The Best Medical Schools in Wisconsin

It is hard to imagine a future in which physicians are no longer in demand. In fact, it seems that the opposite is true: physicians are in greater demand than ever. Sources predict that the U.S. alone will experience a severe shortage of physicians in the near future. The shortage will be especially hard on rural areas and impoverished urban areas, which already face impediments to affordable, high-quality care. The demand for physicians is and will remain high for some time, and a career in medicine can be extremely rewarding, financially and socially.

The overall job outlook for physicians looks promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs is predicted to grow at a rate of 4% over the next ten years. Did we mention that being a physician can be quite lucrative? The median pay for physicians is around $200k a year.

The schools on this list were chosen based on their rankings in the perennially reliable US News & World Report, the rigor of their curricula, research programs, clinical rotations, and post-graduate outcomes. This is a lot of factors to take into account. But, as with choosing a medical school to attend, we cannot do justice to these schools without them.

Find out if these medical schools in Wisconsin are a good fit for you!


2. Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI)

The Medical College of Wisconsin is a private medical school with the main campus located just outside Milwaukee. The Milwaukee campus offers a wide variety of educational options, including several dual degree programs. It boasts a stellar research profile, making an impact around the region and the country.

MCW is Wisconsin’s largest research institution and the 3rd largest private medical school in the US. The school is not simply remarkable in terms of its research output; MCW conducts millions of patient visits and over 900 residents and fellows are trained each year. 

Graduates account for more than 67% of Southeast Wisconsin doctors featured in “Best Doctors in America.” It is no wonder that the school has been ranked by the US News & World Report as one of the top schools regarding the number of graduates practicing in the primary care fields.

MCW has a renowned and dynamic curriculum that incorporates classroom experiences facilitated by world-class faculty, clinical experiences, peer-based learning groups, and unique career opportunities. Through the Discovery Curriculum, students are introduced to clinical experiences early on while mastering foundational knowledge in the basic sciences. The third and final years are centered on clinical clerkships and professional development. Interprofessional education is also integrated into the curriculum, allowing students to work on interdisciplinary teams with students from other schools.

At MCW, students are offered a plethora of opportunities to deepen their knowledge and hone their clinical settings skills. Students who have completed basic residency can choose clinical fellowships in major specialty areas such as anesthesiology, family and community medicine, and pediatrics. Students also have a variety of residency programs from which to choose.

MCW is extremely difficult to get into. Only 7% of applicants were admitted as part of the entering class in 2020.


1. University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (Madison, WI)

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
photo via Wikimedia Commons

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is a premier school across multiple categories. On the latest US News & World Report, UWSMPH ties with Boston University for the #33 spot on the list of “Best Medical Schools: Research” and tied with UCLA (Geffen) for the 12th best medical school for primary care. Last but not least, it is a top school for family medicine.

For decades, UWSMPH has been a research powerhouse and a font of innovation. Its researchers have made several breakthroughs in the sphere of human health. 

In 1951, Van Potter became a pioneer in bioethics when he demonstrated the effectiveness of combining certain drugs to treat cancer. 

Howard Temin was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in medicine for his groundbreaking cancer and AIDS research. More recently, speech-language pathologist Nathan Welham successfully grew vocal cord tissue in his laboratory. 

While a roster of highly accomplished faculty and researchers will undoubtedly draw the best and most motivated applicants, the M.D. curriculum at UWSMPH is worth a few sentences here. The school has ditched a traditional curriculum in favor of the ForWard curriculum, consisting of a “three-phase model.” 

The first phase spans three semesters of basic and clinical science and early clinical experiences. In the second and third phases, students are assigned to clinical rotations that incorporate what they have learned from the first phase and eventually move on to career exploration, consisting of internships, electives, and other unique opportunities.

UWSMPH’s commitment to community service and public well-being should not be overlooked. The university hospital’s patient and family services are unparalleled, serving over 600,000 patients every year and operating 80 outpatient sites. The school utilizes its resources and programs to provide care to underserved populations in rural and urban areas. Statewide campus locations allow students and community faculty to work together to tackle the issue of unequal access to high-quality healthcare.

According to The Princeton Review, UWSMPH is a very competitive school, with an acceptance rate hovering 5% every year.


How to Get Into Medical Schools in Wisconsin

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first. Getting into medical school is not easy and will not likely get any easier; the number of applicants grows every year.

What does it take to get into MCW or UWSMPH? Both are excellent choices for aspiring doctors, and both have very low acceptance rates. Prospective students should aim for an undergraduate GPA of around 3.7 and MCAT scores of 513. 

It is hard to imagine that a renowned medical school would admit a student who earned below-average grades in their science and math coursework, which are prerequisites.

An excellent academic record does not guarantee a spot; admissions committees at MCW or UWSMPH are looking for certain qualities in prospective students. They are looking for students who can handle the rigors of a medical school curriculum, contribute to their missions of service and compassionate care.

These schools receive hundreds of applications each year, and applicants need to stand out from the pack. Most of the admitted applicants came in with high undergraduate GPAs and high MCAT scores. UWSMPH alone received over 6,000 applications in Fall 2020. One applicant with a 3.8 GPA needs to differentiate themselves from all of the other applicants with a 3.8 GPAs. This is where the other components of your application come in.

In addition to academic records, applicants are required to submit recommendation letters, results of their Casper test (for MCW), and, if invited, a secondary application. These areas are your chance to stand out as a unique, starry-eyed future doctor who will thrive as a med student in Wisconsin and in a medical career down the line. Both of these Wisconsin schools want academically strong candidates who have also developed interests and contributed their time and talents outside of the classroom.

When looking at schools, it is important to consider whether or not you would be a good fit. A variety of factors may come into play here, such as a school’s general culture and location. You are bound to get excellent education and training at MCW and UWSMPH, but do you see yourself in the Midwest for at least four years?  If you believe that you are a good fit, your enthusiasm will reverberate through your application.

We would like to note that because of the schools’ overarching commitment to serving communities in Wisconsin, there is a stronger preference for in-state applicants.


PreMed Experience in Wisconsin

As an applicant, you should aim to convey your unique and outstanding characteristics. A substantive application will improve your chances of getting an acceptance offer. One thing that will go a long way in helping you develop an outstanding application is by taking advantage of internships, work, shadowing, or volunteer experiences.

MCW and UWSMPH have a keen eye on prospective students who can help them realize their mission to serve underprivileged and underserved populations. You can narrow your search for internship and volunteer opportunities to organizations or companies with a social justice mission. 

If you need a push in the right direction, visiting your career services center or advising office is a great place to start. Another great source is The Voice of Health Professions Advising, which annually publishes a list of internship and volunteer opportunities for pre-med and pre-health students.Go a step further and consider looking at summer internships and programs in the state of Wisconsin. There are several Wisconsin-based internships available.

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