Difference between "ranked" and "unranked" schools?


Sep 21, 2011
Hi, I've recently been accepted to few schools I interviewed this year.

Though not all the results are out, fortunately I'm at the stage where I start thinking about which school I should attend.

I know there are multiple aspects I need to consider when choosing schools like, the vibe I got, research opportunities, neighborhood, school's reputation, curriculum, etc.

However, I've always been wondering what I should take from the "ranking" of the schools.

I noticed that some reputable schools (i.e. SUNY Downstate) are not ranked whereas other "less reputable" schools are ranked, albeit "low ranked."

I understand that there are over 140 med schools in the U.S., but only 84 of these are "ranked" according to the U.S. News data.

So I'm wondering,

1. are "ranked" schools better than "unranked" schools in terms of reputation+prestige

2. should I take these "ranks" into account when deciding which schools to go to.

3. how much difference in ranking must there be in order to be really different in terms of reputation/research money/prestige ?

4. How much weight should I place on these "ranks" when deciding which schools to attend do.

5. Should I pick "low ranked" schools over "unranked" schools?
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5+ Year Member
Jul 22, 2011
Medical Student
1. No
2. No
4. No

To elaborate, USNews rankings are very biased and basically heavily favor research powerhouses and schools with large academic centers. Rankings should not influence your decision to the slightest. You should be basing your school choice based on whether you know you will be happy there, whether the school offers what you are looking for in a med school, and whether the school is financially feasible for you.


5+ Year Member
Apr 24, 2013
Depends on what you want to do after med school. If you want to go into academic medicine, maybe going to a better research school could help since you will have better research opportunities during your 4 years. Otherwise, so long as you have competitive step scores and good clinical grades rank does not matter much.


7+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2009
Attending Physician
honestly, looking back after four years, here are the things that i would have looked for in a medical school:

1. Family support: being closer to my family would have been a godsend

2. Affordability/availability of housing next to campus: commuting really really really sucks. after working in the library literally every waking minute of the day, the last thing i wanted to do was drive home for like 30 minutes. i saved money my first year by living further out, but the hour commute used up pretty much all the "chillin" time i had. sucked hard. the same goes for living close to a supermarket and a gym.

3. Quality bar within walking distance of the house: this speaks for itself. i really didnt drink except after tests, at which point i wanted to get absolutely blitzed in a location that was cool and close to home.

the rest will take care of itself. i go to an extra average quality medical school, and i can hang with/outperform students i've worked with from some big name schools. just work hard, and plan your next four years around convenience.