How to Interpret the Med School Rankings

For many, the first step towards choosing which med schools to apply to begins with an investigation into the published med school rankings. But do you really know what all those numbers and data mean? Do you really understand how you should be utilizing this information best? How much value should you place on the rankings? How can they really help YOU?

Answers to these questions (plus more) can be found in our new special report, Med School Rankings and Numbers: What You MUST Know, in which we’ll walk you through a detailed and down-to-earth analysis of the med school rankings.

Med Ranking Report Cover

Download your FREE copy of Med School Rankings and Numbers: What You MUST Know now!



Are MBA Rankings REALLY Important?

What do the MBA rankings mean to you? What will they teach you? Should you trust them? Are MBA rankings REALLY important?

In our special report, MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know, newly updated and expanded for 2014, Linda Abraham will walk you through the process of locating the rankings, sifting through them for the important information, analyzing the relevant data, and then finally, USING that information to help you choose the best MBA program for YOU.


The rankings ARE an important tool, but they’re also a tool that can easily be abused. Learn how to use the rankings properly when you download MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know today!


Top 10 Colleges with the Highest Paid Grads

Think you need a grad degree to rake in the big bucks? Not if you’re lucky enough to land a job after graduating from one of the schools on the list below! A recent Forbes article pooled data from a survey released by NerdScholar.

Looking for college admissions advice? Check out our College Admissions 101 Pages!

Note: The list here only includes schools that released their salary data to NerdScholar. This is why schools like Yale, Harvard, and Brown are missing from the list. Also, to put things in perspective, there are more than 4,500 degree-granting colleges in the U.S., and NerdScholar only received data for 184 schools within 57 different institutions.

For those schools that didn’t provide salary info, NerdScholar still tracks their graduates using other data – for example, what percent of the class is employed, what percent goes on to grad school, and what sorts of careers students are choosing.

You can use this tool (here) to compare these sorts of stats at different programs. It’s a lot of fun to sift and compare results, and NerdScholar argues that this school-provided data is more reliable than the self-reported data presented by the students to salary sites like PayScale.

See the Forbes article for the full list of 50 schools, as well as an explanation on the methodology used in this ranking.

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.

How to Interpret Medical School Rankings

Check out the rest of Joshua's awesome guest posts!

Going to medical school with a best friend (who doesn’t want that!)

Journeys with Joshua: Joshua Wienczkowski walks us through med school at East Tennessee’s College of Medicine with his monthly blog updates. Get an inside look into med school down South and life as a student adcom member through the eyes of a former professional songwriter with a whole lot of clinical experience — thanks Joshua for sharing this journey with us! 

We’ve all seen the US News report that comes out every year with a list of the top medical schools, and think man, it’d be pretty freaking awesome to be at the top medical school in the country. Who doesn’t want to be the best, right? What I’ll walk through next is how to understand what those rankings actually mean, how to interpret them, and begin to further narrow down your top choices for medical education. Before we move on, check out the US News report of this year’s top medical schools.

So, what goes into actually ranking a medical school? What makes Harvard numero uno almost every year, followed by Hopkins, U Penn, Wash U, etc.? Well, according to the Huffington Post, “Schools [are] ranked according to student selectivity, faculty-to-student ratio, research activity and the proportion of graduates entering specific primary-care programs. Quality [is] measured in terms of peer assessment and the opinion of residency directors.” Let’s break this down:

 • Student selectivityadmissions rate, which means the lower, the better. Big name schools have no shortage of applications, because let’s face it, we both read the headlines and said hell yeah I should go to the number one medical school! That increase in applications results in a need for higher MCAT, GPA, etc for admissions.

 • Faculty-to-student ratio – the bigger the name, the more post-docs, faculty, fellows, etc. there are. This false sense of inflation should be ignored, because what are the odds the post-doc working on the prime temperature to feed one footed purple raptors is actually going to be involved in your education? Having that many faculty available, however, could also mean more opportunities for you if you’re interested in research. The only time you should be concerned is if this ratio is really low.

 • Research activity – this simply looks at “how much research money from the NIH and NSF institution X has.” This will likely have no impact on your education, but if you’re considering MD/PhD or are interested in becoming a physician scientist, this factor may play into your decision tree. As a first year medical student (almost second year!) and co-investigator in clinical research on sepsis at a small school, I’ll be the first to tell you there will be more opportunities than you know what to do with, wherever you go. Truth be told, I’d rather be the “big fish in a little pond” than vice-versa, but to each their own.

 • Graduates entering primary care – if you’re really interested in primary care, I would look carefully at these studies, because they don’t include who’s continuing onto fellowship. Most specialties require you to enter a primary care residency (family, internal med, peds, OB) first, so I don’t think these numbers are necessarily valid in evaluating a school. You’ll know what a school’s mission is simply by reading their mission statement and looking at the match list of graduating classes by specialty (available on all medical school websites).

 • Peer assessment and opinion of residency directors – this, honestly, would be my absolute number one to look to as far as evaluating a medical school as an applicant. What do current students have to say about the school? What do residency directors (your future employers) have to say? Hearing straight from the horse’s mouth what someone has to say about their own community and how they are viewed by their superiors says a lot about the integrity and strength of a program.

Truth be told, unless you have some killer credentials, I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in going to the best medical school in the country, because as one of the admissions counselors at my school, and a close friend says, “Joshua, you go to the absolute best medical school in the entire country – for some people.” Sometimes, the best doesn’t mean all of the research money in the world, exorbitant entrance requirements, and one footed purple raptor feeders. Sometimes, it means having a community you call family that will support and help you achieve your greatest potential through the incredible gift that medical education can be. I may be biased, but Harvard ain’t got nothin’ on the smaller medical school I call home, and I’m willing to bet my patients would tell you the same.

Best of luck!

Download our special report: Navigate the Med School Maze

B-Schools with the Highest ROIs

Want to learn more about HEC Paris? Check out our HEC B-School Zone!

In First Place: HEC Paris

When determining an MBA’s return on investment (ROI), it makes a big difference whether you’re considering the short-term or long-term gain. The Economist recently released data that measures the ROI (measured by taking the difference between pre- and post-MBA salaries and dividing it by the total cost of the program, including forgone salary plus tuition fees). For some programs (like Wharton) the short-term payoff is very low, but long term it’s much greater. Other programs, like one-year program HEC Paris, will give you a much more immediate positive ROI.

It also depends on YOU – if you had a low paying job, especially if you come from a poor country and then land a job in a country with a stronger economy, then you’ll have a better chance of leaping to a significantly higher salary post-MBA, thereby influencing your ROI.

Here are the top ten b-schools with the highest ROI from the Economist report:

School ROI after One Year
HEC Paris (France) 66.5%
Aston (Britain) 64.5%
U. of Hong Kong 60.2%
SDA Bocconi (Italy) 55.5%
International Uni of Japan 52.4%
York Schulich (Canada) 52.0%
Mannheim (Germany) 51.9%
Vlerick Leuven (Belgium) 51.9%
Grenoble (France) 51.0%
Dublin Smurfit (Ireland) 48.9%

As you’ll see, if you check out the Economist article, the list is dominated by European programs, and the top ten are exclusively non-U.S. programs (and almost the top 20 – U. of Pittsburgh Katz came in at 19th place). Those programs are almost all one-year programs with lower out-of-pocket costs (like tuition) and lower opportunity cost because you are out of the workforce for a much shorter period of time.

Wondering where top U.S. schools come out on the chart? All the way at the bottom, with ROIs like this:

School ROI after One Year
Harvard 14.8%
Stanford 13.5%
Columbia 13.0%
Kellogg 9.8%
Wharton 6.3%

A Poets & Quants article elaborates on the absence of U.S. programs from the top of the list, by opening with “Looking to get rich quick after graduation? Don’t go to Wharton, Stanford, or Kellogg…Go to HEC Paris (or the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business), instead.”

In short, the P&Q article explains, average first-year salaries pitted against two-year U.S. tuitions and lost earnings, don’t compete with the “winners” early on in the game. Wait it out, however, and a degree from Wharton will certainly be a coveted item with a rocket high ROI later on in your career. Furthermore, there are many people who would love to have the bottom-of-the-barrel, short-term returns on their tuition investment, especially given the anticipated long-term uptick.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs