UCSD Medical School – Acceptance Rate, Ranking, and More

The University of California San Diego School of Medicine, located in the southern part of the state, has spent more than 50 years educating future medical professionals.

Founded in 1968, the school today has more than 500 medical students along with over 900 residents and fellows. It is connected to UC San Diego Health, of which UC San Diego Medical Center and several other institutes, clinics, and more facilities are part.

The university offers a doctorate in medicine, a four-year program that includes a pre-clerkship curriculum focusing on Human Health and Disease and Clinical Foundations followed by two years of clinical experience. Students gain additional experience through 135 hours of study in various electives.

Additionally, the medical school offers several other graduate programs. Students also can participate in several joint M.D./Ph.D. programs, in which they earn their medical degree as well as a doctorate in fields such as Bioengineering or the Medical Scientist Training Program. 

They also have the option to pursue an “Independent Ph.D,” in which they pursue studies in the Biomedical Sciences Program or other science or engineering programs. The medical school has a few joint programs with San Diego State University, through which students can earn a doctorate in Audiology, Clinical Psychology, and other fields.

Next, we’ll break down what the UCSD School of Medicine has to offer, how to get admitted, and much more.

UCSD Medical School Acceptance Rate

UCSD School of Medicine
TritonsRising, UCSD Biomedical Library, CC BY-SA 4.0

UCSD School of Medicine is highly selective, accepting just 1.72% of all applicants. UCSD received 7,741 applications for its class of 2024, and 133 students ended up attending. 

The acceptance rate for California residents at UCSD is slightly higher, at 2.65%, versus the out-of-state rate of 0.53%. International candidates were accepted just 0.32% of the time. While that is not the lowest acceptance rate among American universities (Virginia Tech’s 0.96% is the lowest), UCSD still is one of the most selective schools. 

UCSD’s rate is similar to those of the medical schools as Duke and Boston universities as well as that of a fellow state school, the University of California Davis.

The entering class of 2019 showed just what kind of academic prowess UCSD is looking for. 

The group consisted of 134 students, who had an average MCAT score of 516.15 out of 528 and an average cumulative GPA of 3.77 out of 4.0. 

Most students who started the program in 2019 earned their undergraduate degrees from California state schools, including the Los Angeles and Berkeley campuses. Twenty students stayed on at UCSD after receiving their bachelor’s degrees.

UCSD Medical School Tuition

While financial aid is available, medical students should prepare themselves to incur a high amount of debt. The class of 2020 graduated with an average debt of just over $153,000.

Tuition and fees vary slightly depending on what year of medical school a student is in and where they live. California residents must show proof that they have lived in the state for at least a year in order to qualify for in-state tuition. 

For the 2021-22 academic year, first-year in-state students can expect to pay over $39,600 total in tuition and fees, while second- and third-year students will pay about $43,600 per year. That amount drops to about $39,500 for fourth-year students. 

Non-California residents, meanwhile, pay an additional $12,245 in tuition each year.

Additionally, these totals do not include room and board as well as textbooks, transportation, and other expenses, which the university estimates will add several thousand dollars to the total cost of attending medical school. 

Rent for San Diego County averaged between $684 and $1,593 per month for 2020-21.

The financial aid a student receives depends on his or her need, and grants, loans, and scholarships are available. The university also encourages students to apply for scholarships from outside organizations as well.

UCSD Medical School Requirements

UCSD School of Medicine Student Housing
TritonsRising, UCSD Medical Student Housing, CC BY-SA 4.0

Prospective students do not need to have completed specific courses as undergrads in order to apply for UCSD’s Medical School, but it does note that certain classes will prepare them for a career in medicine, such as biology, physics, and organic chemistry/

Candidates must submit an application through the American Medical College Application Service. 

More recently, the school has not required applicants to take the MCAT because of the coronavirus pandemic and will not consider scores when deciding which candidates to interview. 

In its final decisions, however, it will give preference to those who have submitted MCAT scores.

Applicants also need to include three letters of recommendation from people who can speak of their potential for working in medicine or one “committee letter” from the pre-med advising office at the applicant’s undergraduate school. 

UCSD takes up to five letters of recommendation for M.D. candidates and up to seven for the combined M.D./Ph.D. program.

UCSD will then invite select candidates to submit secondary applications, which includes more detail about their backgrounds, such as extracurricular activities, community service, and medical experience. 

After the school reviews this information, it will invite some applicants to participate in final interviews. This will help determine whether candidates are offered admission.

UCSD Medical School Notable Alumni

Alumni of UCSD’s medical school have gone on to succeed in the medical field and other endeavors. 

Dr. Brian Druker, who earned his M.D. there in 1981, made a name for himself for research that resulted in the discovery of a drug, known as Gleevec, that treats chronic myeloid leukemia. The revolutionary medication made it so that the cancer was no longer fatal but rather manageable.

Best-selling author Dr. Khaled Hosseini graduated from the medical school in 1993 and was working as an internist when he began writing his debut novel, “The Kite Runner.” 

He has since published other notable books, was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations’ Refugee Agency and established The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help residents of his native Afghanistan. 

Also in the public eye is Dr. Judy Ho, who graduated with an M.S. and Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology. A tenured associate professor at Pepperdine University, she has co-hosted the television shows “The Doctors” and “Face the Truth” and appeared on numerous other TV programs.

No matter where they end up after graduating, though, all alumni automatically become members of the UCSD SOM Alumni Association, which provides information to help graduates grow in their careers and personal lives as well as events and other ways to stay close with former classmates.

UCSD Medical School Ranking

UCSD is one of the best medical schools in the nation and the world, according to several ranking organizations.

On U.S. News & World Report’s list of top medical schools for 2022, UCSD tied for 19th with the Ivy League’s Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences for best schools for research. 

UCSD also tied for 28th with East Carolina University, Ohio State University, and the University of New Mexico for the best schools for primary care. The Princeton Review also named UCSD to its list of best medical schools, which didn’t provide an exact ranking.

International collegiate rankings organization Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), meanwhile, named UCSD the 26th-best medical school in the world for 2021. 

Just a dozen other American medical schools ranked higher, including two fellow California state schools, UCLA and UC San Francisco.

The success of UCSD’s graduates also earned recognition for the medical school. It came in No. 152 for the Most Graduates Practicing in Medically Underserved Areas and tied for 115th for the Most Graduates Practicing in Primary Care Fields. 

UCSD got high marks in non-academic categories as well, tying with major schools including the University of Michigan and Boston University for 68th on U.S. News’ list of Most Diverse Medical Schools.

Should You Attend UCSD Medical School?

UCSD’s School of Medicine provides an education that has earned it a place among some of the best in the world. It offers students numerous ways to pursue exactly the career they want through not only the M.D. but also joint degree programs.

During their time at UCSD, medical students have access to “cutting-edge resources” as they learn how to provide the best care to patients and become researchers capable of ground-breaking discoveries. 

They can gain additional experience and help the community simultaneously through the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project, in which they provide top-notch care to underserved populations. UCSD is home to other research centers as well, where students work alongside faculty members and staff.

Outside the classroom and hospitals, students can engage with one another and develop leadership skills through student government and other medical-related interest groups, such as sports medicine, pediatrics, and the American Medical Student Association to Dermatology chapter. 

The school also knows the value of having time to unwind and is home to various other activities, from a capella singing to recreational basketball.

Overall, students leave UCSD with a well-rounded education and the prestige that accompanies a degree from one of the best medical schools in the world. While admission is tough and the price is high, students with strong academic backgrounds likely will want to give it a shot since it seems to pay off in the end.