Last Updated on May 26, 2022
Pre-med is a college track made up of specific courses that a student chooses to take as prerequisite courses for medical school. It’s almost related to a major. Students can decide to major in any field of their choice, but they are required to take all of the required pre-med courses to stay on the pre-med track.
Studying medicine can prepare scholars for a wide range of careers, but most people choose to pursue their education before entering the workforce. Depending on the education and work history of graduates, graduates may become general practitioners, registered nurses, health educators, medical researchers, allied health managers, forensic science technicians and clinical laboratory technologists.
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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.
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.
Medical School Requirements
Your MCAT Score
Some schools have a minimum MCAT score and GPA requirements and will filter out applicants who don’t meet them.
Usually, you’ll need to respond to prompts on both the primary and secondary applications. The topics vary, but typically you’ll be asked to explore the reasons you want to pursue medicine, the events that have shaped you, and your passions, experiences, achievements, and interests.
Letters of Recommendation
Most medical schools require three letters of recommendation, usually two letters from science faculty members and one from a non-science discipline, although this varies from school to school. If your undergraduate college has a formal pre-med committee, a committee letter is usually required to present an overview and evaluation of your undergraduate performance and candidacy.
Most medical schools will want to see relevant extracurricular activities, including research, clinical experience, and volunteering and community service. You can gain exposure to the profession by shadowing physicians, working as a scribe, or contributing to the medical community by assisting practicing professionals with research.
Medical schools also want to know what kind of person you are, so your application will also ask for non-medical extracurriculars. It’s kind of like the Common App all over again, though the activities section for medical school is more extensive, and you’ll be asked to write approximately 500 words about each of your three most important extracurriculars.
Keep in mind that individual medical schools may have additional requirements or recommendations. Most schools also conduct interviews, extending invitations to a small percentage of candidates after reviewing their applications.
Pre med majors
- 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 pre med undergraduate 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.
11. Amherst College
Acceptance rate: 11.3%
U.S. News Ranking: 2 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1420-1530 SAT, 31-34 ACT
Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,855
Amherst is located in Amherst, MA, and it’s one of the best pre-med colleges in USA perfect for pre-med students who want to major in a non-STEM subject. Beyond that, Amherst is a strong choice as a liberal arts college.
The university’s smaller enrollment and emphasis on undergraduate education help the students know their professors well, thereby leading to stronger mentorship and standout letters of recommendation. There’s also access to pre-med advisors who want.
12. Case Western Reserve University (CWRU)
Acceptance rate: 29%
U.S. News Ranking: 40
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1370-1490 SAT, 30-34 ACT
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,262
Last on our list of best pre-med colleges in USA is Case Western Reserve University. It is located in Cleveland, OH, right next to the world-famous Cleveland Clinic, the University Hospitals, and Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.
At CWRU, students get numerous research and volunteering opportunities as well as gain clinical experience through the campus’ EMS team. They can also work in the local nursing homes, hospice care facilities, or patient recovery houses.
Best medical schools in the world
10. University College London
This prestigious institution has been educating students from as early as 1834, making it one of the oldest medical schools in the world. Like most world universities – apart from those in the United States – students at UCL have the option of either pursuing undergraduate study in medicine and completing a degree in 6 years or undertaking a post-graduate degree in medicine after undergoing separate undergraduate study. This school has multiple departments within the faculty of medicine, including but not limited to: brain sciences, immunology and inflammation, infectious disease, metabolism, digestion and reproduction, and surgery and cancer. UCL Medical School is also home to a number of impressive alumni, including presidents of the Royal College of Physicians, presidents of the Royal College of Surgeons in England and chairs of the General Medical Council.
9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Whilst this university itself does not have its own medical school, MIT comes in at 9 on QC’s prestigious list due to its partnership with Harvard University. This alignment between universities allows students to participate in a Health Sciences and Technology Program, which integrates science, medicine and engineering to solve problems in human health. Students also have the opportunity to pursue a dual degree and receive both a MD and PhD. Due to the emphasis on research, most who graduate from MIT pursue careers in biomedical research, rather than becoming physicians.
8. Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut
The first Ivy League school to feature on this list, Yale University is home to one of the most prolific medical schools in the world. Interestingly, this medical school emphasises that students are not required to major in anything health-related as undergraduates, as long as they fulfil the prerequisites for entry into medical school. Yale is also home to a number of other graduate schools and programs and as such, offer students many different dual degree combinations, including an MD and JD, MD and MBA and MD and MDiv – a Master of Divinity. In addition, about 20% of students choose to pursue an MD alongside a PhD. Like many other universities on this list, Yale Medical School alumni are among some of the most prominent on the global medical scene. One distinguished alumnus is Aaron Beck, who is known for his success in the field of psychiatry – one of his most notable achievements being the development of cognitive theory.
Los Angeles, California
UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine is one of the most renowned public medical schools, ranking in at 4th in the US and 7th in the world. The UCLA medical centre, the primary teaching hospital for both those pursuing a degree in medicine and in nursing, offers training in a number of different specialised fields. Students also have the option to pursue multiple different programs and joint degrees, including an MD and PhD, MD and MBA and MD and Masters of Public Affairs.
6. Karolinska Institute
The second European medical school to feature on this list, the Karolinska Institute is the single largest centre of medical academic research in Sweden, responsible for 40% of medical research within the country. Unlike other universities on this list, the Karolinska Institute is one of the cheapest medical schools in the world – it is free for all students living in the EU.
5. Johns Hopkins University
Not unlike many of the other medical schools featured on this list, Johns Hopkins Medical School boasts a highly competitive program, admitting only 3.9% of applicants. As such, class sizes at Johns Hopkins are relatively small, often only containing 120 students. Despite the competitive nature of their application, Johns Hopkins fosters a collaborative atmosphere amongst students and faculty. famous alumni include Harvey Williams Cushing – an American neurosurgeon, pathologist and writer who was the first physician to describe Cushing’s disease.
4. Stanford University
Palo Alto, California
Despite being known for its success and excellence in the fields of business and entrepreneurship, Stanford University is also home to one of the most distinguished medical schools in the world. Like others on this list, Stanford offers a variety of dual degrees, including the popular combination of an MD and PhD, in order to facilitate pathways between medicine and research. Similar to Johns Hopkins, the medical program at Stanford is small, with each cohort often only containing between 90 and 100 students. Located in Silicon Valley, students at Stanford Medical School are also able to reap the benefits of cutting-edge technology being at an arm’s reach. Their location also enables greater opportunity for medical research to more easily reach an application stage.
3. University of Cambridge
Ranking at third, Cambridge Medical School is the oldest institution on this list, being founded back in 1540. As a European Institution, Cambridge allows its students to study medicine at an undergraduate level and graduate as a doctor in just 6 years. This university particularly excels in the field of biomedical science – its most notable success being the discovery of DNA in 1953. Notable alumni include: Ieuan Hughes (world famous paediatrician) and Barbara Sahakian (globally recognised clinical psychologist).
2. University of Oxford
Coming in just one place ahead of its UK-based rival, University of Oxford is often considered to be home to the best medical institution outside the United States. Similar to its European counterparts, students are able to begin their studies of medicine straightaway. Oxford also offers an accelerated program for those who have already completed their undergraduate degree and are ready to pursue their medical studies at a graduate level. Oxford alumni can be found in a number of different fields, including but not limited to academia, research, and in private practices.
1. Harvard University
At number one, Harvard Medical School is considered by many as the best in the world. This university is renowned for its distinguished faculty and premium teaching hospitals, including Massachusetts General and Boston Children’s Hospital. Harvard is also home to a number of successful alumni, including Jill Stein, acclaimed physician and Green Party nominee for the Presidency in both 2012 and 2016, Sidney Farber (noted oncologist/pathologist who is considered the ‘father of chemotherapy’) and Helen B Taussig (pioneer of paediatric cardiology and co-developer of the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt).