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The Best Colleges in New York for Pre-Med Majors

by Laura Fletcher

As home to the Big Apple, New York State can boast some of the best higher educational programs in media, finance, fashion, theater, literature and art in the world. However, if your goal is to meet the dire doctor shortage reported in "The New York Times," the National Science Foundation has recognized four higher education institutions in the state for producing more graduate students in the sciences than any of their local competitors, and it is to these schools that pre-med students should look for the kind of rigorous scientific training needed for a medical doctor.

Ivy Pedigree

The only Ivy League university with both a land grant from its home state and a private endowment, Cornell was the first Ivy League school to admit students of all races, genders and religious backgrounds and remains the Ivies’ most diverse institution. The school, based in Ithaca, New York, also awarded the first veterinary medicine degree in the USA, and one out of six Cornell students plans to pursue an advanced degree in medical or veterinary science. M.D. programs accept Cornell’s pre-med students at a rate of 71 percent and as high as 80 percent for those with grade point averages over 3.4 -- a rate substantially higher than the national average. Cornell’s Health Careers Advising office counsels pre-med students on proper preparation for their career paths, and the university also boasts one of the finest medical schools in the country, situated in New York City near New York Presbyterian Hospital. According to the National Science Foundation in The College Solution, Cornell produces more future science and engineering Ph.D.s than any other college in New York.

Heavy on Science

Founded in 1824, about 40 years before Cornell, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the oldest technological university devoted to research in the United States. Located in Troy, not far from Albany, Rensselaer is renowned for its engineering program. Of the top producers of Ph.D.s in the sciences nationwide, the Institute ranks 34, second only to Cornell in New York State, according to the National Science Foundation. Students on the pre-med track are encouraged to major in chemistry or chemical biology, since much of the pre-med curriculum is fulfilled by chemistry, and chemists have a higher medical school acceptance rate than other disciplines. However, RPI has reputable biology, humanities and social science programs that also complement the pre-med track.

Walk to Med School

According to the National Science Foundation, the University of Rochester is the 38th largest producer of future science and engineering Ph.D.s in the nation and the third largest in New York State. Higher education authority “U.S. News & World Report” ranks the University of Rochester 32nd amongst national universities. Pre-med students will benefit from research and volunteer opportunities at the university’s medical center, which is easily accessible from campus. Approximately 12 percent of UR undergraduates major in biology, while an additional nine percent study a health-related profession. A pre-med advising office assists students, who may design their own individualized majors.

Ladies First

Last but not least is the prestigious liberal arts college Vassar, historically a women’s college but now a coeducational institution. The National Science Foundation ranks Vassar 43rd among producers of future science and engineering Ph.D.s, and “U.S. News & World Report” ranks it an impressive 13th among national liberal arts colleges. About one in five Vassar students enter with an intention to study medicine, and the college has an Office for Fellowships and Pre-health Advising to counsel them.

About the Author

Laura Holland Fletcher has graduate level training in ESL, linguistics and the teaching of writing. She taught ESL and college writing for more than 10 years in both the US and Asia. She also writes for local and national magazines that cover legal, educational and social justice issues.

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