10 Best Medical Schools in California

Filed in University Reviews by on 30th March 2022

California is the most populous state in the U.S. and where you can find the best medical schools in California. 

As far as healthcare is concerned, these universities offer some of the best graduate programs in medicine, an ideal option for any aspiring doctor or physician studying in the U.S.

There are over 700 colleges and universities in California, with only 12 of these universities having medical schools that offer Doctor of Medicine programs. One of these medical schools was the first for-profit medical school to award an M.D. degree.

So in this Xscholarship article, you’ll get to know the ten best Medical schools in California, the degree and programs offered by these schools, affiliations, and lots more. 

So, here are the ten best medical schools in the U.S. 

Best Medical Schools in California

10 best Medical schools in California

  1. Stanford University School of Medicine (Palo Alto, CA)
  2. UCSF School of Medicine (San Francisco, CA)
  3. UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine (Los Angeles, CA)
  4. UCSD School of Medicine (San Diego, CA)
  5.  University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine (Los Angeles, CA)
  6. UC Davis School of Medicine (Davis, CA)
  7. UC Irvine School of Medicine (Irvine, CA)
  8. U.C. Riverside School of Medicine (Riverside, CA)
  9. Touro University of California (Vallejo, CA)
  10. Western University of Health Sciences (Pomona, CA

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1.  Stanford University School of Medicine (Palo Alto, CA):

First on our list of best medical schools in California is the Stanford University School of Medicine. The School of Medicine is located in Stanford, California. It was founded in San Francisco in 1858 as Cooper Medical College before being acquired by Stanford in 1908. In 1959, the school was relocated to the Stanford campus near Palo Alto, California.

Stanford offers very competitive physician and M.D. assistantship (P.A.) degree programs, including neuroscience, neurobiology, and the best biosciences graduate program in the U.S., which ranks first in cell biology; genomics, bioinformatics, and genetics.

Presently, the Stanford School of Medicine offers a Master of Science in PA Studies program where highly qualified clinical PAs who can practice in any area of medicine are trained. These PAs also demonstrate leadership in research, community health,  and medical education. The program offers a new approach to expanded clinical opportunities and curriculum delivery as well as interprofessional education, with PA students taking courses with MD students.

It is a 30 months program length, with 27 students accepted each year. The school has an acceptance rate of less than 2%. The school has outstanding faculties and departments, and the Nobel Prize has been won by 8 of these faculties. U.S. News ranks Stanford University School of Medicine as one of the top 5 research med schools in the U.S.

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2. UCSF School of Medicine (San Francisco, CA):

UCSF is the second medical school in California, and it makes our list of the best medical schools you can find in the state. Founded by Hugh Toland in 1864, the University of California medical school is located at the base of Mount Sutro on the Parnassus Heights campus in San Francisco. It is also one of the oldest medical schools in the United States. 

For over 50 years, UCSF faculty have trained some of the U.S.’s best doctors and physicians. They treat patients and residents at the San Francisco General Hospital and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. That’s not all. The Nobel Prize has been won by over five faculty members, including Shinya Yamanaka for his stem cells discovery and Elizabeth Blackburn for her discovery of telomerase.

U.S. News ranks UCSF as #1 in obstetrics and gynecology and #2 in primary care. The school is affiliated with the UCSF Medical Center, one of the best hospitals in the United States.

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3. UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine (Los Angeles, CA):

The UCLA School of Medicine, renamed after co-founder David Geffen, is the first medical school in Southern California. The David Geffen School of Medicine is an accredited medical school founded in 1951 in California, United States. In 2001, the school of medicine was renamed to honor David Geffen, a media mogul who donated $200 million to the institution. 

David Geffen School of Medicine offers M.D., MD/MBA, MD/Ph.D., and MD/MPH programs. It is also affiliated with six hospitals and several accomplished faculties. 

UCLA’s broad range of research centers includes the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging which brings together students from other STEM backgrounds — maths, physics, engineering, and chemistry — to improve their understanding of medicine and biology. It is one of the best medical schools in California. 

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4. UCSD School of Medicine (San Diego, CA):

UCSD School of Medicine is the University of California graduate medical school located in San Diego. It was the third medical school established in California, after UCSF and UCLA medical schools. It is also closely affiliated with U.C. San Diego Health Medical Center.

Yuan-Cheng “Bert” Fung, the father of biomechanics and a pioneer of bioengineering, and the partnership with the Salk Institute, a leading STEM research center, helped improve the appeal and the quality of acquiring a Medical education at UCSD.

For U.S. federal research funding per faculty member, U.C. San Diego School of Medicine faculty rank 1st (1st in clinical research and 3rd in basic research). Among other department rankings, U.C. San Diego ranks 1st in neurosciences, family medicine, surgery and 2nd in ophthalmology, anesthesiology, orthopedics, pharmacology, psychiatry, and pediatrics. 

In terms of total N.I.H. funding, The U.C. San Diego School of Medicine is 8th. It has eight departments in the top 10: 1st in neurosciences and family medicine, 2nd in pharmacology and engineering-related funding, 3rd in psychiatry and “other basic sciences” programs, 7th in obstetrics/gynecology, and internal medicine.

Medical breakthroughs accomplished by the school include experimenting with one of the U.S.’s first echocardiograms and the life-saving pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (P.T.E.) technique. The UCSD’s Owens Clinic is an international applauded center for treating H.I.V./AIDs. The first heart transplant was performed by Margaret Allen, a UCSD School of Medicine alumni. 

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5. University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine (Los Angeles, CA):

The Keck School of Medicine was founded in 1885 and is located on the University of Southern California Health Sciences campus in northeastern Los Angeles, just adjacent to the Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights neighborhoods. It comes second after UCSF School of Medicine as California’s second-oldest medical school.

Keck offers several med school tracks: M.D., MD/MPH, MD/MBA, and M.D./Ph.D. The nearby California Institute of Technology provides the M.D./Ph.D. program to train incoming students interested in biomedical and academic medicine. Prospective students enrolled in the Keck School of Medicine class of 2024 had an average G.P.A. of 3.8 and an MCAT score of 517. 

Affiliations include three teaching hospitals: Keck Hospital of U.S.C., Level I trauma center LAC+USC Medical Center, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute is also affiliated with U.S.C. and develops early detection procedures and treatments for the disease.

Famous alumni include Margaret Jessie Chung (the first known Chinese-American physician) and Dr. Drew Pinsky (a T.V. personality). 

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6. UC Davis School of Medicine (Davis, CA):

The University of California Davis School of Medicine is another one of the best medical schools in California. It is located in Sacramento and has a less competitive acceptance rate of 2%.

UC Davis School of Medicine offers M.D., MD/MPH, and M.D./Ph.D. degrees, as well as the creative Rural-PRIME program, which prepares doctors to work in rural neighborhoods in California. The School of Medicine faculty specializes in various basic and applied research, including cancer biology, neuroscience, genetic diseases, vascular biology, health services, infectious diseases, functional genomics, nutrition, vision science, and telemedicine. 

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Every year, UC Davis receives N.I.H. funding worth approximately $90 million. Almost half of the medical students choose to conduct research during their training. Students also get lots of practical experience in any seven student-run clinics in inner-city communities before they begin their clerkship.

Much emphasis on healthcare is given to underserved communities in California; therefore, incoming students applying to UC Davis must have strong ties with these communities to increase their chances of getting admitted.

Notable Alumni in Medicine from UC Davis School of Medicine include Suzanne Kilmer, a leading laser surgeon and dermatologist at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Northern California, and Jon Andrus, former deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization.

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7. UC Irvine School of Medicine (Irvine, CA):

The University of California, Irvine School of Medicine (U.C.I. School of Medicine or UC Irvine School of Medicine) is an LCME accredited medical school founded in 1896 by A.C. Moore. It is located in the University of California’s Orange at the UC Irvine Medical Center, Irvine campus, and the Orange County’s cities of Irvine. In the higher Los Angeles area, It is the oldest medical school. 

U.C.I. offers MD/MPH degrees and various other dual degree programs. It is a leading education, research, and patient care institution because of its affiliation with the main hospital, U.C.I. Health. Health doctors, physicians, and researchers from U.C.I. excel in urology and gynecology.

Notable affiliations are exclusive health centers, including the new Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the U.C.I. Skin Biology Resource Center. 

Nobel prize winners from the U.C.I. School of Medicine includes professor Irwin Rose. Her discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation earned her the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the UC Irvine School of Medicine ranks #43rd in research and #61 in Primary Care. It remains one of the best medical schools in California. 

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8. UC Riverside School of Medicine (Riverside, CA):

The University of California Riverside (U.C.R.) School of Medicine is one of six University of California medical schools established in 1974.  

U.C.R. School of Medicine consists of the Division of Clinical Sciences and Biomedical Sciences. Graduate MD programs are offered in popular specialties, including internal medicine, dermatology, psychiatry, and pediatrics. 

In addition to undergraduate medical education, there are also residencies and fellowships in several fields sponsored and co-sponsored by U.C.R. A program that covers tuition of medical students has been set in place by U.C.R. if students will be willing to work locally for five years in family medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, OB-GYN, general internal medicine, general psychiatry, or surgery.

There are also various scholarships like the prestigious IEHP Dean’s Mission Award (for students who specialize in emergency medicine, general pediatrics, family medicine, general OB/GYN, general internal medicine, general psychiatry, or general surgery).

U.C.R. School of Medicine is associated with U.C. Riverside. The first 40 medical students were enrolled in 2013, and they received their degrees on June 9, 2017. Currently, U.C.R.’s maximum student enrollment for a medical class is 6. 

Notable faculty members include Devin Binder and David Lo, a professor of U.C.R.’s Translational Neuroscience Lab and an expert in mucosal immunology, respectively.

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9. Touro University of California (Vallejo, CA):

Last but not least, Touro University is on our list of best medical schools in California. Touro University is a private graduate school located on Mare Island in Vallejo, California. It was founded in 1997 and is part of the University, and Touro College System mainly focused on health professions. 

Touro University California jointly operates with the sister campus, Touro University Nevada.

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The University was first established as an independent, Jewish-sponsored institution in San Francisco before relocating to Vallejo. Today, the University offers graduate degrees in osteopathic medicine, education, physician assistant studies, pharmacy, public health, and nursing.

Programs of study include pharmacy (PharmD), osteopathic Medicine (D.O.), or a combination of either a master’s in public health (PharmD/M.P.H. or DO/MPH). The colleges of Touro University California include the College of Pharmacy, which offers the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), the College of Osteopathic Medicine, which shows the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree, the College of Education and Health Studies which provides three types of degrees, including a Physician Assistant degree currently offered as a dual degree (MSPAS/MPH), Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree, and a Master of Arts in Education.

Since Touro cares for underserved communities, The Suitcase Clinic and the Touro Student-Run Free Clinic in nearby Berkeley are open for Medical students in Touro who can volunteer to care for underserved communities. Furthermore, the Touro University Rainbow Health Coalition comprises students, staff, and faculty members formed to promote health equity among LGBTQI people.

Other fields include immunology, cognitive aging, infectious diseases, neuroscience, and nutrition.

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10. Western University of Health Sciences (Pomona, CA):

Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) is a private medical school and health sciences university and is last on our list of best medical schools in California. Its main campus is in Pomona, California, while the osteopathic medical school is in Lebanon, Oregon. 

Over twenty academic programs in multiple colleges are offered, mostly D.O. degrees. The University’s other medical programs include nursing, dentistry, physician assistantship, optometry, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, and pharmacy—other medical schools in California, Lebanon, Pomona, and Oregon. During work, students get abundant access to healthcare professionals. 

WesternU runs various patient care facilities — dental, eye care, medical, pharmacy, travel health, and pet health centers.

Notable alumni of WesternU include Lawrence B. Harkless, “the father of diabetic foot care,” and Lee Burnett, the founder of the Student Doctor Network and a U.S. Army colonel. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the number 1 medical school in California?

Stanford University School of Medicine is the number 1 medical school in California. 

Stanford offers very competitive physician and M.D. assistantship (P.A.) degree programs, including neuroscience, neurobiology, and the best biosciences graduate program in the U.S. and has outstanding faculties and departments.

What college has the best medical program in California?

The University of California Davis School of Medicine has an outstanding medical program in California.

Their medical programs include M.D., MD/MPH, and M.D./Ph.D. degrees, Rural-PRIME program, and practical experience before clerkship from seven student-run clinics in inner-city communities.

What States in California have the best Medical programs?

  1. Palo Alto, CA (Stanford University School of Medicine), 
  2. San Francisco, CA (UCSF School of Medicine), 
  3. Los Angeles, CA (UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine), 
  4. San Diego, CA (UCSD School of Medicine), 
  5. Los Angeles, CA (University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine), 
  6. Davis, CA (UC Davis School of Medicine), 
  7. Irvine (C.A. UC Irvine School of Medicine), 
  8. Riverside, CA (U.C. Riverside School of Medicine), 
  9. Vallejo, CA (Touro University of California), 
  10. Pomona, CA (Western University of Health Sciences)

What medical school in California has a 2.5 acceptance rate

The University of California Davis School of Medicine has a less competitive acceptance rate of 2%.

Conclusion

In California, you find some of the best medical schools in the U.S., and that’s everything we’ve covered in this article. 

From the degree and programs offered by these schools, rankings, affiliations, and notable alumni, you’ll find everything you need to decide on a choice of institution to enroll in. 

The graduate programs in medicine are ideal for any aspiring doctor or physician who wants to study in the U.S. 

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