9 Best Medical Schools in Pennsylvania – 2024

April 5, 2024

best medical schools in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania houses an impressive array of top-tier medical schools, each contributing to the state’s reputation for excellence in healthcare education. From renowned Ivy League universities to innovative academic medical centers, these institutions offer aspiring physicians unparalleled opportunities for academic enrichment, clinical training, and research advancement. In this article, we’ll explore the distinctive features and academic offerings of Pennsylvania’s finest medical schools, delving into what sets them apart and why they consistently rank among the best in the nation.

Please note that these schools are ordered by acceptance rate, from lowest to highest. The number is not indicative of one school being “better” than another. All schools on this list are fantastic world-class medical schools from which you can launch a successful medical career.

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Best Medical Schools in Pennsylvania 

1) Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine

  • Location: Philadelphia
  • Acceptance Rate: 1.7%
  • Average GPA: 3.74
  • Average MCAT: 512
  • Degrees Offered: MD, MD/PhD, MD/MA, MD/MBA, MD/MPH

Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) proudly stands as the first co-educational medical school in Pennsylvania. Committed to serving disadvantaged populations, LKSOM provides free and low-cost care in Philadelphia. Additionally, LKSOM offers a unique choice of campuses for its class of 220—the bustling North Philadelphia campus and the intimate St. Luke’s Bethlehem campus, each with its distinct advantages. The North Philadelphia campus houses the schools of Pharmacy and Dentistry, while the St. Luke’s Bethlehem campus provides a small-town atmosphere and a focus on underserved populations. Moreover, LKSOM’s comprehensive global medicine program offers interactive learning, research opportunities, exposure to global medical leaders, and training in emergency disaster care.

2) Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine

  • Location: Hershey
  • Acceptance Rate: 1.8%
  • Average GPA: 3.82
  • Average MCAT: 512
  • Degrees Offered: MD, MD/PhD, MD/MPH, MD/MBA, MD/MEd

Penn State University College of Medicine, with a class size of 145, offers a range of innovative curriculum options. Students can opt for either the four-year Hershey Curriculum, University Park Curriculum, or the Hershey Accelerated Pathways, which allow completion in three years. Accelerated pathways include specialties like family medicine, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. Additionally, students can pursue a three-year MD accelerated pathway, dedicating their fourth year to research or earning a Master of Education degree. Notably, graduates of the accelerated pathways can seamlessly transition into Penn State’s residency programs, furthering their medical training and career advancement.

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3) Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

  • Location: Scranton
  • Acceptance Rate: 2.1%
  • Average GPA: 3.8
  • Average MCAT: 513
  • Degrees Offered: MD

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, established in 2004, offers a progressive medical education with a class size of approximately 115 students. Operating on a distributed campus model across northeastern and central Pennsylvania, as well as southern New Jersey, it provides a unique regional approach to medical training. The Total Health Curriculum, rooted in evidence-based learning, cultivates skilled and compassionate physicians dedicated to individualized patient care and community health promotion. Emphasizing six longitudinal themes like Social Justice and Health Equity and Population Health, the curriculum molds socially responsible students into healthcare leaders. Additionally, the Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program incentivizes students with tuition benefits for future work as Geisinger primary care physicians.

4) University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

  • Location: Pittsburgh
  • Acceptance Rate: 3.5%
  • Average GPA: 3.86
  • Average MCAT: 517
  • Degrees Offered: MD, MD/MS, MD/MA, MD/PhD, MD/MPH, MD/PSTP, MD/CSTP

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, with a class size of around 150, offers a dynamic curriculum blending lectures, problem-based learning, and early clinical experiences. Emphasizing an integrated organ systems approach, students gain comprehensive preclinical science knowledge. Pitt Med fosters research through initiatives like the Longitudinal Research Project, encouraging students to explore novel scientific and clinical approaches. Additionally, the Office of Clinical Research supports clinical research endeavors. Moreover, students have the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in bioethics alongside their medical education, preparing them to address ethical issues in healthcare practice and contribute to public discourse.

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5) University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

  • Location: Philadelphia
  • Acceptance Rate: 3.8%
  • Average GPA: 3.95
  • Average MCAT: 522

Established in 1765, the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine offers a class size of about 155 and pioneers a collaborative approach to education with the Wharton School. The Longitudinal Experience to Appreciate the Patient’s Perspective program provides early clinical exposure, pairing students with chronically ill patients. Situated on a single campus with other professional schools, UPenn promotes seamless interprofessional education. Teaching centers like the Jordan Medical Education Center and the Clinical Simulation Center offer advanced facilities. The school also offers a “year-out” option for in-depth study, including prestigious funding opportunities like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Anatomic Pathology Fellowship at Penn.

6) Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

  •  Location: Philadelphia
  • Acceptance Rate: 4.6%
  • Average GPA: 3.73
  • Average MCAT: 514
  • Degrees Offered: MD, MD/PhD, BS/MD, MD/MBA-MHA, MD/MPH

Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University boasts a larger class size of 270, offering a vibrant and diverse learning community. Jefferson’s innovative “JeffMD” curriculum emphasizes case-based learning and patient encounters, shaping students’ medical education foundation. Moreover, students pursue one of eight Scholarly Inquiry tracks, engaging in various research projects mentored by Jefferson faculty. These tracks encompass clinical and translational research, design, digital health, health policy and systems, humanities, medical education, and population health research. Additionally, high school students can opt for the Penn State Accelerated Program, a unique seven-year BS/MD program in collaboration with Penn State’s undergraduate program.

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7) Drexel University College of Medicine

  • Location: Philadelphia
  • Acceptance Rate: 6.1%
  • Average GPA: 3.79
  • Average MCAT: 512
  • Degrees Offered: MD, MD/PhD, MD/MPH, MD/MBA, MD/MS

With a large class size of 304, Drexel University College of Medicine follows a typical curriculum format: two years of pre-clinical coursework followed by two years of clinical rotations. What sets this school apart is its unique approach of placing students into one of six learning communities, called “societies,” providing more holistic academic and social support. Additionally, Drexel offers an eight-year combined undergraduate and graduate education for early acceptance into medical school. Furthermore, medical students can pursue scholarly concentrations by completing certificates in areas such as medical humanities, medical research, and women’s health and equity.

8) Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

  • Location: Erie
  • Acceptance Rate: 6.1%
  • Average GPA: 3.5
  • Average MCAT: 503
  • Degrees Offered: DO

Offering innovative, student-centered medical education, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) boasts four campuses: Erie, Pennsylvania (with the largest class size); Greensburg, Pennsylvania; Bradenton, Florida; and Elmira, New York. As the nation’s largest medical college, LECOM provides five learning pathways leading to a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree: Lecture Discussion, Problem-Based Learning, Directed Study, and two three-year pathways—Primary Care Scholars and Accelerated Physician Assistant. With the highest number of medical school applications nationwide, LECOM predominantly produces primary care physicians in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, or OB-GYN.

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9) Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

  • Location: Philadelphia
  • Acceptance Rate: 7.2%
  • Average GPA: 3.5
  • Average MCAT: 505
  • Degrees Offered: DO, DO/MS, DO/MPH

The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) matriculates about 270 students yearly. With diverse clinical placements, research avenues, and senior electives, PCOM offers a dynamic learning environment. Notably, the OMM Clinical Scholars Program stands out, offering specialized training and mentorship to selected students. Through a competitive process, scholars receive tailored clinical experiences and support from PCOM faculty, alongside monthly stipends and travel allowances. This initiative enhances students’ educational journey and prepares them for successful careers in osteopathic medicine.

In-State vs. Out-of-State Applicants Applying to Pennsylvania Medical Schools

When it comes to applying to medical schools in Pennsylvania, the distinction between in-state and out-of-state applicants holds significant weight. In-state applicants often enjoy advantages such as lower tuition costs and, at times, preferential acceptance rates due to state-funded institutions prioritizing residents. For example, during the last admissions cycle, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine reported an interview rate of 26% for in-state applicants compared to 8.9% for out-of-state applicants. Additionally, demonstrating a commitment to serving local communities can strengthen their applications and set them apart during the admissions process.

Best Medical Schools in Pennsylvania (Continued)

Conversely, out-of-state applicants face heightened competition for limited spots and typically encounter higher tuition costs. Nonetheless, their diverse backgrounds and perspectives can enrich the educational environment, which many Pennsylvania medical schools highly prioritize. And for private institutions, the difference between in-state and out-of-state applicants sometimes doesn’t hold as much weight. For instance, during the same admissions cycle, both in-state and out-of-state applicant interview rates were essentially the same at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Regardless of residency status, applicants must emphasize their dedication to medicine and the unique attributes they bring to Pennsylvania’s medical education landscape.

Choosing a Medical School in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania medical schools offer aspiring physicians a boatload of advantages that make the state an appealing destination for their educational journey. Pennsylvania is not only home to several prestigious medical institutions renowned for their academic excellence, cutting-edge research facilities, and diverse clinical opportunities, but it also boasts some of the oldest medical schools in the country.

Institutions like the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have rich histories dating back centuries, contributing significantly to the legacy of medical education in the United States. They’ve continuously adapted to the evolving landscape of healthcare, maintaining their position at the forefront of medical innovation and excellence. Their longstanding presence in Pennsylvania’s medical community not only provides students with access to a wealth of resources and expertise but also instills a sense of tradition and heritage in their educational experience.

Best Medical Schools in Pennsylvania (Continued)

To gain admission to medical schools in Pennsylvania, aspiring students must meet rigorous academic and extracurricular criteria. This includes a strong academic background with a focus on pre-medical coursework, competitive GPA and MCAT scores, and active participation in relevant extracurricular activities like clinical volunteering and research. Additionally, strong letters of recommendation and a well-rounded personal statement highlighting qualities such as resilience and empathy are essential.

Medical Schools in Pennsylvania – What’s Next?

If you’re eager to delve deeper into Pennsylvania medical schools, there are several avenues you can explore. Begin by reaching out to admissions offices for personalized guidance and consider attending virtual information sessions or campus tours to get a feel for each institution’s culture and offerings. Additionally, don’t hesitate to connect with current students, alumni, or faculty members through online forums or networking events to gain valuable insights and perspectives. By immersing yourself in the wealth of resources available and actively engaging with the medical school community, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and embark on your journey toward a fulfilling career in healthcare.