Dermatology is a medical specialty that involves the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and disorders of the skin. The word dermatologist typically applies to a physician who specializes in treating the largest organ in our body.
Dermatologists deal with several dermatological conditions, which include many inherited and gained skin diseases, as well as other conditions such as acne or chemical burns.
If you want to become a dermatologist, the obvious first step is to enroll in a great dermatology school.
In this article, I will tell you all about the top dermatology schools in America, and what makes them so. You’ll walk away with the knowledge to pick the best school for you.
Remember, the perfect school doesn’t exist. What exists is the school that best fits you.
How to Become a Dermatologist
While dermatologist don’t need to study as much as doctors, the path isn’t that much easier. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the process, that’s why we made a step-by-step plan.
If you want to become a dermatologist, just follow it.
Step 1: Get an Undergraduate Degree on a Scientific Topic
This should take four years of study, and should be in either biology, chemistry, or related field.
Biology is fundamental for anyone who wants to become a doctor, and chemistry is especially helpful for dermatologists, because you must know how the skin reacts to specific chemical compounds.
Dermatologists are doctors. The skin is our body’s biggest organ, and it protects what’s inside us. Knowing how to treat skin isn’t any less important than knowing how to treat our liver or heart.
Step 2: Attend Medical School for 4 years
Medical school is an important decision for any aspiring dermatologist. Some people argue that the only way to be good at skin care is to have experience in skin care, but this isn’t true.
The first thing you’ll need to do, after finishing your undergraduate degree, is apply for medical school.
The application process can take up to a year, and there are many steps along the way. The first step is getting your application materials together. Then you’ll need to create a list of schools you’d like to apply to. You can then speak with your guidance counselor or headmaster about deadlines and other details.
The next step is sending out letters of interest (LOIs). Your guidance counselor can help with this part, but the basic process is that you’ll send a letter to each school saying why they should accept you.
After sending out letters, the next step in your journey toward becoming a dermatologist will take entrance exams and interviews with dermatology schools.
Steps for applying medical school vary from country to country, so make sure you know what you need to do.
The last step is matching with a dermatology program that’s right for you. This part can be complicated if your grades weren’t great or other circumstances came up during the application process.
Step 3: Pass the Dermatology Board Examination
You can take this examination after three to six years of residency training. If you don’t pass it, you can try it again the next time it’s available.
Step 4: Get a Dermatology Residency
Once you’ve passed the board examination, it’s time to train as a resident at an approved hospital. You’ll need to apply through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The best way to do this is with the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).
This should take at least three years of hard work. You’ll need to be on top of your studies throughout, and it’s likely that you won’t have time for much else during this period.
Steps 5: Gain experience as a practicing dermatologist
This can either be through private practice or working for the government in a public hospital.
The most common way to get into private practice is by starting off with an assistant position where you’ll learn from more experienced doctors at different hospitals and clinics before eventually moving onto being fully independent.
The Top 8 Dermatology Schools in the United States
There are plenty of elite schools in the States. If you want to become a dermatologist, you will receive excellent education in every institute on this list.
Ranking systems are usually varied in nature, have different goals in mind, and may use entirely different metrics. One ranking focuses on the quality of research at the school, while still others rely more heavily on student evaluations or what degree programs are available.
It is important to think about what you intend when considering a college when looking for rankings so that you can have a better idea of what information will be relevant.
Aptitude surveys also provide a sign to help gauge “talent levels” in the area and see how prospective students compare with other areas. Rankings like these rarely measure anything aim and can sometimes be biased (where money comes into play), but they’re still worth consideration.
While ranking dermatology schools is an arduous task, this list has the best programs that offer degrees.
Editor’s note: The schools are in no particular order. They’re all excellent. You should research them and pick the one that best suits you.
1. Yale University
- Type: Private
- Location: New Haven, Connecticut 06520
- Tuition: $61,140
Yale University is a prestigious university in New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University was established in 1701 by Eli Yale and has grown to offer degrees in over 700 fields of study, making it the third-oldest higher educational institution in the United States.
Yale offers undergraduate and graduate programs that are widely considered among the best in the world. Some of their top degree programs include Biomedical Engineering, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science and Forestry, Ethnic Studies, Film & Media Studies, Quantitative Economics, Sociology and International Development.
Yale’s dermatology course is a cornerstone of the university’s prestigious institution. It features innovative equipment for its students, including a fully stocked dermatology lab that will teach you all about skin care and pathology. Yale has always been one of the nation’s top universities, especially for medicine.
While there’s no doubt you’ll become an excellent dermatologist, you must consider how much it’ll cost you. Yale is an elite institute, and so it’s very expensive. Scholarships and grants might make it more palatable, as well as student loans.
2. Stanford University
- Type: Private
- Location: Stanford, California 94305
- Tuition: $62,193
Stanford University is in California and was founded by Leland Stanford on October 1, 1891. The school offers undergraduate degrees in over two hundred fields of study. Stanford’s top degrees are Business Administration, Earth Systems, Political Science, Psychology, Journalism and Communication, Design, Humanities and Sciences.
Stanford’s dermatology program is one of their most renowned programs. It is ranked at 13th globally for both dermatology research output and publications per faculty member. With a state-of-the-art dermatological center that includes the world’s largest clinical practice devoted to skin disease research, you will have access to everything you need for an excellent education.
Stanford University is ranked at 13th globally for both dermatology research output and publications per faculty member. With a state-of-the-art dermatological center that includes the world’s largest clinical practice devoted to skin disease research, you will have access to everything you need for an excellent education.
To graduate from Stanford, you’ll need to complete the Medical Prosecutions of Stanford program, which will include general medicine classes, as well as dermatology courses. Beyond this program, Stanford offers a wide variety of courses, including seminars on medical law and licensing, international health policy and global health economics.
The only downside to Stanford University is the high tuition costs that it offers. The average tuition for a year at Stanford is $62,193. That being said, with the excellent education you will receive from this world renown institute, it might be worth the high cost of attaining an education there.
3. University of Pittsburgh
- Type: Public
- Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
- Tuition: $59,126
The University of Pittsburgh is in Pennsylvania and was established in 1787. The school offers undergraduate degrees in over one hundred fields of study. Pitt’s top degrees are Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Economics, Computer Science, Earth Sciences and Geology.
Pitt’s dermatology program offers a lot to its students. Doctors who are considered will teach you some of the nation’s leading experts in the field. The university has state-of-the-art equipment for their students, including an ultramodern imaging center for skin cancer screening. The university also provides you with all the equipment for your dermatology practice at graduation in one of their teaching clinics.
To complete the program, you’ll need to take classes in anatomy and embryology. You will also study a lot of pathology, which includes dermatopathology, clinical microbiology and immunobiology. In addition, students are expected to perform rounds at both UPMC hospitals and outside medical facilities on weekends during their first two years of school.
4. University of Pennsylvania
- Type: Private
- Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
- Tuition: $57,770
The University of Pennsylvania is in Philadelphia and was established on October 25, 1740. The school offers undergraduate degrees in over one hundred fields of study. Penn’s top degrees are Economics, English, Nursing, History, International Affairs, Biochemistry, Neuroscience and Social Policy.
Penn’s dermatology program ranks 4th in the nation for dermatology research output. It also ranks 10th in terms of publications per faculty member, with its students publishing an average of 6 articles per year. That being said, with the high rankings that Penn holds in these two areas, you’ll be getting a quality education with this university.
To graduate from the program at Penn, you need to complete all six quarters of courses in the first two years of school. In the third and fourth year, you will complete your clinical rotations at three dermatology-related locations, including Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, which offers a broad range of outpatient care services for patients with diseases affecting the skin.
5. University of California – Irvine
- Type: Public
- Location: Irvine, California 92697
- Tuition: $36,434
The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is a public research university in Irvine, California. UC Irvine began as the Orange County State College in 1957. The University of California Board of Regents commissioned a study on what made up an ideal location for a graduate school and recommended Irvine
The dermatology department at UCI is one of the finest in the USA. The school ranks 4th in the country for its number of publications per faculty member. It also ranks 10th for research output per faculty member. This means that you will get a great education from this school and you can be sure that it is worth your time and money to attend.
To graduate from the dermatology program at UCI, you will need to complete about five years of study. Two years are spent on pre-clinical courses and three more are used for clinical rotations in a variety of locations around Southern California.
6. University of Michigan
- Type: Public
- Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
- Tuition: $44,373
The University of Michigan is in Ann Arbor and was established in 1817. The school offers undergraduate degrees in over one hundred fields of study. UM’s top degrees are Biological Sciences, Biology, Political Science, Economics, Civil Engineering and Chemical Engineering.
UM’s dermatology program ranks 3rd in the country for dermatology research output per faculty member with each student publishing about 7 articles a year on average. This goes to show that you will get a quality education from this university.
To graduate from the dermatology program, you need to complete all six quarters of courses in your first two years of study, and then five more for clinical rotations in the third and fourth year. This gives students ample time to learn about different aspects of dermatology as they rotate through several locations including both the Kellogg Eye Center and the University Hospital.
7. Thomas Jefferson University
- Type: Private
- Location: Philadelphia, Philadelphia 19147
- Tuition: $58,557
Thomas Jefferson University is in Philadelphia and was established in 1824.
The school offers both residency and fellowship programs. It is affiliated with 4 hospitals, so you’ll get quality job experience during your academic path.
The school also offers summer research programs and other opportunities.
Jefferson’s dermatology program ranks 12th in the country for dermatology research output per faculty member, with each student publishing about four articles a year on average. This means that you will get a quality education from this university while under their care.
To graduate from the program, you need to complete all six quarters of courses in your first two years of study, and then five more for clinical rotations in your third and fourth year. This gives students ample time to learn about different aspects of dermatology as they rotate through several locations, including both University Hospital at Jefferson Medical College.
8. Johns Hopkins Medical School
- Type: Private
- Location: Baltimore, Maryland 21218
- Tuition: $58,000
Johns Hopkins University is in Baltimore and was established in 1876.
Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology provides a range of continuing education classes for dermatologists at various points in their career. They have a structured dermatology elective for medical students that includes basic and advanced clerkships, a three-year residency training program accredited by the ACGME, multiple subspecialty fellowships, and opportunities for special studies.
The school offers a program that encompasses all stages of becoming a dermatologist—from medical school to fellowships. You’ll become a top dermatologist when you complete this program.
Research is at the core of John Hopkins university. The faculty members are continuously working to improve patient care and publishing papers on their findings.
What Makes a Great Dermatologist?
Besides following the outlined path, you should know what makes a great dermatologist. There are things you won’t learn in school.
Here is a list of the qualities of a dermatologist people like and trust:
- You should have a great bedside manner, the ability to work with patients of all backgrounds and walks of life. Empathy is a must. You should be able to listen and communicate well with your patients, understanding their needs and concerns.
- A sense of humor is a bonus. Dermatology can be stressful, so you need someone who knows how to keep things lighthearted when needed but professional at all other times.
- Clinicians need to think quickly on their feet when dealing with emergencies. You never know when someone could have an allergic reaction or infection. Knowing what to do in emergency situations is vital.
- You will need excellent judgement skills in order to decide about what treatment plan is best for each patient. You will draw from a mix of theoretical and practical knowledge to solve the patients’ problems.
- Above all else, you must enjoy taking care of people. You are a doctor. Your job is not just to treat people, but to make them feel better and restore their health.
Dermatologists can make bank. But before getting there, they need extensive training. Enrolling in a school on this list is a surefire ticket to academic excellence.
Getting into medical school is hard. And once you’re in, it’s also very expensive. It’s normal for students to get into debt to pursue their degree.
Luckily, dermatologist get paid handsomely for their work, so getting into debt shouldn’t be an issue. And, since you’re a medical professional, you can always get a job in another medical field while you look for an opening in your specialty.
What we’re saying is—you have lots of options as a dermatologist. It’s almost impossible to fail. The hardest part is completing your studies, residency, and fellowship.