Best University of California for Pre Med?

We are just hearing back from UCs. So far 2/2 (Merced and Riverside). Hope to hear back from the rest by Month end.

Is there any insight into which UC a hard working but balanced student would best prepare them for Med School.

By prepare I mean all aspects: maintain high GPA, internship and research opportunities, LOR from Professors the usual stuff.

A secondary question is. Kid is interested in Medicine not biology but enrolled in Bio focused programs for all UCs. Do any bio programs at UC require less credits to enable them to take other classes?


@WayOutWestMom your thoughts?

This doesn’t answer - but if you find the California schools, you’ll see (and it’s volume based so the bigger schools will have more volume) - where applicants are coming from.

If you’re just looking at UCs, why not contact each school’s pre med advisor - and see if you can get a feel. You might even ask admissions to set up a talk with a pre-med student ambassador.

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And if I recall correctly, some of the UCs have various agreements in place with UCSF which could give a student access to more in depth medical education/experience - I don’t know much about it, but something to look into (I think UCB used to even have a dual degree program with UCSF?).

I would suggest UCR since they offer the Thomas Haider program. The Thomas Haider Program at the UCR School of Medicine | School of Medicine Student Affairs
A co-workers daughter successfully entered the program as a UCR graduate (seats set aside for UCR students) and is doing well in the program.

CA is one of the worst states for a pre-med to be a resident of. Large population; not enough med school seats. Nationally, less than 40% of med school applicants are accepted into any medical school in any given year.

Make sure she has a backup plan as a Biology major. I agree with @tsbna44 to contact Pre-Med advising at each campus. @WayOutWestMom is the expert.

Regarding Biology programs, it is best to look up their 4 year curriculum plan to determine the number of electives.

Biological Sciences Major - University of California Merced - Acalog ACMS™.


Here is a link to UC Merced’s Pre-Med advising. Medicine | Pre-Health Advising

UC Merced has a joint program with UCSF Fresno and UCSF but the student needs to be a San Joaquin valley student.

UCR’s Prehealth advising: Health Professions Advising Center ( HPAC) | Division of Undergraduate Education

Also a frequent poster @aunt_bea daughter attended UC Davis and the Medical school at UCSF. She could probably give you some insight.

I believe you might be thinking of the UCM SJV Prime + program. Students interested in that needed to submit a separate application. It targets students in Central Cal.

Another program that is targeting pre-med students in Central Cal is UC Davis Avenue M.

Berkeley still has a MS/MD dual degree program with UCSF. Is that what you were thinking about?

That could be it - I don’t know much about any of these things, but was sure I had heard something - however, doesn’t sound like that avenue would be viable to the OP. Sorry :frowning:

Don’t apologize. There is a shortage of primary care doctors in parts of CA and these programs are trying to address those needs.


Both Riverside and Merced have early admission to med school options, but eligibility for both programs depends on the where the student’s home address is. Info on both are inked above. (Thomas Haider at Riverside; Prime at Merced) OP should check the residency requirements for each.

Avenue M is targeted toward groups who are underrepresented in health care (UIM/URM). (Targeted groups include :Black, American Indian & Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Hispanic or Latino, Filipino, Hmong, Cambodian, Lao, Mien, and Vietnamese.) If the OP belongs to one of those groups, then Avenue M might be an option. Avenue M is not an early admission program, but more of supported pathway.


Thanks but I don’t qualify for any of those programs.

In that case–between the two, I’d pick Riverside because it has access to a med school campus close by for volunteering and research opportunities.

I believe that UC-Riverside students are still eligible for the Thomas Haider Early Assurance program even if they live outside of San Bernadino/Riverside counties so long as they have expressed a commitment to serve as physician in the Inland Empire after graduation.

Yes, our daughter attended Davis, which has a really excellent Pre-health Advising staff. They have great referrals to local/regional clinics which serve low SES medically-indigent populations.
To get those “benefits” the student has to be proactive and participative in the prehealth advising group.

The pre-health advisors had tutoring sessions involving coursework, lab openings, interview practices and volunteer clinical positions. (Davis has well-paying lab positions which have medical protocols and universal precautions practices.) What our daughter really liked was the collaborative environment encouraged by the staff among the pre health students. Our daughter made lifelong friends through that group and has MD friends all over the country.

The students, who volunteered at my daughter’s diabetic clinic, experienced tough interviews when applying for volunteer positions and were required have second language proficiency, as well as, expected lab experience. She needed a car to get to the agricultural clinical sites and volunteered to have her car serve as a carpool, to bring other students who did not have cars, to the outlying rural farm areas. The MD’s, who volunteered at the clinic, liked that about her.

Davis gave her those experiences. But, the other UC’s probably have similar programs. I’ve been told that Riverside’s Program is similar to Davis’s success with Med School admissions. Lots of good SES experiences.

Along with top grades and top scores, she got into several schools. She picked UCSF’s program and worked at the Parnassus Hospital site and lived in SF.

Good luck!


So far kid accepted into:

a) UCM (Human Biology)
b) UCR (Biology)
c) Cal Poly SLO (Nutrition)

Waiting to hear back from UCSC (Bio)

All satisfy (for the most part) the pre-med requirements.

Any material feedback on which is the better fit for pre-med. Here “fit” means the ususal things:

a) Maintain 3.5 GPA
b) Volunteer opportunities
c) Research opportunities
d) Strong LOR from Professors

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If the student wants to practice medicine in inland southern California, Thomas Haider Early Assurance Program | School of Medicine Student Affairs at UCR may be of interest.

First of all, congratulations to your child. I think in order for the comparison to be fair, your student would need to be a biology or biochemistry major at Cal Poly SLO (vs. nutrition) to be on competitive relative to the biology majors at the UCs you listed.

From the advice on the other threads, you and your student should visit Cal Poly SLO and find out how difficult is to switch into biology or biochemistry if your student is truly interested in pre-med.

Your student will know which campus/program fits them best from the visits.

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Before enrolling at CP-SLO, ask how easy it is for students to fit the rest of their pre-med pre-reqs into their schedule.

The nutrition major only includes 2 quarters of gen chem (premeds need 3), 1 quarter of ochem (premeds need 3) and doesn’t require physics at all (premeds need 3 quarters)

That’s 6 additional quarters of sciences your child will need. And looking at the major, it’s pretty tightly packed and I’m not sure if there’s room in their schedule for 6 additional science classes.

Note also: D1 did her freshman year at SLO as a physics major and said that many of the chem classes were impacted and were very hard to schedule unless they were required for your major. It’s been about 15 years since her freshman year so I’m not sure if that situation still holds, but it’s still worth checking.


All of those things are on the kid and really not dependent on the college they attend.

All of the colleges under consideration are big state schools. All will have research opportunities on campus and volunteering sites nearby–but finding them… that’s the kid’s job once they get to campus. Maintaining a 3.5 GPA–again 100% on the kid.(However, I wouldn’t recommend attending any college where the kid scores in the lowest 25th percentile among accepted students, maybe not even in the bottom 50th percentile. The competition for As in science classes is fierce and the curves can be killers.)

Getting strong LORs from professors–that’s also all on the kid. They have to make the effort to get to know their professors by attending office hours, recitations, by asking questions in class, by working as a TA for some of their UL science profs, by volunteering in the professors research lab, by being involved in student activities/club that the prof is involved with, etc.

(BTW, LORs must come from professors who have: a] actually taught the kid in class; and b] are professors of core sciences classes in bio, chem, physics or math. Food science profs aren’t acceptable as recommenders for med school.)


Thanks. If you look at the 2nd page of this

One can do the Nutrition science emphasis and do any one of the many courses for 26 extra credits. I see:

CHEM 217 Organic Chemistry II
CHEM 218 Organic Chemistry III
PHYS 121 College Physics I
PHYS 122 College Physics II
PHYS 123 College Physics III

Yes, I see they are available as electives, but does your child’s schedule allow them to add 6 additional electives? On page 1, I see only space for 1 Free elective available besides the required GE electives and major requirements.

For students electing the Nutrition science concentration, it says

Most Nutrition majors should take CHEM 312 and CHEM 314. Students choosing the Nutrition Science concentration may need to take CHEM 216 and CHEM 369, depending on their career goals and Approved Electives. Students selecting CHEM 216 must also take CHEM 217 and CHEM 218. See advisor.

See advisor means there’s a scheduling issue that needs to be resolved.

Pre meds must take the same gen chem class that a chem major would take in order for med schools to accept the credits.That’s Chem 216-217-218. The biochem class for bio/chem majors is Chem 369 so they need to take that one too.

I still don’t see room for 2 additional quarters of ochem and 3 quarters of physics.

I suggest your have your child sit down with the course catalog/ college class scheduler and plan out a quarter-by-quarter spreadsheet listing all the required major classes, GE electives and their pre-med requirements to see if everything fits into 4 years.