The 25 Best Colleges for Pre-meds

Ryan Kelly

By: Ryan Kelly

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:



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.



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.


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!

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