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Schools for Aspiring Plastic Surgery Professionals

Aspiring physicians specializing in plastic surgery learn how to perform reconstructive or cosmetic surgery. An individual must obtain a bachelor's degree and a medical degree, in addition to completing a plastic surgery residency program. Many surgeons further specialize their education through a fellowship.

Many aspiring med students choose an undergraduate program in pre-medicine or a similar field, such as biology, chemistry or biochemistry. Students must then complete medical school, after which aspiring plastic surgeons must complete a plastic surgery residency.

Top 10 Medical Schools

Based on 2016 rankings from U.S. News & World Report, these are the top ten medical research schools in the country. At these ten medical schools, students can earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree that prepares them for a residency in plastic surgery.

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (2015-2016)*
Harvard University Boston, MA 4-year, Private $55,850
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private $52,491
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private $48,750
University of California - San Francisco San Francisco, CA 4-year, Public $32,751 in-state, $44,996 out-of-state
University of Pennsylvania (Perelman) Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private $52,210
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 4-year, Private $58,460
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private $55,418
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private $53,575
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, Public $33,519 in-state, $63,954 out-of-state
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private $55,680

Source: *U.S. News & World Report

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in attending school to become plastic surgeons may find the following considerations helpful:

  • Find out about the reputation of the institution that you are considering, since it could affect your likelihood of being accepted to school at the next level of education. For instance, graduates of top undergraduate institutions are more likely get into medical school, and those who earn an M.D. at a highly ranked medical school have better chances of residency placement.
  • Make sure that you enroll in an accredited program that allows you to proceed to the next level of education or earn licensure in the future.
  • Get information about the location of the school, such as hospitals or plastic surgery practices in the area.
  • Think about the amount of time that each program takes in order to ensure that you are prepared to dedicate the necessary number of years to this extensive educational track.

Pre-Med Bachelor's Degree Program

Pre-medicine bachelor's degree programs and undergraduate concentrations in pre-medicine provide students with a strong background in the natural and social sciences, humanities and a foreign language.

Doctor of Medicine Programs

These 4-year degree programs provide students with in-depth instruction on practicing medicine. Typically, the first two years of these programs are dedicated to classroom study. Third-year students are introduced to the practices of gynecology, family medicine and surgery. Throughout the fourth year, students work under supervision to treat patients. Graduates obtain a Doctor of Medicine but cannot practice medicine until they complete a residency.

Plastic Surgery Residency Program

Prior to working as a plastic surgeon, an individual must complete a residency program. On average, programs admit only two students per year to these programs. Graduates may be eligible to sit for the American Board of Physician Specialties exam and be certified as a plastic surgeon.

Plastic Surgery Fellowship Program

Fellowship programs are designed to provide graduates of residency programs with an opportunity to refine their skills in one particular area of plastic surgery. A fellow can choose his or her focus and decide whether he or she will become a specialist through practice or research.

Becoming a plastic surgeon takes years of study, but by selecting a highly ranked institution that provides the relevant educational background, individuals can eventually launch a career in this field.


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