Best Medical Schools in Illinois

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Illinois is home to some of the most prestigious and innovative medical schools in the United States. Whether you want to study in Chicago—the third-largest city in the US, or a smaller town with a rural focus, the Prairie State has a medical school that fits your interests and goals within medicine.

There are nine total medical schools in Illinois, each with its own unique offerings and strengths. With so many medical schools in the state, Illinois boasts a diverse population of young medical professionals and medical students. As a prospective medical student, you might wonder which medical schools in Illinois are the best. In this article from, we’ll explore the top medical schools in Illinois together, reviewing each Illinois medical school’s degree programs, curriculum, research opportunities, and more.

Many prospective medical students worry about the rising cost of a medical degree and take on massive student loan debt to pay for their education. Luckily, medical school scholarships on can help reduce the financial burden of medical school and allow you to focus on your studies instead of worrying about tuition.

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University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

The Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago is a prestigious medical school that consistently ranks within the top twenty schools in the United States. Located in the vibrant city of Chicago, the Pritzker School of Medicine boasts a small class size of only 90 students per class and a wealth of research opportunities for aspiring doctors.

The Pritzker School of Medicine offers a rigorous and flexible curriculum integrating basic science, clinical medicine, and scholarly inquiry. Medical students at the University of Chicago can pursue a variety of scholarly tracks to personalize their medical education, including community health, health care delivery services, molecular medicine, and medical education. Pritzker also offers a variety of dual-degree programs through which students can earn a PhD, MBA, MPH, or other degree alongside their MD.

As one of the world’s premier research institutions, the University of Chicago has a strong research culture. One hundred percent of medical school students participate in research at the Pritzker School of Medicine, which is home to twelve Nobel Prize winners amongst its faculty and alumni.

Furthermore, the Pritzker School of Medicine hosts six community clinics throughout Chicago that offer free healthcare services to uninsured patients in underserved communities. Medical students can work in interprofessional teams alongside other health sciences students and gain hands-on clinical experience through these free clinics.

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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

The Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University is another distinguished medical institution in the heart of Chicago. Northwestern’s MD curriculum prepares students to become compassionate and knowledgeable medical professionals equipped to navigate the challenges of the modern healthcare system.

The Feinberg School of Medicine offers a stimulating and innovative curriculum emphasizing individualized learning, early clinical exposure, and interprofessional collaboration. The MD curriculum is divided into three phases; during the first phase, medical students at Northwestern participate in a comprehensive medical education contextualized through early clinical experiences. During the second and third phases, students diversify their clinical training through clerkships and electives and participate in various professional development courses.

At Northwestern, medical students choose from more than twenty areas of scholarly concentrations that scaffold their journey through medical school. Students can concentrate on areas such as global health, medical humanities, health disparities, and bioethics, which bridge the field of medicine with other areas of study. All students complete a scholarly project as part of their concentration, which creates an opportunity to engage in closely mentored research and publish in a peer-reviewed journal.

Moreover, the Feinberg School of Medicine stands out with its dedication to creating an inclusive environment and curriculum that is free of bias and promotes health equity for all communities. The curriculum is guided by the core principles of anti-racism, inclusivity, and being bias-free and is regularly reviewed to ensure that it lives up to these principles. Students participate in diverse clinical rotations that instill in them a dedication to improving health outcomes for all patients.

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University of Illinois College of Medicine

The University of Illinois College of Medicine is the largest medical school in the United States, with three campuses across Illinois: Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford. Each campus has its unique culture and provides students with clinical experiences and research opportunities. As part of a sprawling community of medical professionals and medical students, students at the University of Illinois College of Medicine create invaluable professional connections and benefit from a wealth of resources at the college.

The College of Medicine offers a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree and various joint degree programs in Bioengineering, Clinical and Translational Science, Public Health, and more that enable medical students to explore complementary interests. Medical students can also choose to participate in optional, four-year specialized medical training pathways through the Scholarly Concentration Programs. Students in the Scholarly Concentration Programs engage in multidisciplinary scholarship, research, and community engagement in areas such as Urban Medicine, Global Medicine, and Equity Innovation Medicine.

Research is a strong area of focus at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Medical students can participate in research at several research centers, such as the Institute for Minority Health Research and the Center for Research on Women and Gender. Students are also encouraged to engage in community service through the Hispanic Center of Excellence, which aims to improve the health outcomes of Latinx communities in Illinois, and the Center for Health Equity Using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

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Rush University Medical College

Rush University Medical College, better known as Rush Medical College, is a private medical college in Chicago. Founded in 1837, Rush Medical College is one of the oldest medical colleges in the Midwest and has a storied history of contributions to medicine.

Students at Rush Medical College benefit from the school’s proximity to the Illinois Medical District, the largest concentration of healthcare institutions, biotechnology hubs, and other medical and technological enterprises in Illinois. Furthermore, Rush Medical College is affiliated with the Rush University Medical Center, a nationally and internationally renowned academic health center. Through the Rush University Medical Center, students gain valuable clinical experiences and work with diverse patient populations.

Rush offers a challenging and innovative curriculum that emphasizes problem-based learning. One hundred percent of the Rush Medical College Class of 2022 were matched with residency programs, and twenty-one of those students continued their medical training at Rush-affiliated residencies, speaking to the strength of the Rush M.D. curriculum.

Participating in community service is a hallmark of medical education at Rush University. Through the Rush Community Service Initiatives Program, students, faculty, and staff can practice hands-on healthcare skills while giving back to the Chicago community. The program matches students with surrounding communities based on volunteer experiences and the needs of each community.

medical schools in illinois

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

In Springfield, Illinois, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, or SIU Medicine, is a medical school with a social mission and dedication to community health.

The medical curriculum at Southern Illinois University combines hands-on teaching with small class sizes to create a strong foundation for a professional medical career. The curriculum model provides medical students with early exposure to patient care and requires that students master each area of study before moving on to the next level. Through the development of this curriculum, SIU Medicine has become a leader in innovative teaching methods across the country.

SIU School of Medicine continues to be heavily involved in advancing medical care in towns across central and Southern Illinois, such as Springfield, Decatur, and Quincy. The school boasts the highest percentage of medical graduates who choose to practice in rural medicine, providing desperately needed healthcare to underserved communities. Moreover, about half of the school’s graduates choose to go into primary care each year—a field that has a growing shortage of practitioners.

Students at SIU have opportunities to engage in clinical experiences at one of the largest university-owned and administered health systems in the United States, serving eight cities with thirteen clinics. Furthermore, through various rural medicine initiatives, SIU partners with healthcare organizations to provide healthcare to numerous towns and cities. As a result, SIU School of Medicine students have the opportunity to make a big impact in the field of medicine while still in school.

Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine

The Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University is an osteopathic medical school located in Downers Grove, Illinois. After four years of full-time study, the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine graduates earn a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree steeped in the osteopathic tradition.

Founded in 1990, the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine trains students to provide patient-centered healthcare rather than the dominant model of disease-centered healthcare. To that end, the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine curriculum combines the osteopathic philosophy of treating patients as unique individuals with modern healthcare.

Osteopathic physicians consider biological, sociological, and psychological aspects of healthcare in their work with patients. As an osteopathic medical school, the mission of CCOM is to train physicians to provide compassionate, high-quality care. After graduating, students can matriculate into various medical specialties, including primary care, surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, and anesthesiology.

Carle Illinois College of Medicine

Located in Champaign, Illinois, Carle Illinois College of Medicine at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers prospective doctors a unique lens on medical education that combines the practice of medicine with principles of engineering. As the world's first engineering-based medical school, Carle Illinois College of Medicine trains medical scholars to become critical thinkers and astute problem-solvers who are well-versed in the sciences.

In addition to a Doctor of Medicine degree, Carle Illinois College of Medicine students can earn a dual degree combining an M.D. with a Ph.D. in any graduate subject. Each course taken by medical students is designed by a doctor, scientist, and engineer, combining each field's expertise to provide prospective doctors a more humanistic view of medicine.

Furthermore, the Carle Illinois College of Medicine students receive early clinical exposure, starting in their second week of medical school. Through the Innovation, Design, Engineering, and Analysis (IDEA) projects, students are challenged to develop real-world solutions to modern healthcare challenges.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Illinois Medical Schools

How competitive are admissions to Illinois medical schools?

Admissions to Illinois medical schools tend to be quite competitive. According to admissions statistics from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average acceptance rate to Illinois medical schools was 1.63%, significantly lower than the national average of 6.8%.

How expensive is tuition at the best medical schools in Illinois?

The cost of medical school tuition can vary greatly. Most medical schools range from $10,000 to over $60,000 per year, depending on the school and the type of institution. Generally, public medical schools have a lower tuition than private medical schools. Additionally, the cost of attending medical school in Illinois will depend on whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. Out-of-state students usually pay much higher tuition than in-state residents.

What is the difference between osteopathic medical schools and allopathic medical schools?

While most of the nine medical schools in Illinois are allopathic medical schools, some schools, like the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, are osteopathic medical schools. Osteopathic medical schools follow a holistic approach to medicine that considers the patient's environment, diet, and overall well-being. Osteopathic doctors also learn manipulation techniques of the muscle and skeletal systems to improve bodily functioning.

In contrast, allopathic medical schools follow a traditional approach to medicine that focuses on diagnosing and treating illnesses with medications, tests, and procedures. MDs and DOs complete four years of medical school and a residency program of three to seven years. The main difference between these schools is the philosophy behind the training they offer doctors.

Now that you understand which schools are the best medical schools in Illinois, you're ready to start building your school list! Check out these blog posts on medical schools in Georgia and Virginia to continue learning about the best medical schools.

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