Here Are the 10 Best Medical Schools in California

3. UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine (Los Angeles, CA)

UCLA Medical Center
Biochemistry2016, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, CC BY-SA 4.0

The first medical school in Southern California was the UCLA School of Medicine, later renamed after DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen donated $200 million to the institution in 2002.

With six affiliated hospitals and a roster of accomplished faculty, DGSOM offers MD, MD/PhD, MD/MBA, and MD/MPH programs. The estimated acceptance rate of 4% ensures that the best and brightest future physicians are educated here.

UCLA’s broad range of research centers have something for all interests. For example, the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging gathers scholars from other STEM backgrounds — physics, math, engineering, and chemistry — to improve understanding of biology and medicine.

Prominent DGSOM alumni include plastic surgeon and TV personality Terry Dubrow, National Institutes of Health physician Leighton Chan, and leading breast cancer oncologist Eun-Sil Shelley Hwang.


2. UCSF School of Medicine (San Francisco, CA)

UCSF is home to the state’s second med school, founded in 1864. Since then, it has trained some of the country’s best physicians and attracted top talent to its faculty. MD graduates go on to become leaders in medicine, and five faculty members have won the Nobel Prize.

Shinya Yamanaka’s discovery of how to transform ordinary adult skin cells into stem cells won him the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2012.

Elizabeth Blackburn won the same prize in 2009 for her discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that is crucial to normal cell function, cell aging, and many cancers.

UCSF is also ranked #1 by U.S. News in obstetrics and gynecology. It’s the #2 med school focused on primary care.


1. Stanford University School of Medicine (Palo Alto, CA)

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

Formerly known as University of the Pacific’s Cooper Medical College, Stanford’s School of Medicine was the first med school in the state, founded in 1858.

As a U.S. News top 5 research med school, Stanford’s MD and physician assistantship (PA) degree programs are highly competitive. The School of Medicine also runs the #1 biosciences graduate program in the U.S., ranking first in cell biology; genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics; and neuroscience and neurobiology departments.

Stanford med school faculty are world-class, eight of them having won the Nobel Prize. This includes Roger Kornberg, who worked to further our understanding of transcription, the process by which DNA is converted into RNA.

Notable alumni include Lori Alvord, the nation’s first female Navajo surgeon, and Mary Halton, suffragist leader and early proponent of legalizing birth control. Scott Edward Parazynski was a NASA astronaut and became the first person to both go to space and summit Mount Everest.

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