The David Geffen School of Medicine, which is the UCLA medical school, is one of the most sought-after medical schools in California. And it’s not just the sunny beaches nearby that make it such a popular choice among students – it offers one of the best medical school programs in the US. Combining a holistic approach towards medical training with a rigorous curriculum, it focuses on innovation, academic excellence, community service, and diversity. With a medical school acceptance rate of just 1.48%, it’s a highly competitive program that attracts the brightest aspiring medical students. Read on to find out more about this elite medical school and how you can get accepted.

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Article Contents
12 min read

Mission Statement Available Programs Academic Curriculum Application Timeline Admissions Statistics and Eligibility Recommended Courses Tuition and Debt Funding Oppurtunities Selection Factors Interview Formats Acceptance and Waitlist Information Contact Information FAQs

Mission Statement

To improve health and healthcare, UCLA will:·  

  • Create world leaders in health and science
  • Discover the basis for health and cures for disease
  • Optimize health through community partnerships
  • Heal humankind one patient at a time

Available Programs

UCLA offers 7 medical programs.

Please use arrows to navigate.

Academic Curriculum

UCLA launched its redesigned curriculum to foster a more innovative teaching strategy, incorporate new content and provide greater flexibility in the student learning journey. This redesigned curriculum is focused on research, education, advocacy, and a humanistic approach to medicine. It includes the following components:

  • Base Camp (Year 1): This is designed to prepare first year students for their pre-clerkship studies. It centers concepts such as Essential Basic Science, Social Determinants of Health, Basic/Introductory Clinical skills, and Ethics/Professionalism.
  • Scientific Foundations of Medicine (Year 1/2): This component takes students through the basis of disease through in-depth classroom learning as well as clinical applications. Students will learn about Anatomy, Pharmacology, Immunology, Biochemistry, Molecular & Cellular Biology, and many more traditional foundational concepts as well as newer subjects such as mental health, nutrition etc.
  • Foundations of Practice (Year 1/2): This component focuses on training students to provide excellent clinical care. Apart from the main areas of study such as interpersonal communication skills, clinical examination skills, medical interviews and clinical reasoning, the curriculum also covers emerging areas, for example, population health, bioethics, inter-professional teamwork etc.
  • Early Authentic Clinical Experience (Year 1): This component immerses students in clinical experience situations so they can apply their foundational concepts in the real world. Students will get a chance to play different health care roles such as patient navigator or intake in a setting such as a free clinic or community-based clinic.
  • Clerkships (Year 2/3): These are the core clerkships that allow students to complete clinical rotations in different specialties, including Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Medicine, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Family Medicine and Surgery.
  • Intersession (Year 2/3): This is a week of intensive activities that is designed to monitor completion of clerkship duties and integrate the knowledge and skills acquired in clerkship, with the ultimate goal to help students identify areas of interests and define future research interests.
  • Discovery (Year 3): The third year is called the “year of discovery”. Students select a specific focus and align with a faculty member for a mentorship. Their chosen medical path can include a focus on their dual degree subjects at another UCLA school, advocacy, research, innovation, or one of a few electives.
  • Longitudinal Clinical Experience (Year 3): This component is completed alongside the core clerkships to enable students to synthesize their clinical experience and apply their learnings in alignment with their area of focus.
  • Electives (Year 4): At this stage, students can select clinical electives from multiple sub-specialties. They can select out-patient and in-patient clinical rotations (clerkships) with some amount of non-clinical coursework.
  • Capstone (Year 4): The capstone course is focused on recapping key foundational content and clinical learnings as well as highlighting some new concepts that will be important for students in their first year as interns in their future residencies program. 


For the pre-clinical training (mainly in year 1 and 2), grading is Pass/Fail and for the clinical training (mainly in year 3 and 4), there is a four-tier grading system (Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail).

Application Timeline

It's absolutely crucial to know the exact medical school application timeline and to track the dates religiously so you never miss an important deadline. As the UCLA med school program is so competitive and utilizes rolling admissions, it’s essential that you apply as early as possible and complete each stage of the application promptly.

The following diagram shows the general application timeline for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Check their admissions portal or the AAMC website portal to confirm the exact application dates. 

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

  • Total number of matriculants per year: 175
  • Success rate (overall): 1.48%
  • Success rate (in-state): 1.84%
  • Success rate (out-of-state): 1.12%
  • Success rate (international): 1.51%
  • Average Accepted GPA: 3.84
  • Average Accepted MCAT score: 516

UCLA Medical School overall acceptance rate:


The UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine welcomes applicants from US citizens, Canadian citizens as well as international students. In terms of educational qualifications, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with three years of coursework from an accredited US or Canadian university is required for all students. The MCAT is also required, and students must have written the MCAT within four years of matriculation.

Recommended Courses

The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA does not require the completion of any specific medical school prerequisites. It does have a list of recommended competencies that can be demonstrated through completion of college level coursework. Scroll to the right to see the complete list below:

Tuition and Debt

  • Tuition and fees for in-state students: $39,268
  • Tuition and fees for in-state and out-of-state students: $51,513
  • Estimated total cost of attendance for in-state students: $78,046
  • Estimated total cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $90,291
  • Students receiving financial aid: 90%
  • Average graduating indebtedness: $149,961

The tuition and total costs listed above are calculated per year of medical school. Note that the tuition remains the same for every year of school but the medical school costs in terms of items such as books, supplies, lab research fees, rent, transportation etc. may fluctuate.

Want to learn about more medical schools in California? Check out the video below:

Funding Opportunities

Need-based financial aid

With the aim of making their medical school education affordable for as many students as possible, the David Geffen School of Medicine offers financial aid in the form of medical school scholarships, loans and grants to eligible students. The following are the eligibility criteria to qualify for need-based financial aid:

  • Be a U.S. citizen/eligible non-citizen/California Dream Act student
  • Be registered with Selective Service (only if needed)
  • Be working toward obtaining a medical degree
  • Be performing well academically
  • Not owe a refund on a Federal grant
  • Not be in default on any Federal educational loan
  • Be able to prove that they have financial need (submit parents’ income details)

Merit scholarships

UCLA also offers a few merit scholarships for which all UCLA medical school applicants are automatically considered.

  • The David Geffen Merit Scholarships benefit up to 20 % students entering medical school every year. This is a merit-based program. The scholarship covers in-state tuition for all four years (and out of state tuition, if applicable, for one year) and a stipend for room, board, medical insurance, textbooks, and other miscellaneous costs.
  • The L.A. Care Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship Program is designed to benefit students who want to practice medicine and become leaders in underserved communities. This scholarship is awarded to 8 students every year and covers the total cost of medical school tuition plus a stipend for other costs.
  • The UCLA Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship covers the full tuition for a few students and also includes a one-time 5000$ grant for research purposes. Once awarded, it is renewed every year depending on the academic performance of the awardee.
  • The Dean's Leadership in Health and Science Scholarship offers full tuition and stipend for students doing a dual degree focused on research.

Federal loans

Federal loans are only applicable for US citizens and they are granted based on need. These are the different federal loans available:

  • University (Regents’) Loans (Need-Based)
  • Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS), Title VII - HHS Funding
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  • Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan

This funding option does not require students to submit their parents’ income. Though this is a federal loan, students must apply through the Financial Aid and Scholarships office of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

External scholarships and grants

There are several external scholarships that can help students meet the burden of their medical school debt.

  • AAMC Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarships
  • American Medical Association
  • Kaiser Permanente - Oliver Goldsmith Scholarship
  • National Health Service Corp
  • National Medical Fellowships

You can refer to the “Pennies”, the DGSOM Outside Scholarship Compendium created by the Financial Aid and Scholarships office of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to find a comprehensive list of external scholarship and loan options.

Private loans

This is an option if all the above avenues don’t work out. There are some private loans associated with the David Geffen School of Medicine as well. Typically, they do not offer subsidized rates and the interest rate could go quite high.

Selection Factors

The David Geffen School of Medicine is one of the most elite medical school programs in the country and as such, it has a rigorous selection process. They receive 11,778 applicants a year! Out of which only 175 are accepted. In general, students with a diverse resume, excellent academic record, meaningful community service, and proven research skills are prioritized. Since UCLA has a focus on holistic, community-based medicine, they also prefer students with strong leadership skills and a background in working with underserved communities.

Read on to learn more about the some of the key selection factors for admission into UCLA’s medical school.

Academic record

UCLA requires that you ask your undergraduate school to forward a complete set of official academic transcripts to AMCAS. UCLA places a lot of importance on academic prowess and the average GPA of matriculants is around 3.8. Though UCLA does not have any specific prerequisites in terms of coursework, it does have some recommended subjects that should feature prominently in your academic record.

UCLA also does not have any rigid GPA “cut-off”, however, due to the large number of applicants, you would need to at least meet the average accepted GPA to have a chance of admittance. For most people, the best way is to strategically plan your undergraduate years and keep up your GPA. Pick up extra credit where you can. If you’re struggling with a heavy load of difficult subjects (as medical school students often do), adjust your coursework to pick up some lighter classes or ones that you might have already studied previously. This will ensure an easy A for at least a few courses.

MCAT score

The MCAT score is a mandatory and crucial element of your application. For a competitive program like UCLA’s, the average MCAT score of successful applicants is 516. A lower MCAT score could be offset by a high GPA, stellar academic record, brilliant medical school recommendation letters and an unforgettable admissions interview – but why take the chance? The MCAT is definitely not an easy test but with the proper preparation and hard work, you can achieve a good MCAT score. Ensure you create an effective MCAT study schedule, take on additional classes or tutoring if needed, take a lot of practice tests, and keep working towards improving your score. Getting a good MCAT score might require a few months of sustained hard work but the reward at the end is well worth it!

For your UCLA application, your MCAT score should not be more than 5 years old at the time of application. If you had to retake the MCAT, they require you to submit all your scores.

Letters of recommendation

UCLA requires a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 letters of recommendation from their medical school applicants, ideally from referees who know the student well, such as academic mentors and research supervisors. They accept individual letters, letter packets as well as committee letters, for example, committee letters from your pre-health advisory office.

Ensure you only ask for letters of recommendation from people who are qualified, know you well, and are enthusiastic about praising you. Remember that you will most likely not get to read the letter as it is sent directly through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application or Interfolio; so, you need to trust that you’ve impressed your referrers enough to garner a glowing recommendation. It’s important to ask for the letters well in advance (at least 8 weeks before they are due) so you can give the letter writer plenty of time to complete the task.

For its med school program, UCLA does not have any requirements around the qualifications of the person writing the letter (beyond the fact that they should know you well). However, it’s a good idea to have at least 1 or 2 letters from a science professor who can speak to your academic prowess in the kinds of topics you’re likely to study in med school.

Life experiences

In some sections of your AMCAS application, you will get the chance to talk about your meaningful life experiences, activities, hobbies, and skills. This includes the AMCAS Work and Activities section, AMCAS most meaningful experiences section, and most importantly, your medical school personal statement. A good application should highlight a diverse portfolio of relevant extracurriculars for medical school – clinical hours, research work, volunteer work, publications in medical journals etc.

Medical schools like UCLA, with their emphasis on holistic medicine and community service, look for a robust medical school resume that speaks to the student’s suitability for medical practice, beyond just the academics. They want to see a passion for medicine, a flair for leadership and a commitment to service. It’s no easy task to manage a high GPA, good MCAT score and top-notch extracurriculars. That’s why, with this aspect of your medical school application, it’s best to let your passion guide you. Pick up volunteer work that inspires you, shadow a doctor working in a specialty that interests you, research a topic that thrills you, so that it won’t feel like work, but rather an interesting hobby. Speaking of which, remember to highlight your non-medicine related hobbies in your application as well. Medical school admissions boards are always impressed by a well-rounded applicant who excels in multiple domains.

Admission interviews

Out of the 835 aspiring med school students who are interviewed, only 175 actually manage to get an acceptance letter from UCLA! That shows how absolutely crucial the admission interview is. The fact is, even with an excellent academic and extracurriculars record, you need to stand out in your interview to really lock down that acceptance letter. In the highly competitive environment of elite medical school applications, most of the interviewees have great academic records. To stand out in an interview, you must be articulate, polite, well-prepared, knowledgeable, and able to think on your feet.

Spend a lot of time practicing with med school interview questions and running mock interviews to get really comfortable with the interview format, think about all the key qualities and experiences about yourself you want to highlight, and map out answer strategies for the more unpredictable situational/behavioral questions.

Secondary application

UCLA does ask for medical school secondary applications from a majority of the applicants. A few applications may be eliminated after the primary application screening, but most people will get through to the secondary application stage. This stage comes with a deadline of 15 days i.e., you must submit your secondary application within 15 business days of receiving it. Your overall application will be reviewed only after you submit this secondary application.

The UCLA secondary essays consist of ten different prompts, designed to find out more about the student’s passions, interests, limitations, hardships and achievements. The questions have varying word counts ranging from 300 characters to 5000 characters. While answering, ensure you avoid repeating yourself, try to honestly self-reflect about your key experiences, and write eloquently with no grammatical errors.

Want to learn more? Check out our video about the most common medical school secondary prompts and how best to answer them.

Interview Formats

UCLA typically starts sending out interview invitations for medical school applicants from August 1st. They have a two-part interview process.

  1. First, there is a virtual interview using the AAMC Virtual Interview Tool for Admission (VITA). This is a one-way, online interview software that records your responses.
  2. The second stage involves a traditional, 1-on-1 interview with an open file. This means the interviewer will have full access to all the information in an applicant’s file. 

Some of the other med school programs at David Geffen School of Medicine have different interview strategies. For example, PRIME-LA applicants must also complete Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) while MSTP applicants only need to participate in traditional interviews.

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA generally sends out offers of admission from October all the way till July. Students have two weeks to accept, decline or defer the invitation. Typically, 150 students might be waitlisted per year out of which only 50 (or less) will be accepted. If you are waitlisted at the David Geffen School of Medicine, your application will not be considered till May 1 so don’t expect an offer of admission before then. Offers will be rolled out to waitlisted applicants only until the class is full.

Contact Information

UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine admissions website

UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine homepage

Admissions Email: [email protected]


1. Am I eligible to apply for the MD program at UCLA?

US citizens, Canadian citizens and international students with a minimum of a three-year Bachelor’s degree from an accredited US or Canadian university are eligible to apply for the MD program at UCLA. You must also have a valid MCAT score (taken within the last 5 years).

2. How do I get into UCLA’s medical school?

The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has a highly competitive medical school program. To get admission, you must have a good GPA, a high MCAT score, excellent recommendation letters and great extracurriculars including volunteer hours, clinical hours, and research work. In addition to this, you must submit a well-written, well thought out primary essay and secondary application and ace your medical school interview.

3. Is UCLA’s medical school hard to get into?

Out of 11778 medical school applications that pour in every year, UCLA only accepts about 175. With an application success rate of 1.48%, it’s definitely extremely tough to get into UCLA. 

4. Does UCLA prioritize in-state applicants for its medical school program?

No, UCLA considers all applications and does not give any priority to in-state applicants. However, it does provide reduced tuition for in-state applicants and some UCLA scholarships and loans may offer larger grants to in-state applicants.

5. What is the required MCAT score/GPA for admission into the MD program at UCLA?

The median MCAT score for matriculants at UCLA is 516 and the median GPA is 3.8. However, there is no “required” MCAT score or cut-off GPA for admission into the MD program at UCLA. Though uncommon, an applicant with lower-than-average scores may get in based on other aspects of their application, such as letters of recommendation, interview performance, and extracurriculars.

6. What are the pre-requisite courses for admission into medical school at UCLA?

UCLA does not have any prerequisite courses for admission into medical school. They provide a list of recommended courses that include key subjects such as biochemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and physics along with some background in humanities and sociology as well.

7. Does UCLA offer financial aid?

Yes, UCLA offers a lot of financial aid options, including loans, scholarships, and grants. Based on your need, you can apply for financial aid to help you cover some or all of your medical school costs. There are also a few merit-based scholarships for which all medical school applicants are automatically covered.

8. When is the last date to submit my UCLA medical school application?

October 1st is the last date to submit your primary application on AMCAS. You should also submit your secondary application within fifteen working days of receiving it, or by October 31, whichever comes first.

9. Is the secondary application important for UCLA’s medical school?

The secondary application is an important part of the UCLA medical school application process. After a preliminary screening of your primary application, UCLA sends out the secondary application for you to complete within fifteen days. This typically includes ten questions or prompts to find out more about the student’s personality, interests, passions, hobbies, limitations, achievements and more. Your application is reviewed based on the entire contents of your primary as well as secondary application.When completing your secondary application, you need to think about exactly what qualities you want to highlight, and which experiences you want to talk about. Try to be economical with your words and precise with your language. Don’t make any grammatical or spelling errors and speak honestly and from the heart.The answers in a secondary application can work as a tie breaker if there are two candidates with equally good academic records. Don’t take UCLA’s secondary application requirement lightly if you want to ensure you get a call back for that interview.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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