UCSF Medical School – Acceptance Rate, Ranking, and More

The University of California San Francisco Medical School has educated generations of aspiring doctors since its founding in 1864 when it was known as Toland Medical College. 

Now located in the Parnassus Heights area, the campus is home to several hospitals that now make up the greater UCSF Medical Center.

UCSF offers a traditional doctor of medicine program as well as opportunities for pursuing joint degrees, such as the M.D./Master’ in Advanced Studies, the M.D./Master of Public Health, and the M.D./Ph.D. in History of Health Sciences.

People interested in attending medical school who think they need to prepare more before applying or those who applied to the program but were rejected have another option: the Post Baccalaureate Program

Geared toward people from underserved areas or have faced disadvantages, the program lasts 11 months and accepts just 16 students for the 2021-22 academic year.

UCSF has earned its high national rankings and reputation for excellence in part because of the people it employs. 

Medical students learn from faculty members who include members of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and five Nobel Prize winners.

UCSF Medical School Acceptance Rate

Eccekevin, UCSF, CC BY-SA 4.0

For admissions in fall 2019, the medical school received 7,846 applications, and only 468, or 6% of applications, advanced to the interview stage. 

Of that group, 155 enrolled in the school. That means just 2% of applicants ended up attending UCSF’s medical school.

Many other schools have lower acceptance rates, such as Virginia Tech, whose 0.96% is the lowest in the country. 

The medical schools at New York, Stanford, and George Washington universities all had lower percentages than UCSF, with each admitting a little over 1% of applicants.

UCSF, though, has a similar rate to other top schools. Harvard Medical School, for instance, accepted 2.16% of applicants in a recent admissions cycle, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore admitted 1.99%.

Most of UCSF’s admitted students for fall 2019 were on the younger side, having an average age of 24 when they started their studies. The majority, 77%, came from California, and just over half were women. 

Those numbers aren’t far off from the totals for the entire medical school, which consisted of 84% California residents and nearly 54% women as of fall 2021.

UCSF Medical School Tuition

It comes as no surprise that most of UCSF’s medical students come from California, since in-state residents receive a significant discount on tuition. 

For the 2020-21 academic year, California residents paid about $42,800 per year, while that amount jumped to about $55,000 for non-residents. 

This total includes not only tuition but also student services fees, health insurance, and other related costs.

Those prices are somewhat comparable to the national averages for attending medical school. 

In the United States, medical school costs about $54,700 annually, with in-state residents paying an average of $51,464 per year and out-of-state resident paying $57,933 annually. 

Since most medical students finish school in four years, that brings the average cost of the degree to $218,792.

Students enrolling in the school’s post-baccalaureate program do not receive a California resident discount. That program costs about $21,000 annually as of 2020-21.

Like other schools, UCSF has several financial aid options available, including scholarships. 

The university also offers need-based grants, although it notes that some graduate students receive fellowships or stipends instead. Students who live off-campus also may receive a grant called the Cost of Living Supplement to help cover their housing needs. 

UCSF has an online guide to outside scholarships available to further help students pay for their education.

UCSF Medical School Requirements

UCSF Mission Bay Campus
Masur, UCSF Medical Center, CC BY-SA 4.0

Applicants do not need to have majored in pre-med or similar subjects as an undergraduate, but they will need to have finished certain courses if they want to get into UCSF Medical School. 

These include a year of biology with laboratory experience and one semester of organic chemistry.

Students who entered UCSF during a recent admission cycle had an average GPA of 3.85, but the school considers applicants’ backgrounds and how difficult their undergraduate courses were. 

The school usually requires students to submit MCAT scores, although it recently waived this requirement because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, in a recent admission cycle, UCSF’s admitted students had an average MCAT score of 518 out of 528.

When it comes time to apply, candidates will use the application on the American Medical College Application Service’s website. 

The medical school then reviews all applications and invites a select number to fill out a secondary application. From there, UCSF reviews both applications along with three to five letters of recommendation to determine which applicants to interview. Two of the letters should come from past instructors. Candidates who reach this stage generally go through two roughly 40-minute interviews with at least one faculty member and possibly a current medical student.

UCSF Medical School Notable Alumni

UCSF has more than 11,600 alumni, which includes some fairly big names in the medical community and elsewhere. 

One of the more recent notable alumni is Priscilla Chan, wife of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. 

The couple has since given its name to the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center Campus as well as the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a nonprofit research center where people from UCSF and other Silicon Valley-area schools can work together.

The school’s alumni group also includes Andrew Baldwin, a former contestant on “The Bachelor” who also is a family physician and a U.S. Navy commander serving as director of medical readiness for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

UCSF Medical School graduates who have earned doctorates in medicine can join the school’s Medical Alumni Association, which also is open to doctors who have finished fellowship training programs or their residencies at the school. 

This organization honors an outstanding graduate annually with its Alumni of the Year Award, given to physicians who have excelled in clinical practice, teaching, and/or research, impacting the medical field and their communities. 

Recent recipients include two resident alumni, Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai of the class of 1981 and Dr. David E. Smith, who graduated in 1964.

UCSF Medical School Ranking

Both the Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report named UCSF to their lists of best medical schools in the country, with it tying for fourth for Best Medical Schools: Research and coming in at No. 2 in Best Medical Schools: Primary Care, bested in that category only by the University of Washington

More specifically, though, UCSF ranked first in the United States for Internal Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology and came in third for both Anesthesiology and Radiology. UCSF also ranked No. 1 in U.S. Public Medical Schools receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Internationally, UCSF also has been recognized as one of the top medical schools. Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranked it 12th worldwide for 2021. Only five American schools out-ranked UCSF in that list, including Harvard University, which came in first overall, and fellow California school UCLA, which landed at seventh.

Outside the medical school, UCSF as a whole has earned high marks. It earned an overall grade of A- from Niche, which also gave the university an A+ for diversity and an A- for both academics and value. The setting, too, can’t be beat. UCSF came in fifth nationwide for Best College Locations in America.

Should You Attend UCSF Medical School?

UCSF provides its students with a world-class education in one of the world’s major cities. Under the guidance of award-winning faculty members, students receive an education in modern medicine through the three-phase, four-year Bridges Curriculum

This provides them with a strong academic basis in the sciences and clinical experience that exposes them to a wide range of patients. 

Beyond that, students receive personalized advising and a chance to conduct scholarly projects.

Students have a chance to participate in numerous clubs and other organizations, including student government, the Associated Students of the School of Medicine and the Graduate and Professional Student Association. 

They also can grow and apply their skills in different student groups, such as the American Medical Women’s Association, and help the community, like with the UCSF Homeless Clinic.

The program prepares students to pursue numerous fields of medicine. In 2021, residency matches consisted of mostly internal medicine, at 23%, followed by family medicine, psychiatry, and emergency medicine.

Others residency outcomes included emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and pediatrics. 

Most M.D. students, 64%, finished their degree in four years, while 33% graduated in five. The program also has an impressive retention rate of 98%.

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