Best Doctor of Medicine Programs 2021

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A doctor of medicine (MD) focuses on clinical experience and prepares graduates for licensure as practicing doctors. Aspiring medical researchers or administrators sometimes pursue a Ph.D. in public health or a related field. Aspiring doctors typically seek an MD or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).

The best doctor of medicine programs prioritize allopathic approaches such as medication, surgery, and radiation. MD programs provide a comprehensive understanding of the human body, including illnesses, injuries, and diagnostic and treatment methods. MD students and professionals need advanced technical skills with medical equipment and software. They also use soft skills such as empathy, communication, and leadership.

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Keep reading for more information on the best MD programs, typical courses and specializations, and medical school costs and scholarships.

Top 10 Doctor of Medicine Programs

FAQ


  • What is an MD?

    MD programs cultivate extensive knowledge and advanced skills for researching, diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease and injury. MD graduates usually pursue licensure as doctors.


  • How long does it take to earn an MD?

    MD programs often take about four years. However, graduates may spend another four years or so completing supervised residencies to cultivate clinical skills in specialized areas.


  • What is the difference between a Ph.D. and an MD?

    Ph.D. degrees focus heavily on research and theory. MD degrees focus more on knowledge and skills for medical practice.


  • What is the difference between an MD and a DO?

    MDs study allopathic medicine, focusing on disease symptoms. DOs study osteopathic medicine, which focuses on whole-body healing.


Best Doctor of Medicine Programs 2021



The rankings below reflect 2021’s best doctor of medicine programs. Updated yearly, these rankings highlight accredited schools that meet rigorous academic standards. Prospective students can use these rankings to identify, compare, and choose between the nation’s best MD programs.

Career and Salary Outlook for Doctors

Successful doctor of medicine students choose from diverse, lucrative job opportunities in dozens of fields. Many MDs become licensed doctors in common medical fields including family medicine, oncology, and emergency medicine. The Bureau of the Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that physicians and surgeons make a median annual salary of over $208,000. The BLS projects an average job growth rate of 4% for these jobs during 2019-2029.

Becoming a doctor involves completing a bachelor’s degree, passing the MCAT, and completing an MD program. MD students undergo two years of general coursework, two years of specialized coursework and clinical practice, and 3-8 years of residency. MD graduates apply for state licensure with passing U.S. Medical Licensing Examination scores. Some MD graduates pursue speciality professional certifications through the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Not all MD graduates pursue careers as doctors, however. Other possible career paths include public health worker, medical researcher, medical teacher, or health journalist. Some MD graduates pursue administrative careers, such as medical and health services manager or minister of health.

Accreditation for Doctor of Medicine Programs



Only enrollees at nationally or regionally accredited higher education institutions qualify for federal financial aid. Students should check that prospective schools meet accreditation standards from Council for Higher Education Accreditation-approved agencies. Note that regionally accredited schools do not typically recognize credits from nationally accredited schools. The best doctor of medicine programs appear at regionally accredited institutions.

Most state licensure boards require applicants to hold degrees from schools with Liaison Committee on Medical Education accreditation. The best doctor of medicine programs feature programmatic accreditation from agencies specializing in particular medical fields.

Courses in a Doctor of Medicine Program



MD students typically move through several phases, beginning with two years of general coursework. Classes cover human structure, neuroscience and behavior, microbiology, and clinical practice foundations. The next phase cultivates clinical skills in areas such as internal medicine, psychiatry, surgery, and neurology.

During their fourth MD year and residency, medical students participate more actively in patient care and pursue their chosen specializations. Specialized subfields and course topics may include forensic psychiatry, pediatric oncology, or male infertility. The following courses appear in most doctor of medicine programs. Course offerings and titles vary by program.

This foundational course explores the body’s chemical components and functions, including molecular architecture. Enrollees study biological macromolecules, bioenergetic and enzyme catalysis principles, and molecular recognition. This course also explores the major metabolic pathways and commonly related disorders.

Epidemiology and biostatistics familiarizes enrollees with statistical distributions and displays through graphs and numbers. Course topics include scatter plots, least-squares, categorical data relations, and correlation. Participants study sampling designs, causation, power and inference, and comparing means. Enrollees apply statistics to epidemiology rates including mortality, fatality, sensitivity, and predictive values. This course provides foundational skills for aspiring medical researchers.

This course examines infectious disease and its relationship to the body’s organs and systems. Learners study the symptoms of infectious disease by organ and system and learn how various pathogens transmit and manifest. Enrollees explore diagnosis methods, vaccines, immune system responses, and infectious disease treatments.

Specialization Options for Doctors



Since specialization options vary by school and program, prospective MD students should consider them carefully before applying. MD programs follow a fairly set general curriculum for the first two years, followed by two years of specialized clinical rotations.

The medical field offers dozens of possible specializations and sub-specializations. Options vary widely by school and program but often include family medicine, emergency medicine, and neurology. Many medical schools also offer specializations in psychiatry, anesthesiology, and surgery. Some of the many specialization options available appear below.

This specialization focuses on treating diseases in the body’s major systems and organs, including the vascular, respiratory, and digestive systems. Internal medicine typically prepares graduates for careers providing comprehensive, long-term care to patients. Internal medicine specialists often treat heart, kidney, blood, and joint diseases. Preventative care and mental health issues sometimes fall under an internal medicine doctor’s care.

This specialization trains aspiring doctors for careers caring for female reproductive systems. OB/GYN doctors treat gynecological issues, including reproductive cancers, infertility, and sexually transmitted diseases. Obstetrics and gynecology students also learn how to perform necessary surgeries. OB/GYN doctors may provide some women’s primary healthcare as needed.

This interdisciplinary specialty integrates medical, behavioral, and socioeconomic sciences to determine common disease causes and risk factors. This path focuses on research and practices for promoting patient well-being, health, and disease prevention. Preventive medicine enrollees study epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental and occupational medicine. Potential sub-specializations include medical toxicology, public health, and occupational medicine.

Scholarships for Medical Students



Like other college students, some medical students qualify for scholarships. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment. Many professional organizations, schools, companies, and nonprofits provide scholarships based on identity, need, or merit. See below for two scholarships available to qualifying doctor of medicine students.

  • Physicians of Tomorrow Awards

    Who Can Apply: The American Medical Association Foundation offers several awards, each with its own eligibility requirements. All awards support final-year medical students nominated by their school’s dean. Application materials typically include recommendation letters, transcripts, personal statements, and financial statements.
    Amount: $10,000

    Apply

  • Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) awards five scholarships to outstanding third-year medical students. Applicants need demonstrated commitment to eliminating medical education and healthcare inequalities. The AAMC seeks candidates showing initiative in addressing holistic medical needs of U.S. minorities. Applicants submit nomination and recommendation letters, a personal statement, and their CV.
    Amount: $5,000

    Apply

How Much Does a Doctor of Medicine Cost?

The AAMC data suggests that the median cost of medical school is $39,000-$64,500 annually, including tuition, university and lab fees, and health insurance. Prospective students typically find the most affordable doctor of medicine programs at in-state, public universities.

The most affordable MD programs offer financial aid to qualifying students. Prospective MD program enrollees complete the FAFSA to apply for aid. Some MD students fund their education through special programs. These include the Health Professions Scholarship Program, the Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program, or the Professional Student Exchange Program. Doctors sometimes receive sign-on bonuses allowing them to pay off some loans.

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