Pinning down the average medical school class size in the United States is not easy. With different factors affecting how schools determine their class size and the lack of proper legislation on this topic, you can expect class sizes to vary. However, we took the pain of asking many medical school teachers and students about their class size and their feelings about it. This way, and with the data available on most medical schools’ websites, we can determine the average medical school class size in the US, and this article explains all you should know.
Does Class Size Matter in Medical School?
From the start, let’s mention that this question may not have a clear-cut answer since the “best” class size often depends on individual learning styles and preferences.
For example, our research found that schools like the Oklahoma State University College of Medicine with relatively small class sizes (average of 88 students) had positive impacts, such as creating closely-knit groups from the start. The support, shared experiences, and camaraderie shared by students in these small classes can play an important role in shaping your development.
But that’s not to say that big classes don’t have their advantages too. Thus, the question: “Does class size matter?”
After carefully surveying different studies related to this topic, we’ve concluded that class size matters. However, to what extent may not be as straightforward as you think.
What Factors Influence Class Size?
Although most educators recommend smaller class sizes, large classes are still not a bad thing, as long as they guarantee the right learning environment. This is why it’s hard to peg a class size as the best. However, most medical schools consider several factors when choosing class sizes. Some of them include:
This is the first factor most medical schools will consider when deciding class size. Although many professors dislike teaching bigger classes, it still boils down to the number of students enrolled in the faculty. Schools with larger faculty-student ratios will typically require bigger classes to accommodate students.
That’s not to say that a school can’t have multiple smaller classes simultaneously. But most schools will typically stick with a few larger classes than many small ones since they’re relatively easier and more economical.
Top medical schools like Harvard medical school typically have more professors and full-time faculty staff. So, the student-professor ratio is usually smaller, giving them leverage to add many small classes. On the other hand, medical schools with fewer professors may struggle to assign teachers to several classes. Most of them will rather prioritize creating larger classes with more students per professor.
How Well the College Prioritizes Personal Attention
Again, it boils down to how much impact the college wants to make on students. We all know that the routine in medical school is slightly more rigorous than in other schools, so students may need personal attention when selecting their courses and other school-related programs. Thus, many medical schools prefer smaller classes.
That’s not to say that students don’t get attention in bigger classes, but it’s easier to give this kind of attention in smaller classes. That’s why colleges typically make the classes smaller as students progress to higher levels.
What is the Average Class Size in Medical Schools?
There’s no single answer to this question, as the average class size can vary in most United States medical schools. However, we’ve found that most medical schools will have classes of between 100 to 200 classes.
For example, we found that the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix had an average class size of 100 as at 2020. Of course, you’d expect bigger medical schools to have bigger class sizes. The Harvard medical school class size can sometimes grow to about 250. It typically boils down to available facilities, the school’s popularity, and what they can handle. Some medical schools would even have smaller classes than average. These smaller class sizes are often attributed to the need for more personalized instructions, clinical training, and hands-on experiences.
Whatever the case, it’s important to research specific institutions and their class sizes before applying to study in them. You can always weigh the pros and cons of each class size to know which best suits your academic needs.
Small vs. Large Class Size in Med School: Which is Better?
As expected, each has pros and cons, so it boils down to personal needs and what you expect to achieve in medical school. However, there’s no question that the largest medical school class size will feel different from a class size of 100 students. Some students will thrive in both classes. Such students will focus more on other factors than class size when deciding which medical school to choose from.
But in most cases, students prefer one college size over another and, as such, will typically weigh the pros and cons of the different sizes before choosing.
Some of the pros of smaller medical school classes include:
- More personalized attention
- Increased participation
- More straightforward classroom management
- More learning with less prep time
On the other hand, some of the pros of larger medical school classes include:
- Increased diversity
- More collaboration opportunities
- Lower cost.
In the end, it boils down to individual needs. You must weigh these pros and cons to decide which class size suits you better.
Wrapping Things Up: What is the Average Class Size in Medical Schools?
So far, we’ve seen that the average class size in most medical schools is between 100 and 200 students. But does it make a difference? It depends on how you learn and what you like. Some people prefer a smaller, “more intimate” environment, while others are excited about the diversity of larger classes.
Before choosing a medical school, we recommend searching inwardly to know the type of learner you are and what suits you best. You’ll be more fulfilled as an extroverted learner if you regularly find yourself in larger classes with more diverse people. Also, research your institution of choice to know their average class size and how they manage it.