The 10 Best Medical Schools in the World

The best medical schools in the world are, in large part, concentrated in the United States. What distinguishes elite medical schools from other admirable peer institutions? 

Generally, students, faculty, and alumni will contribute a significant amount of impactful research to the medical field as a discipline. 

Additionally, they tend to boast a record of remarkable discoveries and innovations within a domain, like oncology, physical therapy, or even plastic surgery.

Some of the best medical schools in the world share flexibility as a curriculum-defining asset. Students in these programs feel empowered to explore specific areas of interest. 

Many combined degree programs attract legal, policy, and business professionals. 

An exceptional hospital network is a  game-changing aspect that the best medical schools in the world share. In addition to hospitals, such sites include community clinics, pop-up clinics, and school-based clinics. 

We have compiled a list of the ten best medical schools in the world. These schools have been ranked according to each school’s position on the US News Top Medical Schools list. 

Because two schools tie for #10 on the U.S. News list, we are selecting the #10 school as the one with U.S. News’ higher “Global Score.”

Read on to learn more about the 10 best medical schools in the world.

10. Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (New York, NY)

Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Public domain photo by Jim.henderson via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best-value medical school educations, VP&S was the first in the American colonies to award a medical degree

Today, it is the first medical school in the United States to replace loans with scholarships as financial aid awards. Its faculty and alumni are Nobel Prize laureates and well-known medical figures like Benjamin Spock, Charles Drew, and Burrill Crohn. Less than 2% of applicants are accepted to the prestigious school each year.

Columbia University organizes its MD curriculum into three experiences: 18 months of fundamentals, a major clinical year (MCY), and 14 months of differentiation and integration. 

All medical students complete course requirements in these areas, in addition to a scholarly project. 

In the MCY, students may complete a clerkship within the field of psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, or urology, for example.

One of the college’s best assets is the VP&S Club, founded in 1894 by Nobel Peace Prize laureate John R. Mott. 

Various events for medical students are organized through the VP&S Club, including the annual Leonides Winter Semi-Formal, Super Night (the night before Match Day), and other social activities. 

9. Duke University School of Medicine (Durham, NC)

Duke University Medical School
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Duke University School of Medicine offers a world-renowned MD program in addition to the United States’ first physician assistant program, a physical therapy program, and 16 biomedical Ph.D. tracks, among other opportunities. 

This year, 522 students were enrolled in the MD program, and 614 were invested in the Biomedical Ph.D. – the most popular concentrations within the latter option being molecular genetics, microbiology, and neurobiology.

The institution claims two Nobel Prize laureates among its faculty and alumni, among other revolutionizing accomplishments

For example, Dr. Barnes Woodhall became the first physician to use chemotherapy against brain tumors in 1937. 

In 1998, researchers from Duke were the first to use magnetic resonance spectroscopy to track a specific marker for Alzheimer’s disease, proving that it can be identified.

Unsurprisingly Duke’s School of Medicine is ranked #6 for research, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2023. 

Nearly 25,000 patients were enrolled in 2200+ clinical research studies in 2022 alone, and the school received more than $600 million from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research. 

Medical students can even take their research endeavors to the school’s partner medical school in Singapore!

8. Oxford University Medical School (Oxford, UK)

Representing the best medical school outside of the North American continent, Oxford University’s Medical School is highly competitive. 

From 2019-2021, only a quarter of applicants were interviewed, and 9% were enrolled. 

The school’s MD program is divided into the pre-clinical and clinical stages. Students earn their first BM within five terms before pursuing a four-term BA Honours course in medical sciences. 

The infamous Oxford tutorials are very much a staple of the pre-clinical components of the medical degree curriculum. 

Clinicals take place in years 4-6, and program participants may specialize in a range of medical fields.

Oxford is known for its generous financial aid packages for UK students (international applicants should note that they are not eligible for many of these awards). 

While the overseas fee amounts to £52,490 per year, the home fee is only £9,250.

7. University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (Philadelphia, PA)

University of Pennsylvania
Rehua, Hamilton Walk at the Perelman School of Medicine, CC BY-SA 3.0

Did you know that Perelman is the first teaching hospital in the country? 

Founded in 1765, the school enrolls over 750 medical students pursuing specialized degrees in internal medicine, ophthalmology, and dermatology, among other fields. 

The school’s PSOM IMPaCT curriculum structures its course material around the science, technology, and practice of medicine. The curriculum takes a collaborative approach to exploring complex medical issues, and students have one and a half years of freedom to select from nearly 150 electives.

Perelman also offers a dual-degree MSTP (medical scientist training program) designed for learners interested in pathology and biomedical research. 

More than 200 students are enrolled in the program at the University of Pennsylvania, making it one of the most extensive MSTP programs in the nation.

6. University of Washington School of Medicine (Seattle, WA)

Five unique states came together to form the University of Washington School of Medicine: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. 

The institution is the only one of its kind in the WWAMI region, which comprises 27% of the nation’s land mass and less than 4% of its population.

The school’s degree structure is remarkable in its accessibility and value: medical students in the Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho states complete their foundations coursework in their home states before completing regional clerkships in community hospitals, international health clinics, and private practices, among other settings.

The Rural Underserved Opportunities Program (RUOP) is one of many initiatives where students can gain hands-on experience in their first two years of medical school. 

In this initiative, medical students work in community medical settings, while in the TRUST initiative (Targeted Rural Underserved Track Program), medical students have access to conferences, clinical experiences, digital discussion forums, and other experiential opportunities.

5. University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine (Toronto, ON)

You’ll find Canada’s largest MD programs at the University of Toronto. 

Made up of nine research-driven hospitals and countless community clinics, Temerty Faculty of Medicine is the only medical school operating within the greater Toronto area of 6 million+ people.

One unique feature of Toronto’s MD program is its organizational structure. Its four academies are made up of clusters located within the hospitals and clinics. 

Medical school faculty use a problem-based learning approach to challenge students to take an interdisciplinary approach in addressing fundamental issues in natural settings.

The initial two foundation years of the MD take place in labs and community clinics, for the most part. 

In the final two years, medical students embark on clerkships, essentially practicum experiences in 50-week and 25-week blocks. Each clerkship has a designated theme, like geriatric/care of the elderly or medical imaging. 

4. Stanford University School of Medicine (Stanford, CA)

Stanford University School of Medicine
LPS.1, Stanford School of Medicine Li Ka Shing Center, CC0 1.0

Some of the most innovative procedures in the medical realm were first performed or created at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. 

Such milestones include the first adult human heart transplant in 1968, the first use of monoclonal antibodies in 1981, and the first practice of using gene expression to anticipate cancer outcomes in 2002.

Stanford as an entire institution houses 21 living Nobel Prize laureates, including neuroscientist Thomas Südhof, professor of molecular and cellular physiology at the School of Medicine, who helped discover the machinery regulating vesicle traffic. 

Medical students are eligible to apply to the new Berg Scholars Program specializing in laboratory and/or informatics and data science. 

Limited to six scholars annually, this initiative will fund two full years of research and two partial years of research.

3. University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine (San Francisco, CA)

UCSF Medical School
Masur, UCSF-Mission Bay Campus, CC BY-SA 4.0

UC San Francisco’s School of Medicine has acquired quite a trophy case of awards in the last several years. 

They’ve received accolades for being #4 in research and #2 in primary care by the U.S. News & World Report and witnessed two faculty members receive Nobel Prizes. 

In 2009, Elizabeth Blackburn won the prize for discovering the enzyme telomerase; only three years later, Shinya Yamanaka was the first to transform regular adult skin cells into stem cells.

We’re additionally impressed by the institution’s several initiatives, including the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. This program is dedicated to preventing and eradicating homelessness by collaborating with community partners and policymakers.

In addition to UCSF Health, the San Francisco VA, and the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Training Center, medical students participate in clinical experiences at 60+ training sites during their MD. 

The degree is organized into seven core competencies, emphasizing practice-based learning and improvement, systems-based practice, and interpersonal and communication skills.

2. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD)

If you’re looking for one of the best medical schools in the United States, you have to make time for Johns Hopkins. 

The school has pioneered its signature Genes to Society curriculum, a revolutionary way of organizing a medical school experience. 

Get this: the sequence and depth are based on our evolving understanding of the human genome.

At Johns Hopkins, medical students don’t analyze “classic cases”; instead, they pay attention to how minute variations in biological and environmental factors can impact human health. 

Medical students delve into their scholarly concentrations as early as year one; by the end of year two, they will have penned an academic paper on some independent research they conducted. 

Year two clerkships are available in fields like pediatrics, emergency medicine, and women’s health, and they take place in five nine-week blocks.

1. Harvard Medical School (Cambridge, MA)

You’re correct if you’re guessing that admission to Harvard Medical School is competitive. 

Out of 8002 applications, the admissions committee granted 851 interviews and enrolled 164 medical students – an enrollment rate of barely over 2%

Most of the incoming medical students (74%) were science majors, and 72% received an average annual scholarship award of $59,502 – the school’s generous financial aid packages make it possible for more students to attend this world-class medical school. HMS graduates also graduate with less college debt than their peers.

Harvard’s MD program comprises two curricular tracks: pathways and health sciences & technology (HST). 

Students have earlier clinical experiences and complete a scholarly project within the pathways option.

The HST is one of the world’s oldest interdisciplinary educational programs and engages medical students in heavy biomedical research. 

The dean recently applauded the HST’s inclusion of more training in health equity and an increased emphasis on artificial intelligence and clinical informatics.