What Are the Ivy League Medical Schools—Are They Worth the Hype?


What are the Ivy League medical schools? In this post, we’ll break down which Ivy League schools have a medical school, including a brief description of these schools and where each ranks in terms of research and primary care.

Ivy League schools refer to eight long-standing colleges and universities in the US that are highly acclaimed worldwide for their stellar academics and, most importantly, their social prestige. Ivy League schools are regarded as the cream of the crop, and they are extremely selective when it comes to the students they accept. Graduates of Ivy League schools can generally expect to secure a lucrative, prestigious job after their academic career concludes, but what does that mean for premeds?


How Many Ivy League Medical Schools Are There?

Front of schools with question marks - What makes a school ivy league

There are eight Ivy League schools, and of that number, seven hold a medical school.

Which Ivy League Does Not Have a Medical School?

Princeton is the only Ivy League that does not have a medical school. It’s also one of the few Ivy Leagues without a law school due to its heavy focus on undergraduate studies.

Even though Princeton does not offer a medical school program, Princeton graduates can go to medical school after completing their premed degree at Princeton. This is because premed is not a major itself, but rather any major, often in the sciences, chosen to best help a student get into medical school.

The language around premed is confusing since the word is used to describe both the major of any student hoping to go to medical school as well as the student. You might say, “I’m a premed student at Princeton who is currently majoring in molecular biology.” In this case, the premed major would be molecular biology or, more broadly, biological sciences.

Learn more in our guide: Is Premed a Major? Your Premed Questions Answered.


What Are the Ivy League Medical Schools?

There are eight Ivy League schools in the United States, and seven of them have corresponding medical schools. We’ve listed the Ivy Leagues below in alphabetical order by medical school name. The Ivy League without a medical school is listed last.

  1. Geisel School of Medicine — Dartmouth College
  2. Harvard Medical School — Harvard University
  3. Perelman School of Medicine — University of Pennsylvania
  4. Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons — Columbia University
  5. The Warren Alpert Medical School — Brown University
  6. Weill Cornell Medicine — Cornell University
  7. Yale School of Medicine — Yale University
  8. Princeton University — No medical school

Ivy League School location map

1. Geisel School of Medicine — Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, where it was founded around 225 years ago in 1797. It holds the fourth-oldest medical school in the United States—Geisel School of Medicine.

Dartmouth College’s graduate medical school bears the name of children’s author and cartoonist Dr. Seuss, or more accurately, the real person behind the pseudonym: Theodor Seuss Geisel. Seuss was a Dartmouth alumnus of the Class of 1925 and the school’s most generous donor, along with his wife, Audrey. The Dartmouth Medical School was renamed the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine in April 2012.

Over the years, the medical school has achieved many medical firsts, including opening the nation’s first building used solely for medical education, pioneering the operation of the clinical X-ray in 1896, and incorporating the use of the stethoscope in its medical curriculum beginning in 1838.

Dartmouth College’s medical school was ranked 47th for research and 36th for primary care of best medical schools for 2023.

2. Harvard Medical School — Harvard University

Throughout its 386-year history, which began back in 1636, Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the US, has educated students who went on to be lawyers, doctors, billionaire entrepreneurs, and even presidents. Former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore William Richards, the first American scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and billionaire Michael Bloomberg all graduated from Harvard.

Located in the Longwood Medical Area of Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard Medical School was founded in 1782, beginning with three faculty members and a handful of students. It has been one of the most sought-after medical schools in the US for hundreds of years, consistently ranking number one in medical research.

Harvard University’s medical school was ranked 1st for research and 9th for primary care of best medical schools for 2023.

3. Perelman School of Medicine — University of Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers, was a primary founder of the institution that became the University of Pennsylvania. Often called Penn or UPenn, the school is one of the four oldest institutions of higher education in the United States.

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) is the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania, and like Penn, it is among the most prestigious schools in the country. Established in 1765, it is the nation’s first medical school and home of the first teaching hospital in the country—the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which was established in 1874.

The University of Pennsylvania’s medical school was ranked 6th for research and 20th for primary care of best medical schools for 2023.

4. Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons — Columbia University

Once called King’s College, Columbia University is situated in the Washington Heights neighborhood of northern Manhattan. Columbia University’s medical school, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S), was established in 1767, over 250 years ago.

Even though the University of Pennsylvania started a medical faculty two years before, VP&S was the first medical school in the Thirteen British Colonies to award the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in 1770. In 1993, VP&S spearheaded another event that would become a tradition among medical schools—the first full-fledged white coat ceremony.

Additional school accomplishments include being the first to lead research in studying and identifying Huntington’s Disease, the first to recognize Multiple Sclerosis as an auto-immune disease, and the first to perform a pediatric heart transplant.

Columbia University’s medical school was ranked 3rd for research and 75th for primary care of best medical schools for 2023.

5. The Warren Alpert Medical School — Brown University

Brown University, along with The Warren Alpert Medical School, is located in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764, Brown University is the 7th oldest higher education institution in the US. It’s known for producing top-notch Brunonians, from Nobel Prize winners to billionaires to Olympic medalists to Pulitzer Prize awardees.

For generations, Brown University has followed a stringent admissions process, with one of the lowest acceptance rates in the country (6% for 2021). Year after year, the school is ranked on the list of the top ten happiest students—the only Ivy League to earn such a rating, reflecting the positive campus culture Brown continues to cultivate.

Premeds will apply to The Warren Alpert Medical School. Originally named Brown University School of Medicine, it was established in New England in 1811 and was the third US university to academically offer medical education.

Unfortunately, this school closed only 16 years later, which meant Brown didn’t have a medical school program until the early 1970s. In 1975, the Warren Alpert Medical School granted its first medical degree to a graduating class. Since then, it has climbed the ladder to become a front runner in medical education and biomedical exploration.

Brown University’s medical school was ranked 36th for research and 14th for primary care of best medical schools for 2023.

6. Weill Cornell Medicine — Cornell University

Cornell University is located in the heart of New York City in Manhattan. Cornell’s medical school, Weill Cornell Medicine, was originally conceived in 1898 as Cornell University Medical College.

Since day one, the school championed women in medical school, beginning at a time when most medical schools only catered to men. Weill Cornell Medicine made its mark on medical education with research advances like the Pap Smear test for cervical cancer, the first double blind controlled experiment for testing the effectiveness of drugs, the synthesis of penicillin, and the synthesis of the hormone oxytocin to aid in contractions during childbirth.

Among a long list of successful Weill Cornell Medical College alumni is Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and advisor to the president.

Cornell University’s medical school was ranked 14th for research and 45th for primary care of best medical schools for 2023.

7. Yale School of Medicine — Yale University

The Connecticut General Assembly chartered Yale School of Medicine (YSM) as the medical institution of Yale College (now Yale University) in 1810, making it the US’s sixth-oldest medical school, though it opened formally in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1813.

In 1920, Dean Milton C. Winternitz developed the school’s unique pedagogical philosophy—the Yale system of medical education. The system deviated from conventional scholastic practices like grading and class rankings to instead emphasize critical thinking and independent student research in a non-graded, non-competitive atmosphere. Although it has undergone revisions over the years, the system’s essential elements have remained the same.

The “Yale System” has produced doctors who designed the nation’s first artificial heart pump, the first antiviral medicine, and the insulin infusion pump for diabetes treatment. Lyme disease was also first identified by two YSM physicians.

Yale University’s medical school was ranked 10th for research and 68th for primary care of best medical schools for 2023.

8. No Medical School — Princeton University

Located in Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University was established in 1746. Historically, Princeton is one of the “Big Three” Ivy League schools, along with Harvard and Yale. These three are extremely prestigious and highly sought-after schools, but for premeds, Princeton has one notable difference: no medical school.

Despite not having a medical school, premeds can still achieve their premed major at Princeton before going to medical school. Princeton boasts an acceptance rate of 84% of all applicants who applied to medical school between 2018-2022.


Gaining Acceptance at an Ivy League

Application Checklist paper with checkmarks

Gaining acceptance to any medical school is no small feat, let alone acceptance to an Ivy League school. To do so, you’ll need more than stellar grades and top MCAT scores. Admissions committees look for well-rounded students who have a breadth of experiences, clear passions, and a rock-solid moral compass. They want diverse students who will enrich their student body.

If that wasn’t already enough, schools are looking for candidates who will make an ideal fit for their program. Illustrating why you will make a great medical student and doctor is not enough—admissions committee members want to know how your values align with theirs and how your shared goals will make for an ideal match.

This means you can’t approach all of the Ivy League schools in the same way. It’s important to approach each one with a unique strategy tailored to that school. What makes that school different, and why do you believe you are an ideal fit over other candidates with similar credentials to your own? How do your values and dreams for the future align with the values of the school?

Gaining acceptance at a prestigious Ivy League medical school is certainly a notable accomplishment, but the drive to get into an Ivy League should never outweigh school fit. The values of the school, the people you will work with, the opportunities of the program, and the location you will call home for many years are all critical to determining whether or not you will succeed as a medical student.

Carefully consider the many factors that go into choosing a medical school beyond prestige before making any final decisions. Read our guide: How to Decide Which Medical Schools to Apply to (12 Important Factors).

The Ivy Leagues aren’t the only medical schools that hold prestige in the US. In fact, only four Ivy League medical schools rank in the top 10 ranked schools when it comes to research, and only one school, Harvard, ranks within the top 10 schools for primary care. It’s also important to note that the prestige of the school may not matter so much depending on the specialty you hope to pursue and the type of career you want. We recently covered this topic in a research article/video—Does Medical School Prestige Matter as a Doctor?

No matter how great of a fit you believe you are for a school, your test scores, GPA, and application materials must be top-of-the-line in order to be considered at all. Spend time researching the requirements of each school’s application process, as well as the average GPA and MCAT scores of matriculated students, to determine where you have the best chance of acceptance.

If you need help making decisions about which schools to apply to or how to create a solid plan for acceptance, speak to one of our one-on-one advisors. Our doctor-led team will help you make the decisions that will lead to medical school acceptance at your first choice schools.


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