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Best pre med undergraduate schools

Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

Have you been searching for the best information on best pre med undergraduate schools, top 100 pre med schools & best pre med colleges 2020? Then you need not search further as the article below brings you the best information on them all.

You will also find related articles on best non ivy league schools for pre med, best pre med schools u s news & best pre med programs on collegelaerners.

What is Pre-Med?

Pre-med, while it sounds like a major, is actually a college track that is made up of specific courses that you agree to take as prerequisite courses for medical school. Students can major in any field they want, but will have to take all of the required pre-med courses so that they stay on the pre-med track.

If you do know that you want to be a medical doctor while you’re still in high school, you should look for colleges that will prepare you well for the career ahead of you. But as you sift through potential colleges, keep in mind that your pre-med experience should ultimately set you up for a bigger goal: med school. An ideal college will have a pre-med track that can guarantee success in these four crucial aspects of a medical school application:

  • Getting a high GPA
  • Scoring well on the MCAT
  • Finding meaningful activities and building a strong resume
  • Completing the application (including rec letters and essays) and interview, though you should note that these are mostly independent of the undergraduate school you choose

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

GPA

When it comes to med school, your GPA is vital. You should be looking for colleges where you can score well, as a strong GPA is so important for medical school applications that it even supersedes class rank. The reason is that most medical schools use a mathematical formula that takes in the numerical value of GPA to assess students. For example, having a 3.5 GPA and being #18 in your class at one college is often worse than having a 3.9 and ranking #35 in your class at another for the purposes of medical school admission.

While GPA is often more important than rank, you should still aim to be amongst the strongest students on campus. Most college classes are graded on a curve, and being at the top of the curve translates to a high GPA. For example, you’d be much better off with a 3.95 at Bates College than a 3.35 at Princeton. Additionally, you want to avoid schools that have grade deflation (very difficult curves) and instead, look for the schools that have moderate to strong grade inflation (easier curves).

Although your science GPA plays a significant role in med school admissions, the rigor of your major is just as critical. Having a high GPA in an “easy” major won’t cut it; you need a rigorous course load to validate a high GPA.

It’s also important to note that you should generally try to avoid your state’s flagship university. These universities have many academically competitive students who didn’t have the extracurricular resume or financial means to attend top-tier universities. So it’s a lot harder to get As in your pre-med classes.

MCAT Score

A good MCAT score is also essential to med school admissions. You should look for a college with a curriculum that will prepare you well for the exam. Most colleges will cover the science material on the MCAT through their pre-med classes. However, you should also ensure that your college has good psychology, sociology, and even general education English classes that cover critical reading techniques. Attending a college that reinforces these other MCAT components will yield you a much better score overall.

Extracurricular Activities & Letters of Recommendation

Having a good resume isn’t just about loading it with generically impressive activities and awards. It’s important to have activities that are specifically meaningful and relevant to you as a potential med school student. You want to have plenty of patient care experience, ideally through shadowing or formal internships, though volunteering is okay if you can’t find one of the other options. Biology-specific or medical research is also a critical addition to your resume. And it’s beneficial to work or volunteer in the local community. If possible, try to work with diverse groups of people from varied socioeconomic backgrounds as that can be helpful experience for essay and interview questions.

Being able to fill out your resume with the right activities is another benefit to being at the top of your class. As one of the best students on campus, you will have easier access to better opportunities through professors and other health professions advisors.

When picking a school, you should also think about location. A college next to or in a city that has a robust medical industry, like Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, or Houston, will have far more opportunities. By having access to major hospitals and private companies, you will increase your chances of getting valuable patient care experience and/or research.

Getting good rec letters comes down to, once again, being at the top of your class. Being a big fish in a small pond will help you gain the attention and favor of your professors, employers, and lab directors.

Saving Money

Med school is a substantial commitment for not just the student, but also for their family. Many families want to save money on undergrad so they can afford to pay $200,000 for four years of med school. Fortunately, top-tier colleges usually grant great financial aid, generally offering at least some assistance to families with under $200,000 per year in household income. Beyond that, you may want to stay away from flagship state schools because of the competition factor mentioned previously. Instead, you can look for private schools that will offer you a strong merit aid package.

Commitment

Becoming a doctor is not for everyone. The 10-12 years of commitment to school, residencies, and fellowships is tough for even the most passionate and driven students. If you’re still a little unsure by the time you apply, look for schools that allow you to easily switch majors and programs without having to apply internally. In these cases, you might want to apply to the most competitive school possible; that way, you’ll be at a good school regardless of whether you’re on the pre-med track.

Pre-med, while it sounds like a major, is actually a college track that is made up of specific courses that you agree to take as prerequisite courses for medical school. Students can major in any field they want, but will have to take all of the required pre-med courses so that they stay on the pre-med track.

Most pre-med students choose to major in something related to the medical field, such as Biology or Chemistry. 

If you do know that you want to be a medical doctor while you’re still in high school, you should look for colleges that will prepare you well for the career ahead of you. But as you sift through potential colleges, keep in mind that your pre-med experience should ultimately set you up for a bigger goal: med school. An ideal college will have a pre-med track that can guarantee success in these four crucial aspects of a medical school application:

  • Getting a high GPA
  • Scoring well on the MCAT
  • Finding meaningful activities and building a strong resume
  • Completing the application (including rec letters and essays) and interview, though you should note that these are mostly independent of the undergraduate school you choose

Want to know your chances at the schools you’re applying for?

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

GPA

When it comes to med school, your GPA is vital. You should be looking for colleges where you can score well, as a strong GPA is so important for medical school applications that it even supersedes class rank. The reason is that most medical schools use a mathematical formula that takes in the numerical value of GPA to assess students. For example, having a 3.5 GPA and being #18 in your class at one college is often worse than having a 3.9 and ranking #35 in your class at another for the purposes of medical school admission.

While GPA is often more important than rank, you should still aim to be amongst the strongest students on campus. Most college classes are graded on a curve, and being at the top of the curve translates to a high GPA. For example, you’d be much better off with a 3.95 at Bates College than a 3.35 at Princeton. Additionally, you want to avoid schools that have grade deflation (very difficult curves) and instead, look for the schools that have moderate to strong grade inflation (easier curves).

Although your science GPA plays a significant role in med school admissions, the rigor of your major is just as critical. Having a high GPA in an “easy” major won’t cut it; you need a rigorous course load to validate a high GPA.

It’s also important to note that you should generally try to avoid your state’s flagship university. These universities have many academically competitive students who didn’t have the extracurricular resume or financial means to attend top-tier universities. So it’s a lot harder to get As in your pre-med classes.

MCAT Score

A good MCAT score is also essential to med school admissions. You should look for a college with a curriculum that will prepare you well for the exam. Most colleges will cover the science material on the MCAT through their pre-med classes. However, you should also ensure that your college has good psychology, sociology, and even general education English classes that cover critical reading techniques. Attending a college that reinforces these other MCAT components will yield you a much better score overall.

Extracurricular Activities & Letters of Recommendation

Having a good resume isn’t just about loading it with generically impressive activities and awards. It’s important to have activities that are specifically meaningful and relevant to you as a potential med school student. You want to have plenty of patient care experience, ideally through shadowing or formal internships, though volunteering is okay if you can’t find one of the other options. Biology-specific or medical research is also a critical addition to your resume. And it’s beneficial to work or volunteer in the local community. If possible, try to work with diverse groups of people from varied socioeconomic backgrounds as that can be helpful experience for essay and interview questions.

Being able to fill out your resume with the right activities is another benefit to being at the top of your class. As one of the best students on campus, you will have easier access to better opportunities through professors and other health professions advisors.

When picking a school, you should also think about location. A college next to or in a city that has a robust medical industry, like Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, or Houston, will have far more opportunities. By having access to major hospitals and private companies, you will increase your chances of getting valuable patient care experience and/or research.

Getting good rec letters comes down to, once again, being at the top of your class. Being a big fish in a small pond will help you gain the attention and favor of your professors, employers, and lab directors.

Saving Money

Med school is a substantial commitment for not just the student, but also for their family. Many families want to save money on undergrad so they can afford to pay $200,000 for four years of med school. Fortunately, top-tier colleges usually grant great financial aid, generally offering at least some assistance to families with under $200,000 per year in household income. Beyond that, you may want to stay away from flagship state schools because of the competition factor mentioned previously. Instead, you can look for private schools that will offer you a strong merit aid package.

Commitment

Becoming a doctor is not for everyone. The 10-12 years of commitment to school, residencies, and fellowships is tough for even the most passionate and driven students. If you’re still a little unsure by the time you apply, look for schools that allow you to easily switch majors and programs without having to apply internally. In these cases, you might want to apply to the most competitive school possible; that way, you’ll be at a good school regardless of whether you’re on the pre-med track.

What are your chances at these pre-med schools?

Our free Chancing Calculator uses your GPA, extracurriculars, testing and more to tell you your real chances at Cornell, Emory, and other schools with a pre-med program.

Calculate your chances now — it’s free!

A person sitting cross legged, pointing to the text, with an abstract monitor behind them
These are just a few factors to think about as you build a school list. As you may have noticed, many of these factors are broad and subjective. The “best” pre-med school will vary widely for each individual. However, if you want to look at the absolute best pre-med programs in the country, here are a few:

The Best Pre-Med Schools, Ranked
Note: Seven- or eight-year BS/MD programs, such as Brown’s PLME, are not included. Rankings are based on four key pre-application elements: GPA, MCAT prep, patient care experience, and research experience.

  1. Harvard College
    Location: Cambridge, MA

Acceptance rate: 4.5%

U.S. News Ranking: 2

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

Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,788

As of 2012, Harvard reported an extremely high med school acceptance rate of 95%. With some of the smartest students in the world, a great location among the numerous Boston medical facilities, and groups such as the Harvard Premedical Society, Harvard offers a plethora of invaluable resources to its pre-med students. The college is also known for its rampant grade inflation, with the median grade being an A-, so that’s good news for your GPA.

Learn more about Harvard and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. Duke University
    Location: Durham, NC

Acceptance rate: 7.8%

U.S. News Ranking: 10

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

Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,682

Duke, while very academically competitive, still boasts a high 85% med school acceptance rate. Students at Duke also have access to a wide variety of resources, from personalized advising to research and internship opportunities provided by Durham and Duke’s prestigious School of Medicine.

Learn more about Duke and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. University of Pennsylvania
    Location: Philadelphia, PA

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 nation, boasting a 76% med school acceptance rate. UPenn’s core pre-med courses and suggested courses both prepare students well for the MCAT by emphasizing all aspects of the test. UPenn is also in an excellent location for pre-med students, with facilities like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia nearby.

Learn more about the University of Pennsylvania and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. Washington University in Saint Louis
    Location: St. Louis, MO

Acceptance rate: 14%

U.S. News Ranking: 19

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

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,751

Pre-med students at WashU not only have access to a four year advising program, but also to MCAT prep classes, mock interviews, writing workshops for med school applications, and two local hospitals. WashU ensures that their pre-med students are on the right path by providing constant hands-on assistance and meaningful research and internships.

Learn more about Washington University in Saint Louis and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. Rice University
    Location: Houston, TX

Acceptance rate: 8.7%

U.S. News Ranking: 17

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

Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,978

The Office of Academic Advising at Rice provides extensive resources to pre-med students, including a database of relevant research and internship opportunities and pre-med advising orientations. Additionally, Rice’s Joint Admission Medical Program helps low-income Texas students afford med school. Houston is also a town with many large hospitals that provide research, shadowing, and volunteering opportunities.

Learn more about Rice University and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. Stanford University
    Location: Stanford, CA

Acceptance rate: 4.4%

U.S. News Ranking: 6

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

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,087

Stanford offers a variety of extracurricular and research options to their undergraduate students. Their Stanford Immersion in Medicine Series (SIMS) Program gives sophomores, juniors, and seniors the opportunity to shadow doctors at Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto VA Hospital, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

Learn more about Stanford University and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. Northwestern University
    Location: Evanston, IL

Acceptance rate: 9.1%

U.S. News Ranking: 9

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

Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,231

Northwestern pre-med students have access to a wealth of resources through the school’s Health Professions Advising. Resources range from MCAT advice/training to GPA calculators to local shadowing opportunities. Northwestern makes sure its pre-med students are well-informed and prepared for med school.

Learn more about Northwestern University and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. Brown University
    Location: Providence, RI

Acceptance rate: 7.1%

U.S. News Ranking: 14

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

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,043

As of 2018, Brown students had an 85% med school acceptance rate. Brown’s Health Careers Advising offers plenty of resources to get experience in the medical field, such as clinical experience and volunteer opportunities. Students at Brown also have the opportunity to get hands-on experience as an EMT working with Brown EMS. Brown is a great option for students wanting to pursue a non-STEM major while completing medical school science course prerequisites—the school has an open curriculum, meaning there are no general education requirements, and students can take whatever courses they want, as long as they complete their major requirements.

Learn more about Brown University and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. Amherst College
    Location: Amherst, MA

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 has an open curriculum as well, so it’s another college especially well-suited for pre-med students wanting to major in a non-STEM subject. Beyond that, Amherst is a strong choice as a liberal arts college. Due to its smaller enrollment and emphasis on undergraduate education, students will be able to get to know their professors, leading to stronger mentorship and standout letters of recommendation. You will also have access to pre-med advisors who are invested in your success. The Pre-Health Professions Committee is also very involved in the medical school admissions process, helping coordinate mock interviews, providing insider information (interview account, data on past applicants, etc.), and advising you throughout the process. The medical school acceptance rate is 75-80%, though this rate increases to over 90% when you include re-applicants.

Learn more about Amherst College and what it takes to get accepted.

  1. Case Western Reserve University
    Location: Cleveland, OH

Acceptance rate: 29%

U.S. News Ranking: 40

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1370-1490 SAT, 30-34 ACT

Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,262

Case Western is a prime example of a college with an excellent location, as it is located right next to the world-famous Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals, such as the University Hospitals and Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Students will have a wide array of research and volunteering opportunities available to them. CWRU students can also gain clinical experience through the campus’ EMS team, or by working in the local nursing homes, hospice care facilities, or patient recovery houses.

Learn more about Case Western Reserve University and what it takes to get accepted.

There are many more schools that are great for pre-med students. See the complete list of best colleges for pre-med.

Do You Have a Balanced College List?

The schools on this list are highly-selective and will be considered “reaches” for most sctudents. It’s important to have a balanced college list to maximize your chances of getting into a good fit school. A student should apply to 8-12 schools, with 25% being safety schools, 40% target schools, and 35% reach schools.

Your chances of acceptance are what make a school a safety, target, or reach. We’ve made it easy to figure out which schools fall into these categories with our free Admissions Chances Calculator. This tool will let you know your odds of acceptance, and give you tips on improving your profile.

You can also search for schools based on preferences like location, major, cost, and more. Give it a try to get a jumpstart on your college strategy.

List of top & best Pre-med schools

Northwestern University, Duke University, John Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, Cornell University, and Rice University are some of the best colleges for pre-med in the USA.

What the best pre-med schools offer

The best pre-med schools generally offer a four-year undergraduate program and prepare you for pursuing medicine. There are no official majors offered by even the best colleges for pre-med. Students have the option of majoring in subjects of their choice at the best pre-med schools.

International students must complete their pre-med in the USA to be eligible to apply to a medical school in the USA.

The study program at the best colleges for pre-med generally comprise:

  • One year of general chemistry with lab
  • One year of organic chemistry with lab
  • One year of biology with lab
  • One year of physics with lab
  • One semester or more of math (calculus and statistics)
  • One year of English
  • Courses necessary for MCAT preparation

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores are mandatory to apply to pre-med schools. Your scores will reflect your aptitude in different subject areas. 

These are just the basic requirements to apply to medical school. To enhance your profile and chances of being accepted at the best medical schools, you must take more classes to meet the requirements of your chosen major. To support your intent and interest in pursuing medicine, you must include classes in genetics, public health, microbiology, human physiology, psychology, sociology, and more.

Best Pre-med Schools

The best pre-med schools are those that offer superlative study programs, are selective with admissions, are financially viable and ensures students have a memorable student life on campus. 

Considering their reputation and the quality education offered at the best colleges for pre-med, the Admission Requirements are:

  • A good GPA of 3.0 or more 
  • Strong competence in science
  • Proof of your desire to become a physician by way of having experience of working with patients by perhaps volunteering at a hospital
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • High School Transcripts
  • Interview
  • Good TOEFL scores

Besides this, each of the best pre-med schools’ admission requirements may negligibly vary.

The best colleges for pre-med are:

1. Northwestern University, Chicago, USA

Northwestern University is a leading private research and teaching universitywith campuses in Qatar, and academic program facilities in Miami, Florida, Washington, D.C., and California. This is a highly regarded pre-med school that provides students with a comprehensive foundation in science. The curriculum and faculty ensure that students are well equipped for medical school. 

The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:

Tuition Fees – $54,120

Fees – $447

On-campus Room/Board $16,626

Total – $71,193

Need-based financial aid is available for international students at this pre-med school. 

2. Duke University, North Carolina, USA

This is a private research university and considered one of the top medical schools in the USA. This pre-med school has a reputation of preparing pre-med students so well that 85% of their students get accepted into medical college. Undergraduate students can participate in research and gain hands-on experience in the science labs at the pre-med school.

The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:

Tuition Fees – $43,518

Application Fee – $500

Technology Fee – $2,908

Books and other expenses – $3,693

Room/Board and Transportation – $22,858

Health Screen – $100

Background Check Fee – $75

First Year Fee (Lab) – $1,522

Student Health Fee – $1,128

Student Medical Insurance – $3,535

Loan Fees – $2,736

Miscellaneous Fees $475

Total – $126,566

Need-based or merit-based financial-aid is available for international students at this pre-med school only if you seek it while applying to the college. International transfer students aren’t eligible for any kind of aid.

3. John Hopkins University, Maryland, USA

Founded in 1876, it is a private research university. Around 80% of pre-med students get accepted to medical college which is a reflection of how well the pre-med school prepares and advises its students. Pre-med students at JHU get a chance to participate in research and work as understudies to doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute ensuring excellent internship and lab experience. 

The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:

Tuition Fees – $53,740

Books and other personal expenses – $3,401

Room/Board $15,836

Books and supplies – $1,240

On-campus expenses – $1,080

Total – $ 75,297

Need-based financial aid is available for international students. About 10% of international freshmen transfer students have received need-based aid. You can expect an average scholarship amount of about $25,000 at this pre-med school. 

4. University of Pennsylvania, USA

This Ivy League private research university is well known for its medical school. It is considered one of the best pre-med schools in the USA. Approximately 76% of their undergraduates get accepted into medical school which is natural considering that it is one of the best colleges for pre-med. UPenn’s pre-med study program prepares students to do well in MCAT besides offering the best support for other pre-requisite courses to be accepted in a medical college.

The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:

Tuition Fees – $59,910

General Fee – $3,320

School Technology Fee – $1,450

Clinical Fee – $608

Education Expenses (Books and Equipment, Health Insurance, and Transportation) – $3,916

Room/Board $22,500

Total – $91,704

Demonstrated need-based financial aid is available at this pre-med school for international students for eight semesters or four years by way of a grant-based package which ensures that you can study without incurring debt. You must, however, apply for financial aid at the time of seeking admission. 

5. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

This private research university is one of the best pre-med schools and is many a time called ‘Southern Ivy’ because of its superlative academic and social status. Located next to Emory Hospital and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers students the opportunity to take on internships there and enhance their chances of being accepted at medical college. Emory’s PreHealth Advising Services offers students advice, mentoring and counseling in preparation for medical school admissions to ensure that up to 93% of their students get accepted.

The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:

Tuition Fees – $55,200

Fees – $798

Books and Supplies – $1,224

Transportation – $1,026

Personal – $1,524

Room/Board $15,542

Direct Loan Fee – $80

Total – $75,424

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