Medical School Rankings Methodology

How we rank medical schools.

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The 126 medical schools fully accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education plus the 20 schools of osteopathic medicine fully accredited by the American Osteopathic Association were surveyed in the fall 2008 and early 2009. For the research rankings of medical schools, 120 schools provided the data needed to calculate the research rankings based on the indicators used in the medical school research model. The same medical and osteopathic schools were surveyed for the primary-care ranking; 119 schools provided the data needed to calculate the primary-care ranking. The medical school research model is based on a weighted average of eight indicators, and the primary-care model is based on seven indicators. Both rankings are based on a weighted average of indicators. Four of the data indicators are used in both the research and primary-care ranking model. They are the student selectivity admission statistics (MCAT, GPA, and acceptance rate) and faculty to student ratio. The medical school research model factors in research activity; the medical school primary-care model adds a measure of the proportion of graduates entering primary-care specialties.

Quality Assessment (weighted by .40)

Peer Assessment Score (.20 for the research medical school model, .25 for the primary-care medical school model) In the fall of 2008, medical and osteopathic school deans, deans of academic affairs, and heads of internal medicine or the directors of admissions were asked to rate programs on a scale from "marginal" (1) to "outstanding" (5). Survey populations were asked to rate program quality for both research and primary-care programs separately on a single survey instrument. Those individuals who did not know enough about a school to evaluate it fairly were asked to mark "don't know." A school's score is the average of all the respondents who rated it. Responses of "don't know" counted neither for nor against a school. About 45 percent of those surveyed responded.

Assessment Score by Residency Directors (.20 for the research medical school model, .15 for the primary-care medical school model) In the fall of 2008, residency program directors were also asked to rate programs using the same 5-point scale on two separate survey instruments. One survey dealt with research and was sent to a sample of residency program directors in fields outside primary care, including surgery, psychiatry, and radiology. The other survey involved primary care and was sent to residency directors in the fields of family practice, pediatrics, and internal medicine. Survey recipients were asked to rate programs on a scale from "marginal" (1) to "outstanding" (5). Those individuals who did not know enough about a program to evaluate it fairly were asked to mark "don't know." A school's score is the average of all the respondents who rated it. Responses of "don't know" counted neither for nor against a school. The response rate for those sent the research survey was 23 percent. The response rate for those sent the primary-care survey was 20 percent. For the purpose of calculating this year's rankings, residency directors' surveys for the two most recent years were averaged and were weighted by .20 in the research model and by .15 in primary care.

The source for the names for both of the residency directors' surveys was the Graduate Medical Education Directory 2007-2008 edition, published by the American Medical Association. The assessment data was collected by Synovate.

Research Activity (weighted by .30 in the research medical school model only)

Total Research Activity (.20) Measured by the total dollar amount of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grants awarded to the medical school and its affiliated hospitals, averaged for 2007 and 2008. An asterisk indicates schools that reported only NIH research grants to their medical school in 2008.

Average Research Activity Per Faculty Member (.10) Measured by the dollar amount of National Institutes of Health research grants awarded to the medical school and its affiliated hospitals per full-time faculty member, averaged over 2007 and 2008. Both full-time basic sciences and clinical faculty were used in the faculty count. An asterisk indicates schools that reported NIH research grants only to their medical school in 2008.