Preparing yourself as early as possible is key to getting into med school. If you’re based in Pennsylvania (or interested in going to school there), choosing one of the best pre-med schools in the state can definitely help.
In this article we’ll cover:
- The best pre-med schools in Pennsylvania (based on reputation and alumni)
- How important it is to attend a good pre-med school in the state
- What pre-meds going to school here can do to be more competitive
Being a med student myself, I know how valuable it can be to think about each of these questions. Getting into med school is tough, the right information can help give you a small advantage.
Ready to learn more? Let’s go!
Before we get into the best pre-med schools in Pennsylvania, you might be interested in what’s on offer in the surrounding states. Check out our guide; Best Pre-Med Schools in the USA for more information.
Best Pre-Med Schools In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University
|National University Rank:||63|
|Average SAT score:||1160-1370|
|Tuition:||$18,450 (in-state)/$35,514 (out-of-state)|
Penn State’s Premedical-Medical (PMM) Program is a 7-year accelerated program with three years of undergrad study followed by four years at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. Since its origins in 1963, more than 1,000 students have earned a B.S/M.D. via the program and roughly 25-30 students are admitted to the course each year.
PMM is competitive with an acceptance rate of 4.4%. You’ll need a 1470 or higher on the SAT, a high school GPA of 3.94, or a composite score of 32 or higher on the ACT (more information is available here).
Outside of PMM, Penn State offers additional routes into medicine.
60-75 percent of all Penn State students accepted into medical school complete a major in the Eberly College of Science, General Science, and Biology.
Supported by the college’s PreHealth Advising services, undergrads can prep for med school with one-on-one appointments and drop-in advising, interview workshops, internships, pre-health summer enrichment programs, research opportunities, and more.
The four-year interdisciplinary Premedicine degree offers excellent preparation for supporting non-science and science courses needed for a solid application, as evidenced by the 60% acceptance rate of their grads to med school (65% juniors in a given cycle, 70% of pre-med majors).
Penn State Student Organizations like the Academy Health Student Chapter, American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Global Medical Brigades, Operation Smile, and Student Red Cross Club add an extra dimension to its suitability as a quality pre-med school (Source).
- Name: Pennsylvania State University
- Location: State College, PA 16801
- Phone: 814-865-4700
- Website: psu.edu
University of Pittsburgh
|National University Rank:||58|
|Average SAT score:||1260-1440|
|Tuition:||$19,678 (in-state)/$33,706 (out-of-state)|
Founded in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh has a strong track record when it comes to medical school admissions, helping over 300 students make applications each year.
Coming in at #58 in the U.S. News’ National University Rank, its medical school is considered one of the top 20 in the country and offers plenty of support in the way of shadowing and volunteer opportunities.
Supported by the Pitt Interprofessional Center for Health Careers, interested pre-meds can get involved with an extensive list of health-related Pitt clubs (including Active Minds, Eldercare, AMSA, Red Cross, CPHS, and more – full list here), community service programs, pre-health internships, research and fellowship opportunities and clinical experience across the UPMC, Allegheny Health, Magee Women’s Hospital and a ton more.
Although there’s no dedicated pre-med track, there is a Guaranteed Admission Program (GAP) for outstanding high school seniors admitted to the University of Pittsburgh to study medicine. To apply, the college asks for an overall GPA of 3.75 in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics. More information on the GAP program is available here.
For a little taster on what pre-med life is like at Pitt, check out the following video:
- Name: University of Pittsburgh
- Location: 4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
- Phone: 412-624-4141
- Website: pitt.edu
Bryn Mawr College
|National University Rank:||28 in National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Average SAT score:||1290-1510|
Bryn Mawr has no formal pre-med track but offers two-degree programs directly related to health care; the 4+1 Master of Bioethics Program at Perelman School of Medicine and the 4+1 Masters Programs at the Boston University School of Public Health.
Primarily a liberal arts college, Bryn Mawr has something of a reputation for producing well-rounded med school applicants that offer something a little different from the STEM-heavy schools on this list.
The college’s one-year Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program (a program designed for non-trad career changers), is one of the oldest and most respected in the country (boasting a consistent medical school acceptance rate of more than 98 percent).
Here’s more on what that program offers…
The Health Professions Advising Department, led by Dean Glicksman is also active in helping students find internships and volunteering positions. It connects the active Pre-Health Society and Health Interest Programming groups offering summer internships, fundraisers, workshops, and talks given by outside speakers from healthcare professions.
- Name: Bryn Mawr College
- Location: 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
- Phone: 610-526-5000
- Website: brynmawr.edu
University of Scranton
|National University Rank:||6 in Regional Universities North|
|Average SAT score:||1120-1310|
The Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions Program at Scranton has a long tradition of helping students prepare and find career success in allied health fields.
With acceptance rates higher than the national average, the run-down of the past years has looked like this:
- Class of 2018: 94%
- Class of 2019: 91%
- Class of 2020: 88%
Although there’s no dedicated pre-med track, Scranton offers personalized education in the form of Faculty-Student Research Programs, Teaching Mentorship, and service through the Edward R. Leahy Jr. Center Clinic for The Uninsured. The Medical Alumni Council (MAC) plays an important role in student assistance.
Scranton also participates in the Physician Shortage Area Program (one of only seven undergrad schools), designed to get students practicing medicine in rural areas.
- Name: University of Scranton
- Location: 800 Linden Street, Scranton, PA 18510
- Phone: 570-941-7400
- Website: scranton.edu
|National University Rank:||49|
|Average SAT score:||1280-1450|
Lehigh University is well-known as a popular Engineering school with a good reputation for producing strong pre-med candidates.
“In 2013, 75% of the Lehigh candidates who applied to allopathic (M.D.) medical schools with grade point averages (GPAs) of 3.69 or better and MCAT scores of 30 or above were accepted. (3.69 GPA/30 MCAT were the national averages of students accepted into medical schools.)”(Source)
There are no dedicated pre-med majors at Lehigh so Pre-health students are invited to major in any area while completing the prerequisite coursework for the professional program of their interest.
Major advisors work closely with undergrads at Lehigh along with the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC), to receive guidance and support in their preparations.
Students can get involved with the school’s Philosophy and Psychology Clubs, the local AMSA Pre-Medical Chapter, the Lehigh University Biological Sciences Club, and Cognitive Science groups.
- Name: Lehigh University
- Location: 27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015
- Phone: 610-758-3000
- Website: lehigh.edu
Thomas Jefferson University
|National University Rank:||176|
|Average SAT score:||1070-1270|
Thomas Jefferson University runs a dedicated BS in Pre-Medical Studies that covers a broad range of science courses in preparation for health careers.
Focused on a problem-based learning curriculum, students at the school get extra support with clinical experience and preceptorships thanks to its attachment to Sidney Kimmel Medical College.
Related: Is Sidney Kimmel A Good Medical School? (Major Pros & Cons)
Graduates from the school have gone on to programs at Temple University School of Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, and University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, among other institutions.
Here’s one of many testimonials singing the praises of the school and how well it prepares students for a career in the healthcare industry…
- Name: Thomas Jefferson University
- Location: 1020 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
- Phone: 215-955-6000
- Website: jefferson.edu
All admissions data is taken from the American Association of Medical Colleges (Source). Ranking data is taken from U.S. News.
There are several options to choose from when it comes to choosing great pre-med schools in Pennsylvania.
Aside from the recommendations above, other top schools that came up during my research, that also may be worth looking at, include:
- Allegheny College (Meadville, PA)
- Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
- Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA)
- Juniata College (Huntingdon, PA)
- Lafayette College (Easton, PA)
- La Salle University (Philadelphia, PA)
Whichever major you choose, the connections, experiences, and opportunities at these colleges will give you all you need to help put together a competitive application.
You’ll still have to put in the time of course, but you’ll have lots of support to help you along the way.
Is It Important To Attend A Good Pre-Med School In Pennsylvania?
Having a reputable school on your med school application can look good. Performing well during undergrad, at any of the colleges recommended above, is a strong indicator you’ll fit in studying medicine.
How much an individual school actually contributes to your chances of becoming a doctor is open for debate, however.
The biggest factors, in terms of competitiveness, are your GPA score, your clinical experience (shadowing, working, etc), extracurriculars, and how well you present yourself in application essays and interviews.
To say the strength of your candidacy comes solely down to where you studied for pre-med would be a stretch!
How To Choose A Great Pre-Med School
In my selections above I’ve attempted to present what I feel (as a current medical student) are possibly the most important stats.
Good pre-med schools should have solid Pre-Health advising, good extracurricular opportunities, a good National University Ranking, and a small student-to-faculty ratio.
That last one helps with obtaining great letters of recommendation.
What College In Pennsylvania Has The Best Medical Program?
The best medical school in Pennsylvania, according to U.S. News Ranking (Source), is the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. You’ll need an average GPA of 3.91 and an average MCAT of 521.7 to compete for its 150 places.
Other high-scoring med schools in the state include:
- Drexel University College of Medicine – See our article; Is Drexel University College Of Medicine Good? (Major Pros & Cons)
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University – See our article; Is Temple A Good Medical School? (Major Pros & Cons)
The article recommended below will provide you with all the necessary data you’ll need for medical schools in the state…
Related: 9 Best Medical Schools In Pennsylvania (Everything You Need To Know)
How To Improve Your Medicine Application As A Pre-Med In School In Pennsylvania
A great way to make your med school application as competitive as possible is through extracurriculars.
In Pennsylvania, you have a lot of clinically relevant medical/hospital volunteering opportunities to take advantage of.
These positions are organized and very useful for obtaining letters of recommendation (LOR’s), shadowing, and other important networking connections.
Check out our hospital volunteering and shadowing guides for:
- Philadelphia (Volunteering) (Shadowing)
You can also look into relevant pre-med jobs like scribing, EMT, and phlebotomy available in the state for extra clinical experience.
Related: 3 Best Paid Jobs For Pre Med Students (That Don’t Require Experience Or Training)
What Is The Hardest/Easiest College In Pennsylvania To Get Into?
Based on the data above, the University of Scranton or any of the liberal arts colleges appear easier to gain admission into. Their admission rate is the highest and their average SAT scores are lower than rival colleges in the state.
Pennsylvania State University is perhaps the most competitive college to matriculate in as a pre-med in Pennsylvania, especially its competitive PMM program.
What Major Should I Choose As A Pre-Med In Pennsylvania?
The standard advice is to choose a major you feel you can do well in. Your GPA will be possibly the biggest differentiator between you and other pre-med candidates.
Here’s what you should consider:
- How motivated you’ll be to study (choose something you’ll enjoy)
- How “suitable” you are to the subject (maximize your chance of a high GPA)
If you did well in a particular subject in high school, or find something relatively easy to get good grades in, that could make for a good pick.
Something else to think about is the MCAT. Sometimes life science subjects can be a good fit as they’ll help you in the preparation for this key med school exam. They also may cover many of the prerequisites.
One thing is for sure though; you don’t need to be on a pre-med track at a Texas-based college to get into med school. Your GPA, your MCAT, and your extracurriculars are what count!
If you found this article useful, make sure you check out the rest of our pre-med guides…
- Best Pre-Med Schools In Georgia (Costs, Extracurriculars & Admission Info)
- Best Pre-Med Schools In Texas (Costs, Extracurriculars & Admission Info)
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.