Four students from the School of Medicine and School of Nursing laugh and smile together in front of a glass-walled building

UC Davis Health schools named among country’s best in health care education

School of Medicine again ranks in top 10 in three areas; Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing in top 25 for third year


The UC Davis School of Medicine  continues its upward trajectory into national prominence, as shown in the latest academic rankings released by U.S. News & World Report. 

The 2023-2024 U.S. News Best Graduate Schools released Thursday placed two of the School of Medicine’s medical education programs in the top 10 for all schools: family medicine as fifth (up from seventh last year) and primary care as sixth (up from eighth last year). The publication also ranked psychiatry as the 15th best program nationwide. 

Graduating medical student in blue gown and yellow stole walks across stage to receive his diploma accompanied by family members
The School of Medicine ranks in the top 10 of medical schools for family medicine, primary care and diversity

In addition, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing was ranked in the Top 25 of nursing schools.

“UC Davis School of Medicine and Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing continue to distinguish themselves as national leaders in training the next generation of health care providers and research innovators,” said David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health and vice chancellor for human health sciences. “Their commitment to excellence and providing leading-edge health care with compassion is central to our mission at UC Davis Health.”

UC Davis was also ranked the third most diverse medical school in the country, just as it was last year. And it ranked 50th in research, up one spot from the year before. The School of Public Health graduate program was ranked 22, tied with four other schools.

“Our top national rankings in diversity, primary care, family medicine, and psychiatry represent a decade of trailblazing efforts to create a powerful model for change through holistic admission practices, new pathways to medical school, strong student support services, and an innovative curriculum,” said Mark Servis, UC Davis School of Medicine vice dean for medical education. “At the heart of this success is our commitment to training the next generation of physicians that reflects our diverse patient populations – resulting in better care and healthier communities.”

Being in the top 50 for research is consistent with other measures that show the School of Medicine is making great strides in attracting federal funding.

David Lubarsky
UC Davis School of Medicine and Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing continue to distinguish themselves as national leaders in training the next generation of health care providers and research innovators. Their commitment to excellence and providing leading-edge health care with compassion is central to our mission at UC Davis Health.” David Lubarsky

In its most recent ranking, Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research placed UC Davis School of Medicine among the nation’s top schools for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. It ranked the school 32nd nationally – one spot higher than last year. In addition, the school recently broke its previous record for NIH research funding, with more than $200 million in grants. 

“Moving into the top 50 medical schools for research is a wonderful endorsement of our efforts to center investigation across all our missions and reflects the profound impact of our body of research as well as the leadership of our collaborative research teams across disciplines,” said Kim E. Barrett, UC Davis School of Medicine vice dean for research. 

The UC Davis School of Nursing has also seen great strides in its national standing, especially considering it opened to students just 13 years ago. 

The publication on April 25 ranked the school’s master’s-degree programs in nursing as 23rd for the third year, tied with three other schools. The rankings include the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing and the master’s degree family nurse practitioner (F.N.P.) program. 

In addition, for the first time the Master of Health Services — Physician Assistant Studies Degree Program (P.A.) moved up to 40th in the nation, tied with five other programs. The program came in at No. 74 the last time P.A. programs were ranked in 2019. 

A group of 43 smiling nursing students pose with celebratory hand gestures during their pinning ceremony
Class of 2022 graduates of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing’s Master’s Entry Program in Nursing celebrate at their pinning ceremony last December.

“I believe that quality and consistency illustrate the value of graduate education. These external rankings demonstrate how our nursing programs have proven to provide the excellent education required to develop a highly skilled and critical-thinking workforce of the future,” said School of Nursing Dean Stephen J. Cavanagh. “In addition, I’m pleased to see that our P.A. program, innovative in its design and the fact that it lives within a School of Nursing, is recognized by our peers as a leader. This is a testament to our interdisciplinary faculty and their dedication to student success.” 

The rankings are being released at a time when a growing number of academic institutions, including UC Davis, are voicing concerns about the methodology used in grading the schools. Every year, U.S. News & World Report conducts rankings that aid potential students in discovering programs that align with their academic and professional goals, but academic administrators note that rankings alone don’t indicate the success of a program. 

UC Davis Health, for example, invests significant resources to train School of Nursing and School of Medicine graduates to serve people who are medically underserved in a variety of primary care settings across California, especially in low-resource and rural regions. Leaders of University of California schools for medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health are committed to working with U.S. News “to identify a more accurate way to assess the quality and scope of education offered by institutions.” 

Even so, UC Davis School of Medicine and School of Nursing have been on an upward climb in the rankings the past several years, which have helped propel both their reputations as high-quality institutions on a national level. 

The School of Medicine’s No. 3 ranking in diversity is significant because it’s the only medical school outside the East Coast to receive such a high designation. The top spot went to Howard University, a historically black college, and the No. 2 school was Florida International University Wertheim College of Medicine, in Miami. A total of 30 schools were ranked based on 2022 race and ethnicity enrollment data. 

The complete Best Graduate Schools rankings are available on the U.S. News & World Report website.  

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