Where should I go for undergrad for med school?

Hey I’m wonder where I should go for college for undergrad for the best chances to get into med school. My options are a state university, a regular university, or Arizona State online for free through Starbucks? Will going to a state university instead of a regular university hurt my chances of getting into a top 15 medical school or will they not care? Will med schools even accept Arizona State online degree?

State schools are fine, as are private schools. Online I seriously doubt, esp since you can’t do labs online and those will be needed for your science pre-reqs. @WayOutWestMom will know for sure.

I wouldn’t put any emphasis on a Top 15 med school. Med schools are all difficult to get into and there is no particular school that is Top 15. They can differ by what they are good at. If you get into one, it will be win. More than one and you can consider options.

To have your best odds of getting into one, look for a school where your grades/SAT/ACT are in the Top 10-25% of incoming freshmen. That’s the niche where I’ve seen the most success.


I have a dr appt tomorrow. New doctor. No clue where they went to school…US, Caribbean, or otherwise. People typically go to doctors in their insurance network.

If you even get into medical school and I hope you do, it’s quite a feat.

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Ditto. If anything matters, and it really doesn’t unless you’re seeking a very prestigious academic position, residency and fellowship are what they will care about.

Skip the online option, unless you can do some sort of hybrid experience that will get you the lab classes you need, and go as inexpensively as possible. There are no financial breaks for medical school. You’ll have to cover that cost. Best to go into it with as little debt as possible.

Good luck!


You and most patients likely have no clue, but Caribbean schools are NOT the same opportunity when getting residencies, and that’s supposed to get worse, so a student should do their due diligence before going to one. Look at the stats and decide if one is willing to take the odds. For some things (general medicine) it’s better than others, but when my guy matched into his specialty he was feeling sorry for plenty of seemingly highly qualified Caribbean grads who did not.

From the patient’s perspective - no difference because they are only seeing the “winners.”

From the student’s perspective - perhaps a career ending or significantly changing perspective.


Got it. I was just trying to state in 95% of cases,…perhaps unless you are going to get a cancer cure and seeing out someone specifically, one likely hasn’t a clue where someone was trained.

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I get that, and agree with you for that part. I only started looking at where my doctors went after my guy was interested in med school, but even though I look it doesn’t affect my choices. For that I go off who’s available and reviews, esp from medical people I know.

But trying to win the lottery to be there is different so one can’t just look at winners and assume all is the same. That’s all I’m pointing out. Caribbean schools are cheap, so they can be attractive. It’s important for future doctor wannabes to consider the differences in outcomes instead of just seeing dollar signs.

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You can take the prerequisite courses to apply to medical school at just about any college (arts conservatories excluded).

I don’t think online will work for those required courses for medical school applications but I wonder if you can fulfill general education requirements with those free courses? @WayOutWestMom ??

You don’t need to attend a top 15 medical school to become a successful doctor. Actually your residency and medical fellowship sites really are more important.

I know where all of my doctors trained because they all have their diplomas hanging up…exceptions are ED doctors and folks like radiologists and anesthesia folks whose offices you never see. But as noted…I choose my doctors by reputation and recommendation…not based on where they did their training.

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First, the best thing you can do for yourself right now is to find an affordable school that’s flexible. I’m not sure what you mean by “regular university,” but you can’t go wrong choosing an in-state university on a traditional campus. Online universities are a mixed bag of worms. My opinion is to avoid them, unless you don’t have another choice.

Second, your best shot at medical school is your home state, because state medical schools favor state residents. Also, you need to keep the debt down for undergraduate, making an in-state university ideal. Medical school is absurdly expensive, and having a lot of debt limits your options.

Third, there’s a greater chance than not you’ll choose a different major. Only a small fraction of freshman “premeds” actually choose medical school. It’s seriously not for the vast majority of people. College is a maturation process, and you find hidden passions as you take classes. You might find a passion for computer programming instead…I did :slight_smile:

Think of college as an adventure with a ton of options. You have plenty of time to decide your future.


I wish this were always true! It depends upon the state… some states are far better than others. Same with state medical schools and costs.


Any US accredited college is fine, but don’t see how the online college would work. There are numerous required courses which also require a lab, which obviously can’t be done on-line. But if Arizona State has some sort of way to do the lab work in person-you’d have to check on that-the online version would be fine.

There are medical schools that won’t accept online pre-requisite for medical school courses.

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In this case, OP would need to determine if AS uses a hybrid system, which many US colleges have gone to in this time of COVID. As noted above, strictly online generally wouldn’t work in many circumstances due to the lab requirements. That said, many medical schools have changed their prohibition regarding on-line courses. E.G.:

And here’s a more comprehensive summary; suffice to say COVID has brought many changes:


Taking online classes for GEs and non pre-reqs coursework is fine.

Some medical schools will accept some online classes IF (and it’s important if), this is the only option offered by your home program due to Covid. Still other med schools will not accept online or CC coursework. There are no universal policies about this. Every school will be different. This is something you will need to research before making any final decision.

(FWIW, UCR is a small med school and a pretty niche one too. Only ~50 student/year and only accepts students from the Inland Empire of California. It is NOT representative what of what all med schools require. To get a better idea of what type of coursework is acceptable to med schools, one really needs to check MSAR )

I would recommend against taking pre-req science classes online for another reason-- applying for a med school admission requires LORs from at least 2 science professors from whom you’ve taken a class. It’s hard to get a excellent LOR from a online class because the professor really doesn’t get to know you as a student and person.

P.S. One of my daughters went to a state university; the other went to a private university. They had identical outcomes: both had multiple med school acceptances and are now both physicians practicing in their first choice of specialty. Your choice of undergrad school is much less important than earning excellent grades, scoring well on the MCAT, getting some strong LORs and having all the expected pre-med ECs.


I agree with pretty much everyone else on this one. I do not know which state you are from, but most likely your in-state public university would be a great choice. If you can tell us which in-state public university you are considering that might help a bit.

Medical school is expensive. You would be best off to avoid or minimize debt for your bachelor’s degree as much as you can. If possible, saving some money in the bank or 529 for medical school would be even better. Your premed classes at any “top 200” university in the US will be more difficult than you might expect, and the other students in your premed classes will be stronger than you might expect. You want to be able to be near the top of the class in these tough classes.

I do not know about on-line degrees, but I would be nervous. For one thing, it will be very advantageous if you can get some experience volunteering in a medical environment. I do not know how you do this on-line. Also, there will be lab courses. Again I do not know how you would do this on-line. I also wonder about some students cheating when there are on-line exams. @WayOutWestMom also has a good point about references. You will want to get to know your professors. She knows medical school admissions very well (and now we know why).

Top universities such as Harvard do get a higher percentage of their undergraduates into medical schools. However a lot of this, and some might say all of this, is due to the caliber of students who start off as freshmen at top universities such as Harvard. If the same students were to start off as freshmen at U.Mass Amherst (just to pick a good public university in the same state as Harvard) they would probably still have the same relatively high chance to get into a very good medical school.

One daughter did her bachelor’s at a university that is just barely NOT in the top 100 in the US, and got two acceptances to “top 10” DVM programs (as well as two other acceptances to other very good programs). Of course a DVM is not quite the same thing as an MD, but the process is very similar and the undergraduate courses overlap quite a bit. You do not need to attend a “top 15” university for undergrad to attend a very good medical school. You do not need straight A’s either. You do however need to do very well in tough classes, and get significant related medical experience, and find a way to afford the entire 8 years.

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FWIW, the list from AAMC is comprehensive and lists many, many medical schools of various sizes-including the majority of the UCs-which will now accept online courses-as well as courses taken P/F.

Probably the biggest risk to OP, should she study online, is that many online schools(even state universities) have limited course offerings.

To me the biggest risk would be wondering if the app would be competitive compared to the other 1000+ applicants who went to a brick and mortar place, only doing online if required there due to Covid.

If I had an online degree only I’d want a terrific backstory in something medical to balance it. When 20% or less of applicants even get interviews, I’d worry about not passing that bar in a field that tends to prefer the traditional.

Can’t agree with the brick and mortar comparison; so many schools spent all of last year remote-in other words, online-and many have spent at least part of this year online with things still in flux regarding in-person v online classes. So many, many applicants will have attended “brick and mortar” schools without actually being inside the brick and mortar.
Per the AAMC synopsis, it appears that COVID has changed everything.

But right now it’s not four years online. If it extends that far, I’d agree with you. I doubt it will.

The OP (and any other reader) is welcome to take their chances if they wish, but from those of us who have BTDT, a roughly 40% acceptance rate means many prefer to go with best known odds.

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Well, I’ve BTDT and it’s pretty clear the old rules don’t apply. A quick look at the AAMC information confirms that. P/F were previously anathema for applicants. Now many, many medical schools will accept them.