Choosing a great college for undergrad studies can make a big difference when it comes to being a pre-med. But because there’s so much choice, and a lot of factors hanging in the balance, it’s difficult to know what schools are best.
UCLA has an excellent college reputation, but does it stack up for pre-med? Here’s what we know about its pre-med offering (and if it’s right for you)…
Quick Answer: Is UCLA Good For Pre-Med In 2022?
UCLA is a very prestigious and academically rigorous school. It delivers excellent infrastructure and tons of extracurriculars to its pre-meds, making it a solid choice for students preparing to get into medicine. On the flip side, the university doesn’t have a specific pre-med advising service (only a broader Pre-Health). It’s also very competitive to get involved in good-quality extracurriculars, and it’s challenging to get the top grades.
Before you read on, make sure you read our premed guides for info on other schools, study tips, prep, and more!
Does UCLA Offer Pre-Med?
UCLA, according to the AAMC, produces over 1,000 med school applicants every year, the most of any school in the US.
Despite the fact it has a massive number of pre-meds, UCLA doesn’t provide premed-specific advising. Instead, you can book one-on-one advising appointments through UCLA’s Career Center via the broader-career-focused UCLA Pre-Health.
On their website, there are tons of workshops and events posted, and you can find a complete list of available resources.
Like most schools, the pre-med curriculum at UCLA doesn’t lead to a formal degree: there is no pre-med major. It is an adaptable course of study that satisfy requirements and prepare you to pursue graduate studies in the medical field.
UCLA Pre-Med Requirements
UCLA recommends a study path for pre-meds, with specific classes that meet each prerequisite. According to the school, the following track should be OK to satisfy the requirements of just about any school:
1) Biology: One year with lab (Medical school requirement):
• Life Sciences 7A, 7B, and 7C + 23L (UCLA Required courses)
Life Sciences 107 (UCLA Optional courses)
2) General chemistry: One year with lab (Medical school requirement):
• Chemistry 14A, 14B, and 14BL or Chemistry 20A, 20B, and 20L (UCLA Required courses)
• Chemistry 30AL (UCLA Optional courses)
3) Organic chemistry: One year with lab (Medical school requirement):
• Chemistry 14C, 14CL, and 14D or Chemistry 30A, 30BL, and 30B (UCLA Required courses)
• Chemistry 30C (UCLA Optional courses)
Related: Interested in other Premed schools in California? Check out our guide; 4 Best Pre-Med Schools In California (Key Info & Data)
4) Biochemistry: One course (Medical school requirement):
• Chemistry 153A (UCLA Required courses)
• Chemistry 153L (UCLA Optional courses)
5) Math: One year (Medical school requirement):
• Math 3A, 3B, and 3C; or Math 31A, 31B, and 32A; or Life Sciences 30A, 30B, and 40 or Statistics 13 (UCLA Required courses)
• Statistics 10 and 12; Biostatistics 100A and 110A; Program in Computing 10A; Biomathematics 110, 160, and 170A (UCLA Optional courses)
6) Physics: One year with lab (Medical school requirement):
• Physics 5A, 5B, and 5C; or Physics 6A, 6B, and 6C; or Physics 1A, 1B, and 1C; Plus: Physics 4AL and 4BL (UCLA Required courses)
• Life Sciences 107 (UCLA Optional courses)
7) College-level English/writing: One year (Medical school requirement):
• 3 English, Comparative Literature, or “W” courses (UCLA Required courses)
8) Courses helpful for MCAT prep:
• Psychology 10; Sociology 1 (UCLA Optional courses)
You can check out our guides on the aforementioned subjects and MCAT study too!
What’s Good About UCLA Pre-Med
UCLA is ranked as one of the top public universities in the US. It has all the expected academic credentials of a large public university yet with class sizes of a small college – more than half of UCLA’s classes have no more than 20 students!
The university has more than 1,000 student organizations and a world-class research hospital. Its beautiful coastal location (although it doesn’t make this list: Med Schools By The Beach (15 Amazing Options)) is a huge plus and makes it a strong choice for a pre-med undergraduate experience. Here are what, we feel, are the 2 things that make it a good pre-med choice:
- Tons of extracurricular activities; organizations, activities, and labs
- Pre-Health offers good guidance
But let’s get into the specific stuff UCLA presents for pre-meds and can help you get into a med school.
When it comes to shadowing options, UCLA’s on-campus Ronald Reagan Hospital doesn’t let undergrads shadow doctors at their facilities, except as part of specific approved programs. But it isn’t really a problem since there is plenty of other hospitals, clinics, or physicians in private practice to gain shadowing hours nearby.
- Cedars-Sinai Hospital
- Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
- Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center
- Olive View–UCLA Medical Center
- Providence Saint John’s Health Center
Among the many UCLA students organizations, you can find numerous clinical opportunities too, such as:
- Care Extenders Program
- Emergency Medicine Research Associates (EMRA)
- Student Stroke Force/Team
- SCOPE at UCLA
- ARC Medical Program
- Bruin Beans
- CTSI RAP
- PULSE UCLA
- APA Health CARE
- Sports Medicine Internship
- Fellowship for International Service and Health (FISH)
- Medical Experience through Service in Healthcare (MESH)
- Global Medical Brigades
UCLA has plenty of research opportunities for pre-meds. We believe the place to start when it comes to research is the website of the Undergraduate Research Center, where you can find good guides and info.
Besides this resource, one of the best places to get involved with research is with UCLA students’ clubs and associations. We’ve highlight two of them here for you:
Another way is to become a research assistant in a UCLA faculty member’s lab. However, getting into these positions can be competitive and demand extra effort.
UCLA offers many volunteering activities unrelated to medicine, where a pre-med can get good civil engagement exposure and develop leadership skills.
Some of the most popular ones include:
- Mobile Clinic Project
- Bruin Shelter
- Hunger Project
- Pediatric AIDS Coalition
- Circle K
- USAC Community Service Commission (CSC)
- UNICEF at UCLA
- Best Buddies
The video below provides some nice info on what life is like at UCLA for a premed…
What’s Bad About UCLA Pre-Med
Although UCLA is a prestigious college, research has shown to bring up the following criticisms of its pre-med program:
- UCLA doesn’t have a specific pre-med/pre-health advising office, complicating pre-meds life.
- It’s hard to get good grades in the required pre-med science courses.
- Many pre-meds simply don’t make it through to the end.
- STEM classes are often graded on a curve, making it challenging to earn As (classes of other disciplines are evaluated using a straight scale, in contrast).
- Getting involved with extracurriculars can be very competitive. There is a high number of pre-meds competing for quality extracurricular experiences.
- UCLA doesn’t provide a committee letter. You’ll have to ask teachers and mentors for recommendations individually.
- Off-campus housing is costly.
Are You At An Advantage Getting Into David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM)?
In 2020, 903 UCLA pre-meds applied to DGSOM, and 33 were accepted—just 3.7 percent. The acceptance rate at Geffen is lower, at 2.8 percent.
This difference, though, is not huge. You aren’t more likely to get into Geffen as a UCLA pre-med than an applicant from another college.
UCLA’s Pre-Med Acceptance Rate
In 2020, 1,149 UCLA pre-meds applied to medical school, and 53 percent were accepted. That’s 10% higher than the national average.
The successful applicants from UCLA had an average MCAT score of 513.6 and an average GPA of 3.7.
What UCLA Majors Are Best For Pre-Meds?
At UCLA, psychobiology is the most popular pre-med major. And we believe there are two reasons for that:
- Its pre-major course requirements closely align with the pre-med classes you’ll need to take
- Many people think it’s the science major in which it’s “easiest” to maintain a good GPA (more on that discussion here; What’s The Easiest Pre Med Major?)
Of course, that isn’t the only major UCLA students choose. Other common majors for UCLA pre-meds include the following, some of which are notoriously tough:
- Ecology, behavior, and evolution
- Human biology and society
- Microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics
- Physiological science
However, UCLA pre-meds also major in anthropology, sociology, English, history, and other non-science disciplines too.
Is UCLA Good For Biology?
College Factual’s rank puts UCLA Biology at #41. It is in the top 5% of the country in this field of study, and it is also ranked #8 in California.
Is UCLA Good For Pre-Med? The Internet’s Opinion…
The Internet is the best place to get unbiased information about schools. And here is some of what we think is the most relevant info we could find:
Honestly, I would encourage you to look elsewhere.
After completing an undergraduate program and subsequent graduation, the average medical school acceptance rate is 42%. For UCLA and UC Berkeley, it’s 51%. This is really not stellar considering that schools like Vassar and Xavier are 92%, Emory is 91%, Brown is 85%, and, well, you get the idea. Many schools will help you far more in being accepted to medical school. I know these figures since my son was accepted to these, as well as other schools.– Michael McAllister, Quora
UCLA does have intense competition as one of the premier public universities in the US. Expect it to be tough in virtually every science or engineering program.
On average, exams are difficult and a handful for the majority of students. They are hard, but in all likelihood not Cal Tech or MIT hard I would assume.
So yes, it is rigorous. With work ethic, mental strength, pure talent, or a combination of them, it can be done.– Parich Tangmatitam, Quora
Conclusion: Is UCLA Good For Pre-Med?
Getting through pre-med at UCLA is challenging due to its rigorous courses and competitive extracurricular scene. But opportunities abound and are wide-ranging, From academics to research to clinical experience, as a pre-med, you’ll be able to put together a competitive application here. But prepare to work hard, getting a good GPA is tough here.
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.