Football may be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to universities in Georgia and Alabama, but both states also have excellent medical programs. Typical first-year classes include physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, pathology and, of course, gross anatomy and its dissection labs. Prospective students have the choice of campuses in cities or smaller towns, and can opt for a large university or small school in a warm climate within driving distance to beaches and mountains. Slots are competitive, though, so keep your undergraduate grades up.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of Alabama at Birmingham's website promises a cutting-edge program in which students see patients on the first day of class. It ranks 35th for medical research and 10th for primary care, according to "U.S. News & World Report." Two of their specialties also ranked well: The AIDS program was ranked eighth, and geriatrics is in the top 17. The school's faculty consists of more than 1,100 full-time members, and it enrolls almost 900 students and 1,200 residents. Faculty members have brought in $200 million in NIH funding, and the university ranked 25th in NIH awards for 2013. The school operates the multi-disciplinary Kirklin Clinic and University Hospital, and serves the Children's of Alabama Hospital. Students are assigned a Clinical Skills Scholar from the faculty as a mentor for the first two years.

Medical College of Georgia

The Medical College of Georgia is the only public medical school in the state. The main campus is in Augusta, with a second four-year campus in Athens partnered with the University of Georgia. Several regional clinical campuses for third- and fourth-year students offer experience in large hospitals and small towns. Research focuses on cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. It is ranked 70th for medical research and 74th for primary care by "U.S. News & World Report." When the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce studied the effectiveness of Georgia's medical schools on meeting the state's needs for physicians, they found MCG enrolls the largest number of students and retains the second-highest percentage to practice in Georgia after graduation. It also has the lowest tuition cost.

Emory University

The School of Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta had more than 6,600 applications for 138 slots in 2012. Ranked 22nd for research and 29th for best primary care by "U.S. News & World Report," it has highly respected AIDS, physician's assistant and physical therapy specialty programs. The ShanghaiRanking Consultancy, which publishes the annual "Academic Ranking of World Universities," ranks Emory's medical program 31st worldwide. It is also ranked 17th for NIH funding in 2013 and shares a biomedical engineering department with the Georgia Institute of Technology that is ranked second in the country. Teaching facilities include Grady Memorial Hospital, Egleston Children's Hospital, Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital and Emory University hospital -- recognized 12 years in a row by the National Research Corporation as one of the nation's top hospitals. Emory has numerous research affiliations including the Centers for Disease Control.

Mercer University

Georgia's Mercer University School of Medicine's primary campus is in Macon, with a second four-year campus in Savannah. A third campus in Columbus was created in 2012 to prepare students for rural and under-served areas. "U.S. News & World Report" ranked Mercer second for best value in the South and eighth in the regional university southern rankings -- regional universities are classified as having a full range of undergraduate programs, some master's and few doctoral programs. The Georgia Board for Physician Workforce found that it was the most successful university in the state in retaining physicians to practice in Georgia.

Morehouse College

Located in Atlanta, Morehouse College is an all-male, historically black school. It has seven residency programs to choose from, including family, preventative and internal medicine. Morehouse is ranked 126th for national liberal arts colleges and second for historically black colleges and universities by "U.S. News & World Report." It's also a top 50 feeder school for top-tier professional and graduate programs, according to "The Wall Street Journal."