Best Medical Schools: World University Rankings
QS World University Rankings based upon academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact.
The latest rankings of the world’s best medical schools are again dominated by the United States and the UK, with Harvard listed number one for the sixth successive year. Harvard owes its top spot to perfect academic and employer reputation scores, with an overall total of 98.9%.
The listings include 650 of the world’s best medical schools, with 50 institutions joining for the first time this year. The biggest single group are the 233 medical schools to be found in Europe, including 44 from the UK, 32 from Germany, 29 from Italy, and 17 each from France and Spain.
- The US and the UK continue to dominate the list of the world’s best medical schools.
- The top five are Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Cambridge, and Johns Hopkins universities.
- Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warns of a shortfall of 18 million healthcare workers by 2030 if action isn’t taken.
1. | Harvard University
Cambridge, United States
Overall Score: 98.9
Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the United States and is widely regarded in terms of its influence, reputation, and academic pedigree as a leading university in not just the US but also the world.
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, three miles northwest of Boston, Harvard’s 209-acre campus houses 10 degree-granting schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, two theaters, and five museums.
It is also home to the largest academic library system in the world, with 18 million volumes, 180,000 serial titles, an estimated 400 million manuscript items, and 10 million photographs.
The Medical School at Harvard University has an application deadline of Oct. 22. The application fee at Harvard University is $100. Its tuition is full-time: $64,984. The faculty-student ratio at Harvard University is 14.2:1. The Medical School has 9,954 full-time faculty on staff.
In the years since Harvard Medical School was founded in 1782, Harvard Medical School has continued to innovate and influence medical education.
Students today are divided into five academic societies, which offer to mentor and advising and enable team-based learning under faculty supervision. Students interested in a biomedical research career can apply to the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program.
Now, a total of 21,000 students attend the university, each of whom at some point can be seen bustling past the famous statue of John Harvard, the university’s first benefactor and founder, which looks on benignly in the center of the campus.
The bronze statue’s gleaming foot is due to almost incessant rubbing by tourists and students, who believe the act brings good luck.
Only the academic elite can claim a place at Harvard, and the nominal cost of attendance is high – though the university’s hefty endowment is such that it can offer generous financial aid packages, which around 60 percent of students take advantage of.
As freshmen, students live in one of the dormitories in Harvard Yard, a prime location, and eat in the historic and picturesque Annenberg dining hall.
Harvard students are active around and beyond campus, with over 400 official student societies including extracurricular, co-curricular, and athletic opportunities.
Whether playing on the field in Harvard Stadium, fostering entrepreneurial activities at the Harvard innovation lab, or writing and editing at the daily newspaper the Harvard Crimson, student life is a rich and rewarding experience.
Harvard’s alumni include eight US presidents, several foreign heads of state, 62 living billionaires, 359 Rhodes Scholars, and 242 Marshall Scholars. Whether it be Pulitzer Prizes, Nobel Prizes, or Academy Awards, Harvard graduates have won them.
Students and alumni have also won 108 Olympic medals between them. The university is regularly ranked number one in the world, and the consistency of its chart-topping performances shows that success is yet to breed complacency.
2. | University of Oxford
Oxford, United Kingdom
Overall Score: 96.4
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and is actually so ancient that its founding date is unknown – though it is thought that teaching took place there as early as the 11th century.
It’s located in and around the medieval city center of Oxford, dubbed “the dreaming city of spires” by the 19th century poet Matthew Arnold, and comprises 44 colleges and halls as well as the largest library system in the UK.
There are 22,000 students at Oxford in total, around half of whom are undergraduates, while 40 percent are international students. A quarter of the city of Oxford’s residents is students, giving the city the youngest population in the UK.
The University of Oxford does not have a main campus, its buildings, and facilities instead of being scattered around the medieval city center. Its colleges each have a distinctive character and traditions often dating back centuries.
Colleges are self-governing institutions to which students usually apply directly. There are four academic divisions within Oxford University: Humanities, Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences; Medical Sciences; and Social Sciences.
The university’s particular strength is the sciences, and it is ranked number one in the world for medicine.
Oxford is a youthful and cosmopolitan city with plenty to see and do. There are dozens of historic and iconic buildings, including the Bodleian Libraries, Ashmolean Museum, Sheldonian Theatre, the cathedral, and the colleges themselves.
Students can choose to spend their time studying or avail themselves of the many extracurricular activities available. There’s a strong musical life at Oxford, with clubs and societies spanning all genres, from jazz to classical and folk.
Oxford is also ranked highly for sport, with its top rowers taking part every year in the world-famous boat race with the University of Cambridge on the River Thames. Drama lovers are also well catered for, with one of the largest and most vibrant university drama scenes in the country.
Oxford has an alumni network of over 250,000 individuals, including more than 120 Olympic medalists, 26 Nobel Prize winners, seven poet laureates, and over 30 modern world leaders (including Bill Clinton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Indira Gandhi, and 26 UK Prime Ministers).
It has a friendly rivalry with Cambridge for the title of the best university in the UK and is regularly ranked as being one of the top three universities in the world. Notable Oxford thinkers and scientists include Tim Berners-Lee, Stephen Hawking, and Richard Dawkins.
3. | Stanford University
Stanford, United States
Overall Score: 94.8
Located 35 miles south of San Francisco and 20 miles north of San Jose, Stanford University is in the heart of Northern California’s dynamic Silicon Valley, home to Yahoo, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and many other cutting-edge tech companies that were founded by and continue to be led by Stanford alumni and faculty.
Nicknamed the “billionaire factory”, it is said that if Stanford graduates formed their own country it would boast one of the world’s largest ten economies.
Covering 8,180 acres, Stanford has one of the largest university campuses in the US, with 18 interdisciplinary research institutes and seven schools: the Graduate School of Business; School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Graduate School of Education; School of Engineering; School of Humanities and Sciences; Law School; and School of Medicine.
The School of Medicine at Stanford University has an application deadline of Oct. 1. The application fee at Stanford University is $100. Its tuition is full-time: $62,193. The faculty-student ratio at Stanford University is 2.3:1. The School of Medicine has 1,098 full-time faculty on staff.
Stanford University was founded in 1885 by California senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization”.
The couple’s only child had died of typhoid, and their decision to build a university on their farm was intended as a memorial. From the start the university was non-sectarian, co-educational, and affordable, teaching both the traditional liberal arts and the technology and engineering that was shaping the new America at the time.
Fast forward more than a century, and Stanford counts 19 Nobel laureates within its community and is regularly ranked among the top three universities in the world.
Nicknamed “The Farm” from the days when horses roamed there, Stanford’s campus is now a thriving community of more than 11,000 creative and accomplished people from around the world.
Nearly all undergraduate and 60 percent of graduate students live on campus, so it is hardly surprising that student life is rich and diverse, with over 625 organized student groups.
Sport is popular, with students, faculty, and staff enjoying state-of-the-art recreational facilities and wellness programs. Stanford students compete in 36 varsities and 32 club sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and squash. Sports teams are referred to as the “Stanford Cardinal”.
Stanford also has a rich tradition of fostering creativity and the arts: there is a vibrant campus arts district and two world-class museums which host regular exhibitions. Eight dining halls, a teaching kitchen, and organic gardens provide the campus community with healthy, sustainable meals.
The close-knit communal nature of life on campus has even given rise to “Stanford speak”, a special language only spoken on campus.
4. | University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Overall Score: 94.1
Located in the center of the ancient city of Cambridge, 50 miles north of London, the University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research institution that serves more than 18,000 students from all corners of the globe.
The university consists of numerous listed buildings and is divided into 31 autonomous colleges, with many of the older ones situated on the famous river Cam.
Applications are made directly to the individual colleges, rather than to the university overall. You can live and are often taught within your college, receiving small group teaching sessions known as college supervisions.
Six academic schools – Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Technology – are spread across the university’s colleges, housing roughly 150 faculties and other institutions.
Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge’s 800-year history makes it the fourth-oldest university in the world and the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world. Cambridge students make up 20 percent of the town’s population and most of the older colleges are situated near the city center.
Its notable buildings give the city of Cambridge a unique character and include King’s College Chapel, the history faculty building designed by James Stirling, and the Cripps Building at St John’s College.
Cambridge is widely acknowledged as a vibrant place to be a student. On the academic side, the university is home to over 100 libraries, which hold more than 15 million books in total.
There are also nine world-renowned arts, scientific and cultural museums such as Kettle’s Yard and the Fitzwilliam Museum, which are open to the public throughout the year, as well as a botanical garden.
Extracurricular activities give you the chance to get involved with anything from the university’s renowned student drama societies, which spawned the likes of the comedy group Monty Python, to music, politics, and hundreds of other clubs and societies.
The sports scene at Cambridge is huge too, with state-of-the-art facilities and over 80 sports on offer with teams for novices and experts alike.
With its reputation for academic excellence and traditional scholarly values, the University of Cambridge often ranks among the very top universities in the world for teaching, research, and international outlook.
The university has educated eminent mathematicians, scientists, politicians, lawyers, philosophers, writers, actors, and heads of state. Ninety-eight Nobel laureates and 15 British prime ministers have affiliations with Cambridge as students, faculty, or alumni, including the scientists Francis Crick and Frederick Sanger.
5. | Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, United States
Overall Score: 93.2
Johns Hopkins University is an American private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. It was founded in 1876, and named after its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins.
It blazed a trail among higher education institutions by being the first US research university, and today it puts more money into research than any other US academic institution.
It’s also widely credited with revolutionizing higher education by being the first US institution to integrate teaching and research. To date, Johns Hopkins has spawned 27 Nobel laureates, including the former US president Woodrow Wilson.
Johns Hopkins is organized into 10 divisions on campuses in Maryland and Washington, DC with international centers in Italy, China, and Singapore. Johns Hopkins regularly ranks in the top 10 universities in the US, and is also competitive globally, especially for its undergraduate programs.
Johns Hopkins enrolls more than 24,000 full- and part-time students across its nine academic divisions with faculty members and students studying, teaching, and learning across more than 260 programs in the arts and music, the humanities, the social and natural sciences, engineering, international studies, education, business, and the health professions.
The School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University has an application deadline of Oct. 15. The application fee at Johns Hopkins University is $100. Its tuition is full-time: $56,500. The faculty-student ratio at Johns Hopkins University is 5:1. The School of Medicine has 2,397 full-time faculty on staff.
Students at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine learn through the Genes to Society Curriculum, which pairs academics with concurrent clinical experience. Every few months, classes break for Intersessions, weeklong special courses focused on simulation and advanced skills.
All students are divided into one of four colleges, Nathans, Sabin, Taussig, and Thomas, which are meant to foster a community feels among students from all four years of medical training.
Each college has advisers to guide students through medical school courses, research participation, and career selection. The Colleges also host an annual Colleges Bowl, a day of kickball, races, and tug-of-war competitions.
Students can earn a traditional M.D., a Ph.D., or both in about eight years. There are also dual degree programs for an M.D./M.P.H. (Master of Public Health) and an M.D./M.B.A. through other university departments.
The school receives a large amount of research funding from the National Institutes of Health, among other organizations, and runs leading research centers including the Brain Science Institute and the Institute of Genetic Medicine.
Applicants at the undergraduate level are generally ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and over time applications and selectivity has risen. For the class graduating in 2020, the acceptance rate was 11.4 percent.
Most Johns Hopkins undergraduates study at Homewood, a 140-acre North Baltimore campus that is home to the schools of engineering and arts and sciences. It’s a traditional college setting in the heart of a big and blossoming city, with red-brick buildings, tree-lined pathways, an iconic clock tower, and expansive green quads.
Nearly all undergraduates based in the main campus live in residence halls during their first two years, where they make friends and take advantage of what has officially been named one of the best campus dining programs in the US.
There’s also easy access to top class arts and culture: the school’s conservatory, the Peabody Institute, regularly hosts musical extravaganzas, concerts, and performances, while the Center for Visual Arts, located next to the Baltimore Museum of Art, provides plenty of sources for artistic inspiration.
Off-campus, students can venture into Baltimore itself, a city with a rich history as a working-class port that has blossomed into a hub of social, cultural, and economic activity – yet retains a small-town feel.
6. | Karolinska Institutet
Overall Score: 92.3
Based in Stockholm, Karolinska Institutet (KI) is a one-faculty university dedicated to the medical and health sciences, with a reputation for top quality research and innovation. Karolinska Institutet consistently ranked in the top 50 universities globally and the top 10 medical universities in Europe.
Karolinska Institutet offers ten global programmes, taught in English and with an international focus. The programmes proactively incorporate an interactive teaching model that emphasizes informal and close contact between students and teachers and facilitates the active participation of students.
Teachers divide their time between teaching and conducting research which contributes to keeping them informed of and involved in ongoing developments in their respective fields, making the courses current and cutting edge.
A master’s degree from Karolinska Institutet will give you a competitive advantage in the global labour market and prepare you for doctoral studies should you wish to pursue an academic career.
Since 1901, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has selected the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine. There are regular opportunities for students to hear and see Nobel laureates in action, by attending their lectures or seminars on campus.
Sweden is one of the safest countries in the world and nearly 90% of the population speaks English. Most of Sweden has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons.
The winters can get cold, but the summers equally beautiful and warm. Stockholm, where Karolinska Institutet is located, is the capital of Sweden and offers a rich history, a bustling cultural life, and a thriving business sector, surrounded by plenty of green space and blue water.
Stockholm is the largest university city in the Nordic countries and the home of approximately 80 000 students, of which 5 000 are international students.
Education and research at Karolinska Institutet are mainly conducted on two campuses: the northern Campus Solna and the southern Campus Flemingsberg. Karolinska Institutet also has established cooperation with several regional health care organizations.
A 15 minute ride with public transport is the estimated travel time between the campuses and the city. Karolinska Institutet runs its own shuttle bus between the Solna and Flemingsberg campuses that is free for students and employees. A bicycle can also be a good investment.
As an addition to the excitements of city life, the student unions at Karolinska Institutet take an active role in the study and leisure environment at the university. As you arrive, orientation activities will help acclimatize you to your new ‘home’.
For matters of the body and soul, the Student Health Centre, student gyms, and other sport and leisure facilities are open to all students, and there are ecumenical prayer/contemplation rooms on both campuses.
A limited number of scholarships are available to support the tuition fee cost at Karolinska Institutet for international fee-paying students. The application process for the Karolinska Institutet scholarships runs in parallel with the application process for the programmes. The Swedish Institute also offers scholarships. For further information visit
7. | University of California (UCLA)
Los Angeles, United States
Overall Score: 92.2
Based in warm and sunny Los Angeles, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) was ranked the 31st best university in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017.
UCLA graduates are in the enviable position of being among the world’s most employable students fresh out of uni, as suggested by UCLA’s impressive performance in the Graduate Employability Rankings 2017.
The David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California – Los Angeles (Geffen) has an application deadline of Oct. 1. The application fee at the University of California – Los Angeles (Geffen) is $95. Its tuition is full-time: $37,620 (in-state) and full-time: $49,865 (out-of-state).
The faculty-student ratio at the University of California – Los Angeles (Geffen) is 3.6:1. The David Geffen School of Medicine has 2,880 full-time faculty on staff.
The University of California – Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine stresses lifelong learning for its medical students. The medical school curriculum is divided into three phases: Human Biology and Disease, Core Clinical Clerkship, and 4th Year Colleges.
Medical students can also earn a combined degree, such as an M.D./Ph.D. through the Medical Scientist Training Program, an M.D./M.B.A. with the UCLA Anderson School of Management, or an M.D.-Oral Surgery Residency.
There are also a few joint degree programs, offered in conjunction with other institutions, including the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science/UCLA Medical Education Program, designed for students who want to work in disadvantaged rural and urban communities.
The School of Medicine is affiliated with the top-ranked hospital Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, as well as other hospitals including the Los Angeles County-Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.
Medical students take a break from their coursework for several annual events, including a talent show, banquets for second and fourth-year students, and a senior show. Graduate students can live in the UCLA-owned University Apartments or can get assistance finding housing throughout Los Angeles through the UCLA Community Housing Office.
8. | Yale University
New Haven, United States
Overall Score: 91.4
Yale University is a private research university and a member of the prestigious Ivy League, a group of America’s most celebrated higher education institutions.
Situated in New Haven, Connecticut, the first planned city in America, Yale was founded by English Puritans in 1701, making it the third-oldest higher education institution in the United States.
Today, the city, which is part of the New York metropolitan area, is very much dominated by Yale, though it’s also billed as the “Cultural Capital of Connecticut”. According to the New York Times, New Haven is also extremely picturesque, with “art almost everywhere you look”.
Yale University’s central campus spans 260 acres and includes buildings from the mid-18th century. The university is organized into 14 schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and 12 professional schools.
The School of Medicine at Yale University has an application deadline of Oct. 15. The application fee at Yale University is $95. Its tuition is full-time: $64,864. The faculty-student ratio at Yale University is 4.2:1. The School of Medicine has 1,662 full-time faculty on staff.
At the Yale School of Medicine, students are not given grades or a class rank for the first two years of education. To encourage students to take responsibility for their medical school education, preclinical classes are often small seminars in which attendance isn’t taken and tests are optional and self-directed.
Students can earn two degrees through joint programs like the M.D./M.P.H. (Master of Public Health) and M.D./M.H.S. (Master of Health Science); an M.D./M.B.A. through the Yale School of Management; an M.D./M.Div. through Yale Divinity School; and an M.D./J.D. through Yale Law School. There is also an M.D./Ph.D. degree and a Physician Associate program.
The School of Medicine is affiliated with highly ranked institutions including the Yale-New Haven Hospital. All medical students must complete a thesis on original research to graduate.
For research help, students can go to their personal librarian, a resource assigned at the beginning of a student’s time in medical school to help them navigate through their four years of education. Students can enroll in an optional fifth year of school if they want to do more research or study or work abroad.
Undergraduates follow a liberal arts curriculum which allows you to think and learn across disciplines before deciding upon a major.
Perhaps its most distinctive feature, Yale undergraduates are organized into a social system of residential colleges, which allows them to experience the cohesiveness and intimacy of a small school while still enjoying the cultural and scholarly resources of a large university.
A recently unveiled portrait of Barack Obama was by a Yale alumnus and strolling across the Yale campus, you’ll find that you’re surrounded by public art. Be it in courtyards or plazas, lobbies, or lecture halls, art at Yale inspires reflection and offers aesthetic pleasure.
College life is similarly rich, reflecting the diversity of cultures and nationalities on campus. There’s always a packed arts calendar that includes exhibitions at world-class museums and galleries.
There’s also a Tony Award-winning theater, Yale Cabaret – a theater restaurant run by students – and hundreds of student groups, ranging from the serious to the silly.
On top of this, you’ll also find the usual array of top quality sports facilities, a golf course, and centers for tennis, polo, sailing, ice hockey, and more as well as competitive sports, with over 30 men’s and women’s varsity teams.
To study at Yale is to join the great company: four Yale graduates signed the American Declaration of Independence, and the university has educated five US presidents: William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
It is rightly regarded as one of America and the world’s most prestigious universities, with competition to be admitted as fierce as it gets.
9. | University College London (UCL)
London, United Kingdom
Overall Score: 91.3
University College London (UCL) is a top-ranked university with life-changing research and a progressive approach to academia, making it different from the rest.
At University College London (UCL), postgraduate students learn by doing – shaping the world around them with a hands-on approach. Innovators, industry disruptors, thinkers, and magic-makers choose University College London (UCL) to jump right into studies across hundreds of programmes.
University College London (UCL) is a diverse community with the freedom to challenge, question, and think differently. UCL community pursues academic excellence, breaks boundaries, and makes a positive impact on real world problems.
University College London (UCL) is 10th in the world in the “QS World University Rankings 2020.” There have been 30 Nobel laureates among its former staff and students; a winner in every decade since the Prize started.
At the very heart of University College London (UCL)’s mission is research. UCL has been rated the top university in the UK for research strength in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).
UCL offer over 675 postgraduate taught research, and initial teacher education programmes across a wide range of disciplines, and encourage our community to work across traditional subject boundaries.
UCL’s research-based teaching methodology means that research is integrated into many degrees and students have the opportunity to make an original contribution to their field of study.
University College London (UCL) sits at the heart of one of the world’s most dynamic cities, meaning you are perfectly placed to take advantage of everything London has to offer.
University College London (UCL) was the first university in England to welcome women to university education, and the first university in England to welcome students of any religion or social background. UCL has 18,000 students from outside the UK, with over 150 countries represented, providing a truly global perspective.
University College London (UCL) Careers helps students to find their perfect career, develop their professional skills, or start their own business through one-to-one guidance and events, as well as a variety of career information.
Recruitment and networking events help students improve their knowledge of a particular industry sector and specific employers. For students interested in starting a business, University College London (UCL) Innovation and Enterprise gives expert advice and practical support, as well as networking opportunities.
10. | Imperial College London
London, United Kingdom
Overall Score: 90.8
Ranked 8th in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2021, Imperial College London is a one-of-a-kind institution in the UK, focusing solely on science, engineering, medicine, and business.
Imperial offers an education that is research-led, exposing you to real world challenges with no easy answers, teaching that opens everything up to question and opportunities to work across multi-cultural, multi-national teams.
Imperial is based in South Kensington in London, in an area known as ‘Albertopolis’, Prince Albert and Sir Henry Cole’s 19th century vision for an area where science and the arts would come together.
As a result, Imperial’s neighbors include a number of world leading cultural organizations including the Science, Natural History, and Victoria and Albert museums; the Royal Colleges of Art and Music; the English National Ballet; and the Royal Albert Hall, where all of their students also graduate.
There is plenty of green space too, including two Royal Parks (Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens) within 10 minutes walk of campus. Travel to and from the area is also really easy as it’s served by three Tube lines and many bus routes.
One of the most distinctive elements of an Imperial education is that students join a community of world-class researchers. The cutting edge and globally influential nature of this research are what Imperial is best known for.
It’s the focus on the practical application of their research – particularly in addressing global challenges – and the high level of interdisciplinary collaboration that makes their research so effective.
The number of award winners, Nobel Prize holders, and prestigious Fellowships (Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, Academy of Medical Sciences) amongst their staff is a testament to the outstanding contributions they have made in their respective fields.
Imperial is one of the most international universities in the world, with 59% of its student body in 2018-19 being non-UK citizens and more than 140 countries are currently represented on campus. Meanwhile, the College’s staff, like their students, are diverse in their cultural backgrounds, nationalities, and experiences.