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Top Med Schools in California

California, with its scenery, sunshine, celebrities, and progressive politics, is one of the most desirable college destinations. It is, after all, a popular—if not the most popular—tourist destination, the third largest state, and the largest economy in the United States. 

California is proud to be health conscious. It’s actually a “running” joke (pun alert!) that being Californian is synonymous with hitting the gym. So if you’re coming from out-of-state, be prepared—someone will hand you a gym membership the minute you step off the plane (just kidding). But overall, Californians experience lower mortality, obesity, and suicide rates than many other states. The state ranks as number one for having the healthiest population out of all the U.S. states, according to U.S. News and World Report’s “10 States with the Healthiest Population.” California is also ranked 5th for Best Healthcare in the country, based on access, quality, and the overall health of the population. 

Given all that, California is an inspiring setting to study health science and medicine, plus the state has some of the best med schools in the country. To simplify your medical college search, we’ve compiled a list of the top med schools in this sunny, occasionally smoggy, but predominantly healthy state, along with the average GPA and average MCAT scores that you’ll need to compete. 

Top Medical Schools in California

  1.    1. University of California, San Francisco 
  2.    2. Stanford University School of Medicine
  3.    3. University of California, Los Angeles (Geffen)
  4.    4. University of California, San Diego
  5.    5. University of Southern California (Keck)
  6.    6. University of California, Davis (tie)
  7.    7. University of California, Irvine (tie)
  8.    8. Touro University California
  9.    9. University of California, Riverside
  10.    10. Western University of Health Sciences

These California-based medical schools are among the top-rated in the country. Keep reading to learn more about each school, including medical school rankings, acceptance rates, tuition, and application deadlines for 2023.  

1.    University of California, San Francisco 

U.S. News Top Medical School Ranking: #3

Tuition: $37,056 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.87

Average MCAT Score: 516

Acceptance Rate: 2.6%

The School of Medicine at the University of California – San Francisco (UCSF) is ranked 3rd for Best Medical Schools in Research and 2nd for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, according to U.S. News. Founded in 1864, it is the oldest medical school in California and the Western United States. UCSF is affiliated with the UCSF Medical Center, which was ranked 3rd best hospital in the state of California, after UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai. UCSF faculty have treated patients and trained residents at the San Francisco General Hospital since 1973. 

Tuition at UCSF School of Medicine is $37,056 for full-time, in-state students and $49,301 for full-time, out-of-state students, which is a decent price tag comparatively speaking, given the school’s ranking.The faculty-student ratio sits favorably at 4.1:1, assuring plenty of personalized attention. The acceptance rate is 2.6% so it is rather competitive, but not the most competitive med school in the state. The UCSF application deadline falls on October 15, giving you ample time to prepare your package. 

2.    Stanford University School of Medicine

U.S. News Top Medical School Ranking: #8

Tuition: $63,747 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.89

Average MCAT Score: 517

Acceptance Rate: 1.4%

Stanford is a private research university that is not only rated one of the top universities in the country, but also considered among the best universities in the world. The med school ranks 8th for Best Medical Schools in Research and 30th for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, according to U.S. News. The acceptance rate is incredibly low at 1.4% and tuition is fairly high at $63,747 for full-time students. 

The School of Medicine at Stanford University has an application deadline of October 3, giving you ample time to prepare your package. The faculty-student ratio is an impressive 2.3:1, ensuring the type of personalized attention that’s closer to private tutoring. 

3.    University of California, Los Angeles (David Geffen School of Medicine)

U.S. News Top MedicalSchool Ranking: #19

Tuition: $38,920  (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.7

Average MCAT Score: 512

Acceptance Rate: 2.2%

The David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California–Los Angeles (Geffen) is ranked 19th for Best Medical Schools in Research and 13th for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, beating out Stanford, which ranks 30th for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, according to U.S. News. The curriculum is divided into three phases including Human Biology and Disease, Core Clinical Clerkship, and 4th Year Colleges. The school is affiliated with Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles County-Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. 

Tuition is $38,920 for full-time, in-state students and $51,175 for full-time, out-of-state students. The application deadline falls on October 1, providing ample time to get your package in the best possible shape. The acceptance rate is 2.2%, which is not as competitive as Stanford, but pretty fierce.

4.     University of California, San Diego

U.S. News Top MedicalSchool Ranking: #20

Tuition: $68,828 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.78

Average MCAT Score: 516

Acceptance Rate: 3%

The School of Medicine at University of California–San Diego (UCSD) is ranked 20th for Best Medical Schools in Research and 32nd for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, according to U.S. News. Students are grouped into six Academic Communities, which offer counseling, support, and faculty mentorships. Clinical instruction is held at the UC San Diego Medical Center, the VA San Diego Hospital, the Naval Regional Medical Center, and the Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.

There are more than 35 student organizations at the San Diego school that you can join. There is also an opportunity to take part in the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project, which provides healthcare to underserved communities throughout San Diego. Tuition is $37,392 for full-time, in-state students and $49,637 for full-time, out-of-state students. The UC San Diego application deadline falls on October 15 and the acceptance rate is 3%, which is slightly higher than the California med schools ranked above. 

5.    University of Southern California (Keck)

U.S. News Top MedicalSchool Ranking: #28

Tuition: $67,472 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.8

Average MCAT Score: 517

Acceptance Rate: 4%

The Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California is ranked 28th for Best Medical Schools in Research and 52nd for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, according to U.S. News. Full-time tuition is on the higher end of the spectrum at $67,472. Acceptance rate is a favorable 4%, comparatively speaking, and the application deadline falls on November 1, giving you more time to assemble your application than some of the other top California medical schools  

6.    University of California, Davis (tie)

U.S. News Top MedicalSchool Ranking: #51

Tuition: $39,744 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.56

Average MCAT Score: 511

Acceptance Rate: 2.2%

The School of Medicine at the University of California–Davis Davisis ranked 51st for Best Medical Schools in Research and 8th for the Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, according to U.S. News. Students master seven major competencies, including patient care and system-based practice. The curriculum is broad, leaving students to pursue any specialty they are drawn to down the line. The California university is also affiliated with the UC Medical Center. UC Davis students also have the option to gain additional experience in the school’s seven student-run clinics in inner-city neighborhoods.

Tuition is $39,744 for full-time, in-state students and $51,989 for full-time, out-of-state students. The application deadline falls on October 1 and the acceptance rate is a fierce 2.2%. 

7.    University of California, Irvine (tie)

U.S. News Top MedicalSchool Ranking: #51

Tuition: $35,934 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.8

Average MCAT Score: 515

Acceptance Rate: 3%

The School of Medicine at the University of California–Irvineis ranked 51st for Best Medical Schools in Research and 61st for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, according to U.S. News

Tuition is $35,934 for full-time, in-state students and $48,179 for full-time, out-of-state students. The UC Irvine application deadline falls on November 1, giving you more time to assemble your application than some of the other top California medical schools. The acceptance rate is 3%, which is slightly higher compared to the University of California, Davis, with which it is tied, also at number 51, for Best Med Schools in Research in California. 

8.    Touro University California

U.S. News Top MedicalSchool Ranking: #94-124

Tuition: $59,610 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.56

Average MCAT Score: NA

Acceptance Rate: 6.7%

Further down on medical school rankings  is the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University California, coming in at number 94-124 for Top Med Schools in the state. The school is ranked between 95-124 for Best Medical Schools in Research and 94-124 for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, according to U.S. News

With a higher acceptance rate at 6.7%, you have a better chance of getting in. However, tuition for full-time students is also on the higher end of the spectrum at $59,610. The application deadline falls early in the year on March 15, so be sure to get your package together on time. 

9.      University of California, Riverside

U.S. News Top MedicalSchool Ranking: #95-124

Tuition: $36,630 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.61

Average MCAT Score: 510

Acceptance Rate: 2.1%

The School of Medicine at the University of California–Riverside is also ranked between 95-124 for Best Medical Schools in Research and 94-124 for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, alongside Touro University in California (listed above), according to U.S. News. Tuition is slightly lower, however, at $36,630 for full-time, in-state students and $48,875 for full-time, out-of-state students. The acceptance rate is a low 2.1%. The UC Riverside med school application deadline falls on November 1, giving you ample time to submit your package. 

10.  Western University of Health Sciences

U.S. News Top MedicalSchool Ranking: #95-124

Tuition: $60,750 (full-time)

Average GPA: 3.65

Average MCAT Score: NA

Acceptance Rate: NA

The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific at Western University of Health Sciences is also ranked between 95-124 for Best Medical Schools in Research and 94-124 for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care, alongside Touro University in California and University of California–Riverside (both listed above), according to U.S. News. Tuition is on the higher end of the spectrum at $60,750 for full-time students. The application deadline falls on February 1, so be sure to start on your package earlier, if you plan to submit. 

How Do I Get Accepted to a California Medical School?

Whether you’re applying to one of the best med schools in California or another part of the country, the process is the same. The first step in the medical school admissions timeline is to take the MCAT. All of these med schools in California have median MCAT scores that give you a pretty good indication of how you compare to their previous incoming class. Remember, med schools want to attract the best, so make sure to give yourself the ultimate shot by getting a high MCAT score. 

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