So you’ve set your sights on becoming a doctor–that’s fantastic! But before you get swept away researching medical colleges, you need to understand the critical role medical school accreditation plays in your journey. Here’s why accreditation matters and how to ensure the U.S. medical school you choose is legitimate.

What is Medical School Accreditation?

Think of accreditation as a gold star for your medical education program. It signifies a school has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an independent body and met established educational standards.

This means the faculty is qualified, the curriculum is comprehensive in medical sciences, and the resources available will prepare you for the challenges of practicing healthcare.

Why is U.S. Medical School Accreditation Important for You?

Attending an accredited allopathic medical school offers several advantages:


In the United States, passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a must-have for obtaining a state medical license.

To be eligible for the USMLE, you must graduate from a medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). No diploma from an unaccredited school will grant you that eligibility, no matter how impressive their independent student analysis might seem.

Residency Placement

Competitive residency programs in graduate medical education prioritize graduates from LCME-accredited institutions. A degree from an unaccredited medical college, even a state university college, makes matching into a competitive residency program highly unlikely.

Financial Aid

Federal financial aid for medical school is only available to students enrolled in accredited programs. Without LCME accreditation, you’ll be on the hook for the full cost of your education, which can be astronomical.

Quality Education

An accredited medical school ensures a strong foundation in medical knowledge and clinical skills. You’ll enter residency confident, knowing you’ve received a top-notch medical education in the health sciences.

Credibility and Recognition

An accredited MD degree from a U.S. medical school holds weight in the medical community. It demonstrates your commitment to excellence and opens doors to future opportunities in public health and healthcare.

Different Types of Accreditation for U.S. Medical Schools

There are two main accrediting bodies for medical schools in the United States:

  1. Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME): This is the most widely recognized accrediting body for MD-granting allopathic medical schools in the U.S.
  2. American Osteopathic Association (AOA): This body accredits DO-granting medical schools (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).

Important Note: Attending either an LCME- or AOA-accredited school qualifies you for USMLE licensure and residency programs in graduate medical education.

How to Find Out If a Medical School is Accredited

Here’s how to verify a medical school’s accreditation status:

  1. Check the School’s Website: Most accredited medical schools prominently display their accreditation information on their website. Look for logos or links from the LCME or AOA.
  2. LCME Website: The LCME maintains a directory of all accredited medical schools on their website. Simply search by school name or location.
  3. AOA Website: The AOA also has a directory of accredited schools on their website.

Beyond Accreditation: Additional Factors When Choosing a Medical School

While LCME accreditation is essential, it’s not the only factor to consider when choosing a medical school. Here are some additional points to ponder:

  • School’s Reputation and Rankings: Research the school’s reputation among students, faculty, and practicing physicians. Look at national rankings, but remember, they aren’t the holy grail.
  • Curriculum: Dive into the curriculum details. Does it offer a strong foundation in medical sciences, clinical rotations, and research opportunities that align with your interests?
  • Location and Cost: Consider factors like the school’s location, cost of attendance, and available scholarships or federal financial aid options. A tuition refund policy might also be important, depending on your circumstances.
  • Faculty and Student Body: Research the faculty’s qualifications and teaching style. Look into the size and diversity of the student body.

Accreditation: Your Key to a Successful Medical Career

Medical school accreditation is your gateway to a fulfilling career in medicine. By choosing an accredited school, you’re investing in your future and ensuring you have the qualifications and knowledge to excel as a physician. So, do your research, verify accreditation, and choose a school that sets you on the path to becoming the best doctor you can be.

Be Wary of Foreign Medical Schools and Accreditation Woes

While this article focuses on U.S. medical schools, it’s important to acknowledge foreign medical education. If you’re considering a medical school outside the U.S., tread carefully.

The accreditation process for foreign medical schools can be complex, and some countries may have accreditation bodies not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Thoroughly research the school’s accreditation status and ensure it aligns with the requirements for taking the USMLE and obtaining a state medical license.

Beware of Provisional Accreditation

Even within the U.S., some medical schools may hold provisional accreditation. This means they’ve met some, but not all, of the LCME’s accreditation standards.

While provisional accreditation can eventually lead to full accreditation, it’s important to understand the risks involved. A school with provisional accreditation could lose it entirely, jeopardizing your ability to graduate with a recognized degree.

Final Thoughts

Earning your M.D. is a marathon, not a sprint. Accreditation is your first hurdle. Don’t get tripped up by flashy websites or promises that sound too good to be true. Do your research, prioritize accredited schools, and take the first step towards becoming the incredible doctor you dream of being.