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Liberal Arts Colleges Medical School Acceptance Rates

Last Updated on September 9, 2022 by

Colleges today boast hundreds of majors, from astrobiology to comic art to theme park engineering, and everything in between. With so much to choose from, some students with their sights set on becoming doctors may wonder if they have to miss out on the veritable fairgrounds of undergraduate studies. Want more information regarding med school acceptance rates by undergraduate school, is a liberal arts college good for pre med, medical school acceptance rates by college & medical school acceptance rates by race.

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Liberal Arts Colleges Medical School Acceptance Rates

Colleges today boast hundreds of majors, from astrobiology to comic art to theme park engineering, and everything in between. With so much to choose from, some students with their sights set on becoming doctors may wonder if they have to miss out on the veritable fairgrounds of undergraduate studies.

The good news is: according to the AAMC, only 58 percent of entering medical students in 2021 held degrees in biological sciences. What did the other half major in? Some opted for the humanities, while many others went the route of physical and social sciences—all of which fall under the umbrella of a liberal arts education. 

Acceptance Rates (%) to U.S. Medical Schools by Primary Undergraduate Major, Class of 2025
MajorTotal ApplicantsTotal MatriculantsAcceptance Rate (%)
Biological Sciences36,52013,15836%
Math and Statistics39916140%
Physical Sciences5,2012,20848%
Social Sciences5,6521,97435%
Specialized Health Sciences2,67494235%
All Majors62,43222,66536%

In fact, when taken as a whole, students whose majors were outside of the biological sciences matriculated into medical school at a rate equal to students with biological science majors. So, rest assured that if your premed child wants to study something along the lines of English, art history, psychology, or sociology, you need not worry.

You may have imagined premed students crammed together in huge lectures on anatomy and physiology, and while those lectures are part of a premedical education, it’s equally legitimate for your child to choose a smaller campus where they can take seminars on non-medical or non-biological subjects.

They might even pursue a biological science major at a liberal arts college, supplementing it with humanities and social science courses in a way that may not be as possible if they were to attend a large research institution.

Medical School Acceptance Rates by Major

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.

When parents hear the term “liberal arts college,” they often furrow their brows and wonder what sort of education these institutions provide. Liberal arts colleges emphasize undergraduate study in a variety of subjects including the arts, sciences, and humanities. Although this traditional definition does not differentiate it significantly from a university, there are some notable differences between the two.

Not all liberal arts style educations are equal. Deciding which liberal arts college to attend can radically influence how medical schools interpret your major.

When considering where to pursue a liberal arts education, both Ivy League schools and so-called “Public Ivies” offer phenomenal, rigorous programs that admissions teams will look favourably upon. They wed the benefits of a large research institution to the philosophy of a liberal arts education—or the idea that studying widely, and without a specific pre-professional aim in mind is universally beneficial.

Public Ivies, such as the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Virginia, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Texas-Austin, and more, also offer top liberal arts as well as science degrees, ensuring that both the major you pursue and your additional science coursework will prepare you adequately to do well on the MCAT and get you one of those coveted acceptances.

The UC system in particular is chock full of Public Ivies that offer students both liberal arts curricula and a wealth of research opportunities.

Liberal arts colleges vs. universities

Deciding where to pursue your undergraduate degree depends on your intended major, your preferred teaching style, and how you want to spend four years as an undergrad.

Small liberal arts colleges like Swarthmore and Williams have total undergraduate enrollments of about 2,000 students or less, whereas mid-size private schools like Johns Hopkins and Washington University of Saint Louis boast 15,000-20,000 total undergraduate enrollment. 

This means that the class sizes you encounter in the liberal arts college will be significantly smaller, especially when it comes to premed basic science requirements. Does a big lecture hall of several dozen students suit you, or do you prefer smaller groups with more individualized attention?

One benefit of smaller schools is that you can form relationships with professors both in and out of the sciences, and network with mentors more easily. This is crucial for getting top-notch letters of recommendation for medical school. We’ve seen tons of premed applicants come in from large universities with a lot of research experience, but lacking personal relationships because their premed science courses were simply overrun and office hours were too crowded.

It’s also important to note that most schools require a letter of recommendation from a non-science faculty member. This requirement emphasizes that the work students do outside the science realm is important. Medicine is becoming more and more interdisciplinary, with emphasis on ethics, informatics, communication, and team collaboration. A liberal arts school might offer your child a chance to get a fantastic non-science letter—one that sets them apart from every applicant at a large research university who asked their biology lecture professor.

In addition, faculty at smaller schools are sometimes under less pressure to ‘publish or perish’ and may have chosen to work at these colleges because they have a greater commitment to teaching over earning grant money or becoming public figures in their field. This might mean your child simply gets a better education in those tough courses like organic chemistry.

One flip side is that faculty at larger universities tend to be leading scholars in their area of expertise.  And attending larger schools may provide students with more exposure and opportunities for research. Within many universities, research fairs and clubs help students get involved with scientific investigation. There is significantly less emphasis on research within a liberal arts college.

Do I need to attend a prestigious undergraduate school?

While institutional selectivity does play a role in the medical school admission process, more important will be your grades and standardized test scores. Therefore, choose an undergraduate school that is sufficiently selective and one that enables you to achieve a high GPA during your undergraduate career as well as successfully prepare for the MCAT. The average MCAT score for admitted applicants at Johns Hopkins was in the 99th percentile. Some of those individuals attended Ivy League colleges while others graduated from less selective institutions. The highly-respected Albert Einstein College of Medicine, for example, accepted students from schools such as Pace University, Canisius College, and the College of New Jersey into their Class of 2023.

In certain cases, such as at Duke University, the affiliated medical school does give preference to their own undergrads, in part because they have an intimate familiarity with the rigour of the program. Selecting a school with ample research opportunities for undergraduates can also be advantageous. Be forewarned, however, that schools with the most state-of-the-art and expensive laboratories are not necessarily the places that let undergrads get hands-on with the equipment. Many leading research universities reserve those opportunities only for graduate students while smaller liberal arts institutions actually let students get their hands dirty in a laboratory.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Medical School

We’ve listed the top ten liberal arts colleges as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and visited each school’s website to provide you with their most recent medical school acceptance rate. It’s worth noting that every school on this list has a medical school acceptance rate that far exceeds the national average. 

Williams College

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (Liberal Arts Colleges): 1
  • Location: Williamstown, MA
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 15%
  • According to the website, “Each year, about 50 Williams undergraduate students and alumni apply to medical schools. The three-year acceptance rate averages from 85-90%.”

Amherst College

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (Liberal Arts Colleges): 2
  • Location: Amherst, MA
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 13%
  • According to the website, “We probably average in any given year a roughly 75 to 80 percent acceptance rate.

Swarthmore College

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (Liberal Arts Colleges): 3 (tie)
  • Location: Swarthmore, PA
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 11%
  • According to the website, “In 2017, Swarthmore’s acceptance rate for the 3 graduating seniors was 67% and the 26 alumni/ae applicants was 85% for an overall acceptance rate of 83%.”
Best Pre-Med Schools for Future Doctors


  • News & World Report Rank (Liberal Arts Colleges): 3 (tie)
  • Location: Wellesley, MA
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 22%
  • According to the Wellesley News, “From 2008-2018, Wellesley had a mean medical school acceptance rate of 72 percent.”

Bowdoin College

  • News & World Report Rank (Liberal Arts Colleges): 5 (tie)
  • Location: Brunswick, ME
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 14%
  • 91% of students who applied through Bowdoin to enter medical school were accepted in 2015.

Carleton College

  • News & World Report Rank (Liberal Arts Colleges): 5 (tie)
  • Location: Northfield, MN
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 21%
  • According to their Pre-Health website, “Carleton supports all of the students and alumni who decide to apply, regardless of GPA and MCAT score, and our acceptance rate for the past 5 year period is 82%. Approximately 77% of the accepted students/alumni are accepted on the first try. For those applicants who earned a GPA of 3.5 or better and an MCAT score at or above the 79th percentile (a 30 on the old MCAT or a 508 on the new MCAT), the acceptance rate for the same time period is 90%.”(Suggested reading: Old MCAT to New MCAT: Score Conversion and MCAT Percentiles)

Middlebury College

  • News & World Report Rank (Liberal Arts Colleges): 5 (tie)
  • Location: Middlebury, VT
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 17%
  • According to the website, “For Middlebury College grads starting med school in 2018, the admit rate more than doubled recent national averages: a whopping 89 percent.”

Pomona College

  • News & World Report Rank (Liberal Arts Colleges): 5 (tie)
  • Location: Pomona, CA
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 8%
  • According to their website, “in 2018, the average acceptance rate of Pomona alumni to medical schools was 85%.”

best pre med schools

SchoolStudents ApplyingStudents AcceptedAcceptance RateEnrollmentAvg ACT ScoreAvg SAT ScoreApplication DeadlineAcceptance Rate for Undergraduates/Alumni Applying to Medical School
Boston College28,9569,01731%2,359321355Jan 1st64%
Boston University57,44116,90729%3,552301316Jan. 280% with a Human Physiology Major
California Institute of Technology6,8555538%235351555Jan 3rdFor the matriculating year of 2011, medical school applicants from Rice had an 89% acceptance rate, with an 88.3% acceptance rate averaged over the past ten years
Carnegie Mellon21,2894,60122%1,552321448Jan 1stNot published
Case Western23,1158,19235%1,264321386Jan. 15Not published
Duke University31,6713,43011%1,723331475Jan 3rd85%
Emory19,9245,03925%1,358311390Jan. 1Not published
George Washington University25,48810,24940%2,525301300Jan. 1Not published
Georgetown University19,9973,36917%1,574321406Jan 10thNot published
Johns Hopkins University27,0943,23412%1,311331475Jan 1st70%
New York University60,72419,35132%6,139311351Jan 1stNot published
Northwestern University35,1003,74211%1,985331461Jan 1stNot published
Rice18,2362,78515%981341490Jan 1stNot published
Stanford University43,9972,1185%1,739331455Jan 3rdNot published
Tufts University20,2232,88914%1,336321448Jan 1st75-90%
UNC Chapel Hill34,8899,40027%4,228291288Jan. 15Not published
University of California – Berkeley82,58113,50716%6,253331449Nov 30thNot published
University of Chicago31,4842,4998%1,591341525Jan 1st79-88%
University of Michigan55,50415,87129%6,689311393Feb 1st54%
University of Notre Dame19,5053,65419%2,046341445Jan. 1While Notre Dame students have a much higher acceptance rate than the national average, the rate itself is not an informative number
University of Southern California54,2809,02217%3,068311371Jan 15th55% (from the ExploreUSC session stated on CollegeConfidential)
University of Washington43,51719,73345%6,415281241Nov. 15Not published
Vanderbilt University32,4223,48711%1,601341505Jan 1st70%
Wake Forest14,0064,24930%1,306301340Jan 1stNot published
Washington University in St Louis20,1974,82717%1,776331453Jan 2ndNot published

Acceptance rates to US MD schools for 2015-2017.