Do Med Schools Give You A Laptop? (3 Minute Read)

Some med schools prefer to give students laptops or iPads over letting them bring their own. In some cases, this makes a lot of sense; school’s ensure each student has equal access to the same tools. But they’re rarely free.

In this article we’ll explore:

  • Med schools that give students laptops or iPads
  • Reasons why med schools give out their own tech
  • If med students need laptops or not

I promise it’ll be a quick read!

What Medical Schools Give Laptops/iPads?

It’s really school-dependent when it comes down to which school gives what. As a general rule, you’ll want to check with each school to see what their laptop policy is.

They’ll usually list their requirements, deals and discount information (if applicable) on a section of their main website.

Based on my research, here are the names of several schools who give out laptops or iPads to new med students:

  • Albany Medical College (AMC) – Thinkpad
  • Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM) – iPad
  • Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine (CCLCM) – Surface Pro
  • Creighton School of Medicine – MacBook Pro
  • Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB)
  • Ohio State University College of Medicine
  • Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) – Dell/iPad
  • University of California Berkeley Medical School (UCB)/University of California San Francisco Medical School (UCSF) – reimburse $2000 toward laptop purchase
  • University of California Irvine (UCI) – iPad
  • University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine (UVM)
  • West Virginia University School of Medicine (WVU) – MacBook Pro
  • Yale School of Medicine – iPad

Do Med Students Pay For Laptops?

It’s a huge misnomer to say that med schools “give” laptops out. For the most part, they’re deducted from the tuition fee total. Or factored into living expenses. 

They’re very rarely given out free to keep.

Related: How Do Medical Students Pay For Living Expenses? (Crucial Money Saving Tips)

Can Med Students Return Laptops for a Full/Partial Refund?

Obviously the policy is different for each school. If you’ve got your own laptop or tech – that fits the school’s requirements – you usually won’t be asked to buy a new model. So you might get a refund on the cost of tuition that covers it.

I’ve read reports that AZCOM expects their students to hand their laptops back at the end of four years of study. I’m pretty sure this is rare though. Most schools probably won’t accept returns.

Again, you’ll want to check with whatever school you’re interested in to find out for sure.

Can Med Students Bring Their Own Laptops to Med School?

Some med schools, like Zucker School of Medicine for example, ask you to ‘bring your own device’ when preparing for study. This policy is referred to as ‘BYOD’ for short.

Enrolling in a school that has a BYOD policy means students are free to bring or buy whatever laptop or tech they want. Provided it meets the specifications set out by the college.

These specifications ensure students are able to run all the software and applications needed to complete the med school study program.

Why Do Med Schools Give Students Laptops or iPads?

Here’s why some med schools give students laptops or iPads:

Business Deals: some schools have partnerships with tech companies with either party looking to benefit. Schools get cash from sponsorship and in return they push a certain manufacturer’s gear. Students indirectly benefit from getting products at cheaper rates.

Saves Money: digital tech, with the ability to read and manipulate documents on-screen, saves printing costs and time. An upfront investment in several hundred laptop units works out cheaper in the long run.

Performance: according to some studies, iPad-equipped medical school classes score 23 percent higher on exams than those without. For med schools looking to jump rankings and attract more funding, the initial outlay seems a non-brainer.

Security: med schools issuing their own tech out to students ensure their systems remain uncompromised by security flaws in student’s own laptops or tablets. When it comes to protecting sensitive information (patient records etc), this option makes a lot more sense.

Many of these ideas are what prompted Yale School of Medicine to start giving out iPads to their students. Even though the upfront cost was $600,000, the school considered it a good investment all things considered.

You can read more about that here.

Do Medical Students Need Laptops or Tablets?

Plenty of people have graduated med school and become doctors without ever needing a digital device. But it was probably a lot more difficult back then than it is now!

Modern day med school calls for modern day solutions. Using a laptop or tablet is at the center of that and they’re great teachers if you allow them to be. Here’s a few different reasons why med students might need them:

  1. They’re a Simple Requirement 

Some med schools specifically state that you need a laptop or tablet of certain specs to be granted permission to study. Take a look at University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine’s disclaimer for example, “all incoming UNC medical students must bring a laptop to the program”… 

Source: UNC

UNC is certainly not alone here. I’ve found many other American med schools asking exactly the same.

Notice how they say they’re essential for exams? That’s one argument for why you definitely need a laptop or tablet in med school.

  1. Software and Scheduling

Another key reason why med students need laptops or digital devices are to stay organized. 

Most classes and lectures are delivered online, with all the materials kept in centralized hubs on content management systems. Without a laptop or tablet these become impossible to access. 

Powerful software apps – like all the flashcard ones I recommend – are another essential tool. You’ll need them if you have any hope of studying effectively.

  1. Reviewing Course Materials and Practice Questions

Just as most of your class materials will end up online, you’ll need a laptop or tablet to read and make lecture notes or skim medical textbooks for crucial information. 

Getting used to doing as many practice questions as you can, from online question banks, is important to success too.

Related: Laptop or iPad for Medical School? (Don’t Make This Mistake)


Some med schools might give you a laptop but there’s almost always a cost involved. 

Still, compared to going out on your own, researching and eventually buying something, it can make sense to skip the whole buying process and just have your school recommend something to you.

You can save a lot of time and stress that way!

Image Credit – @nordwood at Unsplash