USC Medical school makes the grade in U.S. News survey

03/26/99
By Mary Ellen Stumpfl

According to U.S. News and World Report's annual ranking of "America's Best Graduate Schools" USC School of Medicine ranks in the top third of medical schools in the United States.

The March 29 edition of the magazine slates USC as 36th-along with University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Oregon Health Sciences University-out of the 124 accredited medical schools in the country.

Schools are evaluated using objective data plus two sets of reputational ratings. Objective data is composed of research activity, student selectivity and faculty resources. The reputational score, which counts for 40 percent of the ranking score, is measured by surveying medical school deans and senior faculty and, in a separate survey, residency program directors.

Research activity is determined by the amount of National Institutes of Health research grants awarded to the medical school and its affiliated hospitals. Student selectivity is based on a combination of three academic factors: average MCAT scores, undergraduate grade point average and the proportion of the applicants accepted into the program. Faculty resources looks at the ratio of full-time science and clinical faculty to full-time students.

"Rankings can help a student understand the various areas of strength in each medical school, for example, the amount of research dollars or acceptance rate for applicants," said Erin Quinn, associate dean of admissions. "However, what it doesn't provide is a sense of the educational experience as ranked by the students or the amount of exposure to clinical medicine early on, which are important factors for prospective students to consider."

Quinn said students should also see how well a school's students match for residency-an area where USC is strong, with 92 percent of graduates matched in one of their top three choices.