Here Are the 10 Best Medical Schools in California

California is home to some of the best schools in the U.S., especially for healthcare.

If you’re an aspiring doctor or medical researcher, these are some of the best graduate programs out there. The following ranking is based on each school’s order of appearance in the 2021 US News National Medical Schools List – Research.

To help narrow down your options, we’ll discuss the unique opportunities and strengths of each school. For example, many make it their mission to treat underserved communities, while others focus on conducting breakthrough research.

Each school offers degrees in either allopathic (MD) or osteopathic (DO) medicine. The former is the traditional approach — diagnosing and treating diseases — whereas the latter focuses on treating patients holistically. Over the years, however, the two have grown increasingly similar in terms of rigor and curriculum, so the choice is yours on whether to pursue an MD or DO.

Here are the Golden State’s 10 best medical schools for your consideration.

10. Western University of Health Sciences (Pomona, CA)

Western University of Health Sciences
Ryan Hoff, Campus of Western University of Health Sciences, CC BY-SA 4.0

Primarily offering DO degrees, Western University of Health Sciences operates medical schools both in Pomona, California and Lebanon, Oregon.

WesternU also offers comprehensive healthcare programs in dentistry, optometry, nursing, physician assistantship, physical therapy, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine.

The school runs a variety of patient care facilities — medical, dental, eye care, pharmacy, travel health, and pet health centers — giving students abundant access to healthcare professionals at work.

Notable alumni include Lee Burnett — U.S. Army colonel and founder of the Student Doctor Network — and Lawrence B. Harkless, “the father of diabetic foot care.”


9. Touro University of California (Vallejo, CA)

Touro University of California
Bridget Canfield, Touro University California, CC BY 3.0

Touro University of California in Vallejo is part of the worldwide Touro College and University System. At Touro, students can learn osteopathic medicine (DO), pharmacy (PharmD), or combine either with a master’s in public health (DO/MPH or PharmD/MPH).

Touro is dedicated to taking care of underserved communities. Students often volunteer at the Touro Student-Run Free Clinic and The Suitcase Clinic in nearby Berkeley. Furthermore, students, faculty, and staff formed the Touro University Rainbow Health Coalition to promote health equity among LGBTQI people.

Faculty specialize in fields such as cognitive aging, immunology, infectious diseases, neuroscience, and nutrition. Alumni are no less impressive — Courtenay Stewart swam in the 2004 Olympics before earning her DO from Touro.


8. UC Riverside School of Medicine (Riverside, CA)

UC Riverside
Amerique, UCR University Ave entrance, CC BY-SA 3.0

Begun in 2013, UCR’s med program is the UC system’s newest, for a total of six.

UCR School of Medicine awards MDs, and the most popular specialties include dermatology, internal medicine, psychiatry, and pediatrics.

The university offers a variety of scholarships that cover up to full tuition. The prestigious IEHP Dean’s Mission Award grants a full ride to those who specialize in general pediatrics, emergency medicine, family medicine, general internal medicine, general OB/GYN, general surgery, or general psychiatry.

Notable faculty include David Lo, an expert in mucosal immunology, and Devin Binder, professor and leader of UCR’s Translational Neuroscience Lab.


7. UC Irvine School of Medicine (Irvine, CA)

UC Irvine School of Medicine
Coolcaesar, Ucirvinemedicalcenter, CC BY-SA 3.0

UCI is on the cutting edge of research, education, and patient care, thanks to close ties between the School of Medicine and UCI Health, its main hospital.

In addition to an MD degree, UCI offers a number of dual degree programs, such as the MD/MPH.

U.S. News has consistently ranked the med school among the best in the nation. UCI Health doctors and researchers particularly excel in the fields of gynecology and urology.

Specialized health centers include the UCI Skin Biology Resource Center and the new Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

UCI med school professor Irwin Rose won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation.

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