The study of medicine varies greatly around the world. In the US, medicine is studied in graduate school after completing an undergraduate degree that is not directly related to medicine.
Elsewhere, such as in the UK, students can enrol for undergraduate clinical degrees.
Wherever you study, almost all clinical degrees span a good number of years – more than non-clinical courses.
So it’s best to ensure that you make a wise choice when you commit yourself to a course of study for such a long period of time.
Best universities for medicine by country
Times Higher Education has published a ranking of the top 856 universities for clinical, pre-clinical and health studies, featuring colleges in more than 50 countries worldwide.
The ranking uses the same methodology as the World University Rankings, but with more weight on citations and slightly less on teaching and research metrics. The full methodology can be found here.
Scroll down for a full list of degrees included in the clinical subject ranking of top universities, and a guide on what you can do with them.
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Top five universities for clinical studies and health sciences
Medicine at the University of Oxford is a traditional course, split into pre-clinical and clinical stages.
In the first few years, students are taught theoretically with little patient contact. In the course’s later years, they move to the clinical phase, spending much more time at the John Radcliffe Hospital.
About 150 students are admitted on to the course each year, and another 30 on to a graduate course that condenses medical studies into just four years.
The university has two main libraries for medicine and clinical studies, one providing resources for the pre-clinical elements of the course and another focusing on healthcare.
In addition to its distinctive course, Oxford offers students the experience of college life, where social events and small tutorials take place.
The graduate medical school of Harvard University has three missions: to educate, research and provide clinical care.
Founded in 1782, it is the third-oldest medical school in the US.
Faculty of the school also teach in other science departments at Harvard, as well as working in clinical departments at some of the hospitals affiliated to the university.
There are four main teaching hospitals across the Boston area.
Harvard has introduced problem-based learning to the curriculum. There is also a specialised programme, accepting only 30 applicants each year, that focuses on biomedical research.
Medical students at Harvard belong to one of five societies named after alumni. Students work in small groups within the society, compete in sports competitions and attend social events.
What can you do with a medical degree?
Graduates also have several options to study medicine, either on an accelerated graduate programme or a condensed version of the pre-clinical and clinical courses.
There are six applicants per place on the medical courses, and about 260 are accepted overall.
Half the graduates of Cambridge’s medical degrees become general practitioners, and almost all will work in the NHS in the UK.
Entrance to the medicine degree requires excellent secondary qualifications and high scores on the BMAT test.
Cambridge students, particularly medical students, have a busy schedule, juggling studies, college social events and a variety of recreational activities.
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The medical programme at Imperial College London offers a range of teaching approaches, from traditional theoretical classes to innovative and hands-on experience.
From the very first term, students have direct contact with patients, unlike at other more traditional universities in the UK.
The six-year undergraduate qualification in medicine also includes a bachelor of science, in addition to the MBBS.
Like Oxford and Cambridge, Imperial’s courses are heavily scientific, with an emphasis not only on clinical practice but on research techniques.
Entry requirements are high; most accepted students will have top grades in chemistry, biology and a third subject, and will achieve a high score in the BMAT exam. The application process also includes an interview.
Imperial is one of the most international institutions in the UK, but only a few overseas students are accepted on to the medical programme each year.
The graduate school at Stanford University provides master’s and PhD programmes to students who wish to further their medical training.
Six Nobel prizewinners, 31 members of the National Academy of Sciences, and 42 members of the Institute of Medicine are among the current faculty at the school.
Researchers at Stanford Medicine are undertaking research across a number of different areas, including cancer, immunology, genetics and neuroscience.
The school also provides healthcare for adults and children, with a dedicated centre for children.
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Best universities for medicine 2021
Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2021 profile