Let’s look at the top universities in the medical school world rankings and see what these leading institutions have to offer. North America and Europe have the best med schools in the world, according to Times Higher Education rankings.
If you want to become a doctor, it’s normal to ask what are the best medical schools in the world because this is certainly a profession where you should strive to become one of the best. And if we analyse the data a bit closer, we can see that English speaking countries (USA, UK, Canada and Australia) count for 16 of the top 20 best medical schools in the world.
So, here are the key takeaways of this analysis: the US has the largest number of excelling medical schools (9) but they’re difficult to get into, as an international student, because of fierce competition. The UK has equally good universities while the admission process is more approachable for overseas students.
Universities in the rest of Europe, on the other hand, while spread across dozens of countries, enjoy similar academic systems and shared cultural values. In Europe, it’s also common to have separate universities specialised only in medicine. Asia has a medical tradition of thousands of years and that is reflected in the quality of their medical schools.
Both European and Asian universities may seem less approachable because of language barriers, but they do have plenty of English taught medical programmes. Canada and Australia are two big player countries with high quality of living, great universities where international students can study in English, but high tuition fees and totally different climates.
To perform this analysis, we looked at subject rankings. Out of the three major subject rankings (QS, Times Higher Education, and Shanghai), we chose Times Higher Education (THE) because it provides a balanced overview on university reputation, staff to student ratio, and engagement with industry.
>> To learn more about the world rankings and how they can help you choose a university, read this article.
THE Clinical and Health Subject ranking has 5 big indicators:
- Teaching: the learning environment
- Research: volume, income, and reputation
- Citations: research influence
- International outlook: staff, students and research
- Industry income: innovation
Now, let’s have a look at the top medical schools in each of the mentioned regions.
USA: the country with the highest number of top universities. In ANY subject
In the US, you cannot study Medicine at undergraduate level. This means you first need a Bachelor’s degree, not necessarily in a science subject, to apply to a Med School. Only after that, you can apply to Grad School and do four years of Medical training.
Nine out of the World’s top 20 medical colleges in the world are from the US, according to the Times Higher Education rankings. Makes sense, given that apart from these top universities, the US also boasts some of the best hospitals in the world and ground-breaking medicine.
If you’re wondering what is the most exclusive medical school in the world, I think it’s safe to say Harvard University. Harvard is the best medical school in the US and getting into Med school here is no easy feat.
Harvard Medical School accepts international students, but those who studied a Bachelor’s in the US are preferred and having at least one year of academic education in the US is a must.
These are the top 10 medical universities from the US in order of THE scoring (first 9 are in Top 20):
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- Yale University
- John Hopkins University
- Columbia University
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- University of Washington
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
UK: where you can find the best medical school in the world
Four of the world’s top 20 medical schools are located in the UK. The medical system in the UK is a bit different than the one in the US. Here, you can apply straight to a BA in Medicine, and follow it with an MA. Once you’re in, you’ll start the medical program which is divided into theoretical learning, which takes place from year 1 to 3, and clinical learning, from year 4 to 6.
>> Check out Master’s in Medicine at Oxford University
University of Oxford
University of Oxford has been ranking first in THE Clinical and Health Subject Ranking since 2017. Oxford is the second oldest university in the world that is still in operation (after the University of Bologna from Italy).
Today, a third of all students at Oxford are international students, 21% of Bachelor’s students as well, coming from over 150 countries. The admission process is not different for international applicants and overseas studies weigh the same as UK ones. As an international student, it’s much easier to apply to Oxford or other UK universities than it is to apply to North American universities. Apart from showing proof of studies equivalent to the British A Levels, to be admitted, you will also have to write a convincing Personal Statement, sit through an interview and pass the Biomedical Admissions test, which assesses your logic, writing abilities, and basic scientific knowledge.
These are the top 10 medical universities from the UK in order of THE scoring (first 4 are in Top 20):
- University of Oxford
- University of Cambridge
- Imperial College London
- King’s College London
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Glasgow
- University of Manchester
- University of Bristol
- University of Birmingham
Canada: the most educated country in the world
Canada is not famous only for its beautiful mountains and exciting cities, but it is also considered the most educated country in the world because it has the highest percentage of adults with higher education.
University of Toronto
Toronto is the biggest city in Canada and a few years back earned the title of “the most multicultural city in the world’. There are more than 250 ethnicities living in Toronto and its residents speak 170 languages. The largest populations in the city are from India, China, and the Philippines. Naturally, you’ll find a Chinatown in Toronto like in many other cities, but here you also have Little Italy, Greektown, Koreatown, Little India, Roncesv245678es Village (or Little Poland), Portugal Village, and Little Malta. It will feel like visiting a different country every day.
There’s no wonder that University of Toronto, the best medical school in Canada, scores highly in the International Outlook indicator, with 24, 691 international students out of a total 95, 055 students enrolled for academic year 2021-2022. The US, China, India, and Iran have the largest representation among the international students at University of Toronto.
These are the top 10 medical universities from Canada in order of THE scoring (only the first is in Top 20):
- University of Toronto
- McMaster University
- McGill University
- University of British Columbia
- University of Alberta
- University of Ottawa
- University of Montreal
- University of Calgary
- Queen’s University
- Western University
Australia: top education and exciting adventures
Australia is an easy place to love, especially if you like outside adventure, awesome cities, and ocean-side views. It also boasts world class medical colleges, and counts for one university in THE top 20 medical schools in the world.
Australian diplomas are recognised around the world and their universities always feature among the best in the world. However, because Australian universities calculate tuition fees based on the number of units you take as a student, medical degrees end up being considerably more expensive than other degrees. You can expect to pay around $52 974 (AUD) for one year of studying for a BA (Hons) in Biomedicine at Melbourne University (the best medical school in Australia), while a year of graduate medical school goes over $200 000. This is very expensive, but if you plan to stay in Australia afterward, you'll enjoy great quality of life and high salaries.
University of Melbourne
The University’s home city is a vibrant city with a lot happening on the art and culture scene, as well as excellent night-life. In fact, Melbourne was crowned the most livable city in Australia earning a perfect score of 100 out of 100 points. As a plus, it has great coffee and Art trams, trams which feature original painted art.
Australians are also big sports fans and University of Melbourne reflects this local love of sports with its 47 sporting clubs available for its students. Students really seem to love their experience here, and you can read what they say about their studies at Melbourne on the university’s page.
These are the top 10 medical universities from Australia in order of THE scoring (only the first is in Top 20):
- University of Melbourne
- Monash University
- University of Sydney
- The University of Queensland
- University of Adelaide
- UNSW Sydney
- Australian National University
- Bond University
- The University of Western Australia
- University of Canberra
Europe: where Medicine has dedicated universities
Europe is an exciting place to study and enjoy the old history of the place, the local language, as well as the often romantic or quaint locations. Leaving the UK aside, however, only one medical university from Europe occupies a place in THE’s Top 20. This doesn’t mean the other European med schools are not worth considering. Far from it!
With a couple of exceptions, the best medical schools in Europe are from Germany and the Netherlands, but to study medicine in either country, you need to speak the local language. If you’re practical, it makes more sense to choose Germany because the German language is more widely spoken and you can also enjoy free education. Dutch is not a language of circulation and tuition fees, as well as living expenses, are quite costly. Of course, choosing the Netherlands makes sense if you want to stay in the country.
Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Like many other European counterparts, Karolinska Institutet specialises in Medicine alone. This Scandinavian university is one of the top medical schools in the world and the largest medical university in Sweden. It offers the greatest selection of medical and health-science courses in the country.
Universities in Sweden are tuition-free for EU/EEA and Swiss students, and the healthcare system is one of the best in the world.
These are the top 10 medical universities in Europe in order of THE scoring (only the first is in Top 20):
- Karolinska University
- Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Germany)
- Heidelberg University (Germany)
- Ku Leuven (Belgium)
- LMU Munich (Germany)
- Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands)
- ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
- University of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
- Technical University of Munich (Germany)
- Maastricht University (Netherlands)
Asia: the place with the oldest medical history
Asia is a fascinating place to pursue medical studies because you can trace the beginnings of ancient Chinese medicine all the way to the 2nd century BC. Centuries of preoccupation with the healing arts can only strengthen the medical tradition as things evolved and modern medicine emerged.
Asian universities are very good in Medicine, the best 10 are all in Top 50 worldwide and 3 in Top 20. China has the biggest number of high performing universities but, like in Japan, you need to learn the language first and it’s not an easy one. As an international student, it only makes sense to do it if you want to build your career in the country.
The language barrier can be an issue for international students interested in Asia, but you can find some top medical schools in countries where English is more commonly spoken, such as Singapore.
National University of Singapore
Singapore is an exciting place to spend your student years. There are many innovations and technological developments going on in many areas, medicine included. In fact, the city-state of Singapore was ranked 6th most innovative city in the world and the first in Asia. As a big plus, at NUS you can study medicine in English.
The National University of Singapore actually started as a medical school in 1905 with only 23 students, founded by a local businessman with the purpose of serving the Singaporean community. This initial mission is still very much alive in the university’s values. NUS exists to nourish young talents and give back to the community.
These are the top 10 Asian medical universities in order of THE scoring (first 4 are in Top 20):
- Tsinghua University (China)
- University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong SAR)
- National University of Singapore (Singapore)
- Peking University (China)
- The University of Tokyo (Japan)
- Yonsei University, Seoul campus (South Korea)
- Kyoto University (Japan)
- Seoul National University (South Korea)
- Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong SAR)
- Fudan University (China)