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Methodology: 2015 Best Medical Schools Rankings

Find out how U.S. News ranks medical schools. 

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The 128 medical schools fully accredited in 2013 by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the 25 schools of osteopathic medicine fully accredited in 2013 by the American Osteopathic Association were surveyed in fall 2013 and early 2014 for the rankings of research medical schools; 114 schools provided the data needed to calculate the research rankings based on the indicators used in the medical school research model.

The same 153 medical and osteopathic schools were surveyed at the same time for the primary care rankings; 114 schools provided the data needed to calculate the medical school primary care ranking.

A medical school official at nearly all of the medical schools that responded to the U.S. News statistical survey – in many cases the dean – verified the data for accuracy.

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 models. They are the student selectivity admissions 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.

[See the Best Medical Schools rankings.]

Quality assessment (weighted by 0.40)

Peer assessment score (0.20 for the research medical school model, 0.25 for the primary care medical school model): In fall 2013, 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 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). 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 37 percent of those surveyed responded.

Assessment score by residency directors (0.20 for the research medical school model, 0.15 for the primary care medical school model): In fall 2013, residency program directors were also asked to rate programs using the same five-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 designated by schools as being involved in clinical practice.

Survey recipients were asked to rate programs on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). 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 15 percent. The response rate for those sent the primary care survey was 12 percent.

For the purpose of calculating this year's rankings, the residency director surveys for the two most recent years were averaged and weighted by 0.20 in the research model and by 0.15 in primary care.

For the first time, the medical schools themselves supplied the names of all of the residency program directors who were sent either of the residency program director surveys. Assessment data were collected by Ipsos Public Affairs.

Research activity (weighted by 0.30 in the research medical school model only; not used in the primary care medical school ranking model): In the rankings of research medical schools, the weighting of National Institutes of Health total dollar grants awarded and of grants per faculty member was set so that each accounts for 0.15 of the overall score.