How to Apply to Medical School

Thank you for your interest in the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

We understand that applying to medical school can be a stressful and time-consuming experience. We will do everything we can to make the process as clear and straightforward as possible.

As you proceed through the application process, remember, this is just as much an opportunity for you to learn about UCSF as it is for us to get to know you.  

How the Process Works

 

  • Prospective students apply to UCSF through AMCAS, the American Medical College Application Service. UCSF offers three formal programs for obtaining an MD degree:

    1. the MD

    2. the MD/PhD - Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Applicants to this program must apply by December 1, 2020

    3. the MS/MD - UC Berkeley/UCSF Joint Medical Program (JMP)

  • Once on the AMCAS Web site, you will find the application form you need as well as instructions for completing and submitting it. Applications are available in May and can be submitted to AMCAS on or after May 30. Your application and official transcripts must be submitted to AMCAS no later than October 15 of the year preceding your expected entry. We encourage you to submit your application as early as possible in order to facilitate processing and evaluation. Please note that we cannot consider deadline extensions for any reason.

  • Beginning in early July, AMCAS forwards applications to all medical schools. At UCSF, an admissions committee made up of faculty and medical students reviews the applications, bringing a variety of perspectives to the selection process.

  • After UCSF receives your application from AMCAS and performs a preliminary review, selected candidates will be invited to complete a secondary application. Typically, you will be notified about submitting a secondary application approximately 3-10 weeks after receipt of your verified AMCAS data.

  • The AMCAS application, secondary application, and letters of recommendation will be used to identify applicants who will be invited for interviews. Interview decisions are made on a rolling basis.

 

Getting Started

What to do

  1. Visit the AMCAS site to submit your application and create Transcript Request Forms to send to the registrars of all colleges you have attended.
  2. Make sure you will have completed all course requirements for admission to the UCSF School of Medicine by June of the year of entry.
  3. Be sure that you have taken the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) by September of the year before intended entry into medical school.

Important Information

Course Requirements

Premedical students should pursue a four-year undergraduate curriculum and obtain a baccalaureate degree before entering medical school. Only 105 acceptable quarter units can be transferred from a junior or community college.

Required Courses

Biology, one year with laboratory (may include biochemistry)
Chemistry, one year, including at least one semester of organic chemistry with lab (may include biochemistry)
Biochemistry, at least one course
Physics, one semester

Advanced Placement (AP) credit will be accepted for the chemistry and physics prerequisites if the credit is verified on your college transcript.

The formal course requirements constitute the basic foundation for all applicants, but most successful applicants will have gone beyond these prerequisites and will have demonstrated the ability to perform at a higher level academically. Accordingly, the UCSF Admissions Committee evaluates academic preparedness in the context of the type and level of courses taken, the academic performance and trajectory, and the applicant’s scores on the MCAT exam. Although UCSF does not explicitly require more than one year of biology and one year of chemistry, most successful applicants will have taken at least one upper level biology course (e.g., biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, immunology, etc.) as well as a full year of organic chemistry. Breadth of academic achievement is also important. We value outstanding performance in the humanities as well as the ability to communicate in languages that are commonly used by non-English speaking populations in the United States.

Undergraduate Majors

We welcome applicants who have pursued a wide range of undergraduate disciplines. Students who elected to major in the humanities and social sciences are also expected to complete the required science courses. This does not mean that we encourage students to pursue a smattering of knowledge in a great many subjects. Rather, we believe that you gain the richest, most satisfying intellectual experience from the in-depth study of a subject that captures your passion.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), required of all applicants, is administered multiple times per year. We encourage applicants to take the MCAT in the spring rather than the summer. This way, you can take the test again if you feel that your initial test scores do not reflect your ability. For applicants who decide to take the MCAT more than once, the committee looks at the most recent scores. The MCAT must be taken within three years of the date you plan to enter medical school and, at the latest, by September of the preceding year. We will accept scores from 2018, 2019, and 2020 for applications submitted by October 15, 2020.

Commitment to Diversity

The School of Medicine welcomes all applicants without discrimination. The School of Medicine has a long-standing commitment to increasing the number of physicians from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic populations. As a result, over the last 35 years, UCSF has had one of the highest enrollment and graduation rates of underrepresented medical students in the U.S. UCSF’s commitment to diversifying the physician workforce also includes LGBT populations, socio-economically disadvantaged populations, and individuals with disabilities.

Academic Performance

Academic excellence is one of several ways students may demonstrate a high degree of motivation and capability for the medical profession. At UCSF, academic performance is evaluated in the context of other factors, such as the difficulty of the course of study selected, the number of units attempted, and an individual's background. Although applicants who have a grade-point average (GPA) below 3.20 generally are not considered favorably for admission, applicants who have nontraditional backgrounds should not be discouraged. In addition, students should not select courses only for the purpose of raising their GPA.

Selection Factors

Selection is based on an appraisal of those intellectual and personal characteristics that the admissions committee regards as desirable for prospective medical students and physicians. Both cognitive (primarily academic) and non-cognitive factors, such as the applicant's statement and extracurricular activities play an important part in the selection process. Based on the evaluation of these factors, a limited number of applicants (500) are selected for interview. Please also review the School of Medicine's Student Selection Admissions policy.

Non-Academic Requirements

Technical Standards
Medical Student Disability Services
Professional Student Immunization Requirements

Alternatives to Medical School

There are many alternatives to medical school. We recommend working with your undergraduate institution to explore matches for your grades, abilities and interests.

 

Secondary Applications

If you have been notified that your application for admission to the UCSF School of Medicine has been selected for further review, congratulations! We welcome your continuing interest in UCSF.

What to do

  1. You will receive an invitation via email to complete your secondary application online.
  2. Submit your completed forms, including a statement of authenticity and a statement regarding access to letters of recommendation, as well as your nonrefundable supplemental fee ($80 for US citizens and permanent residents, $100 for international students) payable by credit card.
  3. If you do not wish to remain under consideration, please send an email to [email protected], noting your decision to withdraw.

Important Information

Letters of Recommendation

We ask applicants who pass the preliminary review to submit 3-5 letters of recommendation, including at least two letters from your instructors. We will accept only one set of letters, regardless of the number of programs for which you are applying. Please be aware that UCSF is participating in the AMCAS letter service, and as such applicants are required to submit their letters of recommendation via AMCAS.

The letters that will tell us the most about you, your contributions, and your potential are those from instructors of upper division courses who know you well. Letters that document evidence of contributions to research or other work related to science or health care are also of particular interest to the admissions committee. Character references and recommendations from family friends or associates generally are not useful.

Statement of Authenticity

We ask applicants to certify and submit a Statement of Authenticity with the secondary application. This confirms that you have provided full and accurate information in completing all application materials and in submitting additional information, either orally or in writing. Please note that false statements or misrepresentations may result in the withdrawal of your application and notification to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

 

Interview

If you have received an invitation for an interview at UCSF, congratulations! We hope you will choose to visit the campus and learn more about the medical school. The interview process gives us an excellent opportunity to get to know you better, while it offers you a chance to interview us, ask questions, and meet current students, staff and faculty.

What to do

  1. If you have been been invited to interview at UCSF, your invitation will include instructions for scheduling your interview. Should you have any questions, please call the Admissions Office at 415-476-4044, Monday-Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.
  2. Read the information below to plan the logistics of your visit to UCSF.

Important Information

Travel Information

We have offered a number of suggestions below. You may also visit 511.org for transportation information for the entire Bay Area, including all public transit systems and links to ground transportation to and from San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose airports. You can enter UCSF as your destination on the 511 Trip Planner for a customized transit routing.

If you are arriving by air

The Bay Area has three commercial airports: San Francisco International, Oakland International and Mineta San Jose International. Flying into Oakland is sometimes less expensive than the other airports. There are convenient transportation options from San Francisco International and Oakland International.

Many visitors find that one of the private door-to-door van services is the most convenient transportation option for the price (approximately $14-$79). Vans leave about every 10-15 minutes from each of the airports and drop you off at your exact destination. Note that some van services require advance reservations. Public transportation takes longer, but costs only $5-$15.

Contact information for van services, car rentals and other transportation options are available on each airport's website. Airport public transit information, including point-to-point routing is available at 511.org

If you are driving

Street parking is very limited near campus. You can park near 25th Avenue and Judah (watch out for street cleaning days/times) and take the N-Judah streetcar inbound to campus ($3.00 - exact change only). Public parking is available on campus and currently costs $32 per day. Please note that UCSF School of Medicine does not validate parking.

If you are taking public transportation

You can use our suggestions below about using public transportation, or consult the 511 Trip Planner

  • From the East Bay, take BART (SF/Airport or SF/Daly City trains) to the Civic Center station. Go up one level and take the N-Judah Muni Metro outbound ($3.00 - exact change only) to the UC Medical Center stop at 2nd Avenue.
  • From Palo Alto/Stanford areas, take the Caltrain ($6.00 or $14.00 day pass) to the last stop, 4th and King streets in San Francisco. Take the N-Judah Muni Metro outbound ($3.00 - exact change only) to the UC Medical Center stop at 2nd Avenue.
  • From SFO, follow signs to the BART station (International Terminal, Garage G/BART AirTrain Station). Take a Dublin/Pleasanton bound BART train to the Civic Center station ($8.95 each way - cash/coins/ATM/Credit Card). Go up one level and take the N-Judah Muni Metro outbound ($3.00 - exact change only) to the UC Medical Center stop at 2nd Avenue.
  • From Oakland International Airport, take BART at the Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART Station. At the BART station, purchase a BART ticket and take a SF Airport, Millbrae, Daly City or Colma bound train to the Civic Center station. Go up one level and take the N-Judah Muni Metro outbound ($3.00 - exact change only) to the UC Medical Center stop at 2nd Avenue.
  • Important: You must have proof of payment on the Muni Metro, so be sure to ask for a transfer from the driver. Transit authorities fine passengers who do not have proof of payment. After exiting the N-Judah at 2nd Avenue, enter the parking garage across the street and take an elevator up to level B1. Walk down the hallway and take the stairs or elevator up one flight to Parnassus Avenue. At Parnassus, cross the street, head right, and look for UC Hall, 533 Parnassus Avenue. The Medical School Admissions Office is on the fourth floor, room U-426.

Where to Stay

Whenever possible, current medical students may host applicants the night before their interviews at UCSF. Once you have selected an interview date, more information about student hosting will be made available on your Application Status page. Applicants who would like information about other accommodations near the campus can visit the Campus Housing website for guest houses and hotels that welcome UCSF visitors.

Interview Day Schedule

Check-in

Please arrive at 8:00 am for your orientation at 533 Parnassus Avenue, Room U-420, unless you are notified otherwise. A continental breakfast will be available.

We will give you specific information about your interview times and locations and other pertinent information about your interview day.

Interviews (Between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm - times vary)

Whenever possible, interviewees are granted two interviews. The average interview lasts 40 minutes but varies according to individual interviewers and applicants. Interviews are conducted without prior review of your file. This means that the interviewers do not have any information about your past performance or activities. At least one interviewer will be a member of our faculty, and the other may or may not be a medical student. Since medical school commitments preclude student interviews for all applicants, other opportunities are provided for you to meet and talk with medical students.

Lunch

We will provide a lunch voucher and direct you to Moffitt Cafe to buy your lunch. If schedules allow, a third or fourth-year medical student will join you to talk about the clinical years.

Campus Tour

All interviewees will meet after lunch for a campus tour conducted by one of our current medical students. This is an excellent opportunity to gain information about UCSF, student life on and off campus, and the community.

Free Time to Explore

You are welcome to explore any areas of special interest on your own with the map included in your materials. We encourage you to visit the Medical Student Center (MSC) in the Medical Sciences Building, Room S-245, where you will find medical students happy to chat with you.

Around San Francisco

If your visit allows you to spend extra time in San Francisco, we encourage you to explore some of San Francisco's wonderful sights and neighborhoods. In particular, Golden Gate Park is a beautiful oasis only a few blocks from UCSF. To learn more about this and other attractions, events, restaurants and more, visit the San Francisco Visitor Center website.

Student Groups

To learn more about student associations and groups at UCSF, please visit the following Web sites:

 

Accepted

We understand that waiting to learn whether you have been accepted to medical school can be a time of tremendous anxiety. We hope that by explaining the way the process works at UCSF and providing an approximate timeline, we can help to alleviate some of this anxiety.

How the Process Works

UCSF has a rolling admissions policy, which means that applicants may be notified of an acceptance any time between December and April.

The date of the application does not determine when a decision will be reached. Applicants who are placed on the alternate list may receive notification of acceptance as withdrawals occur, typically between May and August.

Applicants denied admission may reapply, but are discouraged from doing so more than twice. In our experience, repeat applications are unlikely to result in a different decision.

Important Information

Deferred Admission

In special circumstances, we will review requests for deferred admission. Written requests for deferral must be received by May 1 of the year of expected entry. We typically consider deferrals that permit applicants to participate in time-limited, once-in-a-lifetime academic opportunities that will significantly enhance their medical education and training. While we understand that students may wish to spend a year between undergraduate college and the rigors of medical school for financial reasons, personal development, or family needs, we are unlikely to grant deferrals for these reasons.