Best Medical School In The US
Advice & Insight From Medicine Application Specialists
Winner: Harvard Medical School
Runner Up: Stanford University School of Medicine
The best medical school in the US is also the best medical school in the world – Harvard Medical School. We have a separate article on HMS, which features more detail on this world famous institution – this article will focus mainly on the runner-up, Stanford.
Harvard Medical School was established in 1782, making it the third oldest medical school in the United States. It offers a five year MD program that can be extended to six years with an intercalated degree. The school’s alumni and professors have made huge contributions to healthcare and humankind as a whole, leading to accomplishments as varied as 16 Nobel Prizes for Medicine recipients, the introduction of the smallpox vaccine to America, and the fact that the current Surgeon General of the US is a Harvard alumnus. Harvard therefore has very, very high admissions standards, with an average GPA of 3.9 and MCAT score of 519. The school is steeped in tradition, with the famous White Coat Ceremony that begins one’s time as a Harvard medic. Students benefit from a range of clubs and activities that are specific to medics, and from Harvard’s associations with 15 of the most prestigious hospitals and research institutions in the world.
Stanford University Medical School is made up of three institutions – the Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Children’s Health, and Stanford Health Care. The school is ranked second in the United States and holds great prestige, despite being established relatively recently, in 1908.
Stanford Medical School Admissions
Admission into Stanford is just as difficult as it is to Harvard. Of 6800 applications in 2020, 470 students were interviewed, 152 were accepted, and 90 students matriculated. In 2019, 7506 applicants led to 172 acceptances – a success rate of only 2.3%. This is actually marginally lower than Harvard’s rate of 3%. 72% of applicants are from out-of-state. The average GPA score is 3.89, and the average MCAT score is 519, meaning that students are, on average, on the 97th percentile of the MCAT.
56% of the entering class of 2020 were women, and 38% came from under-represented in Medicine backgrounds, including Hispanic, African American or other ethnic minorities. There were two veterans, 14 NCAA student athletes, 12% first generation college students, and 37% full scholarship recipients. The top feeder schools were Stanford, providing 12 students, Harvard, which provided 8, and Penn, Columbia and Yale. Undergrad majors included subjects as disparate as Comp Sci, Religious Studies, Spanish, Neuroscience and Public Health.
The School explains that it seeks candidates who ‘want to move the fields of Medicine and biomedical sciences forward,’ who show evidence of being original and creative thinkers, who are academically ready and who have the right personal qualities to succeed in Medicine.
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What it’s like studying at Stanford
Stanford prides itself on its flexible curriculum, diverse clinical opportunities, and community feeling, the latter stemming from its small class size of around 90 students. According to past and current students, successful applicants should expect a university that has a huge amount of resources packed into a fairly small size, and a staff body that is quick to act on student feedback. Students feel genuinely welcomed by staff and clinicians on residencies, and have the opportunity to participate in research and leadership opportunities from the very beginning of their time at Stanford.
There are opportunities to take on a wide range of dual degree programs, in conjunction with other schools at Stanford. One can also take on a PhD, and have the dual degree subsidized.
The location of Stanford – within Silicon Valley – makes it an interesting proposition for students who wish to work on the intersection between Medicine and technology, or to combine their passion for Medicine with another field like Venture Capital. It’s also an ideal location for anyone looking for a campus with great weather, and anyone that loves the outdoors. Kayaking, sailing, rock climbing and more are on the doorstep. Of course, it’s more likely that you’ll be inside studying than outside, as Stanford’s highly competitive admissions and subsequently competitive students mean that the course is very difficult, and exams known to be very tough as well.
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