Best universities for medicine 2018

Find the best universities for medicine using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

November 8 2017
Doctors in surgery

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 an institution for such a long period of time.


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Times Higher Education has published a ranking of the top 500 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 of what you can do with them. 


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Top 5 universities for clinical studies and health sciences

1. University of Oxford

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, and in 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.

=2. University of Cambridge

As at the University of Oxford, students can enrol in an undergraduate medicine degree at the University of Cambridge

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 National Health Service 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.

=2. Harvard University

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, and work in clinical departments at some of the hospitals affiliated to the university.

There are four main teaching hospitals, all around the Boston area.

Harvard has introduced problem-based learning to the curriculum. There is also a specialised programme, accepting only 30 applicants each year, which 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.

=4. Imperial College London

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 both 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 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.

=4. Stanford University

The graduate school at Stanford University provides master’s and PhD programmes to students who wish to further their medical training. 

Seven 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 across Stanford Medicine are undertaking research across a number of different areas including cancer, immunology, genetics and neuroscience among others. 

The school also provides healthcare for adults and children, with a dedicated centre for children. 


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Best universities for medicine 2018

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2018 profile

Medicine Rank 2018 University Country
1 University of Oxford United Kingdom
=2 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
=2 Harvard University United States
=4 Imperial College London United Kingdom
=4 Stanford University United States
6 Johns Hopkins University United States
7 University of California, Berkeley United States
8 Columbia University United States
9 University of Melbourne Australia
10 University of Pennsylvania United States
11 Duke University United States
12 UCL United Kingdom
=13 Washington University in St Louis United States
=13 Yale University United States
15 Karolinska Institute Sweden
16 University of California, Los Angeles United States
=17 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
=17 King’s College London United Kingdom
19 University of Toronto Canada
20 University of Washington United States
21 University of California, San Diego United States
22 University of Chicago United States
23 McMaster University Canada
24 University of Michigan United States
25 Tsinghua University China
26 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
27 McGill University Canada
28 National University of Singapore Singapore
29 Northwestern University United States
30 Heidelberg University Germany
31 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
32 University of Tokyo Japan
33 Boston University United States
34 University of British Columbia Canada
35 LMU Munich Germany
36 Emory University United States
37 University of Sydney Australia
38 Brown University United States
39 New York University United States
=40 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
=40 Kyoto University Japan
42 University of Pittsburgh United States
43 KU Leuven Belgium
44 Vanderbilt University United States
45 University of Manchester United Kingdom
=46 Monash University Australia
=46 Technical University of Munich Germany
48 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
49 University of Minnesota United States
50 Peking University China
51 Leiden University Netherlands
52 University of Queensland Australia
53 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
54 Seoul National University South Korea
55 Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin Germany
56 Utrecht University Netherlands
57 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea
58 University of Southern California United States
59 University of Montreal Canada
60 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
61 University of Copenhagen Denmark
62 Fudan University China
63 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
64 Uppsala University Sweden
65 Ohio State University United States
66 Dartmouth College United States
67 University of Bristol United Kingdom
68 Tufts University United States
69 Maastricht University Netherlands
70 University of Cape Town South Africa
71 University of California, Davis United States
72 University of Liverpool United Kingdom
73 Australian National University Australia
74 Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
75 University of Texas at Austin United States
76 University of Basel Switzerland
77 University of Alberta Canada
=78 Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
=78 University of Tübingen Germany
80 University of Leicester United Kingdom
81 National Taiwan University Taiwan
=82 University of Auckland New Zealand
=82 University of New South Wales Australia
84 Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
85 University of Bern Switzerland
=86 University of Dundee United Kingdom
=86 University of Florida United States
=86 University of Zurich Switzerland
=89 University of Groningen Netherlands
=89 Lund University Sweden
91 University of Nottingham United Kingdom
92 Osaka University Japan
93 University of Freiburg Germany
94 University of Southampton United Kingdom
=95 University of Calgary Canada
=95 Cardiff University United Kingdom
=95 Ghent University Belgium
=95 Paris-Sud University France
=95 University of Sheffield United Kingdom
100 University of Kiel Germany

Click here to view the top 500 universities for medical degrees


What can you do with a medical degree? 

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Clinical, pre-clinical and health degrees:

  • Allergy
  • Anaesthesiology
  • Cardiovascular system and cardiology
  • Dentistry and oral surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology and metabolism
  • Gastroenterology and hepatology
  • Geriatrics and gerontology
  • Healthcare sciences and services
  • Haematology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Legal medicine
  • Medical ethics
  • Medical informatics
  • Medical laboratory technology
  • Medicine, general and internal
  • Neurosciences and neurology
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition and dietetics
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Pathology
  • Paediatrics
  • Pharmacology and pharmacy
  • Psychiatry
  • Public, environmental and occupational health
  • Radiology, nuclear medicine and medical imaging
  • Rehabilitation
  • Respiratory system
  • Rheumatology
  • Surgery
  • Toxicology
  • Transplantation
  • Tropical medicine

Read more: The most detailed subject guide you will ever see to help you pick your degree

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