10 Most Selective Medical Schools

US News

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

Med schools may be on a mission to increase enrollment, but that doesn't mean they're accepting just anyone. In fact, some medical schools are being even more selective.

At George Washington University's School of Medicine and Health Sciences, only 2.1 percent of fall 2012 applicants were offered admission, down from 3.1 percent in fall 2010. This drop could be caused by a spike in applicants, which jumped by more than 4,100 between 2010 and 2012, according to data reported by the school.

The D.C.-based med school is not alone in its selectivity. The average acceptance rate at U.S. medical programs for fall 2012 was only 8.3 percent, according to data reported by 114 ranked medical schools in an annual U.S. News survey.

[Learn why most med school applications are rejected.]

That rate drops to an average of 3.3 percent at the 10 pickiest institutions, making getting into the most selective programs akin to winning the med school lottery.

Mayo Medical School in Minnesota, which tied George Washington with a 2.1 percent acceptance rate, is the only school on the list that isn't located on the coasts. Three California med schools -- Stanford University School of Medicine, University of California--San Francisco and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA -- represented the West Coast.

[Find out which med schools receive the most applications.]

East Coast schools include top-ranked Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts, as well as the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and the School of Medicine at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Schools designated by U.S. News as Unranked were excluded from this list. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for Unranked programs because the program did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.

Below are the 10 medical schools with the lowest acceptance rates for fall 2012.

Medical school (name) (state) Applicants Acceptances Acceptance rate U.S. News research rank U.S. News primary care rank
George Washington University (DC) 14,700 316 2.1% 57 RNP*
Mayo Medical School (MN) 4,081 85 2.1% 27 19
Stanford University (CA) 6,810 189 2.8% 2 62
Wake Forest University (NC) 8,161 256 3.1% 46 19
Brown University (Alpert) (RI) 6,782 228 3.4% 31 24
Georgetown University (DC) 11,733 398 3.4% 48 72
Harvard University (MA) 5,804 226 3.9% 1 14
University of California--San Francisco 6,926 273 3.9% 4 4
Columbia University (NY) 7,466 309 4.1% 8 49
University of California--Los Angeles (Geffen) 6,771 279 4.1% 13 11

(*RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one-fourth of all medical and osteopathic schools. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.)

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Medical School Compass to find applicant data, complete rankings and much more.

U.S. News surveyed more than 140 medical schools for our 2012 survey of research and primary care programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Medical Schools rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The acceptance rate data above are correct as of April 30, 2013.

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