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Aspiring doctors should understand that getting into a U.S. medical school is difficult. The sad reality is that demand for a medical education greatly outstrips the supply.
Statistics from the Association of American Medical Colleges reveal that there were 52,777 medical school applicants seeking admission for the 2018-2019 school year. They typically applied to more than a dozen schools, with an average of 16 applications per applicant. Nevertheless, around 41% of those applicants -- 21,622 individuals -- matriculated, according to AAMC data.
Among the 118 ranked medical schools in the U.S. News Best Medical Schools rankings that reported fall 2018 applicant numbers, the average was 5,793. However, among the 10 schools with the most applicants, the average was more than twice as high: 11,745. At the other end of the spectrum, among the 10 ranked medical schools with the fewest applicants, the average was 1,445.
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, an osteopathic medical school in Pennsylvania, had the biggest fall 2018 applicant pool at 16,129. In fall 2018, the school enrolled 2,256 full-time students.
Eight of the 10 schools with the largest applicant pools are on the East Coast, and two are on the West Coast. Contrary to what some might expect, the most popular medical schools among applicants were not necessarily the highest ranked. In fact, four of the schools with the most applicants were ranked in the bottom quarter of either the research-focused medical school ranking or primary care medical school ranking.
The David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California--Los Angeles was the only school on this list that placed in the top 10 of both the research and primary care rankings.
Below is a list of the 10 medical schools with the most applicants who competed for spots in the fall 2018 incoming class. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
Medical school (name) (state)
Applicants (fall 2018)
U.S. News research rank
U.S. News primary care rank
Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Medical School Compass to find the number of applicants, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.
U.S. News surveyed 185 medical schools for our 2018 survey of research and primary care programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News' 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 come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News' rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The applicant data above are correct as of July 16, 2019.