Although medical schools are often indifferent to an applicant's major, they usually look for prerequisite coursework in general and organic chemistry, biology, English, and physics. A strong undergraduate grade point average and competitive Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores can also help students gain entry to a good medical or dental school. Some of the best universities for pre-med students include Harvard University, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and the University of Pennsylvania, all of which are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
Harvard University in Cambridge, MA
Harvard University was ranked as the best medical research school for 2015 by U.S. News World Report. It is an Ivy League institution and has over a dozen groups for pre-med students, such as the Harvard Premedical Society, Harvard Hippocratic Society, and Latinos in Health Careers. The Office of Career Services provides pre-med planning for undergraduate students who want to apply to medical school upon graduation. Harvard also assists students in planning for careers in dental medicine, public health and advanced nursing.
University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
As designated by U.S News & World Report in 2015, the University of North Carolina's medical program ranked second in primary care. Pre-med students get assistance from the Health Professions Advising Office in choosing programs and classes, applying to medical schools, and preparing for the MCAT. UNC also offers the Medical Education Development program (MED), a rigorous 9-week summer program for select students that mirrors a first-year medical school curriculum. Of the MED students who apply to medical school, 90% are accepted.
The University of North Carolina has an active chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-professional health honor society.
University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
In 2015, US News & World Report ranked the University of Pennsylvania eighth among national universities and fifth for medical research. A member of the Ivy League, this university offers advising and planning for undergraduate students preparing to attend allopathic or osteopathic medical schools. It also offers guidance for students interested in dental school. Through the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, Penn also provides a post-baccalaureate, pre-health program for students who have earned an undergraduate degree in a non-science major or who want to be better prepared for advanced medical study.
The University is home to several medical research institutes studying Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and AIDS, as well as cardiovascular health, developmental biology, and head injuries.
Top Schools for Pre-Med Students
Let's take a look at some of the other top schools for pre-med students.
- Columbia University in New York, NY provides a comprehensive pre-medical handbook for students planning a pre-med curriculum.
- Cornell University in Ithaca, NY was named 11th best university in the world by the Center for World University Rankings.
- Johns Hopkins University encourages students to take a year off between undergraduate and medical school to gain additional experiences or conduct research. The school is located in Baltimore, MD.
- Northwestern University, located in Evanston, IL, has an undergraduate research grants program that provides pre-med students with funding to conduct independent research.
- The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in Minneapolis, MN offers an online interactive workshop for students called Planning for Medical School.
- The University of Washington in Seattle, WA has an online guide to help students prepare for medical school admissions.
- The University of Wisconsin - Madison advises students wishing to pursue studies in physical or occupational therapy, pharmacology, physician assistance, and nursing in addition to medicine and dentistry.
The best university for pre-med studies really depends on what you want from a school, because each of the top-ranked schools has unique aspects that help to make it one of the best.