Because of medical schools’ overall selectivity of students—a little over 40% of all applicants are admitted at all—it’s not always a good idea to narrow down your school search based on specialty, or assumed specialty, for example, medical schools known for primary care vs. those known for research. The good news for you as an applicant is that you will have research opportunities at every medical school, and every medical school will have plenty of opportunities for you to engage in primary care components, including clerkships and electives. That said, some medical schools’ mission is to graduate primary care physicians and many of their resources and their curriculum is geared toward this end goal. In 2016-2017, a total of 62 medical schools have a research requirement for medical students, meaning there is a strong chance you will get to perform research activity no matter where you are admitted. Here are U.S. News and World Report’s best medical schools for research.
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9. (tie) NYU
New York University School of Medicine’s NIH research funding in 2018 topped $85M, making it one of the top-50 recipients of all funding. Students are encouraged to become involved with research at an early stage in their careers, develop a relationship with a mentor, pursue a project throughout medical school, continue with research during residency, and incorporate research as an integral component of their career. The Internal Medicine Summer Fellowship Program offers students a wide variety of research projects between the first and second years of medical school. Many students build upon this first research experience by continuing the initial research project to complete a concentration in research and participate in the honors program. NYU School of Medicine offers full-tuition scholarships to all students enrolled in the MD degree program. NYU’s class of 118 students has median GPAs and MCAT scores of 3.92 and 521.
9. (tie) Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
As one of the most renowned medical research facilities in the world, the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota received $90,159,590 in NIH funding for 2018, going toward 179 awards. The Mayo Clinic is one of the top research-focused medical schools in the country where you’ll need a 3.86 GPA and 516 on your MCAT to hit the school’s median. At Mayo, your biggest research opportunity begins after you’ve been introduced to the basic sciences and have completed your clinical experiences. During your research quarter in Year 3, you’ll be exposed to the principles and process of biomedical research. You’ll work with a research project adviser faculty member to choose and facilitate a research project that explores an area of interest at a very in-depth level.
9. (tie) Cornell University
Weill Cornell Medical College’s NIH funding has increased by almost 40% in the last 4 years. All third-year medical students complete a capstone project called Areas of Concentration in which they spend at least six months doing in-depth research on a topic of their choosing. Thanks to this focus on research, it’s no wonder that almost 40% of Weill graduates become full-time faculty at academic medical centers, where they can continue their research. The incoming class of 2019 had a median undergraduate GPA of 3.85 and a median MCAT score of 518.
This midwest medical school, located in St. Louis, Missouri boasts one of the highest median GPAs and MCAT scores, 3.91 and 521 (a 99th percentile score). Washington University in St. Louis received $208,643,233 toward 424 awards as an institution in 2018 NIH funding. Though research is not required, 95% of WashU medical students – most of whom are preparing for specialties in clinical practice – complete a research project while working on their MD. It’s no surprise then that 18 Nobel Laureates are associated with Washington University School of Medicine.
Not only will you be given tons of opportunities to contribute to scientific discovery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, you will be exposed to world-renowned faculty and groundbreaking research that will inform scientific and medical thought around the globe. DGSOM students can engage in exciting research projects for as little as a summer or much longer. With an entering class of roughly 175 students, the school received more than 11,000 applications in 2017, making it one of the most sought after programs in the country. The median MCAT score is 517, which sits above the 95th percentile.
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6. (tie) Columbia University
In the 2019 fiscal year, Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons received a total of $407 million in NIH funding spread across 789 NIH awards. Fourth year medical students participate in the Scholarly Projects Program, in which they’re given 4-10 months to engage in a supplementary education experience of their choice. While some students choose to pursue a dual degree or field learning experiences, many choose to perform original research with faculty. VP&S has a low acceptance rate of 3.4%, and in the class of 2023 only 115 MD students matriculated. The median undergraduate GPA for accepted applicants in 2019 was 3.85, and the median MCAT score was 520.
UCSF received $203,809,924 toward 482 awards in NIH funding for the 2018 fiscal year, making it the 6th highest recipient of these research funds. UCSF’s 2018 entering class median GPA and MCAT scores were 3.85 and 517. The school received more than 7,700 applications and boasts a focus on admitting students traditionally underrepresented in medicine. Students are encouraged to find research opportunities through the school’s LabSpot portal. UCSF’s Inquiry Symposium and Pathways to Discovery Awards brings together over 100 medical students, mentors, faculty and staff to learn about the latest research led by students and residents from the UCSF schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Nursing.
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3. (tie) University of Pennsylvania
In 2018, NIH funding for the University of Pennsylvania system was among the top-10, with $202,783,990 allocated toward 460 awards. The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is consistently competitive, boasting median MCAT and GPA scores of 520 and 3.88 and class size of under 160 students. If you are thinking about an academic career and interested in conducting research during medical school as a step in that direction, Penn medical students can choose from a wide variety of opportunities, including summer research between the first and second year. Medical students will engage in some form of research for a minimum of three months to fulfill their Scholarly Pursuit requirement while some will choose to do a full year of research. If you’ve completed your third year of med school, you can opt to take a full Year Out to conduct elective research.
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3. (tie) Stanford University
In 2018, Stanford University was the fifth highest recipient of NIH funding with $208,058,611 toward 427 awards. The Scholarly Concentration program is a required, structured program of study in the Medical Student Curriculum that promotes in-depth learning and scholarship. It gives medical students faculty-mentored scholarly experiences in areas of individual interest combined with structured coursework to support this scholarship. This component of the MD curriculum develops critical thinking, skills in evaluation of new data, and hands-on experience with the methods by which new scholarly information is generated. The Scholarly Concentration program has 16 areas of study, including 8 foundation areas, and 8 application areas. All students must select one of the 8 foundation areas, which are designed to develop skills and tools that can be applied to important problems in healthcare. Students accepted into Stanford’s 100 entering seats have stratospheric stats with a 3.86 median GPA and 519 median MCAT score.
Johns Hopkins University as a whole received the most NIH funding in 2018, with $267,338,120 going toward 519 awards. While M.D.-only students are not required to do research during their years here, the vast majority of them ultimately choose to do so. The Johns Hopkins Medical Student Research Day (MSRD) is an annual event that allows medical students to showcase their scholarly accomplishments. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Hopkins is one of the most competitive MD programs in the United States with a median GPA of 3.92 and median MCAT of 520. It received more than 6,300 applications for 120 seats.
HMS students have hundreds of opportunities to carry out research, from hypothesis-based research in the basic and clinical sciences to research in the social sciences, arts, and medical humanities. While some students locate research opportunities in their first year, most students will carry out research in their third or fourth year, after they have completed their principal clinical experience in their second year. Over half of any HMS class chooses to take an extra year for either research or study toward a second degree. Harvard Medical School, located in Boston’s medical research hub, is surprisingly small. With a class size of 165, the MD program is highly competitive, with a median matriculant GPA of 3.92 and a median MCAT score of 519. Harvard Medical School received $91,617,248 toward 164 awards in 2018 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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