Medical schools teach future doctors to diagnose and treat patients and conduct research. A medical program typically takes four years to complete with a three- to eight-year residency afterward, depending on the specialization you choose. The top medical colleges in the U.S. have stellar reputations around the world and their faculties and graduates have contributed greatly to the medical field's body of knowledge.

Harvard University Medical School

Not only did U.S. News and World Report rank Harvard University as the nation's best college in 2010, it also ranked the medical school as the best medical research institution. The medical school is affiliated with many local hospitals and clinics and partners with the Giovanni Armenise Foundation, which funds research for medical institutions in Italy. Its advanced doctoral program includes medical science, virology, immunology and biological and biomedical sciences.

Harvard Medical School 25 Shattuck St. Boston, MA 02115 617-432-1000 hms.harvard.edu

University of Washington School of Medicine

Consistently named the best primary care training institution by U.S. News and World Report, the medical school focuses on community health services. Its family medicine department has earned praise for its efforts in under-served urban and rural communities. During their first two years, medical students must complete a month's training in a medical practice. The school also received a donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to open the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research project looking at health programs around the world.

University of Washington School of Medicine Department of Medicine Box 356420 Seattle, WA 98195-6420 206-543-3293 uwmedicine.washington.edu

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Serving about 2,200 students, the medical school has several basic and clinical departments covering a range of specializations. Its reputation as an excellent research institution attracts millions in donations from sponsors each year and it partners with various medical institutions in Pennsylvania, such as the Abramson Cancer Center. Courses offered include cancer biology, medical ethics, neuroscience, neurosurgery, vascular surgery, dermatology and emergency medicine.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine 3600 Market St., Suite 240 Philadelphia, PA 19104-2646 215-662-4000 med.upenn.edu

University of North Carolina School of Medicine

The UNC medical school is a respected institution with international partnerships. It also is an active participant in research, which includes investigating the health concerns and medical needs in other countries. Thirty to 40 students go abroad each year to take part in projects. North Carolina residents are given priority for admission and only 20 nonresidents are admitted annually. First year courses include the human body and Introduction to clinical medicine. As students progress, courses will include the cardiovascular system, respiratory diseases, psychiatry, family medicine and neurology.

UNC School of Medicine 250 E. Franklin St. Chapel Hill, NC 27599 919-962-8331 www.med.unc.edu

University of Colorado School of Medicine

The medical school offers three degrees: doctor of medicine (MD), doctor of physical therapy (DPT) and master of physician assistant studies (MPAS). The school is considered a leader in primary care training and its continuing medical education program helps alumni keep up with changes in the field. Students also volunteer with the homeless, youth programs and local health clinics as part of the school's community service program. The school is affiliated with local medical centers as well.

University of Colorado School of Medicine Building 500 -- 13001 E. 17th Place Campus Box C290, Room E1354 Aurora, CO 80045 303-724-5375 ucdenver.edu