Undergraduate College Choice and Medical School Admissions (2023-2024)

Does College Prestige Matter for Medical School?

MedEdits: Medical School and Residency Admissions Success


We are often asked by both high school students and current undergraduates if where you go to college impacts your success when applying to medical school. Where you attend college will not determine your success in the medical school admissions process but you should be aware of some caveats. There are certainly some undergraduate colleges who have a high percentage of students who attend prestigious medical schools. But, this has less to do with the college attended and more to do with how the student performs at that college and what they take advantage of while a student.

All medical school applicants, regardless of the undergraduate college, must be high achieving to be successful in this process.

Undergraduate College Prestige and Medical School Admissions

There are some undergraduate colleges that have a very high percentage of medical school applicants who are successful when applying to college. This is why we recommend students seek out this information when deciding where to attend college as a premed. As you can see from some of the data in this article, graduates of top 20 colleges do dominate some medical school classes.

When I worked in admissions at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai we had a list of rigorous colleges that gave applicants extra “points.” There is no question that some undergraduate schools earn students instant respect in the eyes of admissions officers.

That said, every year at MedEdits we work with students from a wide range of colleges who successfully gain admission to medical school and attending a prestigious undergraduate college is not necessary to be successful.

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MCAT and GPA and What Matters Most

What matters most when applying to medical school? How you performed as an undergraduate and what you accomplished in the years between high school and applying to medical school.

Your MCAT and GPA are the two data points that are the most important to determine your foundational competitiveness for medical school.

Let’s consider the two students below:

Student A: Princeton University Graduate, 507 MCAT, 3.8 GPA, majority applicant, excellent research, clinical experiences, and community service.

Student B: Pennsylvania State University Graduate, 522 MCAT, 3.8 GPA, majority applicant, excellent research, clinical experiences, and community service.

Student A, despite being a Princeton graduate, will have a tough time gaining acceptance to an allopathic medical school while Student B, who took advantage of what Penn State had to offer, likely saved money by going to a state school, and earned a stellar MCAT, will have no problem getting accepted.

Which Colleges Have the Most Medical School Applicants?

When deciding where to attend college, it is important to consider the premedical community at the college as well as the resources and opportunities available to premeds. Reviewing the data for colleges with the highest and lowest number of medical school applicants can offer some insight into which schools have a vibrant premed population. That said, it is important to consider student body size when reviewing this information since large universities tend to have the most premeds.

In the 2022-2023 academic year, the colleges that supply the most medical school applicants according to the Association of American Medical Colleges might surprise you.

  • University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA: 1,1195
  • University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX: 993
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, FL: 860
  • University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: 735
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI: 824
  • University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA: 646
  • Texas A & M University, College Station, TX: 579
  • The Ohio State University Main Campus, Columbus, OH: 522
  • University of Georgia, Athens, GA: 592
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC: 541
  • University of Virginia: 511
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD: 506
  • University of California-Davis, Davis, CA: 481
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI: 510
  • University of Washington, Seattle, WA: 464
  • Rutgers University – New Brunswick, New Brunswick, NJ: 442
  • University of South Florida, Tampa, FL: 438
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI: 486
  • University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA: 430
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: 405
  • University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL: 415

Which Colleges Have the Fewest Medical School Applicants?

Not surprisingly, some of the most prestigious undergraduate liberal arts colleges that typically have outstanding admissions results, have the lowest number of applicants. This is reflected by the fact that these schools have small student bodies.

  • Amherst College, Amherst, MA: 54
  • Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA: 66
  • Barnard College, New York, NY: 75
  • Williams College, Williamstown, MA: 73
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA: 69
  • Davidson College, Davidson, NC: 64
  • Carleton College, Northfield, MN: 54
  • Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA: 50 

  • Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH: 50

Sample Medical School Undergraduate College Profiles

As you can see from the data below, graduates of “name brand” schools tend to dominate at highly ranked medical schools. You can also see that medical schools tend to take many students from their own undergraduate institutions (if applicable) and in-state students. Also keep in mind that medical school class sizes are large and comprised of a diverse group of undergraduate institutions.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Class size 183)

Most-highly represented undergraduate colleges, with three or more students:

  • Barnard,
  • Brown
  • The City University of New York
  • Columbia
  • Cornell
  • Emory
  • Fordham
  • Georgetown
  • Harvard
  • Johns Hopkins
  • New York University
  • Rutgers
  • The State University of New York
  • The University of California
  • The University of Michigan
  • The University of Minnesota
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • The University of Virginia
  • Yeshiva University

University of Michigan Medical School (Class size of 170)

Undergraduate institutions with highest number of students

  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor: 46
  • Harvard 7
  • Cornell, Hopkins: 6
  • Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, Williams: 4
  • Brown, Emory, Northwestern, U Chicago, U Penn, USC, Wellesley, Yale: 3

    : 4

Tufts Medical School (Class size of 195)

Undergraduate colleges with the highest number of students:

  • Tufts University: 44
  • Boston College: 8
  • Northeastern: 7
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: 7
  • UCLA: 6
  • Colby: 5
  • Cornell: 5
  • Bates: 4
  • Johns Hopkins University: 4
  • University of California-Berkeley: 4
  • Emory: 4
  • Washington University: 4

How can you be Successful?

The bottom line is that you can be a successful medical school applicant from any four year undergraduate college in the United States. The academic, scholarly and extracurricular experiences you need to be competitive does not vary based on your undergraduate college so, rest assured, you can be a smashing success anywhere!

For further inspiration, read these articles:

Medical School Requirements: The Ultimate Guide 

Best Extracurriculars for Medical School: The Ultimate Guide

What MCAT Score do you Need to Get Into Medical School?

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.