Besides the perfect weather and the stunning landscapes, there are many more reasons to choose California as your university destination. If you want to pursue a career in medicine, California has more options than most states in the U.S. With over 10 medical schools, many of them are among the top 10 medical schools of the U.S. Some of them even accept international students, which is very rare for medical schools. However, living there will give you extra points, as more than half of the students accepted are Californian residents. So, let’s see the 5 best medical schools in California.

California Medical Schools

1. David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM)

DGSOM is within the top 20 medical schools in the U.S. Besides granting MD degrees, DGSOM has almost 40 residency and fellowship programs.

As it is usual for medical schools in California, admissions at DGSO are highly competitive. Its acceptance rate is of 4.5%. In 2017, there were 11,417 applicants but only 175 of them matriculated. The average GPA of accepted students is of 3.81, and the average MCAT is of 515, which is higher than the required score by medical schools in other states.

Although this is not a requirement, most accepted students live in California (around 80%). They also accept international students so this can be a perfect option if you live outside The U.S. and have been struggling to find a medical school that accepts international students.

DGSOM campus is next to the UCLA campus and the teaching hospital. They have great research programs and also offer dual degrees. The university also offers many scholarships based on both financial need and merit. Go read their UCLA Medical School website to learn more about financial aid and their programs.

2. UCSF School of Medicine

The medical school of the University of California, San Francisco, or UCSF School of Medicine was the first medical school in California. It is known by its quality education, as it ranked as the 5th best medical school in the U.S. in terms of research training, and as the 1st one in terms of prime care training.

It has a great offer of residency and fellowship programs, as it is partnered with over 60 training sites. Besides MD degrees, they also offer dual degrees, and some of them are affiliated with other universities.

If you want to study here, you must thoroughly prepare your profile as a prospective student. In 2018, there were 7,760 applicants, but only 476 were interviewed, and from those interviewed, only 149 enrolled.

UCSF School of Medicine accepts international students and offers many scholarships. They have plenty of information on their USCF website and interesting videos about the career, so go read it to learn more.

3. Stanford University School of Medicine

Stanford University School of Medicine is probably the best option among private schools. According to the U.S. News & World Report rankings, this medical school ranked as the 3rd best in the U.S. in terms of research. Many of their graduate programs and specialties have consistently ranked within the top 5 best in the U.S. and in the world.

An advantage of applying to private schools is that they accept students regardless of their state of residence or country of origin. They even recommend being fluent in Spanish or an Asian language.

In terms of admission, we have once again a highly competitive medical school. In 2016, there were 7,512 applicants. Only 516 of them were interviewed and 187 enrolled.

Besides MD degrees and dual programs, this medical school in California is also well-known for educating physician assistants (PAs). They are affiliated with another college to educate students enrolled in this program. They also have a wide residency and fellowship program offer, with 185 training programs!

The Stanford Medical School website is always up-to-date and has detailed information about every aspect of the school, so go read it for more info.

4. University of California San Diego School of Medicine

Ranked within the top 20 best medical schools, the UC San Diego School of Medicine is another great choice for those pursuing a career in medicine. In the U.S., this medical school has the 18th place in terms of research and 12th in terms of primary care. But worldwide, it has the 20th place in terms of clinical medicine and pharmacy.

With a stunning campus of 54 acres, it has a very active student life with many services for students and almost 40 organizations. It has a few dual programs, and many Masters, Ph.D., and research programs available.

Regarding admissions… Can you guess how they are? Yes, they are highly competitive! Its acceptance rate is of 3.4%, which means it is within the top ten of medical schools with the lowest acceptance rates. In 2015, there were 7,456 applicants and only 253 were accepted. However, the entering class of 2018 only had 134 students.

They offer financial aid opportunities for those struggling with money. You must be accepted before applying. All the details and estimated costs of attendance and budgets are available on their UCSD Medical School website.

5. Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California

We finish the list with another private school, the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Ranked in the 25th place of medical schools in terms of federal research support, it has a lot to offer to prospective students.

It grants M.D. degrees and offers three combined degree programs. They also offer different master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral degree programs. They are affiliated with other medical schools in California to offer some of them. They also offer physician assistantship education and nurse anesthesia programs.

This medical school is affiliated with many teaching hospitals. Some of them are county hospitals, which means that students will be able to work with patients that suffer from diseases and trauma that is not often seen in the affiliated hospitals of other medical schools. There are also many people in the area that are willing to participate in research programs.

The application process is similar to the process in other medical schools. In 2018, there were 8,099 applicants and only 186 enrolled. They have a lot of information and advice regarding admissions and financial aid on their USC Medical School website, so go check it out!


I hope that this list of medical schools in California was helpful. If you are interested in studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students!