The 25 Best Colleges for Pre-meds

Top 25 Best Colleges for Pre-meds

Lists, lists, lists. People love lists. They’re tidy. They’re simple.

But unless they’re backed by actual research, they’re frivolous.

If you Google “Best Colleges for Pre-meds,” you’ll find plenty of conjecture, but until now, you would not get data. But we here at The Savvy Premed have decided to release the world’s first rankings of the Best Colleges for Pre-Meds. We’ve gathered research from dozens of sources, polled veteran admissions counselors to get their feedback, and talked to hundreds of students (and their parents) about their experiences as a pre-med at many different colleges.

So, without further ado, we present to you:

Top 25 Best Colleges for Pre-meds

Ranking the Best Colleges for Pre-meds - Methodology

Which colleges are best for pre-meds? Well, it’s simple: let’s just look at which colleges have the highest acceptance rates into medical schools, which should be easy enough to find…

Checking Google…

Hmm. It seems colleges don’t release data on their acceptance rates into medical school, at least not in a form that’s easy to compare. Even those colleges that release results will do so with an asterisk, usually reading “qualified applicants only.” They seem to be saying that you or your child will spend four years at their school, and by the end of it, they may not still be qualified for medical school. That’s small comfort.

That’s why The Savvy Pre-med has set out to create a definitive ranking system and list of the best colleges for pre-meds. It’s a hard thing to measure, but our goal is to take all of the data we can find and start this conversation about what to look for in a pre-med college. There’s no agenda here, other than to be useful. We’re determined to provide this service for prospective pre-meds who want a leg-up or need to find their right college “fit.”

We researched:

  • 179 different colleges

  • 16 different sources of information (in addition to each college’s website)

  • 13 weighted factors

Short of calling every school on our list to confirm, we made this as comprehensive as we could.

How did you decide which pre-med colleges to include?

We started with every college that someone on the internet claimed was “good for pre-med.”  Then, we added the most prestigious US News colleges. And as we discovered schools with early assurance programs or with incredible research opportunities for undergrads, we added them to the list as well. The 179 colleges we came up with is the most comprehensive research we could do in the month we spent working on this.

What factors did you consider for the Best Colleges for Pre-Meds?

Factor Description Source Weight(%)
Quality Pre-med Advising
  • The number of dedicated pre-med or pre-health counselors per capita (per number of pre-meds at these colleges).
  • Bonus points for schools with at least one NAAHP (National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions) member.
  • For smaller schools, we also gave a 5% bonus to schools that offer a pre-med committee.
Individual schools’ websites; The College Board; The U.S. Dept of Education; NAAHP member list. 20%
Early Assurance Programs Measured by whether the school has any early assurance, guaranteed acceptance, or linkage programs to medical schools. These programs typically allow sophomores in college the chance to guarantee a spot at a medical school without having to take the MCAT or apply broadly. Schools’ own websites; Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) 10%
Small Classes Measured by the student:faculty ratio and The Princeton Review’s data on professor accessibility The College Board; The Princeton Review 15%
Research Opportunities Measured by school’s placement on top research institution lists and the number of faculty dedicated to helping students find research positions Individual schools’ websites; U.S. News and World Report 10%
Popular for Pre-meds Measured by per capita pre-meds (bio majors) and whether the school shows up on miscellaneous lists of “good schools for pre-meds” National Center for Education Statistics; The College Board; College Mapper; CollegeXpress; CollegeWise; Rugg’s Recommendations 10%
Prestige Measured by appearance on U.S. News and World Report ranking list (National, Regional, Liberal arts), which we normed in order to compare between National, Liberal Arts, and Regional lists U.S. News and World Report 10%
Clinical Opportunities Measured by proximity to local medical school and number of doctors in the nearby area Medicare.gov 15%
Service Opportunities Measured by school’s reputation for being service-oriented Individual schools’ websites; Newsweek; Washington Monthly; The Princeton Review 10%

Biases in Ranking the Best 25 Colleges for Pre-Meds

Any ranking system is created from a series of assumptions. From our conversations with pre-med advisors at colleges, veteran college counselors, and pre-meds and their parents, we created a list of factors we believed should go into the Best Colleges for Pre-Meds first, and then we saw what the data spit out.

Some of the results were a surprise, while others weren’t. For example, we have been skeptics of the University of California system’s pre-med programs for a while, based on the feedback from the undergrads that we’ve worked there. But we didn’t know how those schools would fare when we put together our rankings. As it turns out, they were among the lowest on the list.

Our list is biased toward:

  • Smaller schools, which we believe lead to better student-faculty interaction, better letters of recommendation, more mentoring opportunities, more research opportunities, etc.

  • Urban schools, since they typically have more clinical opportunities

  • Schools with great pre-med advising - as an advising company, we believe in the value of great advising

  • US colleges, since we couldn’t find equivalent data on Canadian schools or international schools

On balance, we think these biases are supported by the evidence (of what med schools value, of what our students tell us, and what counselors swear by), but these criteria are not universal. For example, some students would feel stifled at a smaller college. Some students are such self-starters that they will be fine at a larger school (see the small fish in a big pond questions, here).

Understanding how we put together this ranking list will help you make the choice about which college on your list is right for you.

The Missing Factor for Evaluating Pre-Med Colleges: Cost

We deliberately left finances out of our rankings. We did that because:

  1. Like flying on an airplane, no two students at a college pay exactly the same price. Some colleges are great for students with financial need; others are great for students who want merit-based scholarships. We figure that you, dear reader, can evaluate whether each college on this list is “worth” the price of attendance for you.

  2. The job market for doctors remains strong. While it’s hard to determine a level of debt that makes sense, at least doctors (even in primary care) will generally make it up.

Of course, be careful about getting yourself into too much undergraduate debt if you want to be pre-med. At the time of this writing, the average medical school tuition is $41,200 for in-state and $52,900 for out-of-state. Multiply that by four years, add in some living expenses and fees, and the total cost of attendance for medical school balloons to well over $250,000 for four years.

Did your college make the list? Do you think it should or shouldn’t have? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll personally respond with our feedback!