Best Alternatives to Medical Schools

November 22

Table of Contents

We all know that it takes hard work to become a medical doctor. 

First, it takes more than a decade of education, and one must undergo extensive training in medical school. 

Also, the admission process is very challenging; once you get into the program, it is another level of stress and a daunting experience. 

For example, you need to have at least a high MCAT score and GPA to meet the requirement of your desired medical school. 

Then, after completing a four or five-year medical program, you may choose to proceed to a specialization program which takes another couple of years, and the list goes on. 

If you are hesitant and think that you cannot meet the demands of medical school, or if you were unsuccessful with the admission process, there are alternative plans to taking a medical degree. 

These alternative programs are less competitive compared to medical school. And still, you can be able to work in the healthcare industry. 

The institutions that offer these alternative programs require a few requirements from their applicants. 

To help you decide, we have listed some of the best alternatives to medical school that can lead to very fulfilling careers.

Why Consider Medical School Alternatives?

A degree in medicine is a challenging course to take. If you cannot decide if this is the right course, consider some medical school alternatives. 

Most alternative programs are graduate-level, and some have master's programs. 

These medical school alternatives have a shorter course length, which only takes four to five years, and cost less than the traditional medical degrees offered in medical schools. 

Here are some reasons why looking into medical school alternatives is best. 

Easy Career Switch

If you have already attended medical school and find it not your best suit, you can easily switch career programs. There are many alternative degrees that you can look into, and they will still help you achieve a career related to health care. 

Given your acquired basic medical knowledge, switching career programs will be easier for your end. 

However, before you do so, ensure you have thoroughly considered all options before taking the big step, and it should not be done impulsively. 

It is also essential to be well-informed about the different alternative programs you might be interested in. 

Check how your previous academic record will fit the alternative schedule and the curriculum of your choice and what additional requirements of the school you need to comply with.

Global Recognition

A degree in medicine is the first choice in healthcare roles. Like those prestigious medical schools in the country, other medical-related programs are globally recognized for their excellence in education and curriculum system. 

Some alternative degrees are also essential and globally accepted in the healthcare industry, such as in Nursing, Pharmacology, Optometry, Physician Assistant Programs, and more. 

High Tuition Cost

Many students wish to become medical doctors and proceed to some medical specializations. 

However, due to the high tuition costs of most medical schools, they prefer to avoid continuing with a career in medicine, or some may graduate with an education debt loan. 

According to the report issued by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the median cost of four years of medical school last 2019 to 2020 was USD 250,222 for public medical schools, while those private medical schools cost around USD 330,180

Medical school tuition is undeniably expensive compared to other graduate degree programs. That is why it is best to check out some alternatives to medical school, which are way cheaper and more affordable than the programs offered in medical school.

Increased Rate of Competition 

The acceptance rate of most medical schools in the U.S. is low. Thus, the competition of landing a spot for admission is highly competitive.

Consequently, these schools are highly selective with their applicants, and each must undergo a rigorous admission process. 

The average acceptance rate of medical schools in the U.S. last 2020 was around 6.5%

While some medical schools have an acceptance rate of 2.9% and below, including Stanford University, New York University, Florida State University, Howard University, and more. 

3 Attributes in the Medical Field That Are Also Present in Other Professions

Below are different attributes in the medical field that are also present in other professions, whether medical-related or not.

Human Connections and Hands-On Aspect

It builds a strong foundation and shapes a patient's trust, understanding, and satisfaction. Keeping human connection is vital in building a good relationship. Health care revolves around people and is rooted in providing the best care for those who need it. 

Conveying empathy and understanding of a patient's health can improve the delivery of excellent patient care. It removes all barriers and simplifies the experience of patients in medicine. It is also one of the attributes in the medical field that exudes goodwill and promotes overall health care. 

The doctor-patient relationship is an excellent and favorable technique for therapy to be successful. There is over a 40% success rate in the field of diagnoses and medical treatment because of the favorable attitude and hands-on skills projected to patients by medical professionals. 

Also, communication plays an essential factor in the connections between medical professionals and patients, wherein active listening, understanding the message, and interpreting the non-verbal cues of patients support and improve the medical unit's performance.

Patient Population Impact

Becoming a medical doctor is a long process and takes many years of education and training. It takes around eight to ten years, depending on the specialization and training you will undergo in medical school. 

Of course, medical professionals make a significant impact on the healthcare community. Still, it will not be immediately possible since the road to becoming one is long. Instead, you may choose other medical professions, which only require a couple of years to finish, and you can immediately extend your service to the patient population. 

Also, patient satisfaction is an essential factor that directly affects healthcare quality and the success of the medical facility. There are many alternative programs that you can choose from that will be of significant help in the healthcare system. It includes Nursing, Physician Assistant Programs, Dentistry, and more. 

For example, in Nursing, the essential elements for quality nursing care include

  • Clinically competent nurses.
  • Collaborative working relationships.
  • Autonomous nursing practice.
  • Adequate staffing.
  • Managerial support.
  • A patient-centered culture.

Diversity Awareness

Diversity and inclusion are essential in the healthcare community. It gives importance to delivering effective healthcare practice and helps ensure all patients are treated equally without biases. 

Also, the more diversity in the healthcare industry, the more opportunity for diverse innovations, brainstorming, and solutions. 

Medical professionals get to interact with a diverse community most of the time. It recognizes people with different backgrounds, beliefs, attitudes, races, ethnicity, gender preferences, and more. 

However, diversity awareness is not only limited to medical professionals. It is present in most careers, whether in the medical field or not.

To broaden the diversity in the population of medical schools, an accreditation committee for medical education, known as the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), has implemented diversity accreditation standards mandated for all medical institutions located in the U.S. and Canada. It helps to attract and retain medical students of different nationalities, ethnicities, races, and more. 

There is also an increase in the diversity of nursing students of 20% in U.S. schools. 

And the medical school matriculants for 2020 to 2021 comprise 10% Black and African American students, while another 12% are Hispanic and Latino students.

Best Alternatives to Medical Schools

Below are some of the best alternative medical degrees to medical schools. We have listed below the top educational institutions with their respective admission requirements to help you choose the right program for you.

Osteopathic Medical Schools

One of the best alternatives for traditional M.D. schools is to study in Osteopathic Medical Schools. 

The first-year enrollment percentage for Osteopathic Medical Schools increased by 68% from 2011 to 2012 and from 2021 to 2022. It is based on the current data from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

Many students prefer going to D.O. schools if their MCAT scores do not meet the requirement for the traditional medical school they want to enroll in or if, by any chance, they did not qualify during the admission process. 

The D.O., or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, focuses on the wholeness of the person, which means that it treats the individual entirely and not just merely on the symptoms. It applies alternative therapies, holistic medicine, and disease prevention. 

It is a drug-free complementary medicine, uses non-invasive manual therapies, and has a comprehensive approach to treating patients. It applies osteopathic philosophy, structural diagnosis, and manipulative treatment to diagnose and manage various illnesses. 

Osteopathic medical doctors emphasize preventive health care helping patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that help fight and prevent diseases. 

Also, they receive extensive training in manipulating the musculoskeletal system, including the nerves, muscles, and bones, and how an injury or illness in one part of the body can affect others.

D.O. programs involve four years of academic study with a one-year internship and hands-on experience in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics-Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Surgery. 

Students taking up D.O. programs can also proceed to have their specializations, such as in Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, and more.

Top Institutions that Offer Osteopathic Programs

Top Institutions for Osteopathic Medicine


Acceptance Rate


Minimum MCAT Requirement

Minimum GPA

Michigan State University - College of Osteopathic Medicine

East Lansing, Michigan


USD 46,928 (In-State Students)

USD 65,325 (Out-of-State Students)

506 to 508 Points

3.5 to 3.7

Ohio University - Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine

Athens, Ohio


USD 36,785 (In-State Students)

USD 51,416 (Out-of-State Students)

490 to 520 Points


Rowan University - School of Osteopathic Medicine

Stratford, New Jersey


USD 42,503 (In-State Students)

USD 67,452 (Out-of-State Students)

506 Points


Des Moines University - College of Osteopathic Medicine

Iowa, United States


USD 44,212

508 Points


Liberty University - College of Osteopathic Medicine

Lynchburg, Virginia


USD 48,000

501 Points


Campbell University - School of Osteopathic Medicine

Harnett County, North Carolina


USD 57,360

505 Points


Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine

Dothan, Alabama


USD 57,658

501 Points


Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine

New York City, New York


USD 60,930

506 Points


Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Erie, Pennsylvania


USD 40,770

503 Points


Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


USD 57,534

505 Points


Nursing Schools

A degree in Nursing is one of the alternatives of medical school that you can take. The program offers a more direct path in patient care. And it is considered by most a rewarding and inspiring career. 

Based on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) report, which targeted nursing schools in the US, the enrollment percentage for Baccalaureate, Master’s, and Doctoral Nursing programs exponentially increased by 5.6% in 2020.

Also, Nursing Education focuses on teaching each patient importance and attending to their needs. 

The curriculum is structured specifically for the basics of patient care, critical care, and the fundamentals of nursing skills. It also prepares students to assess clinical scenarios, navigate patient interactions, and work successfully in different healthcare settings. 

In medical school, the programs they offer are significantly longer than nursing programs, which is why students choose to take the latter. 

The degree program in Nursing usually ranges from two years for an associate degree, four years for a bachelor’s degree, and six years if you wish to pursue a master’s degree.

On the contrary, a medical program requires at least eight years of academic education, including residency and fellowship training programs.

Also, having a major in Nursing prepares you for a career path in Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing. 

Nursing programs focus on both theoretical and practical learning. Students are exposed to studying the different branches of Science, Humanities, and Health Care Delivery. It also offers coursework in Pharmacology, Community Health, Psychiatric, and Mental Health Nursing, Leadership and Management Classes, and Ethics in Health Care Delivery. 

Top Institutions that Offer Nursing Programs

Top Institutions for Nursing Programs


Acceptance Rate


Minimum GPA

University of Rochester - School of Nursing

Rochester, New York


USD 77,160


Emory University - Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Atlanta, Georgia


USD 114,240


University of Virginia - Nursing School

Charlottesville, Virginia


USD 10,016 (Local Students)

USD 36,720 (Domestic Students)


Georgetown University - School of Nursing and Health Studies

Washington, D.C.


USD 59,957


Saint Louis University - School of Nursing

St. Louis, Missouri


USD 24,900


New York University - Rory Meyers College of Nursing

New York City, New York


USD 37,918


University of Portland - School of Nursing & Health Innovations

Portland, Oregon


USD 70,632


Northeastern University - School of Nursing - Bouve College of Health Sciences

Boston, Massachusetts


USD 29,550


Villanova University - M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing

Villanova, Pennsylvania


USD 60,768


Clemson University - School of Nursing

Clemson, South Carolina


USD 15,558 (Local Students)

USD 38,558 (Domestic Students)


Physician Assistant Schools

Another alternative to studying Medicine (M.D. Program) is by taking up Physician Assistant (PA) Program.

Both medical careers play essential roles in the medical field. However, students who wish to enroll in medical school but are not qualified enough to pass the admission process may prefer to take physician assistant programs as their other option.

The curriculum for Physician Assistant Program usually takes two or three years to complete. Also, the students in this program are highly exposed to clinical rotations in hospitals and medical clinics under the supervision of practicing medical doctors. 

The coursework for PA Programs involves topics and subjects in healthcare, including Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Medical Ethics, Patient Evaluation, Physical Diagnoses, Laboratory Medicine, Principles of Medicine, and Clinical and Community Medicine.

And they are not required to complete any residency and fellowship training after taking up their master’s program. 

However, PA graduates can enroll in an optional PA residency training program should they wish to continue with their education and training. 

A Physician Assistant (PA) is a licensed medical practitioner who can perform diagnoses and treat patients with various diseases under the supervision of a medical doctor or any licensed physician. 

They also received general training in different medical specializations, including Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Surgery, and more. 

Also, Physician Assistant graduates can practice medicine under a broad scope of medical specializations. 

And they must also pass comprehensive examinations such as the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) to gain their medical license.

Top Institutions that Offer Physician Assistant Programs

Top Institutions for Physician Assistant Programs


Acceptance Rate


Minimum GPA

University of Southern California - Keck School of Medicine

Alhambra, California


USD 186,772


Emory University - School of Medicine

Atlanta, Georgia


USD 135,685


Duke University - School of Medicine

Durham, North Carolina


USD 45,259

3.5 to 3.8

George Washington University - School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Washington, D.C.


USD 16,528


Drexel University - College of Nursing and Health Professions

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


USD 57,136


University of Iowa - Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine

Iowa City, Iowa


USD 26,319.75 (Iowa Residents)

USD 49,216.75 (Iowa Non-Residents)


Baylor College of Medicine

Houston, Texas


USD 36,834.50


University of Utah - School of Medicine

Salt Lake City, Utah 


USD 82,172.30 (Utah Residents)

USD 102,319 (Utah Non-Residents)


Wake Forest University - Medical School

Winston Salem, North Carolina


USD 93,529


University of Colorado - School of Medicine

Aurora, Colorado


USD 74,000 (In-State Students)

USD 120,500 (Out-of-State Students)


Dentistry Schools

Choosing to enroll in dental school is a good option aside from taking up a degree in medical school. Dentistry offers a lot more hands-on and practical skills application in the field with far more freedom in terms of working hours. 

It is also one of the chosen careers by students because of the chance to be more independent in their practice, including private clinics, public health centers, academic opportunities, research programs, public health, and administration. 

A Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) is a six-year dental school program focusing on the basic sciences, clinical sciences, and dental public health courses. It consists of five academic years and one or two supervised practices. 

Its curriculum centers on developing dental students' skills in critical thinking, professionalism, health promotion, interpersonal skills, cultural competency, and interprofessional and management practice. It also focuses on the basics of Biomedical, Dental Clinical Sciences, Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Oral Anatomy, and Oral Histology.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) Survey of Dental Education reported that 56% of first-year dental students were female in the 2021-2022 batch, which is by far the highest rate ever. 

Dentistry students are exposed to patient and preventive care. Also, they are reinforced and introduced to the fundamental differences between oral health and diseases. 

And the classes they have in the program center on different areas of medicine, including Oral Radiology, Microbiology, Oral Pathology, and Pharmacology. 

The curriculum also tackles preclinical courses in Endodontics, Orthodontics, Pediatrics, Oral Radiology, and more.

Also, students undergo extensive training in various preventive and operative clinics, allowing them to do hands-on training in different dental treatment techniques and procedures, including resin-based composite fillings, amalgam fillings, place sealants, and more. 

Dentistry graduate students must take the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) to have their license to practice in the field.

Top Institutions that Offer Dentistry Programs

Top Institutions for Dentistry


Acceptance Rate


Minimum DAT Requirement

Minimum GPA

Harvard University School of Dental Medicine

Boston, Massachusetts


USD 464,971



University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Adams School of Dentistry

Chapel Hill, North Carolina


USD 330,805



University of Pennsylvania - School of Dental Medicine

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


USD 507,859

20 to 26


New York University - College of Dentistry

New York City, New York


USD 572,291



University of Michigan - Ann Arbor - School of Dentistry

Ann Arbor, Michigan


USD 377,143



Howard University College of Dentistry

Washington, D.C.


USD 334,978



University of California - San Francisco - School of Dentistry

San Francisco, California


USD 390,787



Columbia University - College of Dental Medicine

New York City, New York 


USD 511,411



University of Washington - School of Dentistry

Seattle, Washington


USD 391,361



Ohio State University - College of Dentistry

Columbus, Ohio


USD 329,275



Veterinary Schools

Another alternative for medical school is veterinary school, it is also a great option for those animal lovers who want to pursue medicine. 

There are 32 veterinary schools and colleges for Veterinary Medicine in the U.S. that are accredited by American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA)

According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) statistics report for 2019 – there are 124,069 practicing veterinarians in the United States. And there is a projected increase of 19.4% in employment growth for veterinarians between 2021 to 2031. 

Earning a degree in Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) usually takes about four years of academic study and another three to four years of pre-professional study. It includes residency training and taking board certification. 

Studying veterinary medicine centers on the overall health of animals, diagnosing health conditions, administering vaccines, controlling animal diseases, and educating people who own pets. 

The program also focuses on practicing preventative medical care, such as check-ups, and gives the right treatment or surgery. 

Also, vet students are exposed to veterinary virology, veterinary immunology, bacteriology, mycology, anesthesia, and more. 

Veterinarians have wide career opportunities in pharmaceutical and private research laboratories, universities, and other government agencies that handle animal welfare.

Top Institutions that Offer Veterinary Programs

Top Institutions for Veterinary Programs


Acceptance Rate


Minimum GRE Requirement

Minimum GPA

University of California - Davis - School of Veterinary Medicine

Davis, California


USD 63,078 (California Residents)

USD 75,323


Not Required


Cornell University - College of Veterinary Medicine

Ithaca, New York State


USD 61,620 (New York State Residents)

USD 81,220

(Non-New York State Residents)

Not Required


Colorado State University - College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Fort Collins, Colorado


USD 65,220

Not Required


North Carolina State University - College of Veterinary Medicine

Raleigh, North Carolina


USD 41,663 (North Carolina Residents)

USD 72,352 (Out-of-State Residents)

Not Required

3.0 to 3.4

Ohio State University - College of Veterinary Medicine

Columbus, Ohio


USD 49,871

Not Required


Texas A&M University - School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Texas, USA


USD 21,447 (Local Residents)

USD 32,247 (Domestic Residents)

Not Required


University of Pennsylvania - School of Veterinary Medicine

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


USD 49,278

Not Required


University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Veterinary Medicine

Madison, Wisconsin 


USD 33,021 (Wisconsin Residents)

USD 53,245 (Non-Residents)



University of Florida - College of Veterinary Medicine

Gainesville, Florida


USD 45,500

Not Required


University of Georgia - College of Veterinary Medicine

Athens, Georgia


USD 19,010 (Georgia Residents)

USD 47,380 (Non-Residents)




You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!