Pre-Med Colleges

What are the best colleges for Pre-Med?

Brown is outstanding. The lack of any required core curriculum – beyond the pre-med reqs. – allows premeds more flexibility to take other courses. I knew a pre-med who majored in English, ended up at Harvard Medical School.

These colleges are included in “The Experts’ Choice: Colleges with Great Pre-med Programs” (available online): Amherst, Bates, Bucknell, Brown, Carleton, Colgate, William & Mary, Emory, Franklin & Marshall, Grinnell, Hamilton, JHU, Knox, Muhlenberg, Northwestern, Pomona, St. Louis, St. Olaf, Stanford, Chicago, Penn, Vanderbilt, WUStL.

Amherst College addresses this very nicely in their pre-med guide.

The “best” pre-med colleges are those where you will feel comfortable and excel. Perhaps that includes a few colleges already mentioned; there are undoubtedly many more that would fit those criteria.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of students interested in pre-med in high school do NOT wind up in medical school. Most drop out along the way, either through being weeded out or developing an interest in something they hadn’t been exposed to before. Picking a college primarily for its supposed pre-med preparation isn’t the best idea.

To help us help you, you need to set some parameters in terms of cost, selectivity, size, location, etc. It does you no good to get recommendations like the Ivies if they’re too selective!

There’s no such thing as “premed colleges”.

Virtually any “good school” is fine for a premed student.

Med schools don’t care about school “name” or choice of major.

Med schools care about:

Grades …both cum GPA and BCMP GPA

MCAT score

Medically related ECs

Research experience

knew a pre-med who majored in English, ended up at Harvard Medical School.


That is nothing unique to Brown or similar schools. Med schools don’t care what you major in or the school you went to.

The best undergrad for you is:

  1. An affordable school that won’t require much/any debt as an undergrad.

  2. A school where your stats are STRONG, so you’ll have a better chance of “shining” and (with hard work) get the A’s in the “weeder” classes.

  3. A school that has good premed advising, and preferably has active premed clubs and writes Committee Letters.

  4. Located in a state where you can use that “tie” to provide more med schools to apply to.

  5. Is located in an area where traveling for med school interviews won’t prove to be a hardship financially or time-wise due to missing classes.

What is your home state?

What are your stats?

How much will your family pay each year for undergrad?

“There’s no such thing as ‘premed colleges.’” (#4)

This is not universally accepted as an axiom. For example, the Fiske Guide, frequently recommended in this forum, has recognized premedicine under “Strongest Programs” for certain schools such as the University of Rochester. Though this doesn’t literally make UR a “premed college,” it does suggest that the school is more successful than is typical in furthering the goals of its premed students.

I’d like to know on what basis the Fiske Guide is making that claim. It is notoriously difficult to determine what makes for a ‘good’ pre-med school. The one that weeds out the weakest applicants in first year so the only ones left standing are all going to get in somewhere? The ones that are supportive of all the pre-meds and do what they can to help even the weaker ones catch up so they too can apply - but may not make it 100% of the time? There are many threads on this forum about how schools manipulate their ‘pre-med’ data. I doubt Fiske has parsed all the nuances.

mom2collegekids has presented the situation accurately. And premeds everywhere should access Amherst’s excellent on-line guide to premeds (in two parts) outlining the entire process in detail.

I am in Pennsylvania. I am a high school sophomore. Sorry about that


This is not universally accepted as an axiom. For example, the Fiske Guide, frequently recommended in this forum, has recognized premedicine under “Strongest Programs” for certain schools such as the University of Rochester. Though this doesn’t literally make UR a “premed college,” it does suggest that the school is more successful than is typical in furthering the goals of its premed students.



And, what criteria does it use to claim that certain schools are better at “furthering goals” or having the “strongest programs”? (and what do they claim to be a premed program? The classes are just regular classes…they aren’t unique to premed students. That said, I don’t doubt that Fiske insists that there are such schools in order to sell books))

N’s Mom: I wasn’t defending Fiske’s methodology, which I would think would be quite subjective like the rest of their guide. What I was commenting on is the recognition by some publications that some colleges may be stronger than others in providing their students with the opportunities that will help them succeed as a premed student. Beyond that, @hsi030 may be interested in some actual colleges to research.

@mom2collegekids: The principle that some colleges are relatively strong in some areas remains the same. Fiske, as stated above, is a highly subjective publication. I think I’ve only mentioned them on two threads; I can hardly be considered an advocate for their methodology.

I never said that you are an advocate for that book. What is the name of that Fiske book?

the problem with such lists is that a naive 18 year old may assume that if a school isn’t on that list, it’s a poor choice…or they may think that if a school is on that list, that they’ll certainly go to med school. The truth is…most med students come from state schools, yet rarely are those on those lists.

Virtually everyone knows that the med school app process is scary, stressful, and often unsuccessful. People are willing to “grab onto anything” if they think it will nudge them in…even if there’s no “there there.”




Amherst College has no magic touch that automatically elevates a student’s chances of entering medical school simply by virtue of the student’s coming to Amherst; no college or university has that kind of magic touch. What does elevate a student’s chances is to go to an institution (1) that energizes and challenges that particular student academically, while providing good teaching and academic support so the student can meet the challenge satisfactorily; and (2) that provides opportunities for accomplishment and leadership in extracurricular areas. Of course the student must take advantage of these educational and extracurricular opportunities - in the end it’s the student’s accomplishments that count, not the name of the institution.



The Fiske Guide to Colleges (occasionally lists premedicine under “Strongest Programs.”)

The Amherst excerpt itself actually articulates a different message than it initially appears to. At first it states that no college has a “magic [premedical] touch.” (Magic touches in general are pretty rare, so this is not surprising.) Then, and thus far ironically uncommented on, it goes on to differentiate what may make one undergraduate institution a better choice for premedical students than another.

I agree that lists can be problematic in terms of the limited number of schools they include versus the perhaps equally good schools they simultaneously exclude. However, sometimes OPs don’t just want specific schools to research, they need them if they are to progress in their college choice. Differentiation is an important part of that process, and tends to occur amid imperfect information in an any event.

I dislike the term “strongest program” in regards to premed. Premed isn’t like nursing, engineering, accounting or similar where there truly are programs…required classes that are unique for those majors. In nursing programs, students learn about nursing, the same for engineering and accounting. Students don’t learn anything about being a doctor, med school, etc, while being a premed student.

Using the term “premed program” just perpetuates the myth and confusion that there is something unique, different or even “medical” about being premed.

Premed prereqs don’t prepare students for the MCAT, which is one reason why high school students are asking these “which is best” questions. Students (and parents) are often surprised by this…but it just shows that they don’t understand that the bio, chem and physics classes are just regular classes that STEM students take…the purpose of those classes have nothing to do with the MCAT.

There is often a wrong assumption that certain undergrads “place” their students into med school. No, they don’t.

Well in PA there are not a lot of huge merit opportunities where you cost might be almost free, but Temple offers full tuition for 3.8 GPA (academic classes only, aka math, English, science, social studies, foreign language) and 32 ACT.
So your remaining cost would be room and board and if you qualify for some federal or state aid the cost could be quite low. Temple also has a med school. I believe Drexel offers merit scholarships as well.

University of Pittsburgh requires 1450 CR&M SAT minimum and high GPA and very high class rank to have a chance at full tuition. They have medical school as well, but it is not guaranteed to be accepted to this med school if you do premed at Pitt unless you have GAP, only about 10 freshman applicants a year are selected for this and it requires a 3.75 GPA which is difficult to maintain.

There are several private schools that offer merit and might bring cost down to $15-$20 k depending on family income. Run net price calculators on college websites to see if you might qualify for need based aid.

M2CK beat me to it, as is often the case. There is no such thing as a pre-med college. Likewise, there really is no pre-med major. Lister to her.

Does Fiske label Harvard as being strong in pre-med?

“Using the term ‘premed program’ just perpetuates the myth and confusion . . . that there is something unique about . . . being premed.” (#13)

We don’t know what beliefs OPs bring to their threads. Often their initial posts are very brief. Most that post on this topic appear simply to be looking for solid undergraduate programs that will help them reach their goal of becoming a medical student.

“what criteria does it [Fiske, et al] use to claim that certain schools are better at ‘furthering goals’” (#8)

Maybe the same criteria, posted twice on this thread, that Amherst College offers on its website. What Amherst describes isn’t exactly a program, but it isn’t not a program either.

“most med students come from state schools, yet rarely are those on those lists” (#11)

This is a problem with the list I’ve posted most frequently. However, (1) I’ve often introduced it in a way that indicates its incompleteness; (2) If the OP identifies either his state of residence or general desire to attend a state school, I incorporate that in my replies.

“most med students come from state schools” (#11)

Of course they do. 90 percent of all college students go to state schools. State schools produce over a million and a half college graduates every year. Some of them are going to make it to med school. But what percentage?

When I was in a top tier law school, I knew people from all sorts of colleges. Nevertheless, the top private colleges were heavily over-represented, especially given how many fewer graduates they produce. There were multiple students from Yale and Chicago and Princeton and Northwestern and Stanford and Williams and Amherst and so on. Meanwhile, then there was that one guy from Iowa State. And one girl from UNC. And one from Colorado. And one from Rutgers. And every one of the ones from the less prestigious colleges was darn close to the valedictorian of his or her school.

The odds of getting in clearly were much much higher for the elite college people. Now this was a while ago, and I know law is a prestige-heavy business, but I still suspect that the person with the 3.5 gpa from Princeton has a very strong chance of getting in to medical school, greater than the student from State U. who may have a higher gpa. I could be wrong, of course.

Law school admissions are very different from medical school admissions. Most state medical schools for example will only admit students who are residents of that state - or have very tight limits on how many they will take. I know of no law school that only admits state residents. So the top law schools tend to have more students from selective undergraduate schools than US medical schools (all US medical school are comparable to top law schools - there aren’t any mediocre medical schools).