So you have completed your pre-med requirements and are looking into one of the top medical schools in the United States. You aren’t sure how to get into UCLA Medical School, and the more you research, the more daunting it seems.
As one of the top medical schools in the United States, UCLA Medical School—also known as David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) at UCLA—is also one of the most competitive. The medical school proudly declares its ninth-place ranking in the country in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and third in the United States in research dollars from all sources. DGSOM today has over 2,000 full-time faculty members, 1,300 residents, and more than 750 medical students. Being a part of this community is no easy feat. As of 2019, DGSOM has a three percent acceptance rate. The school has also raised their GPA standards and MCAT cutoff scores, making it more challenging to be accepted.
Well, there is no need to fear! Getting into UCLA Medical School is a real possibility, and it is not as complicated as it seems. This is your one-stop survival guide. If you are interested in becoming one of the lucky few to enter DGSOM but aren’t sure where to start, look no further. We will provide you everything you will need to know when applying to UCLA Medical School.
Before you begin to apply, you have to know if UCLA Medical School offers a program in which you would be interested. Yes, you have options here! David Geffen School of Medicine provides various programs that specialize in specific areas in the medical field. All programs will coordinate with each other, but all candidates will need to apply through the David Geffen School of Medicine to be considered for any of them. Let’s go over each program and discuss a few important factors, so you are aware of your options.
The standalone MD program provides students with the skills to have prominent careers in clinical practice, teaching, research, and public service. This program is currently being redesigned by the medical school and is set to release in Fall 2021.
If you are looking for more than just a general MD program, consider the MSTP. The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) specializes in the education and training of individuals seeking a biomedical sciences career. It takes an average of eight years to complete both an MD and Ph.D. in this study. The program’s traditional course of study begins with two years of medical school, four years of Ph.D. graduate training, and finishes with your final years of medical school.
Not interested in the MSTP program? UCLA Prime centers more around the public profile of medicine. The UCLA Prime program in Medical Education is a five-year dual degree program. This allows you to walk out with an MD and a Master’s degree in an area that complements the program's mission. Because this program focuses on developing leaders in addressing medical policy, care, and research, recommended Master’s degree paths include—but are not limited to—Business Administration or Public Policy. This program has a small cohort of roughly twenty students.
What about training to help the underserved? The UCLA/Charles R. Drew Medical Education Program is similar to the UCLA Prime program; however, the main difference is that Charles R. Drew program centers more on education in community engagement and training physician leaders who promote wellness to the health of diverse and underserved communities. Former medical student Veronica Gonzalez found that the Charles R. Drew Medical Education Program matched her desire to help the underserved:
“...I realized that Charles R. Drew has a commitment to helping underserved communities, unmatched by other programs I’ve researched. During my time here, I’ve found a supportive faculty that is truly invested in the success of their students. The small class setting allowed me to fully grasp difficult concepts and get real-time feedback from my professors...From its mission to supportive staff, I strongly believe that this program has prepared me to become the physician I want to be—one who is attuned to the needs of their community.”
Most students complete their MD within four years. How? Commitment. With every program, there is a heavy coursework load and clinical requirements. This leaves little ability to take time off. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the commitment UCLA Medical School takes.
So let’s say you are interested in applying for a program at David Geffen School of Medicine. How would you start? What would you need? Can I afford it? There are hundreds of questions running through your mind, but we have the answers you need.
You will apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) portal. Before filling out the $95 application, you will want to make sure you meet the requirements. Here are the minimum qualifications and materials you will need for your application—all of which will need to be submitted through the AMCAS portal for your application to be processed.
Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores
Letters of recommendation
Graduate record (where applicable)
UCLA Medical School stresses that failure to provide any of the above materials will result in a delay in your application review or rejection of the application overall. Thankfully, we have provided you with a list of materials you will need. Let’s take an in-depth look at each item, starting with your undergraduate record.
So does your undergraduate work meet UCLA Medical School’s standards? Successful applicants will have obtained a Bachelor’s degree from a U.S. or Canadian institution, which entails completing three years of undergraduate work, or have received a graduate degree from a U.S. or Canadian institution. AP credit is accepted as well. The average GPA score considered is 3.85. DGSOM does not evaluate specific prerequisite coursework. Applicants have a chance to demonstrate their competency in basic principles required at UCLA Medical School. The school of medicine does recommend applicants demonstrate key competencies in the following college-level coursework and abilities:
Biological Sciences and Physiology: Cellular and Molecular Biology and Genetics
Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physical Sciences: Inorganic and Organic chemistry, Biochemistry of intermediary metabolism, and associated laboratory activities.
Humanities: This might include literature or art, history, philosophy, religion, ethics, economics, social behavior, psychology
Mathematics and Statistics: This might consist of biomathematics, computer science, matrix algebra
Writing and communication skills
Health care delivery
While you will be proving your abilities through the exams and written essays they require during the application process, educational experience in these categories are excellent to display in your records. It demonstrates the key competencies the David Geffen School of Medicine is looking for in their candidates.
While your records provide the Admissions Committee some idea of your knowledge, the MCAT is the next best way to show UCLA Medical School that you know your stuff. Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores are mandatory in your application. This exam was developed and is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to help medical school admissions offices access your competency in understanding basic principles considered prerequisites to the study of medicine. The average acceptable score for the MCAT at DGSOM is 517. We recommend applicants take the exam in the Spring but no later than September of the year before admission. The DGSOM admissions committee will not review applications that do not contain MCAT scores.
The other key component of your application will be the letters of recommendation. You are required to submit three to five letters of recommendation, two of which must be from previous instructors. ULCA Medical School will only accept letters of recommendation through the online application. It would be advisable to give the writers a short synopsis highlighting key moments when working or learning with them. This will remind the writer of key characteristics about you that they will translate in their letter.
After your MCAT scores and letters of recommendation, you will need your transcripts. Before submitting your application to UCLA Medical School, you will need to request a complete set of official transcripts to be forwarded directly through the AMCAS by the registrar of each school you have attended. The Admissions Committee will not accept unofficial transcripts.
While your letters of recommendation may show the Admissions Committee about your previous experiences, your personal statement will be the best place to talk about your experiences. Detailing any research, volunteer work, clinical work, or publications are essential to your application. It is your chance to discuss how your experiences have contributed to your desire to enter the medical field and what you can contribute to the program. You must display your writing and communication skills and your ability to research and convey your health care delivery methods. In short, sell yourself as best as possible.
Once you have completed all aspects of the primary application, it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee at DGSOM. Select candidates will submit a secondary application. This will consist of answering several short questions that vary in structure but have a similar theme: extracurricular activities that have prepared you for medical school. Because there are multiple questions, you will want to focus on one activity in detail for each one. Be as concise, clear, and detailed as possible. Use the following examples of the previous essay prompts to give yourself a better idea of what to expect.
Describe your involvement in one of the most important non-academic activities in your life.
What has been the one most important volunteer work you have done, and why was it meaningful?
Describe a problem in your life. Include how you dealt with it and how it influenced your growth.
Section to enter significant work experience, with 4,000 characters to explain each experience.
These questions engage with the students, understand their interests and experience, and any significant achievements and hardships that would prove beneficial to know. This is the time to give as much information as possible about yourself, specifically anything you feel the review committee should know.
The Admissions Committee will review your primary and secondary applications once they have been received. If you meet the standards they seek, you are invited to interview for a spot at UCLA Medical School. Application interviews are conducted holistically and will be assessed with your application. Prospective students must complete the Video Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA) administered by the AAMC.
Candidates selected to move forward will go in for a second interview, typically conducted from August through November until classes are filled. Applicant Vector offers mock interviews based on the program you have selected. This would be a great way to get an idea of what to expect and how you can convey yourself as best as possible. You will want to stress your abilities, why you selected the David Geffen School of Medicine, and how you will thrive at UCLA. The Admissions Committee will determine final admission offers after a comprehensive review of the potential candidate’s application.
While David Geffen School of Medicine receives many applications, the limited spots make it one of the most competitive schools you can enter. Putting it into the perspective of new entrants per program:
The MD program allows approximately 118 new entrants.
MSTP accepts roughly 15 new entrants.
Charles R. Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program accepts about 24 new entrants.
UCLA Prime allows approximately 18 new entrants.
Acceptance rates are incredibly low, with less than three percent of all applicants receiving an offer. This appears challenging, considering the school receives over 12,000 applications every year. The positive aspect of such low acceptance rates is a higher faculty-student ratio of 3.9:1--as opposed to the 2.2:1 faculty-student ratio at Stanford Medical School.
Now, you have decided UCLA Medical School is the place for you. You’ve decided on a program and have your application ready, but you know medical school is not cheap. So, how big of a dent is UCLA Medical School going to leave in your wallet? In terms of tuition, costs vary on living and other expenses. These fees are subject to change. Below you can see the average cost of tuition each year at DGSOM.
These costs can seem daunting, but it should not discourage you. The David Geffen School of Medicine offers multiple scholarships to cover a large sum (or all) tuition fees. The three main scholarships offered are:
David Geffen Medical Scholarship. This scholarship provides financial support for the four-year cost of attending medical school. The scholarship includes in-state tuition and fees plus an annual living stipend. Out-of-state tuition is covered only through the first year.
LA Care Scholarship. This scholarship pays in-state tuition and fees plus an annual living stipend. Out-of-state tuition is covered only through the first year.
Leaders of Tomorrow Scholars Program. This scholarship pays full tuition and fees, as well as a one-time, $5,000 research stipend.
There are also need-based scholarships available. The DGSOM Financial Aid Office emails information regarding financial aid to all entering medical students who get into UCLA Medical School. Applicants can apply for need-based scholarships, in addition to student loans.
The cost of living matches the standard of living in Los Angeles. A room in housing would cost a minimum of $1,000 a month. You can save some money by looking for residency outside of the campus. Usually, the housing costs around universities are slightly lower to bring in the student demographic.
The David Geffen School of Medicine utilizes a rolling admissions schedule. While application deadlines are mid-October, you should submit no later than October 1st. Due to the substantial number of applicants, it is crucial to have all materials completed on time, or UCLA Medical School will not consider the application. You can see the timeline for application submission to admission offers below:
While the process is quite competitive and time-sensitive, it is possible to get admitted into the David Geffen School of Medicine. The most important thing to remember is making sure you submit all materials at the appropriate deadlines. Failure to complete any aspect of your application during the application period will result in a delay in the review process or a complete rejection of your application. There are excellent resources available to assist you when applying. We, at Applicant Vector, have years of experience supporting candidates get accepted at UCLA. With this guide and your resources, becoming a student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA is within your reach.