. Please note that the timetable is subject to change at any given time.
The most significant component of your application to Stanford Medical School is the personal essay. The admissions committee asks questions regarding your experiences and background, and the goal is to provide as much detail as possible.
Applicants should prove that they are more than just numbers on a record. The essay should discuss your professional background and personal interests in relation to your medical studies—key characteristics to include: leadership abilities, communication skills, and compassion.
One helpful tip that many applicants do not know about is that you can update your application. Updates can include personal achievements, awards, or additional letters of recommendation. Note that updates to your application can only be made after being invited to interview, so you must make sure your application is complete with the intent of no revisions.
Selected applicants are invited for interviews and they may be asked to participate in the AAMC VITA. This is a one-time, one-way, recorded interview of the applicant designed to give the admissions committee a glimpse of the potential students’ abilities and competencies. The best way to succeed during this portion is to practice before recording.
Have a general idea of what you would like to discuss. Remember, you should tie it back into your passion for medicine and why you chose a career in the medical field.
The AAMC VITA does not fill the interview requirement; it is more of a precursor to a final interview for Stanford Medical School. The one-time, recorded interview is a great way to prepare for the multiple mini interview the university will conduct, so definitely give it your all.
The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) at Columbia University is one of the international leaders in educating physicians on patient care. The institution was established in 1767 and was known as King’s College at the time. Fast forward 250 years to the present day, and we find ourselves staring at one of the longest-standing medical schools in the country.
Columbia University’s medical school is one of the most research-intensive universities in the United States. Anil Rustgi, Dean of the VP&S, states that the college and health science schools are dedicated to all aspects of medical research, care, and education.
With such dedication to the sciences, VP&S at Columbia University is a highly desired community to join, even with a 1.9% acceptance rate.
VP&S at Columbia University requires applicants to meet specific requirements to be considered eligible to apply. Failure to meet the minimum criteria results in your application’s rejection.
For academics, applicants must have:
Applicants for the 3-Year PhD-to-MD Program must have successfully defended their thesis by the end of April of the year of matriculation.
In addition to the mentioned academic requirements, applicants must also submit their MCAT scores and three recommendation letters.
You will apply to Columbia University’s medical school through AMCAS. Once your application is verified, VP&S will receive your primary application.
All applicants will be sent a secondary application to complete. Supporting documentation, such as letters of recommendation, must be submitted with the secondary application, or the school will no longer consider your application.
Prospective Columbia medical students should mark the following deadlines in their calendars. These dates are subject to change by the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Columbia University recommends prospective students to begin preparing for the application process a year in advance.
Extracurricular activities related to the medical field are crucial to a prospective student’s application. The admissions committee at VP&S wants to see how your knowledge translates into real-life situations. Can you take your knowledge and apply it to real problems? Are you able to think critically and take responsibility for human lives?
Shadowing a physician and patient care work are great experiences to obtain and include in your application. You will be able to expand upon those experiences more during the personal essay portion and interviews.
When you reach the essay portion of your application, you must fully answer the prompts given. Avoid describing the New York City lifestyle and culture. The admissions committee has thousands of essays to read, and they don’t want to know about how the “hustle and bustle” of a big city draws you to Columbia University.
Instead, focus on why you want to go to VP&S. Is it the program? Did someone or something inspire you to apply there? Explain how you will be an asset to their school.
Columbia University thrives on diversity, so explain how your passion for medicine and past experiences make you the ideal candidate for VP&S. Your essays must stand out from the thousands submitted, so take your time and answer each question thoroughly.
Your application for Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons will lead you to admittance by following these simple tips.
The Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, formally known as Mayo Medical School, has the most extensive graduate medical education training program. The school has three different locations, making it one of the more accessible medical schools in the country.
However, each site specializes in a different field of medicine. So applying to the correct program and location is crucial when applying to the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.
In a recent report, the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine had an acceptance rate of 2%. Out of the 6,000 applications received, 744 received an invitation to interview. Mayo Clinic accepted only 174 applicants. The statistics reveal how quickly applicants are filtered, making it all the more important to exceed Mayo Clinic’s requirements.
The Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine considers the following factors when reviewing applications:
Unlike medical schools such as Harvard and Grossman, the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine prefers students with a strong background in life and social sciences. An applicant is rarely accepted if their undergraduate work does not have a strong science focus.
The college does not specify any required coursework before admission, as long as the applicant has a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in the United States or Canada.
You will submit your primary application through AMCAS. Once verified, your application goes to the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine. Because the application process is competitive, start your application as early as possible. If you meet the standard criteria, you will receive a secondary application to complete.
This is where you will list the program you intend to pursue at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine. You will include any other application materials required in your secondary application, such as your personal statement.
The Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine has strict deadlines to meet to be considered for a spot at their institution. If you are applying to medical school, be aware that the process is arduous and will take close to a year before you are accepted.
The most important item in your application is your MCAT score. The admissions committee requires your most recent MCAT scores. Please note that you are allowed to take the exam more than once, but you must take the MCAT before applying.. The admissions committee will not consider your application until these scores are present.
The Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine requires prospective students’ MCAT scores to be at least in the 75th percentile to move forward in the application process. You will not receive a secondary application if you are below the 75th percentile. Therefore, you must do well on the MCAT, or your primary application will be rejected.
As one of the top medical schools in the United States, UCLA Medical School—also known as the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) at UCLA—is also one of the most competitive, with a 2.1% acceptance rate.
The medical school proudly declares its ninth-place ranking in the country in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and third in the United States in research dollars from all sources. Because of this, DGSOM wins its spot as one of the top medical schools in the country.
The David Geffen School of Medicine requires the following materials when applying:
Prospective students must apply through AMCAS. Your MCAT scores are a required component of your application. The David Geffen School of Medicine requires all grades to be submitted, so if you have taken the MCAT multiple times, you will need to submit your scores for each attempt.
Your three letters of recommendation must be submitted through AMCAS and not sent to the university. Send a complete set of official transcripts to the AMCAS as well. Failure to include your transcripts will delay your application from being processed.
Once you have completed the primary application and it is verified, you will receive a secondary application that will consist of essay questions. You must answer each question in its entirety and submit the application before the deadline. Invitations for interviews are sent after both applications are reviewed.
The David Geffen School of Medicine utilizes a rolling admissions schedule. Due to the substantial number of applicants, it is vital to have all materials completed on time, or the admissions committee will not accept your application. The timeline from application submission to admission offers shown below:
The essay portion of the secondary application will be the determining factor for your application at the David Geffen School of Medicine. The questions are general, so you have the freedom to discuss what you want--as long as you answer the question itself thoroughly.
The essay portion is designed to engage with the students, understand their interests and experiences, along with any significant achievements and hardships that would prove beneficial to know.
This is the time to give as much information as possible about yourself, specifically anything you feel the review committee should know. Be clear and concise with your writing, and provide as much detail about the qualities that make you an ideal candidate for the David Geffen School of Medicine.
The Washington University School of Medicine has been a leader in medical education since its founding in 1891. Some achievements include the pioneering of bedside teaching, contributions to new Alzheimer’s screening methods, and spearheading in treating diabetes with insulin.
With such milestones, it is no surprise that the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis made its way to being one of the top medical schools in the United States.
The Washington University School of Medicine offers various programs in medicine, allied health, public health, and biomedical science. The School has compiled a list of prerequisites for admission:
While these are the prerequisites noted, the admissions committee at the Washington University School of Medicine factors the following into consideration:
Include the prerequisites list and factors in your application for the Washington University School of Medicine. Complete your primary application through AMCAS, and a secondary application will be given soon after. Interviews are conducted after all other application materials are reviewed.
The following dates are the deadlines for applying to the Washington University School of Medicine:
The Washington University School of Medicine emphasizes that prospective students should have some research experience in their resume before applying to medical school. Research provides students with hands-on experience and allows them to determine the program in which they wish to specialize.
Research experience is a great way to get published, and published works are impressive and increase your chances of being interviewed. The Washington University School of Medicine will require extensive research projects during a student’s residency, so having prior experience has proven beneficial.
The interview portion of the admissions process will be the final step before admittance. This experience allows the committee to learn more about who you are and whether you are the right fit for the Washington University School of Medicine. There are three interviews in total.
Two live virtual interviews are conducted, followed by an asynchronous virtual interview. The first live virtual interview will be open-book, meaning the committee member interviewing you has access to your full application; the second live virtual interview will be closed-file, meaning the interviewer will only know your name and won’t access to your application materials.
Whether they have reviewed your application or not, you have to come in with the assumption that they do not know anything about you. You will have 30-45 minutes to convey who you are and why you belong at the Washington University School of Medicine.
The asynchronous virtual interview requires applicants to answer questions in a prerecorded video. All three interviews allow you to discuss your accomplishments, interests, passion for medicine, and why you want to attend the Washington University School of Medicine. Your interview performances will help to determine the admissions committee’s decision, so give it your best!
Cornell University School of Medicine, more commonly known as Weill Cornell Medicine, is the last university in our top medical schools. Founded in 1898, the university prides itself on its health education and advancements in clinical practices.
There is a constant outpour of research opportunities, mainly because it shares a campus with four other world-renowned universities. With a 1.6% acceptance rate, Weill Cornell Medicine is one of the most challenging medical schools to enter. Therefore, your application must go above the minimum requirements set.
The admissions committee requires applicants to have the following:
All applicants must apply through AMCAS. You will submit your MCAT scores, letters of recommendation, and any other documentation that gives the admissions committee a better idea of who you are. Do not send copies of published articles or research papers. Only include documents that discuss you as an individual.
Applicants must submit a copy of their official transcripts through AMCAS. Your academic records must show at least a year of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics courses. Laboratories are mandatory with sciences courses, but Weill Cornell School of Medicine wants prospective students to take more laboratories when possible.
AMCAS will notify Weill Cornell Medicine that the primary application is verified, and Weill will provide applicants with a link to the supplemental application.
The following link contains the deadlines for Weill Cornell Medicine. Prospective students should hold themselves to the following dates.
Weill Cornell Medicine actively seeks students with impressive extracurricular activities and research experience. They want motivated and academically qualified students, and the best way to show this is in your secondary application essays.
You will want to explain how you have taken your education and applied it in your work, volunteer experience, or research. The essay portion must demonstrate your commitment to the medical field and how you can contribute to the university.
We have provided you with a lot information and we know deciding on a medical school isn’t easy. Prestigious Ivy League institutions have such low acceptance rates that attending one seems next to impossible.
Be aware of the dates and deadlines we have provided for each medical school, as this will be the defining factor. From Harvard Medical School to Weill Cornell Medicine, we have provided the resources you need to make your medical school journey a little easier.