How Are Medical Schools Rankings Determined?

Medical school rankings have become a hot topic in recent years, with many prospective students and healthcare professionals wondering if they hold any real importance. While rankings can provide useful information about a school’s resources, academic programs, and reputation, they should not be the sole factor in deciding where to attend. Many factors, such as location, cost, and personal fit, should also be considered. Furthermore, rankings can be subjective and may not always reflect the true value of a medical education. 

In this article, we will explore the importance of medical school rankings and offer insight into how they should be used in the decision-making process.

How are Medical School Rankings Determined?

When it comes to choosing a medical school, prospective students often turn to rankings to help make their decision. The most popular ranking system for medical schools in the United States is the one provided by U.S. News & World Report. This ranking system has separate lists for research and primary care, with the most recent list being the U.S. News 2023 Best Medical Schools list.

The methodology for the U.S. News 2023 research list involves a combination of factors that are weighted to produce an overall score for each school. Specifically:

  • The quality assessment accounts for 30% of the overall score and is determined by surveys sent to medical school deans and senior faculty members asking them to rate the overall quality of programs at other schools. The peer assessment score (15%) and residency director assessment score (15%) are also taken into account in this category.
  • Research activity, which accounts for 40% of the overall score, is determined by looking at the total amount of federal research activity as well as the average amount of federal research activity per faculty member.
  • Student selectivity is also considered and is weighted at 20% of the overall score. This includes the median MCAT total score (13%), median undergraduate GPA (6%), and acceptance rate (1%).
  • Lastly, faculty resources are considered, which account for 10% of the overall score. This category looks at the student-to-faculty ratio, the percentage of faculty who are full-time, and the percentage of faculty who are members of the National Academy of Medicine.

Based on this methodology, the U.S. News 2023 Best Medical Schools research list ranks the top three-quarters of med schools numerically, while the bottom quartile receives a ranking range (i.e. all schools in this quartile are ranked #95–#124). Over 60 other schools are listed as “unranked.”

What Does It Mean When a Medical School is “Unranked”?

Medical school rankings can provide valuable information to students looking to make an informed decision about their education. However, not all schools are ranked, which can leave prospective students wondering about the quality of those institutions.

There are several reasons why a medical school may be unranked. For example, some schools may not have provided enough statistical data to be ranked. Other schools may have decided not to participate in the rankings due to their disagreement with the methodology or for other reasons.

It’s important not to jump to conclusions about unranked schools, as there are many factors that contribute to a school’s overall quality. In some cases, unranked schools may still offer a high-quality education, and students should not automatically dismiss them.

To evaluate unranked schools, students should consider other factors, such as the school’s location, available resources, faculty, curriculum, and reputation within the medical community. They should also look at the school’s track record in preparing students for residency programs and successful careers in medicine.