The Top Ivy League Medical Schools

In the popular consciousness, the Ivy League schools are the best of the best. Among the many different types of graduate schools, most people consider medical school to be the hardest and most impressive. So, when we’re looking at the top Ivy League Medical Schools, we’re talking about the best possible learning communities in the nation. 

Before we move onto those schools, it’s essential to define our terms. Technically, the Ivy League is an athletic conference, not an academic distinction. However, the eight schools included in the Ivy League are among the oldest and most respected in the nation. Each of these institutions features distinguished faculty, notable alumni, and, of course, very low acceptance rates. If you want to study medicine at any of these schools, you’ll need to have excellent grades, strong recommendations, and real hands-on experience. 

But for many, the challenge is worth it to study at one of these schools and to receive the many benefits they offer. To help those future doctors, this list examines the top Ivy League medical schools (ranked according to each school’s placement in the U.S. News Medical Schools list at the time of this writing).

In this list, we’ll look at all Ivy League medical schools (Princeton does not have a medical school, and thus is omitted from this discussion) to exam their best offerings and their application requirements. This discussion will prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals as they pursue their medical dreams. 

7. Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine (Hanover, NH)

Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

All of the schools on this list will offer excellent faculties and will publish respected academic journals. But the Geisel School of Medicine is the only Ivy medical school to house a literary journal, Lifelines

In addition, students at the Geisel School will study under luminaries such as doctor/astronaut/politician Jay Clark Buckley, Lienhard Award winner John Wennberg, and best-selling author Ira Byock. They’ll go on to join alumni such as innovative neurosurgeons Elad Levy and Odette Harris. The school creates these excellent doctors thanks in part to its $6 billion endowment, which it has used to win top awards, including a $42 million NIH grant

However, with a 3.9% acceptance rate, the Geisel School of Medicine accepts only top-notch students. You’ll need an MCAT score of 515 and a median GPA of 3.65 to be considered, so start studying now!

6. Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School (Providence, RI)

Brown University Alpert Medical School
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Alpert Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island, CC BY-SA 4.0

Alpert Medical School may fall toward the bottom of this list, but we need to put that into a larger context. According to U.S. News & World Report, Alpert is the nation’s 19th best medical school for primary care and 36th best for research. In other words, even one of the lower Ivy League medical schools is one of the best in the country. 

Accordingly, Alpert has a remarkable low acceptance rate of 2.7%, extending offers to only 293 of the over 10,500 students who apply. Those who make it in have an average GPA of 3.66 and a composite MCAT score of 511

That’s a high bar to clear, but it’s worth it. Students at the Alpert Medical School study under teachers such as gynecology pioneer Eli Adashi and artificial human ovary co-inventor Sandra Carson. They can go on to join a cadre of decorated alumni, including Stanford School of Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases director Griffin Rodgers. 

5. Cornell University Weill Cornell Graduate University of Medical Sciences (New York, NY)

Weill Cornell Medical College
Ajay Suresh, Weill Cornell Medicine, CC BY 2.0

Founded in 1952, the Weill Cornell Graduate University of Medical Sciences is one of the younger schools on this list. But it is no less accomplished. Over its less than 70-year existence, the school has produced alumni such as the Research Group Leader position at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience Vidhaya Rangaraju and the director of the Hormone Research Institute at the University of California-San Francisco Jeffery Bluestone. 

But to join those luminaries, you’ll need excellent grades. Weill Cornell accepts a mere 5% of its applicants, most of whom have a 3.9 average GPA and a 520 average MCAT score. 

Those students are supported by not only excellent faculty but by $275 million in research funding. That endowment has allowed researchers at the school to make breakthroughs in the study of TB treatments and a high-resolution mammalian brain atlas

4. Yale University School of Medicine (New Haven, CT)

Yale University
Gunnar Klack, Yale University, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Yale University School of Medicine not only ranks fourth on this list but also fourth on the list of NIH grants in 2020, netting more than $512 million to advance the school’s research goals. These monies go to further the study of issues such as Lyme disease, Tourette’s Syndrome, and other disorders. 

That commitment to research is reflected in the quality of the school’s faculty, which includes Marcella Nunez-Smith, Co-Chair of the Biden administration COVID-19 task force, and Nobel laureate James Rothman. With such great resources, it’s no wonder that Yale University has produced a group of alumni that includes Nobel Laurates, best-selling authors, and, of course, some of the nation’s best doctors. 

For those who hope to join this lofty company, there is some good news. Yale has a higher acceptance rate than its Ivy sisters. The bad news: it’s still a very competitive 6.5%. But for those who have both the grades and the experience, Yale University is one of the world’s best schools to study medicine. 

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

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Ajaxean, Penn CHOP Quad, CC BY-SA 3.0

Founded in 1765, the Perelman School of Medicine is the nation’s oldest medical school and one of its most important. It has given the world four Nobel Laurates, two Medal of Honor recipients, and countless decorated doctors. Even today, Perelman boasts a healthy research agenda, including breakthroughs in the study of lymphoblastic leukemia, heart failure in pregnant women, and so much more.   

Students can gain clinical experience working in one of the school’s four primary teaching hospitals, The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Pennsylvania Hospital, and the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. 

Those in the MD program will spend four years studying the science of medicine, the technology and practice of medicine, and professionalism and humanism. Ph.D. students will spend two years on course work and their remain three to five years in intensive research. 

How can a future doctor join these programs? You’ll need a GPA of 3.91 and an MCAT score of 521 to be among the 4.4% of applicants accepted into the Perelman school

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

Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Jim.henderson, Bard Hall Columbia, CC0 1.0

Situated in the Washington Heights region of downtown Manhattan, the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first medical school to eliminate loans for its students, giving scholarships to each of the students enrolled in their programs. Unsurprisingly, this benefit makes Columbia a very attractive school. They receive more than 7,500 applicants every year and extend offers of admission to only 4.5%. Students attending Vagelos have a median GPA of 3.91 and median MCAT scores of 521.

But those who clear those high standards can enjoy one of the finest medical schools in the country. U.S. News & World Report ranks Vagelos in the top ten for a variety of disciplines, including anesthesiology, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery. Additionally, the magazine puts the school at #4 in the nation for overall research. 

The school earns its high position thanks to faculty that includes not only Nobel Prize laureates, but also a Pulitzer Prize winner and several leading researchers. 

1. Harvard University Medical School (Cambridge, MA)

Harvard University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

It should come as no surprise that the Harvard University Medical School tops the list at number one. One of the oldest medical schools in the U.S., HMS has trained Nobel Prize winners, University presidents, CEOs, and even poet Rafael Campo. In addition to ranking it first on the list of medical schools in America, U.S. News & World Report puts Harvard in second place in a variety of categories, including programs in anesthesiology, internal medicine, radiology, and pediatrics.    

The school operates according to an $804 million endowment, which it uses to pursue research projects involving environmental changes, gene therapy, the global pandemic, and more. 

Of course, studying at such an elite school requires outstanding credentials, including a 3.91 GPA and a 35 on the MCAT. HMU restricts itself to 234 of the 6,708 students who apply (3.53% acceptance rate).

Those are challenging numbers to hit, but you would expect nothing less from the number one entry on a list of the nation’s best schools.