On the Pacific Coast of the United States, California is famous for its entertainment – especially Hollywood – as well as a great mix of geographical features, from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the beach. Studying in California offers a great range of cultural and social environments, from city universities to more secluded campuses in natural surroundings. California’s range of teaching hospitals and clinical centers also offers great variety for practical training during medical school. Read on to discover the best medical schools in California.
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Top Medical Schools in California
1. Stanford University Medical School
Few American universities are as well-known worldwide as Stanford University. Part of the prestigious group of Ivy League colleges and renowned for its high-quality curriculum, Stanford is one of the best universities in the world, and Stanford University Medical School is the best medical school in California. It is also extremely competitive and difficult to get into, accepting only around 1.2% of applicants and requiring very good academic histories from incoming classes.
This research-intensive medical school offers an MD program with a flexible curriculum which will allow students to pick one of five pathways to their studies:
- An MD with scholarly concentration, completed over 4 years
- An MD with in-depth research experience offering the option to extend the final year so that the whole program is completed in 5 years
- An MD with a Master’s degree in additional 15 diverse fields of complementary interest, completed over 5-6 years
- MD + BERG Scholars program – developed for MD students with research interests in basic laboratory or data science, who are looking for careers as physician-scientists. Studies last 6 years
- MD-PhD program over 6-8 years.
2. University of California – Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine
Named after school benefactor David Geffen, the UCLA medical school was founded in 1951 as the second medical school in the University of California after UCSF. This came about as it became evident that southern California also needed a medical school after World War II. Over the years, the medical school here has developed and attracted many high-profile medical professionals and researchers, creating a very well respected learning environment for students looking to join the medical profession.
The curriculum for the four-year MD program is split into a pre-clinical block where students develop human biology knowledge as well as learn about disease and clinical skills. They then progress to foundations of clinical practice and finally move on to a fourth year where many elective courses can be taken in order to solidify one’s knowledge in particular areas of interest.
3. University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
UCSF has a world renowned School of Medicine, ranking 2nd or 3rd in California consistently, and boasting an amazing set of faculty members including Nobel laureates and National Academy of Medicine members. The School’s history extends back to 1864 when Toland Medical College was founded, subsequently joining the University of California in 1873. The current location on the Parnassus Heights campus dates back to 1898.
The School has developed constantly, building state-of-the-art facilities and research laboratories, earning prestigious prizes in recognition of the medical research work done on site. As a result of its high reputation and great alumni, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine makes our list of top medical schools in California.
The UCSF Medical school’s great prestige leads to it being a very competitive school to get into, accepting only 1.9% of applicants after a rigorous admissions process. 77% of students are California residents.
4. University of California San Diego School of Medicine
The University of California San Diego opened its School of Medicine in 1968, continuing to be the only medical school in the La Jolla area. They are not only a top medical school in California, but also nationwide across the US.
The School is part of a collaboration network called UC San Diego Health, including the UC San Diego Medical Center, Jacobs Medical Center, Moores Cancer Center, Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, Shirley Eye Institute and other research and specialized care centers throughout the San Diego area. It is also closely linked to the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. This all means that medical students have unlimited research and clinical practice opportunities, enabling them to focus on the aspects of medicine they are most interested in.
There is also an MD/PhD program on offer.
5. University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
Founded in 1885, the Keck School of Medicine is the second oldest medical school in California after UCSF. It is located in northeastern Los Angeles and offers an MD degree as well as combined degrees such as the MD/PhD and also an MD/MBA. The School has access to many teaching hospitals within the Los Angeles greater region, including the LAC+USC Medical Center, a well-known trauma center.
Research opportunities also abound at the Keck School, including summer fellowships and the Scholarly Project which is a special course designed for year 2 medical students, to provide them with the skills to participate in hypothesis-driven research.
6. University of California Davis School of Medicine
UC Davis School of Medicine is one of the top medical schools in California based in Sacramento and has been in operation since 1966. It is a highly competitive and sought after medical school, highly ranked for its primary care methodology and its research methodology. UC Davis Medical Center is the school’s directly affiliated teaching hospital, one of five such hospitals part of the University of California and ranked among the top 50 hospitals in the United States.
UC Davis has a dedicated Clinical Education and Assessment Center coordinating the opportunities for clinical education for students. There is a Standardized Patient Program, which employs actors portraying various patient scenarios in order to teach real-life situations in the medical profession.
7. University of California Irvine School of Medicine
The final school in our list of best medical schools in California is the UC Irvine School of Medicine. This medical school is spread across the Irvine campus, the city of Irvine and Orange. It was founded by A.C. Moore in 1896 and joined UC Irvine formally in 1967. The School of Medicine offers a variety of programs, including post-graduate studies and of course the flagship MD program.
The UC Irvine medical school is famous for studies in epidemiology, cellular and molecular biosciences, neuroscience, pharmacology, and toxicology. They are also proud to count one Nobel prize winner among their faculty: Irwin Rose, 2004 winner, known for Ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation.
Class sizes are small at UC Irvine, accepting only 86 students in every intake of the MD program.
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