The Best Medical Schools in New Jersey

Over the past year, we’ve all learned a lot. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve learned the importance of highly qualified and research-based healthcare professionals. Without question, the medical field is challenging and rewarding, but it also must continue learning and innovating to meet the challenges of the future. For many, the year has been inspiring, and people all over the nation are looking for the best schools to study medicine.

While those on the east coast may immediately think that New York is their best choice, nearby New Jersey also has its own impressive collection of medical schools. In New Jersey, you can enjoy nearly everything found in New York, from a major metropolis in Newark to lovely rural areas. Add in the lower cost of living, and New Jersey becomes a very attractive option. 

Of course, one should consider many factors when choosing a medical school. The rankings in U.S. News & World Report are a great place to start, as the outlet is one of the most respected in the country. But it’s not all about basic numbers. There’s more to choosing a college than its ranking. 

This list follows the ranking on U.S. News (in the case of a tie, the editorial team at College Gazette decides on the difference), but it also provides more information. By reading about the benefits of each program, the alumni they’ve graduated, and their unique visions and methodologies, you’ve made the first step toward a career in medicine – a career that’s important to everyone! 


5. Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine (Nutley, NJ)

Although Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine has its roots as a partnership with Seton Hall University, the school has been independent since 2018. In that time, HMSOM has established itself as a respected medical school, thanks primarily to its partnership with the Hackensack Meridian Health System. The sixteen hospitals in the system give students plenty of opportunities to perform their rotations in diverse situations. 

HMSOM features two essential research facilities. The Hackensack Meridian Hospital Center for Discovery and Innovation allows students to work with established doctors in crucial projects such as studying breakthrough cases in the pandemic and the connection between tuberculosis and recent diseases. In The Institute for Multiple Myeloma and Lymphoma, students participate in global partnerships to find new drugs and treatments for acute illnesses. 

These research institutions support HMSOM’s mission to provide the highest levels of healthcare to all New Jersey citizens. They do this by removing the distinction between scientific theory and clinical practice, integrating both to create well-rounded doctors. This clinical emphasis supports what HMSOM calls the “Human Dimension.” The Human Dimension teaches practitioners to “understand the role of community and context in health and wellbeing, as well as the role of the physician in all elements that contribute to promoting health and preventing disease.”

As demonstrated by centering the Human Dimension, HMSOM understands that a good doctor cares for more than just a patient’s body. They must care for the whole person, using their technical knowledge and resources to help the patient have a happier, healthier life. 


4. Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (Stratford, NJ)

One of two medical schools at Rowan University, the School of Osteopathic Medicine began as the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1976. The centerpiece of the RowanSOM program is its simulation center, featuring eighteen exam rooms and a large procedural skills lab. Within the center, students can train on six human patient simulators, which represent multiple ages and genders. Additionally, students use top-of-the-line equipment to practice both common and complex scenarios. 

When the time comes for students to work with actual patients in their residencies, RowanSOM partners with Jefferson Health New Jersey and Virtua Lourdes Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. The former features 13 hospitals and over 50 outpatient and urgent care facilities, giving future doctors ample opportunities to experience a wide range of patients and cases. Virtua Lourdes features two general acute care hospitals and several ambulatory care facilities, as well as the nationally recognized Virtua Lourdes Cardiovascular Institute. 

As one might accept from a program with such excellent resources, RowanSOM continues pushing forward with innovative research. In the school’s Cell and Gene Therapy Center, RowanSOM doctors find new approaches to treating Canavan disease. The school also received a $1 million grant to provide prevention services to minority populations at the highest risk of AIDS. 

These research centers work in tandem with the excellent training RowanSOM gives its students. As a result, not only do they gain the experience and skills needed to become great doctors, but students also gain a research-first perspective. This perspective pushes them to constantly learn new ways of treating patients, always looking for the best method to treat the whole person. 


3. Rowan University Cooper Medical School (Camden, NJ)

According to its mission statement, Rowan University’s second medical school is committed to providing “humanistic education in the art and science of medicine within a scientific and scholarly community in which excellence in patient care, inclusivity, innovative teaching, scholarly activity, and service to our community are valued.”

Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, abbreviated as CMRSU, enacts this philosophy through engagement with the larger community. By integrating itself into the city of Camden, CMRSU opens doors of opportunity to underprivileged populations. Their work has earned them recognition from the American Association of Medical Colleges, who gave CMRSU the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Engagement for its service-learning program and its pipeline program called Pre-Medical Urban Leaders Summer Enrichment Program (PULSE).

With its $3.97 million research endowment, CMRSU works to find new ways of improving the community. These goals include the school’s upcoming Center for Humanism, which serves to ensure that medical graduates care for the whole patient. To offset the increasing technological aspects of medicine, the Center for Humanism will explore bioethics & law, research, humanism & professionalism, wellness & burnout prevention, communication and compassion, and the hidden curriculum. 

The Center for Humanism will be just the latest resource available to CMRSU students. The school already features a fully appointed simulation center, allowing students to practice various medical scenarios in a safe and observed environment, and a large multi-purpose lab for collaborative learning. 

With these resources at their disposal, future doctors at CMRSU have everything they need to meet the medical needs of future generations. Not only do they gain hands-on skills and theoretical knowledge, but CMRSU students have a love for learning that will allow them to keep searching for new and more humane treatments. 


2. Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (New Brunswick, NJ)

Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
photo via Wikimedia Commons

As this list has shown, most medical schools in New Jersey work to increase diversity in the field. But the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University leads them all in this regard. In 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked RWJMS #26 in the nation for its diversity, tied with Stanford University, Emory University, and others. 

RWJMS didn’t earn these accolades on accident. Rather, they are the direct result of the school’s Core Values. In all of its branches, RWJMS endeavors to foster respect, dignity, and humanism for the diverse population they serve, fostering wellness and resilience and putting patients first with safe, compassionate, high-quality care. 

These values inform every aspect of the comprehensive and inter-professional curriculum RWJMS applies to each of its education tracks. The programs bring together diverse learners, clinicians, scientists, and patients, working to train culturally competent caregivers. To that end, the school employs 2,435 faculty and staff members to work with students over 21 science and clinical departments. For over a decade, RWJMS has met or surpassed the national residency match rate. 

To help students along the way, RWJMS has instituted the Institute for Excellence in Education. The Institute not only trains students in the cutting-edge medical equipment and prepares them for complex scenarios they’ll encounter in their career, but it also sets forth best practices for educators in medical schools across the country. 

As these aspects demonstrate, RWJMS takes seriously its role as a nationally recognized medical school. Both students and faculty lead the way in innovating new techniques and improving in holistic, compassionate care. 


1. Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (Newark, NJ)

Established in 1954, the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School is the state’s premier medical school. With excellent patient care, exciting research support, and dedicated teaching, NJMS consistently trains some of the best doctors in the country. 

To advance its educational goals, NJMS provides a multi-faceted curriculum that employs various modalities, including lectures, small group activities, and team-based learning. During their first two years, students gain an understanding of clinical medicine and theoretical concepts, as well as skills such as medical interviewing, physical examination, and communication skills. 

But NJMS doesn’t satisfy itself with simply teaching standard best practices. Thanks to increased funding over the past twenty-five years, building a $103.9 million endowment, NJMS has renewed its commitment to research. Thanks to its first-class cadre of researchers, the school has spearheaded breakthroughs in the fields of brain injury and strokes, cancer oncology, cardiovascular biology, immunology, and infectious diseases, neurosciences, and stem cells and regeneration. 

At NJMS Faculty Practice, the school not only provides first-class care for its patients but also gives students the opportunity to work with treatment tools and innovative tools while working with mentors. While at the practice, students gain experience working with specialty areas of medicine, including infectious diseases, cardiovascular science, neurological and visual sciences, cancer, and trauma. But the most critical work done by NJMS is their community outreach programs. These include health fairs to increase awareness among children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations. In addition, diversity programs work to provide education and assistance to future doctors from underprivileged areas, thus increasing the quality of care worldwide.

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