The School of Medicine

The faculty of the School of Medicine is committed to nurturing and reinforcing the attributes that are important in the making of a doctor: dedication, compassion, and intellectual curiosity.

The goal of the medical school curriculum, clinical experiences, and faculty-student interactions is to develop well-trained, scientifically informed, and conscientious physicians prepared for the changing conditions of medical practice and continuing self-education. Students acquire understanding of the basic medical sciences and clinical disciplines and are encouraged to choose their own areas of interest for eventual development into careers in the broadly diversified medical community. Required course offerings are designed to provide students with a strong foundation upon which any medical specialty can be built.

The School of Medicine accepted its charter class in 1968. The founding faculty drew upon the strength of UC San Diego’s existing basic science departments rather than re-creating such departments for the new school. Today this unique relationship continues with faculty from campus departments joining faculty from the School of Medicine’s eighteen departments in teaching the core courses in medicine. Both preclinical and clinical courses are taught in part by UC San Diego faculty physicians who also have active patient caseloads. Courses are evaluated on a regular basis and updated by interdisciplinary course committees. Students at the UC San Diego School of Medicine are encouraged to explore a variety of clinical, laboratory, and community-based experiences.

In 2010, the school launched its new integrated scientific curriculum. Beginning in the first quarter, this progressive curriculum integrates clinical medicine and medical science through all four years of school. More information on the curriculum is available at The medical school curriculum provides flexibility so that the individual needs and goals of each student can be met.

The core curriculum of the first two years is designed to provide each entering student with an essential understanding of the fundamental disciplines underlying modern medicine. The core curriculum of the last two years is composed of the major clinical specialties taught in hospital settings, outpatient situations, and relevant extended-care facilities. Elective opportunities abound throughout the curriculum.

UC San Diego Medical Center facilities are the main sites for clinical education and are licensed for 565 beds. The majority of UC San Diego inpatients are admitted at UC San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest, where a number of regional care centers are located, including San Diego and Imperial counties’ only Level I trauma center and burn center. The UC San Diego Ambulatory Care Center is located across the street from the hospital tower.

In July 1993, a 120-bed general medical-surgical hospital, the John M. and Sally B. Thornton Hospital, opened at UC San Diego Medical Center, La Jolla. Adjacent to Thornton Hospital is Perlman Ambulatory Care Center, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, and Shiley Eye Institute. In 2011, the state-of-the-art Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center opened. Groundbreaking for the UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center occurred in 2012, and completion is expected in 2016.

The VA San Diego Medical Center, located adjacent to the School of Medicine campus in La Jolla, is also an important training site with 232 beds. The UC San Diego School of Medicine’s partnership with Rady Children’s Hospital enables students to participate in the care of some of the region’s most interesting and complex pediatric patients.

Outpatient experiences include private medical practice, community clinics, and home visitation programs. Students see patients in many of San Diego’s hospitals and outpatient facilities, as well as in some of the disadvantaged neighborhoods of San Diego and Baja California, Mexico.

In all of their clinical experiences, UC San Diego medical students have an opportunity to participate in multidisciplinary teams with physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, laboratory technicians, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals to provide health care.

There are many opportunities for students to participate in leading-edge research in the laboratories of UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers, as well as in the laboratories of scientists from the general UC San Diego campus, the VA San Diego Medical Center, the Salk Institute, The Scripps Research Institute, and some of the many private biomedical research companies in the region.

The Medical Scientist Training Program provides the opportunity for a limited number of students to earn both the MD and PhD over an eight- to nine-year period of study. The five-year Program in Medical Education—Health Equity (PRIME-HEq) is designed to build on students’ interests and backgrounds in community service. PRIME-HEq faculty work with students to identify populations or communities at risk for health disparities. Students will then receive exposure, training, and the opportunity to work with these populations to further their passion in the area and provide knowledge and skills to better equip the students to improve health equity for the group. 

The School of Medicine cooperates with the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health (SDSU-GSPH) in assisting interested students who wish to pursue a master’s degree in public health (MPH) while enrolled in medical school. Students can also receive an MPH at other schools of public health, although a formal agreement exists only with SDSU-GSPH.

The UC San Diego School of Medicine offers three Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) degrees in collaboration with UC San Diego Extension and School of Medicine departments. These are the Leadership of Health-Care Organizations, Clinical Research, and Health Law programs. The degree program permits a student to complete the doctor of medicine (MD) curriculum and studies leading to a master’s degree in a total of five years.  

Each student is expected to develop an individualized independent study project in conjunction with a faculty member and to describe it in writing.

Selection Factors

Selection is based upon the nature and depth of scholarly and extracurricular activities undertaken, academic record, performance on the MCAT, letters of recommendation, and personal interviews. The School of Medicine is seeking a student body with a broad diversity of backgrounds and interests that reflect our diverse population.

For additional information about the UC San Diego School of Medicine and its programs, contact:

The Office of Admissions
School of Medicine
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr. # 0606
La Jolla, California 92093-0606
(858) 534-3880

Programs for Prospective Medical Students

UC San Diego offers no special premedical major. An undergraduate student considering medicine as a career may choose any major or concentration area leading to the bachelor’s degree, provided that he or she elects those additional courses which the medical school of his or her choice may require for admission. Admission requirements differ among medical schools, but most desire a solid foundation in the natural sciences—biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics—and a broad background in the humanities, social sciences, and communication skills. A premedical/dental advisory program is available through the campuswide Career Services Center. Special Studies courses (199) are also available through the Academic Enrichment Program—Faculty Mentor Program, for a customized, premedical elective experience supported by various departments and by the School of Medicine faculty.