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Where to Apply to Medical School & Easiest Medical Schools to Get Into (2020-2021)

A proven school list strategy to help you get into medical school the first time.

Where to apply to medical school and Easiest Medical Schools to Get Into

As a medical school applicant, you have worked your hardest to do everything“right.” But, you know that when it comes to medical school admissions, there is no such thing as an “easy” medical school to get in to or a “safety school.” The vast majority of medical school applicants rarely have safety schools on their medical school lists as they did when they applied to for college.

Since only 40% of medical school applicants, on average, are accepted to medical school each year, getting in to any allopathic (MD-granting) medical school in the United States is difficult and competitive. However, there are some strategies you can employ and medical schools that are “easier” to get in to than others. Therefore, making a strategic school list is one of the key things you can do to ensure your success in this process. In fact, one of the most common reasons applicants are not accepted to medical school the first time they apply is because they do not compose a well-balanced school list.

In this article, based on the most current data, we will help you increase your odds of medical school acceptance by outlining how to compose your school list and identifying the “easiest” public and private medical schools to get in for the 2020-2021 application season. When deciding which medical schools you should apply to, there are many factors to consider including your overall competitiveness, school prestige, geography, and cost. Accurately gauging your overall competitiveness is key when deciding where to apply to medical school. 

Here are some questions we will answer:

  • Where Should I Apply to Medical School?
  • How Many Medical Schools Should I Apply To?
  • What are the Easiest Medical Schools to Get Into?
  • What are the LizzyM Score and WedgeDawg Calculator?
The Importance of Location When Making Your School List

Many students prefer to attend medical school in a particular area of the country. Here are some questions to answer:

  • Do you want to live in an urban or suburban environment?
  • What climate to you prefer?
  • Do you prefer a large city or smaller city?
  • Are you single or do you have a family?
  • Where is your support system and do you want to be close to existing friends or family?

There are many personal factors that will impact your decision about where you would like to attend medical school. Also keep in mind that many students end up doing their residency training where they attended medical school or at their medical school’s affiliated hospitals. Applicants who are very competitive can sometimes have the luxury of choosing where they would like to attend school; however, those who are less competitive often cannot be this choosy.

However, one of the biggest reasons that geography is so important is because your state residency will often determine what medical schools you are most likely to get accepted to. Why? Public or state schools offer preference to in state residents. By the same token, as an out of state resident you will have a very difficult time getting accepted to some public medical schools.

For example, let’s say you are a Connecticut resident and you have a 505 on the MCAT. You see that The University of Mississippi has an average MCAT of 505 and decide to apply. This is not a great idea because Mississippi accepts no  out of state residents. Therefore, you have zero shot of getting in there.

Many medical schools that have the lowest median GPA and MCAT scores for accepted students are state schools that either accept very few, or no, out of state applicants. Therefore, these state medical schools might be “easiest” to gain acceptance to as an in state applicant but extremely difficult, or impossible, to gain admission to as an out of state applicant.

Admissions Statistics (Likelihood of Getting In)

When trying to determine how competitive you are for any medical school, the first thing to consider is your MCAT and GPA. Most medical schools will not publish the minimum GPA and MCAT required for consideration. You should review the admissions statistics for matriculated and accepted applicants at all medical schools to determine where to apply. This information can be found in the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR®) book published and available in an online version from the AAMC® and the online version of US News and World Report. Next consider a medical program’s acceptance rate, if the medical school is a public (state) or private school, and the number of applications received and percentage of applicants interviewed. You can view that data on our website.

Easiest Public and State Medical Schools to get Into 2020

Let’s review the allopathic public American medical colleges that are the easiest to get in to. With this data, we will include the percentage of out of state matriculants to offer an idea of how competitive that medical school is for out of state applicants. For medical schools with very low out of state matriculation rates (less than 15%) the medical school usually only accept out of state students that have an association with the state in some capacity such as having lived there previously or if the applicant attended undergraduate college in the state. All of the schools on this are public except for Mercer University School of Medicine in Georgia which is private, but, only accepts Georgia residents. You will also see that these schools accept mostly state residents.

School NameTypeMCATGPAPercent of Out of State Students
Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University Public5083.660
East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine Public5093.812.5%
Florida State University College of Medicine Public5073.771%
Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport NA5053.763%
Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Public5033.7422%
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Public5083.7128%
Mercer University School of Medicine Private5063.680
Northeast Ohio Medical University Public5053.826%
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Public5083.770
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine Public5083.837.5%
University of Arizona College of Medicine NA5083.7226%
University of Kansas School of Medicine NA5093.8211%
University of Kentucky College of Medicine NA5083.7910%
University of Mississippi School of Medicine Public5053.770
University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine Public5073.82 5% (Does not include BS/MD matriculants)
University of New Mexico School of Medicine Public5073.810%
University of South Alabama Public5083.856.7%
University of Texas Rio Grande Public5083.587.4%
University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences Public5073.8238%
University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine Public5043.82%

Top 10 Easiest Private Medical Schools to Get Into 2020

Top 10 Easiest Private Medical Schools to Get Into

When reviewing the data available to determine which medical schools are the easiest to gain accepted to, there are a few things to keep in mind. Many medical schools that have the lowest median GPA and MCAT scores for accepted students are state schools that either accept very few, or no, out of state applicants. Therefore, these state medical schools might be “easiest” to gain acceptance to as an in state applicant but extremely difficult, or impossible, to gain admission to as an out of state applicant.

Since all med schools have a finite number of interview slots each year, they have to be careful about how they fill those interview slots. For this reason, a medical school with a median MCAT of 509 is not likely to interview a student with a 525 on the MCAT. Why? The medical school admissions committee might assume that a student with an MCAT that is so much higher than the school’s average for accepted students will be unlikely to attend. Therefore, they might decide not to “waste” an interview slot for such an exceptional applicant. By the same token, a school with a median GPA of 3.5 may not interview someone with a GPA of 4.0.

Below are the overall top 10 easiest medical schools to get in to as an out of state student in 2020. Rankings are based on a combination of average MCAT, GPA, and out of state matriculants.

      1. San Juan Bautista School of Medicine (Caguas, PR)
      2. Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine (Ponce, PR)
      3. Meharry Medical College (Nashville, TN)
      4. Howard University College of Medicine (Washington, DC)
      5. Loma Linda University School of Medicine (Loma Linda, CA)
      6. Albany Medical College (Albany, NY)
      7. Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine (Maywood, IL)
      8. Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI)
      9. Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine (Davie, FL)
      10. Rush Medical College (Chicago, IL)

Out of State (OOS) Tips

easiest medical schools to get into out of state

Easiest Private Medical Schools to get Into in 2020

In contrast to public state medical schools, private medical schools have less preference and obligation to in state applicants. For this reason, they are least competitive for both in state and out of state applicants.

School NameLocationTypeMCATGPAPercent of Out of State Students
Albany Medical College Albany, NY Private5103.771%
Creighton University School of Medicine Omaha, NE Private5113.7894%
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine Private5113.7328%
Hackensack-Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University Nutley, NJ Private5113.7350%
Howard University College of Medicine Washington, DC Private5043.5188%
Loma Linda University School of Medicine Loma Linda, CA Private5093.8850%
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Maywood, IL Private5103.766%
Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI Private5103.7443%
Meharry Medical College Nashville, TN Private5023.5476%
Morehouse School of Medicine Atlanta, GA Private5063.6937%
Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine Davie, FL Private5113.7145%
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine Hershey, PA Private5113.8160%
Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine Ponce, PR Private5003.6529%
Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL Private5113.7264%
San Jaun Bautista School of Medicine Caguas, PR Private4973.6530%
Universidad Central del Caribe Bayamon, PR Private4993.739%

The Ultimate Guide Getting into Medical School ebook

Looking for the easiest medical schools to get into?  Let this power tool help you.

Medical School Tuition and Costs

Medical school is expensive, and some students prefer to attend an in-state medical school to defray costs where tuition is lower. For example, let say you are from Massachusetts. The tuition cost to go to The University of Massachusetts is $37,578 versus $63,671 at Harvard Medical School. Now, let’s look at the four year tuition costs.

To go to The University of Massachusetts, the four year cost is $150,312.

To go to Harvard Medical School, the four year cost is $254,684.

So, as a Massachusetts resident, you could save $104,372 by going to your state school. That is a lot money!

Regardless of where you go to medical school you will have to consider room and board (unless you can live at home) in to your overall costs as well.

Some medical schools also have large endowments and offer generous scholarships to some accepted applicants. It is also important to factor in cost of living which can be more in urban areas if medical schools don’t offer housing options or most students live off campus. If you need to take out loans for medical school, calculate how much debt you might graduate with as you consider where to attend.

Medical School Curriculum and Features

Outstanding medical schools have excellent departments in most disciplines, but, if you have a special interest in a particular field, be aware of what medical schools have programs that will allow you to explore and develop your niche. If you know you want to practice primary care in a community setting and have no interest in research, for example, attending a medical school with a research requirement where most students go on to subspecialize might be a poor choice.

Some medical school curriculums still use lectures and labs as primary teaching methods, but most have now moved towards small group, case based learning, which is also referred to as problem based learning (PBL). PBL encourages collaborative problem solving and peer education. Almost all schools now incorporate simulation learning into their curriculums, where students work on computerized mannequins to help them learn to diagnose and treat patients. Some schools have more sophisticated “sim centers” than others but don’t be fooled; effective learning requires outstanding teachers and supportive educational environments, which does not always correlate with impressive facilities. Prestigious medical schools typically have the most progressive curriculums, and medical schools are now incorporating “longitudinal patient care experiences” through which medical students care for the same patients during a specified period.

The trend in undergraduate medical education is to blur the line between the preclinical (first and second years) and clinical years (third and fourth years) of medical school, a distinction that used to be well defined. This blurring is being accomplished in medical schools throughout the country by incorporating varying degrees of early patient exposure. Though I discourage students from considering curriculums in deciding where they should apply, variations in curriculums can be factored in if you have to choose between multiple medical schools. Also consider that most of your last two years are spent doing rotations at hospitals affiliated with the medical school you attend. Consider these environments, too, as you decide where to apply.

For some students grading systems are an important consideration with pass/fail as an attractive option. However, I discourage applicants from using this as a factor when deciding where to apply; this becomes more important if you are lucky to have multiple acceptances!

For many medical school applicants, a school’s prestige is a very important factor when deciding where to apply. However, the majority of applicants should apply to a range of medical schools, not only the most prestigious institutions, since the process is not predictable and no one is a shoe-in for medical school admissions.

Where Should I Apply to Medical School in 2020?

Where Should I Apply to Medical School?

It goes without saying. The more medical schools you apply to the greater your chances of getting in. Ultimately how many schools you apply to will depend on how competitive you are and how many reach schools you want to apply to. As a general rule, the more competitive you are, the fewer schools you should apply to, and, if you are less competitive, you should apply to more medical schools. So you don’t exhaust yourself physically, emotionally, and financially, we recommend medical school applicants apply to approximately 25 medical schools, however, if you are a very competitive applicant, you might apply to more medical schools, and a less competitive applicant would apply to more.

Unlike other admissions processes, there is no such thing as a safety school in medicine! However, the “safest” schools are those where your GPA and MCAT are higher than the average for applicants accepted to any given medical school. Reach schools are those where your MCAT and GPA are lower than those of accepted students. Target schools are those medical schools where your GPA and MCAT match or close to the metrics for accepted students. When making up a school list, always apply to your state medical schools since those are often the “safest” medical schools for in-state applicants. By the same token, out of state students are not competitive for state medical schools that accept few to no out of state student regardless of how competitive the MCAT and GPA.

Here are the steps we suggest you take to determine your school list:

  • Get access to the MSAR to have access to all medical school’s average MCAT and GPAS. This will cost you a small sum ($28), but, this resources offers the most reliable admissions data and is much more reliable than any “calculators.”
  • What are your state schools? Review the average GPA and MCAT for your state schools. Unless you MCAT is more than four points lower, or your GPA more than 0.45 points lower, apply to those medical schools.
  • Determine your safest schools. If your GPA is more than .25 points higher OR if your MCAT is more than 3 points higher, the medical school is a “safest” school.
  • Determine your target schools. If your GPA is within .25 points higher or lower than the a medical schools average OR If your MCAT is within 3 points, higher or lower, then this is a target school.
  • Determine your reach schools. If your GPA is more than .25 points lower than a medical school OR if your MCAT is more than 3 points lower, the school is a reach.

When using this formula, if your MCAT and GPA put you in different categories for a given school, always use the lowest category. For example, let’s say your GPA puts you in a “target” range for a given school, but, your MCAT score puts that school in the “reach” category. We advise to always consider the school a “reach” rather than a target school. Using the same logic, if your GPA makes the school a “target” school, but, your MCAT would put that you in the “safest” category, consider that school a “target.”

When applying to medical schools, use this breakdown:

  • 15-20% of the schools you apply to should be “reach” schools.
  • 40-50% of the schools you apply to should be “target” schools
  • 45-30% of the schools you apply to should be “safest” schools.

The above strategy is a great place to start, however, you must realize that many factors go in to making a school list such as your experiences, written documents, letters of reference, and background. Also, depending on your stats and other factors, we might recommend applying to more of less schools in the three categories. Repeating the rule of thumb stated earlier, the more competitive an applicant you are, the more “reach-heavy” your list might be, and, the less competitive, the more “safest-heavy” your list should be.

How Many Medical Schools Should I Apply To In 2020?

How Many Medical Schools Should I Apply to?

The most recent AAMC data shows that, on average, each applicant submits 17 medical school applications. If you are an extremely competitive applicant for either your state schools or private schools, you might be able to apply to only 17 medical schools. However, since the process is so unpredictable and subjective, we recommend that that the more typical applicant apply to 25 medical schools or more.

What is the WedgeDawg Applicant Rating System or What is the WARS Calculator?

What is the WedgeDawg Applicant Rating System or What is the WARS Calculator?

The WedgeDawg SDN or WARS calculator is a system created by an Student Doctor Network user that determines your overall competitiveness and then offers guidance of how many schools in different tiers you should apply to. WARS predecessor is the LizzyM score which utilized a simpler formula (GPA*10) + MCAT. While LizzyM is a great tool to use to compare yourself to other applicants, WARS uses more data points which makes it a better tool in our opinion.

First, let’s review the 11 factors that WARS has you input:

  • GPA
  • MCAT
  • Research
  • Clinical Experience
  • Shadowing
  • Volunteering
  • Leadership and Teaching
  • Miscellaneous
  • Undergraduate School
  • Representation in Medicine
  • GPA Trend

By inputting your data for these 11 categories, WARS will then calculate your level with a range of 0 – 121. You will then be put in one of 6 levels depending on your total score:

  • Level S: 85
  • Level A: 80
  • Level B: 75
  • Level C: 68
  • Level D: 60
  • Level E: 0

Finally, you will be guided, based on your level, how many schools to apply to in each of seven categories which are as follows:

  • Category 1 (TOP): Harvard, Stanford, Hopkins, UCSF, Penn, WashU, Yale, Columbia, Duke, Chicago
  • Category 2 (HIGH): Michigan, UCLA*, NYU, Vanderbilt, Pitt, UCSD*, Cornell, Northwestern, Mt Sinai, Baylor*, Mayo, Case Western, Emory
  • Category 3 (MID): UTSW*, UVA, Ohio State, USC-Keck, Rochester, Dartmouth, Einstein, Hofstra, UNC*
  • Category 4 (LOW): USF-Morsani, Wayne State, Creighton, Oakland, SLU, Cincinnati, Indiana, Miami, Iowa, MC Wisconsin, Toledo, SUNY Downstate, Stony Brook, VCU, Western MI, EVMS, Vermont, WVU, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, Wake Forest, Maryland
  • Category 5 (STATE): Your state schools if they do not appear elsewhere on this list – You should always apply to all of these if applying MD
  • Category 6 (LOW YIELD): Jefferson, Tulane, Tufts, Georgetown, Brown, BU, Loyola, Rosalind Franklin, Drexel, Commonwealth, Temple, GWU, NYMC, Penn State, Albany, Rush
  • Category 7 (DO): DO Schools

For example, an “S” level applicant is advised to apply to 22 schools in total with the following percentages:

  1. Category 1 – 45%
  2. Category 2- 35%
  3. Category 3 – 15%
  4. Category 4/5 – 5%

After using the WARS calculator with numerous different points, we can tell you that it is a decent tool to use as a very general guide.  In MedEdits’ experience, it is extremely rare that we recommend any applicant apply to only 22 medical schools. So, what this indicates is that the total number of medical schools WARS recommends you apply to is very conservative.

What are the downsides of the WARS calculator?

  1. You will subjectively determine the value of your experiences. As you know by now, so much of how you are evaluated is not based on your objective experiences, but, on the way you write about your experiences, your path, your insights and observations. The medical school admissions process is a nuanced process the results of which cannot be determined by any calculator.
  2. Based on MedEdits internal acceptance data, we do not agree with all of the WARS school categories.
  3. The calculator cannot factor in the quality of your letters of reference.
  4. The calculator is not a great predictor for MD/PhD applicants.
  5. There is no way to input your interview performance which is the greatest predictor of success once you reach that stage in the medical school admissions process.
  6. There is no way to input discrepancies in your data (high MCAT, low GPA, for example).
  7. All osteopathic schools are lumped together in a single category. Just like allopathic medical schools, some osteopathic medical schools are more competitive than others!

Again, we want to emphasize that WARS is a very effective tool to offer you a general idea of your overall competitiveness and the range of medical schools for which you will be competitive.

Final Thoughts

One of the biggest reasons medical school applicants are not accepted the first time they apply to medical school is because of a poorly chosen school list. While there are many nuances to the school list selection process, being realistic about your competitiveness and using the available data to your advantage will best position you to get into medical school the first (or second) time you apply. Keep in mind that you will receive a quality education at any U.S. medical school!

The Ultimate Guide Getting into Medical School ebook

What is the easiest medical school to get into? Let this power tool help you.

About MedEdits

MedEdits helps students get admitted to medical school and residency programs. Our consultants have years of experience serving on medical school admissions committees, and as faculty members at the top medical schools in the country.

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MedEdits Medical Admissions Founder and Chairwoman, Jessica Freedman, MD
JESSICA FREEDMAN, M.D., is president of MedEdits Medical Admissions and author of the MedEdits Guide to Medical Admissions and The Medical School Interview. Follow Dr. Freedman and MedEdits on Facebook and Twitter.
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