Step by Step Through the Application Process

Step 1 - Am I eligible to apply?


To be eligible for acceptance to the UCSD School of Medicine, you must fall into one of these categories:

 - United States Citizen

 - Permanent Resident (i.e. you have a "Green Card")

 - DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)  Applicants that are “DACA approved” with AB 540 eligibility re: California residency  (AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption) will be considered.  More details about AB540 can be found here:

If you are not a U.S. citizen and/or are in the U.S. on a work visa or student visa that don't fit the categories above and/or if you are DACA approved but NOT AB540 eligible, your application will not be considered for acceptance.


Coursework Recommendations

It is recommended that students enter medical school after four years of undergraduate study; the absolute minimum requirement is attendance for three academic years at an accredited college of arts and sciences, with at least one full year at an accredited 4-year institution in the United States. Students who have attended a foreign school must have completed at least one year of study at a four-year college in the United States (undergraduate or graduate level) prior to applying.  

UCSD does not have requirements regarding coursework that must be completed.   The following courses are recommended to make our evaluation of your application easier, and to better prepare you for the MCAT and for medical school:

  • One academic year (2 semesters or 3 quarters) of college-level Biology
  • One academic year (2 semesters or 3 quarters) of college-level General Chemistry
  • One term (1 semester or 1 quarter) of college-level Biochemistry
  • One academic year (2 semesters or 3 quarters) of college-level Organic Chemistry.
  • One academic year (2 semesters or 3 quarters) of college-level Physics.
  • One academic year (2 semesters or 3 quarters) of college-level Calculus or Statistics
  • Laboratory coursework for all courses that offer corresponding labs.

Applicants that are missing any of these courses will still be considered.  

Many students earn AP credit and are allowed to “pass out” of introductory courses in subjects such as Biology and Chemistry at their undergraduate school.    In these cases, we recommend that applicants take upper division courses in these subjects.   Applicants that pass out of the intro-level courses will not be penalized in our review of the application.

Applicants that take on-line coursework from an accredited school will not be at a disadvantage when compared to applicants that take “in-person” coursework.


MCAT test date

You must have taken the MCAT within the 3 calendar years prior to your planned matriculation date.  Applicants for the entering class of 2017 (submitting AMCAS applications in 2016) must have taken an MCAT exam in the years 2014 - 2016.  MCAT scores for exams taken in early 2017 will not be considered.  

Policy on application "updates"

The UCSD SOM Admissions Committee does not consider updates to grades or activities or any other documents outside of the AMCAS application and secondary application process. 


Selection Criteria

The Admissions Committee selects applicants for matriculation who have demonstrated the personal qualities of intelligence, maturity, integrity, dedication to the ideal of service to society and who are best suited for meeting the educational goals of the school, whether in a field of primary care specialization or other discipline of medicine. The school desires students with diverse interests and backgrounds and is committed to expanding opportunities in medical education for individuals from socioeconomic and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Admissions Committee has no preference for an undergraduate major field of study, but does prefer students with evidence of broad training and in-depth achievement in a particular area of knowledge, whether in the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences.

Candidates for admission are evaluated on the basis of their undergraduate academic record, performance on the MCAT, nature and depth of scholarly and extracurricular activities undertaken, letters of recommendation from premedical committee or professors, personal interviews with members of the Admissions Committee, and other standards of comparison that may be established by the faculty. Personal interviews with members of the Admissions Committee are required of all qualified applicants. The interview evaluates the applicant's abilities and skills necessary to satisfy the nonacademic or technical standards established by the faculty and the personal and emotional characteristics that are necessary to become an effective physician.

Student Characteristics – ENTERING CLASS, 2015

  • Average overall GPA: 3.73
  • Average science GPA: 3.68
  • 34.2 Q Composite Avg. MCAT (VR: 10.7; PS 11.5; BS 12.0; Writing Q)
  • 46% female / 54% male
  • 75% Residents of California
  • ~70% Biology/Chemistry majors, remainder in physical and social sciences and humanities

Step 2 - Primary Application (June 7 - November 1)


All applicants to the UCSD School of Medicine must complete the application available through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).Visit AMCAS at

AMCAS will be available to applicants in June of the year prior to the year you want to enter medical school. Applications submitted to AMCAS by November 1 will be considered. Extensions to this deadline are not granted.

Possible Outcomes after the Admissions Committee reviews your AMCAS application

  1. Invited to submit a "secondary application" (proceed to Step 3).   You will receive an e-mail informing you that you have been invited to submit a secondary application.   If you somehow miss this e-mail, our status check page: will be updated...if you see an active link to complete a secondary application, this means you have been approved/invited.
  2. Not initially invited to submit a secondary application.    You may not receive notification from the admissions office immediately.   All applicants that are not invited to submit a secondary application will be  re-evaluated by the admissions committee in January and we may decide do invite additional applicants to submit a secondary application at that time. Applicants not invited to submit a secondary application at that time will be notified by e-mail that they are no longer under consideration.

Step 3 - Secondary Application (mid-July through December)

Invitations to submit secondary applications are sent by e-mail.  If you somehow miss this e-mail, our status check page: will be updated...if you see an active link to complete a secondary application, this means you have been approved/invited.

The deadline for submitting secondary application materials is one month after the invitation is sent (e.g. if you receive an e-mail from the Admissions Office on August 25, you must return the completed materials by September 25).   For applicants to the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD), the deadline is 2 weeks after the invitation is sent.  The application is a web-based application, please do not send hard copies of supplementary materials.

Materials that we will ask for in submitting the secondary application:

  • $90 fee
  • Biographical sketch (distinct from the personal comments on the AMCAS application)
  • Statement regarding criminal conviction
  • Personal background information
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Academic/work/research experience
  • Publications, presentations, fellowship experiences
  • Medical/clinical experiences
  • Volunteer/community service experiences
  • Indication of potential interest in Dual Degree programs
  • Letters of Recommendation
    UCSD will be participating in the AMCAS Letters Service for the 2016-2017 Application Year.  Please visit for more details about this service.  We will not accept documents via hard copy.   All applicants should use the AMCAS Letters Service for all letters of recommendation. 
  • A minimum of three letters are required from individuals who can provide a well considered evaluation of your qualifications for the medical profession.  We will also accept a single "Committee Letter" compiled by your undergraduate school's pre-med advising office in lieu of the three letter minimum.   We accept a maximum of five letters.
  • Letters from faculty at your four-year undergraduate institution are encouraged but not required. Letters can come from any source, including but not limited to:  course instructors, research mentors, clinical faculty, work supervisors, non-faculty practicing physicians.  IF YOU ARE APPLYING TO THE MD/PHD PROGRAM, PLEASE NOTE THAT A MINIMUM OF TWO LETTERS SHOULD BE FROM RESEARCH-RELATED FACULTY

Possible Outcomes after the Admissions Committee Reviews your Secondary Application

  1. Invited to interview at UCSD (proceed to Step 4).
  2. Placed "on hold" for an interview. Throughout the application season, candidates that were originally placed "on hold" may be invited to interview at UCSD.  Interview scheduling typically runs through the end of March each year.   Applicants who are originally placed "on hold" but ultimately not invited to interview will be notified by e-mail that they are no longer under consideration. This notification will typically occur in mid-March.
  3. Not invited to interview.   Applicants who are not invited to interview will be notified by e-mail that they are no longer under consideration. This notification can occur at any time in the application cycle.

Step 4 - Interview


We use the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format.    Applicants will rotate between 8 different rooms, referred to as a station. At each station you will be given a written vignette discussing a problem, an ethical dilemma, or a patient case.    You will have 2 minutes to read the vignette before and think before entering the room, where a member of our admissions committee will be waiting.  You will spend 8 minutes at each station discussing the situation portrayed in the vignette.   Due to limited space and interviewers, applicants will go through the MMI in two different groups.   Thus, during your interview day, you will have approximately 90 minutes of “down time”  either before or after your interviews (i.e. while the other group is being interviewed).   During this down time, you will be allowed to stay in a conference room, or you may walk around and explore the campus.  

On your interview day, you will need to arrive no later than 7:50 a.m. and plan to be on campus until approximately 2:00 p,m.     Two weeks before your scheduled interview date, you will receive an email from us with directions to our office, parking instructions, documents you’ll need to complete and bring with you to your interview, and information about potential “housing hosting” by some of our current medical students.

Possible Outcomes after the Interview

Offers of acceptance will not be made until after October 15. Approximately 4 weeks after their interview date, applicants will be contacted regarding one of three possible outcomes:

  1. An offer of acceptance.  Initial contact is typically made by e-mail, with a hard copy of the offer letter sent subsequently.
  2. An e-mail notification that they've been placed on the "Waiting List". The Waiting List is unranked.  For further details, see Step 5.
  3. An e-mail notification that their application is no longer being considered.

Step 5 - The Waiting Game

Accepted applicants

 Accepted applicants will receive an "Intent to Matriculate" form in the envelope with their offer letter. Per AAMC "traffic rules" applicants may hold acceptances at more than one school until April 30, so if you are undecided between two or more offers, you can actually say yes to all schools until you are comfortable making a final decision. As a courtesy to other applicants, it is recommended that you contact any school as soon as you are certain you will not be going there.  (Proceed to Step 6.)

Acceptable pool

UCSD will typically offer between 30- 50 acceptances to students who are initially placed in the "waiting list". Most of these offers of acceptance will be extended after May 1 each year.

Step 6 - Congratulations!

Welcome to the UCSD School of Medicine!

Accepted applicants will have a lot of things to take care of prior to matriculation.

Financial Aid

After we receive your signed Intent to Matriculate form, the Admissions Status Check page will allow you to download our Financial Aid Application. You can access the general Financial Aid website at: to view a brochure, sample budgets, and other useful information.

Student Affairs/Orientation

The Office of Admissions will now pass you along to our Office of Student Affairs (OSA). The OSA will be in touch with each of you regarding health clearance, personal information, and Orientation week. Please keep your contact information current with us, and check your e-mail often.

Summer Program

Information on the Summer Program can be found at:

Housing information for University-owned apartments.

UCSD apartments are one of the least expensive options for UCSD students who want to live close to campus.   Because of this, there is almost always a waiting list to get into these apartments.   The School of Medicine does have a limited number of apartments reserved for our students, but not enough room for all. It is recommended that you put yourself on the waiting list as soon as you have received an acceptance offer from UCSD.   More details about housing can be found at:


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