Medical Schools for Research

Because of medical schools’ overall selectivity of students—a little over 40% of all applicants are admitted at all—it’s not always a good idea to narrow down your school search based on specialty, or assumed specialty, for example, medical schools known for primary care vs. those known for research. The good news for you as an applicant is that you will have research opportunities at every medical school, and every medical school will have plenty of opportunities for you to engage in primary care components, including clerkships and electives. That said, some medical schools’ mission is to graduate primary care physicians and many of their resources and their curriculum is geared toward this end goal. In 2018-2018, a total of 65 medical schools had a research requirement for medical studentsmeaning there is a strong chance you will get to perform research activity no matter where you are admitted. Here are some of the best medical schools for research, according to U.S. News and World Report.

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In the 2019 fiscal year, Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons received a total of $407 million in NIH funding spread across 789 NIH awards. Fourth year medical students participate in the Scholarly Projects Program, in which they’re given 4-10 months to engage in a supplementary education experience of their choice. While some students choose to pursue a dual degree or field learning experiences, many choose to perform original research with faculty. VP&S has a low acceptance rate of 3.4%, and in the class of 2022  only 140 MD students matriculated.
[ Learn more about Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons ]

Weill Cornell Medical College’s NIH funding topped $65M in 2019. All third-year medical students complete a capstone project called Areas of Concentration in which they spend at least six months doing in-depth research on a topic of their choosing. Thanks to this focus on research, it’s no wonder that almost 40% of Weill graduates become full-time faculty at academic medical centers, where they can continue their research. The incoming class of 2019 had a median undergraduate science GPA of 3.88 and a median MCAT score of 518.

HMS students have hundreds of opportunities to carry out research, from hypothesis-based research in the basic and clinical sciences to research in the social sciences, arts, and medical humanities. While some students locate research opportunities in their first year, most students will carry out research in their third or fourth year, after they have completed their principal clinical experience in their second year. Over half of any HMS class chooses to take an extra year for either research or study toward a second degree. Harvard Medical School, located in Boston’s medical research hub, is surprisingly small. With a class size of 165, the MD program is highly competitive, with a median matriculant GPA of 3.9 and a median MCAT score of 519. Harvard Medical School received $79,798,644 toward 152 awards in 2019 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
[ Learn more about Harvard Medical School ]
Johns Hopkins University as a whole received the most NIH funding in 2019, with $293,345,595 going toward 565 awards. While M.D.-only students are not required to do research during their years here, the vast majority of them ultimately choose to do so. The Johns Hopkins Medical Student Research Day (MSRD) is an annual event that allows medical students to showcase their scholarly accomplishments. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Hopkins is one of the most competitive MD programs in the United States with a 4.3% acceptance rate. The school admitted only 256 of 6,016 applicants.
[ Learn more about Johns Hopkins School of Medicine ]
As one of the most renowned medical research facilities in the world, the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota received $82,469,749 in NIH funding for 2019, going toward 170 awards. The Mayo Clinic is one of the top research-focused medical schools in the country where you’ll need a 3.91 GPA and 520 on your MCAT to hit the school’s median. At Mayo, your biggest research opportunity begins after you’ve been introduced to the basic sciences and have completed your clinical experiences. During your research quarter in Year 3, you’ll be exposed to the principles and process of biomedical research. You’ll work with a research project adviser faculty member to choose and facilitate a research project that explores an area of interest at a very in-depth level.
[ Learn more about the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine ]
New York University School of Medicine’s NIH research funding in 2019 topped $100M, making it one of the top-50 recipients of all funding. Students are encouraged to become involved with research at an early stage in their careers, develop a relationship with a mentor, pursue a project throughout medical school, continue with research during residency, and incorporate research as an integral component of their career. The Internal Medicine Summer Fellowship Program offers students a wide variety of research projects between the first and second years of medical school. Many students build upon this first research experience by continuing the initial research project to complete a concentration in research and participate in the honors program. NYU School of Medicine offers full-tuition scholarships to all students enrolled in the MD degree program. NYU’s class of 2023 has median GPAs and MCAT scores of 3.93 and 522.
[ Learn more about NYU School of Medicine ]

Not only will you be given tons of opportunities to contribute to scientific discovery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, you will be exposed to world-renowned faculty and groundbreaking research that will inform scientific and medical thought around the globe. DGSOM students can engage in exciting research projects for as little as a summer or much longer. With an entering class of roughly 175 students, UCLA is one of the most sought after programs in the country.
Learn more about UCLA School of Medicine ]

UCSF received $214,144,107 toward 469 awards in NIH funding for the 2019 fiscal year, making it the 6th highest recipient of these research funds. UCSF’s 2019 entering class had a median GPA of 3.8 and a 94th percentile MCAT score. The school received more than 7,800 applications and boasts a focus on admitting students traditionally underrepresented in medicine. Students are encouraged to find research opportunities through the school’s LabSpot portal. UCSF’s Inquiry Symposium and Pathways to Discovery Awards brings together over 100 medical students, mentors, faculty and staff to learn about the latest research led by students and residents from the UCSF schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Nursing.
Learn more about UCSF School of Medicine ]

In 2019, NIH funding for the University of Pennsylvania system was among the top-10, with $216,872,693 allocated toward 493 awards. The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is consistently competitive, boasting median MCAT and GPA scores of 521 and 3.89. If you are thinking about an academic career and interested in conducting research during medical school as a step in that direction, Penn medical students can choose from a wide variety of opportunities, including summer research between the first and second year. Medical students will engage in some form of research for a minimum of three months to fulfill their Scholarly Pursuit requirement while some will choose to do a full year of research. If you’ve completed your third year of med school, you can opt to take a full Year Out to conduct elective research.
Learn more about Perelman ]

In 2019, Stanford University was the fifth highest recipient of NIH funding with $211,147,696 toward 446 awards. The Scholarly Concentration program is a required, structured program of study in the Medical Student Curriculum that promotes in-depth learning and scholarship. It gives medical students faculty-mentored scholarly experiences in areas of individual interest combined with structured coursework to support this scholarship. This component of the MD curriculum develops critical thinking, skills in evaluation of new data, and hands-on experience with the methods by which new scholarly information is generated. The Scholarly Concentration program has 16 areas of study, including 8 foundation areas, and 8 application areas. All students must select one of the 8 foundation areas, which are designed to develop skills and tools that can be applied to important problems in healthcare.
[ Learn more about Stanford School of Medicine ]
Washington University in St. Louis received $218,788,095 toward 439 awards as an institution in 2019 NIH funding. Though research is not required, 95% of WashU medical students – most of whom are preparing for specialties in clinical practice – complete a research project while working on their MD. It’s no surprise then that 18 Nobel Laureates are associated with Washington University School of Medicine.
[ Learn more about Washington University School of Medicine ]


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