Best places to study medicine | Top Universities

Best places to study medicine

By Aisha Khan

Updated August 20, 2023 Updated August 20, 2023

You’ve got your heart set on studying medicine and you know that you want to be a doctor, but now comes the next big decision – where should you study?  

When you take into account factors such as affordability, financial aid, career prospects, and course specialisms, it can feel overwhelming to find a programme in the right location. 

We’ve used data from the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023 as well as the QS Best Student Cities 2024 to find top-ranked medical programme in the world’s most student-friendly cities. 

Here are some of the best places to study medicine: 

London, UK 


UCL is one of the best universities for aspiring medics, ranked sixth in the world for medicine in our subject rankings. Their MBBS programme takes six years and requires 5,500 hours of practical and theoretical work before becoming a doctor.  

Other options include Imperial College London, ranked just two places behind UCL in eighth place. Their newly redeveloped curriculum looks at at technological developments in education and healthcare, with teaching enriched by their internationally competitive research and clinical expertise. 

Working as a doctor requires you to care for patients from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. There’s no better way to familiarise yourself with different cultural traditions than studying in one of the most diverse cities in the world. Whether you want to try new cuisines or attend art exhibitions, London has something for everyone. 

It’s therefore no surprise that London has been deemed as the best city in the world for students according to the Best Student Cities ranking.  

Another strong contender is King’s College London which ranks a few places behind UCL and Imperial in 13th place. Partner hospitals include Guy’s, King’s College and St Thomas’ Hospitals – three of the most renowned and busiest teaching hospitals in London. 

If you’re keen to study at a university with a problem-based learning approach, Queen Mary University London (ranked 55th) could be a viable option for you. With less emphasis on traditional lectures, you’re encouraged to take an independent approach to clinical scenarios and start seeing patients from your very first term.  

You can find out more about different learning styles at medical schools here.  

When it comes to applying, you’ll need to submit your application through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), normally for an earlier deadline in October.  

It’s also worth noting, given the competitiveness in securing a place, you can only apply to a maximum of four medical courses. You’ll be given the choice to apply for a fifth course, but it must be a non-medical subject.  

Boston, US 


The US is home to many top-ranked universities in the world as well as top leaders in the medical field.  

A noteworthy example is Harvard University which is not only ranked as the world’s best university for medicine but is also ranked fourth globally overall in the QS World University Rankings. The MD programme at Harvard offers two curricular tracks: Pathways and Health Sciences & Technology (HST).  

Pathways incorporates pedagogical approaches that foster active learning and critical thinking, and earlier clinical experience. HST is offered jointly by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is oriented toward students with a declared interest in a career in biomedical research or a strong interest and background in physical or molecular science. 

In addition to Harvard, you may also want to consider Boston University if you’re keen to study medicine on the east coast.  

Ranked 54th for medicine, their curriculum integrates traditional lectures with small group seminars and laboratory exercises. Self-directed learning and teamwork are emphasised as patient contact begins the very first week of the first-year curriculum. 

Students can train at a branch campus in Santa Clara, California, for their third and fourth year. 

Famously known as the ‘Athens of America’, Boston is a great place to study if you want to be surrounded by intellectual minds.  

It’s also ranked 10th in the Best Student Cities ranking, including third place for the employer activity indicator, a clear sign that the city offers plenty of professional opportunities. 

Seoul, South Korea 


South Korea’s highest-ranked university, Seoul National University (ranked 41st globally), is one of the leading medical schools in Asia.  

A medical programme will consist of two years of a medical course, followed by four years studying at the College of Medicine.  

It’s worth checking whether you’ll be able to study your course in English and if you need to take a Korean language course.  

Yonsei University is another top-ranked school in South Korea. Students can apply through two methods: completing a course from the department of pre-medicine.  

The other is based on admission of well-qualified applicants who have received a bachelor’s degree from other approved universities in Korea or overseas countries. 

Seoul is ranked an impressive third in Best Student Cities ranking, cementing its status as a favourite among students. If Asia is one of your top study destinations, Seoul is a thriving, vibrant city with thousands of years of history on your doorstep.  

New York, US 

New York City

It’s not just Boston that has the best medical schools on the east coast – New York also boasts several top-ranked universities. 

One example is Columbia University which ranks 14th in the world for medicine. Yandong “Yanna” Bian, a graduate from the class of 2018, said: “You build incredibly strong relationships with patients at the clinic. You get to see them longitudinally and know them over time.” 

Bian was born in China and grew up in the US. During her time at Columbia, she shadowed a physician at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in lower Manhattan.  

“I was able to speak with patients in Chinese. I never had an experience like that before. The exposure to Chinese culture and heritage in NYC is unparalleled,” she added.  

It wouldn’t be a complete list without mentioning New York University (NYU) which is ranked 34th for medicine.  

At NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine, you can personalise your medical training with options including an accelerated three-year MD, four-year MD, four- and five-year dual MD/master’s degree pathways, and MD/PhD

NYU is also the first medical school to offer full-time scholarships to all of its students.  

Despite not being the most affordable city for students, it ranks 17th in the Best Student Cities ranking. There’s an abundance of free activities for students to offset high-living costs, including a stroll in Central Park or watching the sunset from Brooklyn Bridge.  

Applications to medical schools in the US are submitted through AMCAS, the American Medical College Application Service. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), required of all applicants, is administered multiple times per year. 

Sydney, Australia 


At the University of Sydney (ranked 25th for medicine), the four-year MD programme is a master’s-level degree that provides students with world-class clinical and research training. On completion, graduates are eligible for provisional registration with the Medical Board of Australia as a medical practitioner. 

Australia is in special need of doctors for rural and remote practice, including Indigenous health care, which is worth bearing in mind if you plan to work in Australia post-graduation. 

Sydney is ranked as the seventh most student-friendly city, and the third best city for the desirability indicator, indicating just how well perceived the city is in the eyes of prospective students. 

Sydney offers students a great climate with mild winters and warm summers, ideal for swimming and exploring.  

Melbourne, Australia 


Monash University (ranked 40th for medicine) offers the only direct entry programme in Victoria, Australia.  

The Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine (MD) course is a five-year programme with direct entry from high school. An emphasis on clinical communication skills and early clinical contact visits to medical practices, community care facilities and hospitals, is a key feature of the Monash course. 

Melbourne ranks three places ahead of Sydney in fourth place in the QS Best Student Cities ranking. The second most populous city in Australia ranks fifth for desirability and 20th for employer activity, making it easy to see why international students love living there.  

This article was originally published in August 2023 .

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