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.
Being a doctor is usually a lucrative career, but the price for obtaining a medical degree has skyrocketed in the last two decades, which may make it harder for medical school graduates to enjoy their paychecks.
For students who graduated with debt in 1992, the median amount was $50,000, which, when adjusted for inflation, would have been more than $80,000 in 2012, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. But for the class of 2012, the median education debt was $170,000. Those figures include the amount students owed before medical school, such as debt incurred for an undergraduate degree.
Some doctors start their careers with debt from medical school that far exceeds $200,000. At Touro University California, for example, 2012 graduates with medical school debt had a debt load of $259,000 on average. The school had the highest average for student debt, which only includes debt incurred for medical school, among 112 ranked institutions that submitted data to U.S. News.
Of the 10 medical schools that led to the most debt, almost all have tuition and fees that are more than $40,000 per year. West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine offers the lowest tuition and fees of those on the list: In-state students pay $21,150, but out-of-state students pay $51,150. The average debt for the school's 2012 graduates who borrowed was $242,391.
Graduates of the Mayo Medical School in Minnesota came close to averaging the least amount of debt of all medical schools that submitted data. Alumni who borrowed for medical school on average owed $75,217. The only graduates with a lower average debt were those from the Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland. Students at Hebert on average graduate with zero debt. The school does not charge for tuition and fees, but graduates are obligated to serve in the military.
Below are the 10 medical schools where 2012 graduates who borrowed to complete their M.D. or D.O. had the highest average debt. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
School (name) (state)
Annual tuition and fees
U.S. News research rank
U.S. News primary care rank
Touro University California
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
In-state: $21,150; out-of-state: $51,150
University of New England (ME)
Temple University (PA)
Western University of Health Sciences (CA)
Georgetown University (DC)
Morehouse School of Medicine (GA)
Nova Southeastern University (FL)
Creighton University (NE)
Lincoln Memorial University (DeBusk) (TN)
*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 information on student debt, 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 153 medical schools for our 2013 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 comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News' rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The debt data above are correct as of July 1, 2014.