The best pre-med schools in the United States tend to be large comprehensive universities with their own medical schools and close proximity to teaching and research hospitals. Quality pre-med schools all have academic strengths in fields such as biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and psychology, as well as excellent advising programs for students seeking medical careers.
Keep in mind that future doctors do not need to pursue a pre-med major or focus as an undergraduate. Your grades and your score on the MCAT will be the most important part of your medical school application, and English majors often outperform biology majors on the MCAT because of their strong reading and analytical skills. Prospective pre-med students will want to take some carefully selected biology and chemistry classes to prepare for the MCAT and meet med school entrance requirements, but any undergraduate major can lead to a successful medical school application.
Also, remember that small liberal arts colleges can open the door to top medical schools just as well as larger universities. In fact, the small classes and personalized mentoring of a liberal arts college may better prepare you for medical school than some of the much more famous pre-med schools listed below. Nevertheless, all of these schools are well known for their successes both in and out of the classroom preparing students for medical school.
Boston UniversityCorbis via Getty Images / Getty Images
Boston University's Early Assurance Program is an excellent choice for high achieving pre-med students. By enrolling in Early Assurance, students can earn their undergraduate and medical degree in seven years instead of the usual eight. The program is highly selective and requires SAT Subject Tests in Chemistry and Math 2, three letters of recommendation, a special essay, and an interview. Admitted students can expect to be promoted to BU's medical school upon completion of their undergraduate degree.
BU pre-med students who don't apply for the Early Assurance Program will still have a stellar experience at Boston University. All pre-med students at BU work with an experienced pre-professional advisor who can assist with course selection and research projects, which helps to ensure that Boston University graduates are well positioned to apply to medical school whatever their major might be.02of 14
Columbia UniversitySpencer Platt / Getty Images
Columbia University, one of four Ivy League schools on this list, is an excellent choice for students looking for a top-notch pre-med program in an urban environment. The university has a dedicated Office of Preprofessional Advising to assist students interested in health professions. Columbia does not have a pre-med major, but through its excellent advising programs, students are guided to take essential courses for both the MCAT and medical school requirements.
Columbia University also provides students with opportunities to conduct research and gain clinical experiences. Both are important elements of a winning medical school application. Many Columbia pre-med students volunteer at nearby Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital.
Finally, for students who decide on a medical career late in college or after graduation, Columbia is home to the nation's oldest and largest postbaccalaureate premedical program. The program has a medical school placement rate near 90 percent.03of 14
Cornell UniversityUpsilon Andromedae / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
While the majority of schools on this list are located in urban centers, Cornell University offers a winning pre-med track in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York.
Cornell has a Health Careers Program that provides students with a wide range of services to help them on their path to medical school: advising, health-related programs, information resources, and use of the Health Careers Evaluation Committee (HCEC). The HCEC will create a comprehensive written review of a student's candidacy for a health career that can be submitted along with letters of recommendation.
Cornell is also home to PATCH, the Pre-professional Association Toward Careers in Health, a student organization that supports and advises students pursuing health careers. The group organizes an annual tour of SUNY Upstate Medical School to give undergraduates the opportunity to speak with current medical students and admissions officers.04of 14
Duke UniversityUschools University Images / Getty Images
Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University is one of the top private universities in the United States. Biology and biomedical engineering are two of the most popular undergraduate majors at Duke. The university offers undergraduates ample opportunities for research and hands-on experiences both in science labs and at the medical school.
Duke has no pre-med major, but your choice of major really isn't that important for attending medical school. The university's excellent pre-med advising keeps students on track for a successful medical school application regardless of undergraduate major.05of 14
Emory Universityaimintang / Getty Images
Emory University, one of the best colleges in the southeastern United States, has an enviable location next to both Emory Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. The school's location makes it easy for students to pick up research internships to broaden their experiences and strengthen their medical school applications.
Emory's PreHealth Advising Service provides students with advising, mentoring, events, and guidance as they take classes and prepare for admission to a medical school. The PreHealth Advising office also provides peer mentors for pre-med students. These mentors are current pre-health juniors and seniors who serve to support peers who are interested in health careers.06of 14
Georgetown UniversityKārlis Dambrāns / Flickr / CC by 2.0
Georgetown University is one of the best Catholic universities in the nation. Its Washington, D.C. location gives students easy access to numerous medical facilities for research and clinical opportunities.
Like Boston University, Georgetown has an Early Assurance Program (EAP) that allows students to apply to Georgetown's School of Medicine after completing four semesters at the university and earning a 3.6 or higher GPA. One of the benefits of EAP is that students who are accepted are not required to take the MCAT.
Finally, Georgetown has a Pre-Medical Society that helps with everything from mock interviews to pre-med advising, and the club hosts lectures by accomplished members of the medical profession.07of 14
Harvard UniversityJoe Raedle / Getty Images
Harvard University, which often ranks first among the nation's most selective colleges, is not surprisingly also one of the best schools for studying pre-med.
Harvard gets high marks for its pre-med advising. All students will find pre-medical advisors in their residential house, and the Office of Career Services also provides pre-med advising. Harvard pre-med students tend to speak highly of the institutional support they receive, and the evidence of that support is in the school's extremely high med school acceptance rate.
Also, Harvard's Extension School offers a premedical program for students who have completed their baccalaureate degrees but have not done the coursework necessary for medical school (typically biology, chemistry, physics, and English classes). The program is an excellent way to get the advising, experience, and sponsorship necessary for a successful medical school application.08of 14
Johns Hopkins UniversitySmith Collection/Gado / Getty Images
Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, has a large population of students interested in health-related fields including nursing, public health, biomedical engineering, and the biological sciences. The university also offers an interdisciplinary major called Medicine, Science, and Humanities.
JHU offers opportunities to conduct research and shadow doctors at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, and typical of top-tier research universities, motivated undergraduates will have little difficulty finding meaningful internship and laboratory experiences.
Along with their non-major undergraduate pre-med program, the university offers a post-baccalaureate pre-med program for recent graduates who aren't fully prepared for medical school.09of 14
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyJoe Raedle / Getty Images
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology consistently ranks as one of the best engineering schools in the country, so it may seem like a strange entry for a list of top pre-med schools. MIT, after all, does not have a hospital or medical school. That said, about 10% of MIT's graduating seniors go on to medical school or some other graduate program in the health professions.
MIT pre-med students come from a wide range of majors, and the institute is hard to top for the quality of instruction students receive in biology, chemistry, and physics. MIT's Office of Global Education and Career Development offers professional advising for students interested in health professions and medical school. Finally, keep in mind that MIT students can cross-register at Harvard and take advantage of some of Harvard's pre-med resources.10of 14
Northwestern Universitystevegeer / Getty Images
Northwestern University, located just north of downtown Chicago, is one of the top research universities in the United States. Like many of the schools on this list, Northwestern's pre-med strengths come from a combination of excellent science programs and strong pre-med advising (through the university's Health Professions Advising office).
Northwestern students can gain physician shadowing opportunities through the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program, the Northwestern Externship Program, and several other programs. Students can find research opportunities through [email protected], Northwestern's centralized resource for undergraduate research. Finally, Northwestern's Engage Chicago program is an eight-week summer program whose participants attend seminars and gain field experiences in health fields.
The university also has many student-run groups related to the health professions. One of these, the Pre-Med Peer Mentor Program (PPMP) links up first-year students with an upper-class student mentor.11of 14
Daderot / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Tufts University is one of several Boston area colleges to make this list. Tufts has an Early Assurance Program in which strong students can apply for medical school after their sophomore year. This is not an accelerated path to a medical degree, but an opportunity for students to be admitted to Tufts Medical School well before the majority of applicants.
Tufts' Office of Undergraduate Education has two health professions advisors who work one-on-one with students, hold workshops, arrange speakers, and generally support pre-med students at the university. During any given year, the university's acceptance rate to U.S. medical schools is between 75 and 90 percent.12of 14
University of North Carolina Chapel HillLance King / Getty Images
The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is the flagship campus of the UNC system. As a public university, it represents an excellent value, especially for in-state students.
UNC-Chapel Hill is part of the Research Triangle with North Carolina State University and Duke University, and the school is home to a highly rated medical school. Students will find plenty of opportunities for shadowing doctors, landing internships, and conducting research. The university also has an extremely high medical school placement record.
UNC's Medical Education Development (MED) Program is an intensive nine-week summer program designed to help students from underrepresented backgrounds learn about the realities of medical school and develop the skills necessary to compete successfully for admission to medical school.13of 14
University of PennsylvaniaMargie Politzer / Getty Images
The University of Pennsylvania is another of the prestigious Ivy League schools on this list. The school's campus in Philadelphia adjoins the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. Those facilities, combined with the university's many research labs in the sciences, mean that students have no shortage of opportunities for applied learning experiences related to the health professions.
Like other schools on this list, Penn has excellent advising services for pre-med students to help with everything from course selection to the logistics of med school applications. The university has an impressive placement rate for getting its students into quality medical schools. Penn also has a summer program to help underrepresented students succeed in a pre-med academic path.14of 14
University of Washington
Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
The University of Washington in Seattle is a huge comprehensive public university with nearly 30,000 undergraduates. Roughly 17% of those students will graduate in biological fields such as biochemistry, biology, physiology, and molecular biology. Public health and nursing are also popular majors. The university has robust resources for pre-health advising, and students will also find many extracurricular options related to health fields.
The University of Washington is home to one of the nation's very best medical schools, and undergraduates get plenty of opportunities to shadow medical professionals. Along with UNC-Chapel Hill, this public university is one of the more affordable pre-med options for in-state students (although you should keep in mind that financial aid can make any school on this list affordable for qualifying students).