What’s the Real Cost of Medical School?

February 15, 2017
Emily Hause

The cost of medical school varies by university.

Research how much tuition and fees will set you back in your path to becoming a doctor.

Hello, future doctors! With the 2016–2017 admissions cycle wrapping up, you’ve no doubt got nothing but medical school admissions on the brain… but have you given enough thought to what happens once you actually get into the medical school of your dreams?

You’ll invest a lot of money attending medical school for four years, from tuition and fees to textbooks—not to mention what you’ll have already spent on primary and secondary applications. The cost of medical school adds up quickly. So, just how much can you expect to pay?

Calculating the true cost of medical school

According to the AAMC, the average cost of attendance for one year at a public medical school (including tuition, fees, and health insurance) was $34,592 for in-state students and $58,668 for out-of-state students in 2016–2017. Tuition and fees at a private school averages well over $50,000 a year regardless of whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. Unfortunately, public and private medical schools both increased costs from the previous years.

Further, these represent solely the amount charged by the universities, which means that cost-of-living, books, food, and housing are not included. Even a thrifty student who cuts costs will incur certain necessary expenses outside of what they’ll pay to attend. Plan your medical school budget accordingly!

Finding more affordable tuition and fees

Not all medical schools are that expensive, however. For example, according to U.S. News & World Report’s list of least expensive public medical schools, the Texas A&M Health Science Center costs only $16,432 for in-state tuition. U.S. News also includes University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, University of North Texas Health Science Center, University of New Mexico, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center on their list, given that in-state tuition and fees at these institutions has remained less than $20,000 per year.

If you’re not able to get in-state tuition in Texas, you may want to consider going to one of the most affordable private medical schools such as Baylor College of Medicine ($31,663 per year), Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine ($32,985 per year), or the University of Pikeville ($41,320 per year).

The most expensive medical schools

Even though the cheapest private school option is still twice as much as the cheapest public school option, the more affordable private schools listed above are nonetheless not a bad deal—especially considering how expensive the cost of medical school can get.

Tufts University holds the record for being the most expensive medical school, with a whopping $61,436 per year (2013-2014) in tuition and fees. Columbia University, Dartmouth University, Northwestern University, and Case Western Reserve University round out the top five most expensive medical schools in the country. The reputations of these schools may be worth the premium, but only if it seems like a reasonable financial investment for your situation.

Factor in the cost of living

One thing that needs to be considered as well is that the cost of living in each city can vary drastically. When you’re looking at total cost of attendance, you have to factor in things like rent, whether you’ll need a car, food, and cost of travel home if you’re out-of-state.

These additional factors can tip you over the edge in terms of which schools are most affordable. This is also one of the most individual components of the medical school application and will require some research. The good news is that there are lots of grants, scholarships, and loans available for incoming medical students.

Grab our free guide to getting into medical school to plan for your next step in the path to becoming a physician.

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

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