How to Get into USCD School of Medicine

August 17

Table of Contents

Pre-med students who attended colleges in California are probably aware of the UC San Diego School of Medicine. UCSD School of Medicine is one of California's more recent medical schools. Yet, it has produced some outstanding outcomes in its half-century of operation.

The UCSD School of Medicine has always been at the forefront of innovation, from its reimagining of the medical school model, which emphasized primary science education and clinical training, to the physicians who develop life-saving procedures.

This article will explain how to position oneself as a competitive applicant and review the components of steller secondary application essays. You will find everything you need to know to get into UCSD School of Medicine here.

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Why UCSD School of Medicine?

There are 13 allopathic medical schools in California, and one of them is the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, or UCSD School of Medicine. Regarding financing per faculty member, the esteemed UCSD School of Medicine consistently places top or second in the country due to its high caliber of education.

Numerous awards and honors, including the Lasker Award and the Nobel Prize, are given to medical professionals and researchers at UCSD. The respected Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Howard Hughes Medical Institute are on the site.

Interdisciplinary cooperation is promoted at the UCSD Medical School within the science curriculum and across other UC San Diego departments. The Integrated Scientific Curriculum (ISC) includes clinical medicine and medical science. Students may pursue further education through the UCSD College of Integrated Life Sciences and coursework in the School of Medicine in bioengineering and healthcare leadership.

Moreover, students receive practical clinical instruction at facilities like the UC San Diego Medical Center, the VA San Diego Hospital, the Naval Regional Medical Center, and the Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego

Furthermore, students can participate in the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project, which offers healthcare to impoverished communities throughout San Diego, and there are more than 35 student organizations to join. If they so want, graduate students may reside in university-owned residences close to the medical school in La Jolla.

Programs Offered in UCSD School of Medicine

Numerous medical degrees, including the regular Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree and a few possibilities for combination degrees, are available from the UCSD School of Medicine.

Doctor of Medicine

Through its four-year program, the UCSD Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree prepares students to become creative and sympathetic doctors. 

The UCSD School of Medicine students will have most of their first three years of instruction predetermined by following the Integrated Scientific Curriculum. They can choose from various clerkships to tailor their experience while satisfactorily completing their requirements.

Combined Degrees

The MD/MPH and MD/PhD programs are two examples of the combined degree programs that the UCSD Medical School offers to students because it understands the connection between science and medicine.

MD Master of Public Health

The regular MD is combined with a Master of Public Health in the MD/MPH program. The H. Wertheim School of Public Health & Human Longevity Science oversees the awarding of this master's degree.

MD Doctor of Philosophy

There are two distinct dual degree programs for MDs and PhDs. One choice is an MD/PhD program in medical science, which trains students to become physician-scientists. The other is an MD/PhD in bioengineering. 

Students must be accepted separately into the Dept. of Bioengineering (through the Medical Scientist Training Program) and the UCSD School of Medicine.

Program in Medical Education – Health Equity (PRIME-HEQ)

The PRIME-HEQ program was created to prepare doctors to care for California's underprivileged communities. The program aims to "develop leaders to eliminate health disparities in our nation, their communities, and the world." 

Students accepted into this program will be able to recognize at-risk people or communities and work with them.

Global Health Academic Concentration (GHAC)

The goal of the Global Health Academic Center (GHAC) is to "offer med students with the experiences, knowledge, and resources required to prepare them for professions in Global Health by learning about the challenges and complexities of global healthcare delivery, ethics of doing Global Health research, and socio-structural bases of health inequities."

Students in this program have the chance to complete a clinical rotation and an international research experience abroad. Students requested to submit a secondary application may apply to this track. However, only five students will be chosen from the applicant pool.

How to Get into UCSD Medical School

The American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS) is used by the UCSD Medical School. 

Your primary application will be sent to UCSD after AMCAS has verified it. You will instantly get a link to UCSD Medical School's secondary application once they receive your AMCAS-validated application

The following is provided for your reference and includes the requirements and crucial information on how to enroll in the UCSD Medical School:

UCSD Medical School Acceptance Rate

The UCSD Medical School has an acceptance rate of 3.6%. Although the number of applicants for admission to UCSD Medical School may seem frightening, with the proper preparation, you may stand out. Be sure to start early and keep important dates in mind.

UCSD Medical School Coursework Requirements

There are no requirements for medical school at the UCSD Medical School. The admissions office strongly advises taking one academic year of the following courses, even though there are no requirements.

UCSD Medical School GPA Statistics

The UCSD Medical School has no minimum GPA requirement, which is essential to note. However, the current entry cycle's average GPA is 3.77 (CUM) and 3.73 (Science).

Before applying to UCSD, you must request that your undergraduate institution deliver a complete set of official academic transcripts to AMCAS. 

Although UCSD does not have any defined course requirements, a few subjects are advised to include on your transcript.

At UCSD, the GPA "cut-off" is also adjustable. Given the number of candidates, you would need to at least have the average approved GPA to be considered for admission. Most people's best bet is to plan their undergraduate years carefully and keep their GPA steady.

Earn additional credit when you can. Change your course load to include more approachable topics or things you may have already studied if you find it challenging to keep up with numerous complex subjects, as medical school students occasionally do.

UCSD Medical School MCAT Statistics

Your MCAT score is a necessary part of your application. Although UCSD Medical School does not have a minimum score requirement, the admissions committee will not review applications without MCAT scores. In a recent cycle, the typical MCAT score for UCSD Medical School students was 517.

Why take the chance when a higher GPA, stellar academic record, outstanding medical school reference letters, and a memorable admissions interview could compensate for a lower MCAT score?

Even though the MCAT is difficult, you can succeed if you put in the necessary time and preparation. Create a productive MCAT study schedule, sign up for additional classes or tutoring as needed, take lots of practice examinations, and keep working to improve your score.

Getting a high MCAT score could take a few months of diligent work, but the results are well worth the effort.

UCSD Medical School Tuition and Scholarships

The expected first-year tuition for California residents at the UCSD Medical School in 2023–2024 is USD 69,650

Tuition, lodging & board, books, and supplies are all included in this amount. In non-residents' cases, their tuition is USD 12,245 more, totaling USD 81,895.

Although UCSD does not provide statistics regarding its need-based financial aid program, their data reveals that in 2023, UCSD Medical School alums graduated with average debts significantly lower than the national average, at USD 168,149.

The UCSD School of Medicine is committed to offering each student guidance and essential services because it recognizes the financial strain of attending medical school. The Health Sciences Financial Aid Portal, where students may access awards, communications, and details about financial aid applications, encourages all students to register for an account. 

The UCSD Medical School is also open to providing merit-based medical school scholarships, need-based grants, and loans.

UCSD Medical School Application Timeline

You must submit your AMCAS application per the deadlines listed below to apply to UCSD Medical School. 

The application process timeline for regular medical school applications is shown below. 

  • May 2, 2023: AMCAS application starts
  • May 30, 2023: AMCAS application must be submitted
  • July 2023: Secondary application starts
  • October 15, 2023: AMCAS application due date
  • October 15, 2023: Admissions decisions begin to be released
  • April 15, 2024: Applicants must limit their choices to 3 acceptances
  • April 30, 2024: Applicants must specify their options to 1 acceptance
  • May 1, 2024: Applications on the waitlist start to receive acceptance offers
  • June 1, 2024: Commit to enroll due date

Admissions at UCSD Medical School are accepted on a rolling basis. They advise applicants that they issue offers throughout the year and that there is not much of a benefit to applying early outside the assurance that they might learn the results sooner.

However, we usually advise applying as soon as possible, so be sure to have your credentials together by the middle of the summer. From the day you accept your invitation, you will have one month to submit your secondary application. 

Remember that the admissions process at UCSD is rolling, so it can take longer for you to hear from them after completing your secondary application than it did for your friend. You will know by March if you have been selected to move on to the interview process.

A decision from the admissions committee regarding your invitation to interview should be communicated to you around four weeks after the interview.


This application timeline may vary from year to year. To make sure, visit the UCSD Medical School Application Overview.

UCSD Medical School Extracurricular Activities

The different extracurricular activities relevant to medical school should be highlighted in a great application, such as clinical hours, research projects, volunteer work, journal publications, etc.

Medical schools like UCSD, which promotes holistic medicine and community involvement, prefer applicants with solid medical school resumes that speak to your potential for medical practice beyond academics. They are seeking someone with a service dedication, a leadership flair, and a love of medicine.

Therefore, you must pursue your passion in this area of your medical school application. So that it will not seem like work but rather an enjoyable hobby. Engage in intriguing research, take on volunteer work that inspires you, or consult a doctor specializing in a topic that interests you.

In keeping with that, do not forget to include any interests outside of medicine in your application. Medical school admissions committees are always intrigued by well-rounded students who excel in various endeavors.

UCSD Medical School Essays

Secondary essays for medical school are meant to give admissions committees further insight into a candidate's suitability for a medical career. They use this data to narrow the pool of candidates into a chosen group invited to proceed with the admissions procedure.

It would be best to start preparing their applications in advance because you will probably get secondary application requests from a few schools in a similar time frame. 

The UCSD School of Medicine receives about 8,000 applications yearly, with just 110 spaces in the MD program. This makes it a very competitive school. The challenging autobiographical sketch asks students to delve deep and write an essay outlining their inspirations, triumphs, and struggles in becoming a doctor. 

Applicants receive an email invitation for each secondary application. Applicants have one month from the time they accept the invitation to fulfill any prerequisites set forth by the admissions office.

Review some UCSD secondary essay samples to get a sense of what is required of you as an application. 

After obtaining an invitation from the admissions office, all applicants for the combined MD-PhD degree program must submit their secondary application within two weeks.

UCSD Medical School Interviews

The Multiple Mini Interview format is used for the interviews for the UCSD School of Medicine application process, which can be done online or in person. Throughout the MMIs, you will alternate between eight stations or rooms. 

You will receive thorough instructions about the MMI setting and how much time you can expect to spend interviewing that day a week before the scheduled day of your interview. 

Typically, orientation will start the morning of interviews at 8:00 a.m. The MMIs will continue till noon. You can tour the campus, eat lunch with current medical students, and discuss their experiences with the admissions staff. 

You can visit the Student Run Free Clinic the evening before your interviews.

UCSD Medical School Recommendation Letter

The AMCAS Letters Service is used by the UCSD School of Medicine, and hard copies of letters of recommendation are not accepted. 

For the MD program, candidates may use the letter service to submit a minimum of three and a maximum of five recommendation letters. The UCSD Med School requires a minimum of two letters from faculty members with expertise in research and a maximum of seven letters from applicants to the combined degree MD/PhD program.

Applicants can submit just one "Committee Letter" rather than the required minimum of three letters of reference. Your undergraduate institution's pre-med advising office must write the Committee Letter. 

It is desirable, but not necessary, for letters of recommendation to come from faculty at your undergraduate university. Additional sources include:
  • Academic advisors
  • Mentors in research
  • Clinical faculty
  • Work managers
  • Non-Faculty working doctors

Summary Table: How to Get into UCSD Medical School

UCSD Medical School

Application System


Acceptance Rate


Average GPA

3.77 (CUM)
3.73 (Science)

Average MCAT Score



USD 69,650 (in-state)
USD 89,895 (out-of-state)

Total Cost of Attendance

USD 109,650

Availability of Funding and Scholarships


Additional FAQs – How to Get into UCSD Medical School

When is the Due Date for Applying for Financial Aid?

Financial aid applications need to be submitted by early to mid-May each year. Less than four weeks before the deadline, accepted entering medical and pharmacy students may submit their applications four weeks after receiving the school's admission offer.

Is There a Secondary Application at UCSD Medical School?

Yes. If you pass the screening process, you will be asked to complete a second application using the online portal. 

You can submit your secondary applications as soon as they get the email with the link, but you have a month from the time you get it to do it. MD/PhD students must submit the secondary application within two weeks of receiving it.

What are the Course Requirements at UCSD Medical School?

There are no minimal academic requirements for admission to the UCSD School of Medicine. 

Despite this, the Admissions Office recommends taking many courses, including one-course year each of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and arithmetic, as well as one semester of biochemistry, to create a good application.

How is the Academic System at UCSD Medical School?

The quarter system is used to structure the curriculum at the UCSD School of Medicine. In the first two years, lectures, small groups, laboratory sessions, and self-directed learning modalities are all part of an integrated scientific curriculum. Usually, the last two years are reserved for electives and clerkships.

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