Public vs Private Medical Schools – Which is Best?

Public vs Private Medical Schools – Which is Best?

private medical schools

Photo by Hash Milhan

As a premed student, you face the choice of applying to private medical schools, public medical schools, or both. Here is some information you might find useful as you make your decision.


The Odds

Public schools receive funding from the state and are required to provide a certain number of spots in their class to residents of that state. Therefore, your best chance of being accepted to medical school is to apply to your state school.

You are particularly in luck if you are applying to California medical schools or Texas medical schools as a resident, since you have many public schools to choose from.


Applying To a Public School as a Non-Resident

If you are applying to a public school as an out-of-state resident, make sure to clarify what the school’s policy is on becoming a resident for tuition purposes. At UCLA, you can pay in-state tuition after the first year. This was important to me as a non-resident. Some other schools do not offer this and paying out-of-state tuition at a public school can be more expensive than paying tuition at a private school.

Also research beforehand the number of out-of-state residents a public school accepts. If a public school accepts 1 non-resident per year, it’s probably not worth sending an application to that school if you are not a resident (it costs money to apply!). This information is available in the MSAR.

The Cost

Tuition varies greatly between public and private schools, private generally being more expensive. Remember that the state subsidizes part of the tuition for public schools, which is why residents of the state are preferred.


The Pros

While most of this information has been a little down on private schools, there are some very strong benefits to these schools.

– Equal treatment of applicants. Since these schools do not answer to the state, your state of residence makes no difference.

– Some of the top medical schools are private schools. In the US New and World report, private medical schools make up 7 of the top 10 and 15 of the top 25 in research. To see these rankings click


– All osteopathic medical schools are private. If you are interested in osteopathic medicine, which offers training in osteopathic manipulative medicine, a private school is your only choice.



So, as you consider public and private schools, think about the odds of being accepted, the cost of each school, and what is important to you as a student.

For a list of private medical schools and tuition costs, click here.

For a list of public medical schools and tuition costs, click here.

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