The 10 Best Pre-Med Schools in the US

Student wearing earphones, writing in a notebook on her desk with a laptop open after researching best pre-med schools
August 28, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 02/23/23

The path to becoming a doctor starts with going to college for pre-med. A top school for the pre-med degree will ensure you succeed in medical school and beyond. 

Are you dreaming of becoming a doctor? The first step is gaining admission to a reputable pre-medical program. Any of the best pre-med schools will guarantee a great pathway for your doctorate. If you meet the requirements, with a solid GPA and competitive application, you’ll have a good chance at acceptance.

Any school here is a smart pick for starting the journey into the medical field, regardless of their placement on the list. However, because of how competitive they are, you’ll want to confirm you have the best possible application. Listed below are the top pre-med schools and their admission requirements.

The 10 Best Schools for Pre-Med

Each of the following schools amounts to one of the best pre-med schools you could attend in the U.S. However, many of them stand out as Ivy League or equivalent schools, making them incredibly competitive and difficult to get into. Consider adding them to your list of the best possible pre-med schools to apply for.

Only some schools have a dedicated pre-med degree. Students interested in pre-med should research each school’s program carefully. Below you’ll find the answers to the question: “what are the best pre-med schools?” 

Harvard University

Ranking: #3 in U.S. National Universities

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Acceptance: 3.41%

In-state tuition: $54,269 per year

If your first choice is Harvard University, you’ve picked a great school for pre-med. The university offers a flexible Harvard premedical program designed for students to earn the pre-med requirements they need at their own pace.  

As one of the top colleges in the United States, Harvard is the number one option for a pre-med curriculum. Harvard is also among the hardest to get into Ivy League schools, a group of private colleges in the northeastern United States famous for an extremely competitive application.

If you’re looking for a great college for undergrad that will fulfill pre-med requirements, you cannot go wrong with Harvard. Note that Harvard is also a need-blind college, which is great for students looking for an affordable school.

Harvard’s applicants should focus on the following to have a strong application. 

  • Write a thoughtful response to the Harvard College Questions.
  • Include any optional standardized testing and AP scores. The average SAT score range for admitted applicants is 1480 to 1580, while the ACT range is 33 to 36. 
  • Students must send two Harvard-style teacher reports.
  • The average GPA among applicants is 3.9.
  • Once the application is submitted, tell your school counselor to send your transcripts and school report. 
  • Harvard requires a mid-year and end-of-year grade update from your counselor on top of whatever transcripts they would send for the application.

For first-year Harvard applicants, the deadline for early decision is November 1st, with notification coming out mid-December. The deadline for regular decision is January 1st, with notification coming out by the end of March. 

Johns Hopkins University

Ranking: #7 in U.S. National Universities

Location: Baltimore, Maryland 

Acceptance: 6.5%

In-state tuition: $60,480 per year

Johns Hopkins University is renowned for its school of medicine. With their pre-health advising, Johns Hopkins can set you on the fast track toward medical school. If you want to jump into their program, you’ll have a boost by being an undergrad.

Below are the Johns Hopkins University admission requirements and application information. The requirements for a strong application should include the following.

  • Supplemental essays with your application.
  • Include any optional standardized testing scores. The middle 50% SAT score of admitted students is 1520-1560, and the ACT score range is 34-35. 
  • Two teacher evaluations (letters of recommendation).
  • The average unweighted GPA of admitted applicants is 3.9.

Johns Hopkins has two rounds of early decision applications. The deadlines for them are November 1st and January 3rd. Decision release comes out December 16th for round one and February 17th for round two. The regular decision deadline has the same January 3rd date but releases a month later, on March 17th. 

Johns Hopkins is the best answer for a non-ivy league option for a pre-med school. The university is considered one of the Ivy Plus Schools, a private college that rivals any Ivy League school.

Stanford University

Ranking: #3 in U.S. National Universities

Location: Stanford, California

Acceptance: 3.68% (Class of 2026)

In-state tuition: $19,231 per quarter 

Stanford is a great school for students looking to start pre-med. While they lack a set pre-med program, they offer guidance through pre-health academic advising to better prepare students and alums planning for medical school.

Below you’ll find admission requirements and application information for getting into Stanford. First-year applicants to Stanford need the following to be competitive. 

  • Include any optional standardized testing scores. 
  • Two letters of recommendation from different teachers. 
  • The average GPA among accepted applicants is 3.96. 
  • A strong supplemental essay helps with admission chances. 

The early action deadline for Stanford is November 1st, with the release by mid-December. The regular decision deadline is January 5th, with the release in early April.

The University of Pennsylvania

Ranking: #7 in U.S. National Universities 

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Acceptance: Approximately 4.1%

In-state tuition: $56,212 per year 

The University of Pennsylvania offers great pre-med courses. While working with an advisor, you’ll plan the academic core classes for med school and your overall degree.

Below you’ll find the application information for the University of Pennsylvania. Since The University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League school, be prepared for a competitive application. The following checklist will help first-year applicants.

  • Include your optional standardized test scores. The middle 50% SAT score range of admitted students is 1510-1560, and the ACT range is 34-36. 
  • U of Penn asks for three letters of recommendation, one from your school counselor, one from a teacher, and one from a non-academic mentor. 
  • The average GPA of accepted applicants is 3.9.
  • The University of Pennsylvania asks for a mid-year and end-of-year report from your school counselor. 

Early decisions for U of Penn deadlines on November 1st, with release in mid-December. Regular decision deadlines are on January 5th, with a release in April.

Columbia University

Ranking: #18 in U.S. National Universities

Location: New York City, New York 

Acceptance: 3.9%

In-state tuition: $65,524 per year

Columbia University is another example of one of the best pre-med schools for students working towards a career in medicine. The Ivy League university offers a Postbac Pre-med curriculum program designed for graduates who need the prerequisites for med school to take those classes with undergrads.

Below you’ll find general admissions info at Columbia University. First-year Columbia applicants can increase their enrollment chances by focusing on these application requirements. 

  • Answer the Columbia application questions truthfully and thoughtfully. Admissions want to know who you are and what goals you have.
  • Columbia does not require standardized testing, but the average SAT score range among applicants is 1510-1560. The middle 50% ACT score range is 34-35.
  • Consider which two teachers you ask for letters of recommendation from carefully. 
  • The average GPA for Columbia applicants is 4.12.

The early decision deadline for Columbia is November 1st, with the decision coming out in mid-December. The deadline for regular decisions is January 1st, with the decision coming out in April. 

Duke University

Ranking: #10 in U.S. National Universities

Location: Durham, North Carolina 

Acceptance: 5.9% 

In-state tuition: $62,941 per year

Any student looking for med school will find Duke University a great choice as one of the best pre-med schools. With the help of the Duke Office of Health Professions Advising, students can make their schedule to help fulfill all the pre-med requirements they need for medical school.  

While getting into Duke may prove challenging since It’s a prestigious Ivy Plus school, the following application inclusions are important to help you stand out. When you apply to Duke as an undergrad, focus on these key parts of your application. 

  • Work carefully on the Duke University application one-page essay and questions. Your answer should be truthful and within whatever prompt you receive. 
  • Duke University is test-optional. Class profile data for 2026 shows that the average SAT score range is 1510-1570, while the ACT range is 34-36.
  • Ask your counselor and two academic teachers for letters of recommendation.
  • An optional interview with a Duke alum may help you stand out.
  • The average GPA among Duke University’s accepted applicants is 4.13.

The early decision for Duke has a deadline of November 1st. The release comes out in mid-December. The regular decision has a deadline of January 3rd, with a release by early April.

Northwestern University

Ranking: #10 in U.S. National Universities

Location: Clarkston, Illinois

Acceptance: 7%

In-state tuition: $20,797 per quarter 

Northwestern University offers a unique Undergraduate Premedical Scholars Program that gives students their pre-med requirements before accepting them directly into Northwestern’s medical school. If Northwestern is your dream among the best schools for pre-med, consider applying. 

Consider these Northwestern application requirements the most important.

  • Any standardized testing score should meet the average of all the applicants.
  • Northwestern is test-optional. The middle 50% SAT and ACT score range of admitted students is 1500-1560 and 33-35, respectively.
  • Northwestern University asks for a letter of recommendation from your counselor and one or more teachers. 
  • The Northwestern University application requires a supplemental essay about what you plan to do during your time at Northwestern.  

The application deadline for early decision is November 1st, with a release in mid-December. Regular decision applicants face a January 2nd deadline and will hear back by late March.

Cornell University

Ranking: #17 in U.S. National Universities

Location: Ithaca, New York 

Acceptance: 7%

In-state tuition: $65,204

Cornell is a great Ivy League university for pre-med. While they don’t offer a major, their pre-health resources and advising will set you on the right education track for pre-med. You can then focus on any of Cornell’s 40 majors for your undergrad degree.

Below, you’ll find the top requirements for getting into Cornell.

  • Write in your Cornell writing supplement about your academic goals. 
  • Your standardized testing score is optional. The middle 50% SAT range of recently admitted students is 1510, and the middle 50% ACT range is 34.
  • Include your counselor's recommendation and two teacher evaluations.

  Cornell’s early decision deadline is November 1st, with a release in mid-December. Their regular decision deadline is January 2nd, with a release in early April.

UNC-Chapel Hill

Ranking: #29 U.S. National Universities

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina 

Acceptance: 19%

In-state tuition: $7,020

When looking for the best pre-med schools, consider UNC-Chapel Hill as a great option. UNC offers a top-ranked public university to help you meet your pre-med requirements. With their health professional’s advice, you’ll succeed in medical school. 

Listed below are the most important first-year application requirements for UNC. 

  • Write your UNC personal essay as a person, not a student.
  • UNC is test-optional. Class profile data from 2026 shows UNC-Chapel Hill converted all ACT scores to SAT scores; the middle 50% score range of all students is 1360-1500.
  • Find a teacher with whom you have a good relationship for a strong letter of recommendation. 

UNC-Chapel Hill's deadline is on October 15th, with the admission decision back on January 15th. UNC's regular decision ends on January 15th, with your decision back on March 31st. 

Washington University at St. Louis

Ranking: #15 in U.S. National Universities

Location: St. Louis, Missouri 

Acceptance: 11% (Class of 2026)

In-state tuition: $61,750 per year

The University of Washington, another of the best pre-med schools, can fast-track students toward a medical degree. Students can take the pre-med undergraduate class requirements through the Washington University pre-health program while earning their bachelor’s. 

Below, you’ll find admission information for the competitive WashU application. Following Wash U’s application guidelines for applying students should help you improve your admission chances. Focus on these requirements. 

  • Washington University prioritizes applicants with rigorous classes with a great background in extra circulars, work experience, and community service.
  • A well-thought-out answer helps your 200-word application essay.
  • Include your strong standardized testing score, although it’s optional. The middle 50% range of admitted students’ SAT scores and ACT scores from the class of 2026 is 1500-1570 and 33-35, respectively.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation from your counselor and a teacher who knows you well. 

Students can apply for early decision until November 1st. Applicants will hear back by December 16th. The second round of early decision goes until January 1st, with an admission response by February 16th. Regular decision deadlines are on January 1st, with response release on April 1st.

FAQs: Best Pre-Med Schools

Below, you’ll find common questions about pre-med schools and their application process. 

1. What College Has the Best Pre-Med Program?

The college that has the best pre-med program in America is Harvard University. The quality of education while on a pre-med focus for your science degree sets Harvard apart. If you’re looking for a medical school after, Harvard is also a great choice if you reapply.

2. What Is the Easiest Pre-Med School to Get Into?

The easiest pre-med schools to get into are any with the highest acceptance rate, but they won’t be the best. Most of the best pre-meds schools have extremely low acceptance rates because of their competitive applications. The easiest Pre-med schools to get into are the less popular and prestigious schools.

Students should apply for the pre-med college that fits their GPA with the best pre-med track, not because it’s easy. 

3. What Is the Hardest Pre-Med Major?

Of all the science and health majors you can take while fulfilling your pre-med requirements, majoring in chemistry is considered the hardest. Most students trying to qualify for pre-med pick a science major because their pre-med core requirements fit best into a science degree. Chemistry is the most difficult science degree to take.

4. Is Majoring in Pre-Med Worth It?

Pre-med is worth majoring in if you intend to become a doctor. However, most schools only offer pre-med as a series of required college classes to prepare and qualify you for medical school. The courses are part of a science degree, like biology or chemistry. You’ll need knowledge from specific courses to pass the med school exam. 

5. What Are the Best Non-Ivy League Schools for Pre-med?

Since they are extremely competitive, Ivy League schools may not be achievable for some. Here are some great examples of non-Ivy League schools for pre-med:

  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Stanford University
  • Duke University
  • Washington University at St. Louis
  • Northwestern University 
  • UNC-Chapel Hill

These schools provide a quality of education equivalent to Ivy League schools.

Final Thoughts

Pre-med is not a college major. It is a list of required college classes you must take to prepare for the medical school exam. With them, you will meet the requirements to attend medical school. To qualify for med school, students need guidance to meet their pre-med class requirements from a reputable college.

Finding a great school for pre-med is an important step toward becoming a doctor. The best pre-med schools offer the highest quality of education for the classes that medical schools want to see on your transcript. Any top pre-med schools will provide the knowledge students require for med-school.

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