Best Pre Med Schools In California

Last Updated on May 25, 2022

Pre med schools in California are medical schools in california that prepare students who want to build a career in the medical field. Some refer to it as a preparatory school for students going on to pursue an MD or Doctor of Medicine degree in a particular medical field. So, whether you want to be a family doctor, obstetrician, surgeon, psychiatrist, neurologist, etc. you must go through pre-med school.

What premed school does is that it builds student’s foundational knowledge of the medical field and prepares them for the medical part they want to follow. A premed school may also be referred to as undergraduate study and although you may be given a bachelor’s degree you cannot practice with it until you go to med school and obtain an MD.

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Picking a College as a Pre-Med: Factors to Consider


Your GPA is very important when it comes to med school. A strong GPA supersedes class rank or position so you should be looking for colleges where you can perform well. 

Most medical schools follow a mathematical formula to assess students. This formula takes in the numerical value of GPA. For example, having a 3.9 GPA and ranking #35 in your class is better than a 3.5 GPA and being #15 in your class for the sake of getting admitted into medical school.

This does not mean that you shouldn’t aim to be amongst the brilliant students on campus. GPA is important, but class rank shouldn’t be left out. Most college classes are graded in such a way that being at the top of your class gives you a high GPA. For example, it’s better to have a 3.95 GPA at Bates College than a 3.35 GPA at Princeton. Moreover, narrow down to schools that have moderate to strong grade inflation and avoid schools that have grade deflation.

Science GPA plays a vital role in med school admissions, and at the same time, the rigor of your major is very crucial. A high GPA in an “easy” major won’t be enough; a rigorous course load will still be needed to validate a high GPA. 

Additionally, you should generally avoid your state’s flagship university because they have many academically competitive students who didn’t have the financial means or extracurricular activities to attend top-tier universities. So getting As in your pre-med classes will be a lot harder.

MCAT Score

A good MCAT score is also important for medical school admission. Look for a college with a good curriculum that will teach and prepare you well for the MCAT exam. MCAT science materials are covered by most colleges through their pre-med classes. However, also ensure that the college you choose has good sociology, psychology, and general education English classes that cover in-depth reading techniques. The college that reinforces these other MCAT components helps a student perform much better in MCAT.


Med school requires financial commitment for a student and his/her family. Most families will prefer to save money on undergraduate studies so they can afford to pay $200,000 throughout the four years of med school. Luckily, top-tier colleges usually offer at least some assistance to families with under $200,000 per year in household income and grant great financial aid. There is a lot of competition in flagship state schools so it’s not recommended you apply to those. Explore private schools that offer a strong merit aid package.


Pre-med school and medical school combined require 10-12 years of commitment to school, residencies, and fellowships. This can be very hard for even the most passionate and brilliant students. If by the time you apply you’re still unsure, apply to schools that will easily allow you to switch majors and programs without you applying internally. So you might want to apply to the most competitive school possible and get admitted to a good school regardless of if you’re on the pre-med track.

Premed college admission strategies

Strategy 1: Demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for math and science, in and out of the classroom

As a premed student, your child’s main focus will be on math and science courses. Though it’s not required, many premed students choose a science major.

Even if your child doesn’t major in the sciences, they’ll likely be doing research or volunteer work to prepare for a medical career. To get ready for science-heavy learning in college, it’s a good idea to demonstrate ability in the sciences in high school: your child should take science AP classes offered by their school and participate in extracurricular activities like science Olympiad, robotics teams, competing in the Intel science fair, or pursuing other clubs, teams or competitions at school.

Strategy 2: Seek out volunteer and research opportunities

Conducting research, shadowing a physician, or volunteering at a hospital look impressive on an application. These activities demonstrate to admissions committees a serious interest in the medical profession.

Volunteering, research, or shadowing can also help your child get a sense of what interests them and what they might want to pursue in college. This can help focus your child’s essays, and also help them get specific about which research opportunities at which institutions might appeal to them. Many colleges and universities offer summer programs for high school students, such as the Medical Youth Science Program at Stanford, or the prestigiousResearch Science Program at MIT.

Strategy 3: Demonstrate fit by mentioning specific opportunities

Your child should explain why they think they’d be a good fit for this particular school in their ‘Why us?’ college essay. They should think about this broadly.

Your child can and should mention specific premed opportunities that the college or university offers. Maybe Stanford appeals because they’ve grown up in the shadow of the Bay Area’s innovation centers and hope to be a part of life on the inside. Or maybe Pepperdine’s Summer Research Program in Biology really interests them.

Your child should also think about the other ways in which they’d contribute to the college or university community as a whole, beyond premed requirements. What are some of your child’s other interests, talents, or extracurricular activities? How will they take advantage not just of the school’s premed opportunities, but also the rest of their liberal arts offerings?

For instance, if your child is interested in attending the University of Southern California, maybe they’re excited about the possibility of double-majoring in cinematic arts and biology and spending a summer working in a medical television show’s writer’s room. Or perhaps they’d like to pursue global public health alongside their research into basic sciences, and are interested in augmenting their studies through Berkeley’s Integrative Science study abroad program.  

Strategy 4: Develop and demonstrate work ethic and study skills

It might seem like a no-brainer, but the premed track involves long hours studying and a lot of multitasking.

In their application, it’s a good idea for your child to highlight their dedication to the things they do inside and outside of the classroom. They should show commitment to projects and activities, even if those projects and activities aren’t necessarily science related.

Say your child stays late every night at school rehearsing for plays, or spends hours researching debate briefs, or passes weekends laying out the school paper. Maybe they went above and beyond the requirements for a history class presentation the same week they organized their campaign for class president. These things are worth mentioning: all require discipline and follow-through and display the drive necessary to meet the demands of being premed.

  • Biological Sciences and Human Biology: More than half of med-school applicants study biological sciences during their undergraduate years. Majoring in biology means that your major requirements and pre-med requirements will overlap significantly. That being said, studying science exclusively can be intense and exhausting. If you major in biology on the pre-med track, you may want to carefully select a unique minor or interesting elective courses to avoid burnout. 
  • Physics, Chemistry, and Other Physical Sciences: Just like the natural sciences, the physical science major courses typically overlap with the pre-med requirements. Though the coursework will differ slightly, the risks and benefits of physics and chemistry are about the same as those of biology.
  • Psychology, Economics, and Social Sciences: Social science applicants make up about 10% of medical school admissions. The requirements for these majors have some overlap with the pre-med requirements, but students will need to spend most of their elective units completing pre-med courses. 
  • Philosophy and the Humanities: Humanities majors are less popular for pre-med students because they leave all pre-med requirements to be completed with electives. This will take planning on your part and will require clear communication with your advisors. That being said, humanities graduates who pursue medicine may be more personable and well-rounded than students who exclusively focus on the sciences. Philosophy is a popular major for pre-med students in the humanities.
  • Math, Statistics, and Related Majors: While math majors are not actually a popular major for pre-med students, they have the highest MCAT scores and GPAs of all applicants and thus, typically have favorable positioning in medical school admissions.

Best medical schools in california

  • California Northstate College of Medicine
  • University of California Davis School of Medicine
  • University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
  • Tuoro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • California University of Science and Medicine
  • Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California
  • University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
  • University of California, San Diego School of Medicine
  • Charles R.Drew University of Medicine and Science.

Best Pre Med Schools In California

1.      Stanford University

Stanford University ranks among the top universities in the world in many fields of study, especially in medicine and engineering. Aside from being a top-ranking university it also houses a top-ranked medical school that prepares aspiring medical students for any medical professional of their choice. It is one of the best pre med schools in California and goes on to award students an MD or Master of Doctor degree at the end of their program.

Premed students of Stanford University have a Pre-Med Association for each class year. Through the Stanford Academic Advisory Program students get to meet with pre-health advisors and a mock interview specialist individually who guide them through the admission and interview process.

2.      The University of California –Berkeley

Popularly known as UC, Berkeley and consistently ranked among the best universities in national and international categories and also among the best pre med schools in California. The pre-med at UC, Berkeley is neither a major or minor but rather a pre-professional path that students choose when preparing for a career in graduate-level health professions.

Regardless of major, all students are expected to complete the prerequisite courses required by their preferred health profession. The pre-med program at Berkeley offers outstanding undergraduate preparation for medical and other-related professional schools and sends an impressive number of students on to these graduate programs annually.

3.      Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University is one of the best pre med schools in California with a reputation for preparing students for professions in the medical field. More than 200 premed students from Santa Clara’s Pre-Health Advising program have gone on to become graduates of over 60 different medical schools.

Pre-med students engage in undergraduate research projects with faculty members and work as medical scribes which prepares students for the next phase of their medical profession.

4.      Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University was established in 1937 as a private research university with a religious affiliation and offers a wide range of academic programs with undergraduate and postgraduate programs. The university is located in Malibu, California, and offers one of the best premed programs in the state.

Seaver College is the undergraduate institution at Pepperdine University that offers pre-health and pre-medicine coursework and guidance. The premed program at Seaver College has an 89% acceptance rate to medical programs after graduation making it a highly successful program.

5.      The University of Southern California

USC is one of the best pre med schools in California and consistently ranked among the best universities in the United States and the world. USC is located in Los Angeles and because it is a private research university the institution has a strong focus on medicine, business, engineering, and other programs with a strong research focus.

Premed here at USC is known as Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program designed to prepare compassionate, intelligent, and dedicated students for the pursuit of an MD degree.

6.      Pomona College

Established in1887 and located in Claremont, California, Pomona College is a private liberal arts college and has an outstanding premedical program that ranks among the best in the state which prepares undergraduates to become professionals in their respective medical fields. The institution also has a high medical school acceptance rate with an average of 85% among their pre-health graduates.

Premed students in Pomona have access to lots of guides, worksheets, and planning tools.

7.      The University of California, San Diego

Popularly known as UC San Diego and or UCSD and established in 1960 as a public land-grant research university offering more than 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The institution is also one of the best pre med schools in California equipping students with the skills, knowledge, and discipline to complete their medical degrees.

UC San Diego has a wide range of medical programs which include dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, nursing, veterinary medicine, etc. but students have to go through the premed program before going to the master’s level to acquire a degree in any of these fields. The school has the tools, resources, and network of advisors to help you get there.

8.      The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

UCLA is one of the top universities in the united states and a top choice among many students who want to pursue world-renowned undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs such as MBA, medicine, law, engineering, etc. The university also houses one of the most prestigious medical schools in the United States and the world.

The Pre-Health program at UCLA is designed for undergraduate students pursuing a career in the health profession to support students on their journey to become successful applicants who are committed to service and academic success.

9.      The University of California, Santa Barbara

The University of California, Santa Barbara is one of the best pre med schools in California. It was established in1891 as a public land-granting research university in Isla Vista, California. USCB or UC Santa Barbara, as it is commonly referred to offers a wide range of academic programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The medical program here is top-notch and has international recognition of being among the best, some of the medical programs include pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, medicine, etc. However, before you complete any of these professions you must first start from premed school which builds your foundational knowledge and prepares you for a rigorous medical education.

Top 10 Pre Med Schools

1. Harvard College

Location: Cambridge, MA

U.S. News Ranking: 2

Acceptance rate: 4.5%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1460-1580 SAT, 33-35 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,788

Harvard college is located in Cambridge, MA, and has some of the smartest students in the world, numerous Boston medical facilities, and groups.  Harvard offers a lot of invaluable teachings to its pre-med students. The college’s grade inflation is rampant, and the median grade is an A-. It’s first on our list of best pre-med colleges.


2. Johns Hopkins University

Acceptance rate:  4.9%

U.S. News Ranking: 9

Undergraduate enrollment: 6256

Johns Hopkins is one of the most reputable medical schools and an institution for medical research. Its solid reputation has been maintained throughout the years.

The university’s med school is affiliated with a teaching hospital considered one of the best in the US.  A student at Johns Hopkins has the opportunity to use a variety of clinical and research facilities. Additionally, it is where the International Medical Aid was founded and is currently a stellar NGO that provides pre-med internships to anyone lucky to join.

Johns Hopkins University has an advising program track for their undergraduate pre-med students that include group meetings, personal appointments, and a variety of other programs designed to help anyone who aspires to be a student of med-school to succeed. Undergraduate pre-med school students can also build their resumes through well-organized, student organizations.

There is a total undergraduate enrollment of 6256 students at Johns Hopkins University.


3. Duke University

Acceptance rate: 7.8%

U.S. News Ranking: 10

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1500-1560 SAT, 33-35 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,682

Duke is a very academically competitive college located in Durham, NC. It boasts a high 85% med school acceptance rate and students have access to a wide variety of resources, such as personalized advising to research and internship opportunities. This is provided by Durham and Duke’s prestigious School of Medicine.

4. Columbia University

Columbia university acceptance rate 2021: 5.8%

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,245

Columbia University offers a sample pre-med course curriculum that is meant to assist you in meeting the minimum applications set for medical school applications. The university also has top-notch services, designed specifically to advise pre-med students, and assist them in getting and maintaining a competitive edge. This edge will be required when you finally decide to submit your medical school application and get admitted

Columbia’s Medical School is ranked 31st when it comes to primary care and 6th best medical school based on research. A pre-med advisor is assigned to an undergraduate of this university which gives an opportunity to gain immensely from informative meetings that have the Premedical Committee as a sponsor. You’ll have relatively easy access to various hospitals and clinics that offer countless opportunities for you to benefit from research and clinical experience because Columbia University is also conveniently located in NYC.

Columbia University’s total undergraduate enrollment is 6,245.

Unfortunately, just like Stanford, Columbia University doesn’t avail stats on the number of their graduates that eventually have successful admission into med school yearly.

5. University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

Acceptance rate: 7.7%

U.S. News Ranking: 6

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1460-1550 SAT, 33-35 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 10,183

UPenn is one of the best pre-med schools in the USA, and it boasts up to a 76% med school acceptance rate. The university’s core pre-med courses and suggested courses emphasize all aspects of the test to prepare students well for the MCAT. Facilities like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are nearby so UPenn is an excellent location for pre-med students.


6. Washington University in Saint Louis (WashU)

Acceptance rate: 14%

U.S. News Ranking: 19

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1480-1550 SAT, 33-35 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,751

Washington University in St. Louis, MO offers pre-med students access to MCAT prep classes, mock interviews, writing workshops for med school applications, two local hospitals, and a four-year advising program. WashU provides constant hands-on assistance and meaningful research to ensure that their pre-med students are on the right path.

7. Rice University

Acceptance rate: 8.7%

U.S. News Ranking: 17

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1470-1560 SAT, 33-35 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,978

Rice University is located in Houston, TX, and provides a database of internship opportunities, relevant research, and pre-med advising orientations. Moreover, Rice’s Joint Admission Medical Program helps Texas students from low-income families to pay for med school. Houston has large hospitals that provide research and volunteering opportunities.


8. Stanford University

Acceptance rate: 4.4%

U.S. News Ranking: 6

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1420-1570 SAT, 32-35 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,087

Stanford University is located in Stanford, CA, and offers various extracurricular and research options to their undergraduate students. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors have the opportunity to shadow doctors at Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto VA Hospital, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital through their Stanford Immersion in Medicine Series (SIMS) Program. It’s one of the best pre-med colleges in USA.


9. Northwestern University

Acceptance rate: 9.1%

U.S. News Ranking: 9

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1450-1540 SAT, 33-35 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,231

Northwestern is located in Evanston, IL and it offers pre-med students access to a wealth of resources through the school’s Health Professions Advising. This includes local shadowing opportunities and MCAT advice/training to GPA calculators. Northwestern completely prepares its pre-med students for med school.

10. Brown University

Acceptance rate: 7.1%

U.S. News Ranking: 14

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1420-1550 SAT, 32-35 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,043

Brown University is located in Providence, RI. It offers pre-med students lots of resources such as clinical experience and volunteer opportunities, to get experience in the medical field. Students also get the opportunity to get hands-on experience working with Brown EMS as an EMT.

Brown is a great option for students who want to complete medical school science course prerequisites while pursuing a non-STEM major. There’s an open curriculum; no general education requirements are required, and students can take any course they want, as long as they finish their major requirements.

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