The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, or UCSD School of Medicine, is one of 13 allopathic medical schools in California

The prestigious UCSD School of Medicine is known for its level of education and consistently ranks first or second in the nation in terms of funding per faculty member. Physicians and researchers of UCSD are often awarded and honored, with accolades including the Nobel Prize and the Lasker Award. The top-tier campus includes the well-known Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Learn everything there is to know about its requirements, statistics, and how to get into UCSD School of Medicine to boost your chances of admission.

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Article Contents
7 min read

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

Mission Statement

The mission of the UC San Diego School of Medicine is to provide skilled, compassionate physicians well-trained to practice medicine who are sensitive to the needs of the special populations of our region and the nation. In addition, we strive to build on our exceptional biomedical, behavioral, and health services research strengths to extend the boundaries of the art and science of medicine through continued research and the preparation of future academicians. In these ways, we also strive to improve the overall health of the population.

Available Programs

The UCSD School of Medicine offers a multitude of medical degrees, including a traditional Doctor of Medicine Degree (MD), and a couple of options for combined degrees.


The Doctor of Medicine Degree (MD) prepares students to become innovative and compassionate physicians through the four-year curriculum. Following the Integrated Scientific Curriculum, UCSD School of Medicine students will have most of the first three years of their education predetermined. They have the freedom to select from a wide range of clerkships to personalize their experience while successfully fulfilling their requirements.

Combined Degrees

The UCSD School of Medicine recognizes the relationship between science and medicine and offers combined degree programs to students, including the MD/MPH and MD/PhD programs.


The MD/MPH Program combines the traditional MD with a Master of Public Health degree. This master’s degree is administered through the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health & Human Longevity Science.


There are two different MD/PhD dual degree programs available. One option is a Medical Scientist Training Program MD/PhD, which prepares students to become Physician-Scientists. The other is a Bioengineering MD/PhD. Students must be admitted to both the UCSD School of Medicine and the Department of Bioengineering (via the Medical Scientist Training Program) independently.

Want to learn more about attending a UC medical school?

Academic Curriculum

Students of the UCSD School of Medicine follow the Integrated Scientific Curriculum, which blends clinical medicine with medical science. The purpose of this progressive curriculum is to provide students with strong scientific foundations to be used in a clinical setting. 

Up through the majority of the third year of medical school, the coursework is mainly predetermined. Once students enter the pre-clerkship curriculum, they can take additional electives that are uniquely designed to fit their interests and needs as an individual. 

Additionally, in the third year, students are allowed to complete two clinical selectives. 

Lastly, during their fourth year, medical students choose from a wide range of clerkships of their choosing to fulfill their general requirements.

Primary Care

Primary Care is introduced to medical students in the fall quarter of their first year through the Ambulatory Care Apprenticeships as a part of the Clinical Foundation core course. Through this program, students work in the outpatient practice of a primary care physician one afternoon every other week. 

Students will continue this apprenticeship through their first five quarters. Then, during their third year, they will complete a Primary Care core clerkship. During their clerkship, students will continue working one afternoon, but increase to a weekly basis, in the outpatient practice of a primary care physician. 

In the fourth year, a direct patient care clerkship requires one month in a primary care clerkship. Students can pick from a wide range of elective opportunities.

Independent Study Project

Students are also required to complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) as a portion of their required curriculum at the UCSD School of Medicine. These projects are explicitly designed to promote original, independent, and scholarly activity in medical students. ISPs are under the guidance of a faculty member belonging to the School of Medicine. 

The ISP also helps to encourage process over outcome, as the School of Medicine recognizes that medical education is a lifelong journey. Through their development during the ISP, medical students learn self-directed habits to help them be more successful in their careers as physicians.

Application Timeline

The general medical school application timeline of the UCSD School of Medicine application process can be viewed below. Since admissions are constantly updating this critical information, it is recommended to check exact dates and timelines directly through the school’s portal.

Admissions Statistics

The average profile of the entering class for the UCSD School of Medicine looks as follows: 

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be considered for the UCSD School of Medicine, an individual must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident of the U.S. (green card holder), or a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient.

Recommended Courses

The UCSD School of Medicine does not have specific medical school prerequisites. Although there are no requirements, the Admissions Office strongly recommends one academic year (two semesters or three quarters) of the following courses: 

Tuition and Debt

The estimated average graduate indebtedness for the UCSD School of Medicine is $145,577. Annual medical school tuition and fees and the total costs of attendance, including additional costs and health insurance, are approximately:

Funding Opportunities

The UCSD School of Medicine understands the financial burden of medical school and is committed to providing counseling and crucial resources to each student. Every student is encouraged to create an account for the Health Sciences Financial Aid Forms Portal where they will be able to access awards, messages, and information regarding financial aid applications. 

Financial aid opportunities welcomed by the school include merit medical school scholarships, need-based grants, and loans. 

78% of students at the UCSD School of Medicine are currently receiving financial aid.

Selection Factors

The Admissions Committee at the UCSD School of Medicine is readily seeking a student body that is broadly diverse in backgrounds and interests. As such, the admissions committee selects applicants who have demonstrated: 

  • Intelligence
  • Maturity
  • Integrity
  • Dedication to the ideal service to society

The UCSD School of Medicine does not have a preference for a particular area of knowledge, and seeks students with a broad training and in-depth achievement in whatever background they come from, including humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences.

Additional selection factors include: 

  1. Meaningful involvement in extracurricular activities
  2. MCAT score
  3. Letters of recommendation
  4. Personal interviews

All applications are thoroughly evaluated by the Admissions Committee based on their ability and skill needed to satisfy both academic and non-academic standards published by the faculty and characteristics necessary to become an effective physician.

California Residents

The UCSD School of Medicine gives preference to California residents as well as U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Secondary Application

All secondary application invitations are sent to applicants via email. Once the invitation has been received, applicants have one month to complete the requirements as requested by the Admissions Office. Make sure to review some examples of UCSD secondary essays to get an idea of what is expected of you as an applicant. Any applicants of the combined MD-PhD degree program are required to submit their secondary application within two weeks of receiving the invitation from the Admissions Office. 

The secondary application process is handled through a web-based portal and requires: 

Need help with your UCSD Secondary Essay? Check out the examples in this video!

Letters of Recommendation

The UCSD School of Medicine participates in the AMCAS Letters Service and will not accept any letters of recommendation via hard copy. 

Applicants can submit a minimum of three letters of recommendation up to a maximum of five for the MD program through the letter service. For those applying to the combined degree MD/PhD program the UCSD School of Medicine requires a minimum of two letters from research-related faculty, and a maximum of seven total.

In lieu of the three letters of recommendation minimum, applicants can opt to submit one single “Committee Letter.” The Committee Letter must be created by the pre-med advising office of your undergraduate school. 

Letters of recommendation can come from any source and are preferred from faculty from your undergraduate institution, but not required. Other sources include:

  • Course instructors
  • Research mentors
  • Clinical faculty
  • Work supervisors
  • Non-faculty practicing physicians

Interview Formats

Interviews for the UCSD School of Medicine application process follow the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format and are conducted either virtually or in-person. During the MMIs, applicants will rotate between eight rooms, or stations, where applicants will be:

  1. Provided a written vignette discussing a problem, ethical dilemma, or patient case
  2. Given 2 minutes to read the vignette and think about it before entering the room
  3. Met by a member of the admissions committee waiting in the room
  4. Spending 8 minutes at each station discussing the vignette 

A week before the scheduled date of your interview, you will be provided detailed instructions regarding the MMI setting and how much time you can anticipate to be spending interviewing that day. 

Typically, orientation will begin at 8:00 am the morning of interviews. The MMIs will go on until 12:00 pm. Applicants will have the opportunity to have lunch with current medical students, tour the campus, and debrief with admissions staff. 

As an option, applicants can tour the Student Run Free Clinic the evening prior to interviewing.

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

The typical number of waitlist positions per cycle at the UCSD School of Medicine is 300 applicants. On average, 35 acceptance offers are granted to applicants on the waitlist. These offers are extended after May 1st. 

Within three weeks of interviewing, applicants will typically receive a decision from the Admissions Office on their standing. Students who are initially placed on the waitlist will be re-evaluated for possible admission as positions become open.

Contact Information


1. What is the overall acceptance rate?

The overall acceptance rate at the UCSD School of Medicine is 1.72%, with in-state success rate of 2.65%, out-of-state success rate of 0.53%, and international success rate of  0.32%.

2. What is the average GPA?

The average GPA for acceptance at the UCSD School of Medicine is 3.83, with an average science GPA of 3.81.

3. What is the average MCAT?

The average MCAT score for the UCSD School of Medicine is 517.

4. What is the interview format?

The current interviews for the UCSD School of Medicine follow the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format. Applicants will spend eight minutes at each of the eight MMI stations with a member of the admissions committee assessing them in each station.

5. How should letters of recommendation be formatted?

Letters of recommendation for the UCSD School of Medicine follow the AMCAS letter service format. For MD applicants, you can submit a minimum of three letters and a maximum of five through this service. For MD/PhD applicants a minimum of two letters are required from research-related faculty.

6. Is there a secondary application?

Yes. Screened applicants will receive a request to submit a secondary application through the web-based portal. Students can submit their secondary applications as soon as they receive the link via email and must submit the completed secondary application within one month of receiving it. MD/PhD students are required to submit the secondary application within two weeks of receiving it.

7. What are the minimum course requirements for applicants?

The UCSD School of Medicine does not have minimum academic requirements for its applicants. That being said, there are a number of recommended courses the Admissions Office believes makes up a strong applicant, including one course year worth of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, math, and one semester of biochemistry.

8. What is the tuition cost?

The medical school tuition cost for in-state students at the UCSD School of Medicine is $38,383 and $50,628 for out-of-state students. With additional annual fees, including other fees and health insurance, the total cost of attendance is approximately $64,715 per year for in-state students and $76,960 for out-of-state. The estimated average graduate indebtedness is $145,577 upon completion of the MD Program.

9. Does the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have an Early Decision Program (EDP)?

No. The UCSD School of Medicine does not have an Early Decision Program (EDP) available.

10. What is the academic system?

At the UCSD School of Medicine, the curriculum is based on a quarter system. The instruction style is an integrated scientific curriculum in the first two years with lectures, small groups, laboratory sessions, and self-directed learning modalities. The last two years are typically dedicated to clerkships and electives.

11. Does the University of California, San Diego School offer a prematriculation program?

Yes. The UCSD School of Medicine offers an eight-week prematriculation program. The Core Topics in Biomedical Science program is available for interested students and takes place during the summer before the start of medical school.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting 

Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results. 

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