June 6, 2022

How to Answer “Why Our School?” - Cheat Sheet for All California Medical Schools

If you’re working ahead (which you should be), you’re probably already pre-writing secondary essays, including the challenging “Why our medical school?” question.

We’re here to help with that. Savvy Pre-Med will be publishing a multiple-part series to provide you with a “cheat sheet” for answering “Why our medical school?” in your secondaries and interviews.

Our goal is to provide a list of five noteworthy aspects of each medical school program (including links) to help you expedite the process of researching, writing, and formulating interview answers.

Today we’re covering all the California medical schools, but we’ll be publishing articles with other categories that are important to our readers, so stay tuned!

How to Answer “Why Our School?” - Cheat Sheet for All California Medical Schools


#1 - UCSF School of Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Bridges Curriculum

“The UCSF School of Medicine Bridges Curriculum educates MD graduates to excel in the competencies needed by 21st-century physicians. Our students work collaboratively with interprofessional teams to provide compassionate patient care while broadening their knowledge, advancing science, and seeking new ways to improve health care delivery in their communities and nationwide.”

Medical Student Wellbeing Program (MSWB)

“The staff for this program is specially trained in working with medical students. This service is free to all medical students and will always be confidential. We want you to feel safe here at UCSF and we are here to assist you with a broad range of difficulties that may arise during your medical education.”

Multicultural Resource Center

“Rooted in social justice and cross-cultural frameworks, the Multicultural Resource Center aims to nurture our diverse community. We are committed to shaping physical and intellectual environments that honor the experiences of all members of our UCSF family. Through programmatic efforts in community building, education, student support, and social justice we aspire to achieve transformational change.”

Student Success Center

“The Student Success website is meant to help you navigate the wide range of resources and services at UCSF that will help you succeed during your time here – and beyond.”

UCSF Homeless Clinic

“For nearly 30 years, the Shelter Clinic has delivered urgent health care and referral services to people staying at the Multi-Service Center - South homeless shelter. In addition to our original biweekly General Clinic, we have increased the scope of our  services to include Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Pharmacy, and Dental clinics, as well as Women’s Support, Women’s Health, and Men’s Support groups. In addition to our service mission, we are dedicated to educating a new generation of healthcare providers about the medical needs of homeless people.”

#2 - Stanford Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Community Engagement | School of Medicine

“The School of Medicine’s community and global health programs reduce health disparities through long-term partnerships that strengthen community capacity in underserved populations locally and around the world.”

Leadership | School of Medicine

“Stanford Medicine's leadership works to transform patient care, fuel innovation and empower future leaders.”

Diversity at Stanford Medicine

“Our goal is to draw from people with a variety of backgrounds and life experiences to reach a new level of innovation in instruction, research, and patient care. Varied perspectives encourage new strategies that ensure diversity is reflected in our programs, culture, and leadership.”


“At Stanford Medicine, our strength in interdisciplinary scholarship, our dedicated faculty and a culture of innovation set the training ground for the next generation of biomedical leaders and pioneers.”

SUMMA Premedical Conference | Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance

“The goal of the Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance (SUMMA) is to increase diversity in the health professions in order to better care for underserved communities. Our annual pre-medical conference is one of the oldest on the west coast and draws hundreds of students from throughout the Bay Area.”

#3 - UCLA (Geffen) School of Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

HEALS Curriculum

UCLA uses a curriculum consisting of five themes that are frequently integrated throughout all four years of schooling. The themes are Structural Racism & Health Equity, Discovery, Point of Care Ultrasound, Interprofessional Education, and Ethics & Humanities. The curriculum is designed to accommodate the continuous scientific and medical advancement that we are accustomed to today.

Well-Being Workshops & Events

The School of Medicine holds frequent events and workshops addressing important themes in medical education and careers such as the transition into medical school, preventing burnout, maintaining self-care, and the school-life balance.

Campus Life

The scenery, dining, social life, and diversity of not just UCLA but the city as a whole are consistently lauded by students and community members. There is no shortage of leisure activities for students to take advantage of whenever they need a break from their studies.

Global Health Equity Pathway

Students can elect to join this Pathway in their first year of medical school, in which they will receive mentoring for global health projects, leadership development, and networking, among other areas. The college also provides some application-based funding for research and travel expenses.

Big Sib Lil Sib Program

First year students can be “matched” with a second year student, and into their family, on the basis of shared interests, hobbies, and backgrounds. The goal of the program is to strengthen the bond between classes and foster small support systems.

#4 - UC San Diego School of Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Independent Study Project

All medical students participate in an independent study project on a specific topic in which they can develop closer relationships with their mentor. The end goals of the ISP are to foster creative investigation, develop and strengthen learning habits, and promote scholarly investigation.

Simulation Training Center

The SIM center provides an option for students to learn and practice medical procedures and teamwork skills. The rooms are equipped with cameras for playback, analysis, and further teaching. 

Student-Run Free Clinic

The SRFC Project accomplishes two goals: providing both low-cost healthcare to underserved community members and a learning environment to students in a variety of health tracks. Medical students that participate in this clinic also take courses relating to its philosophy.

Academic Communities

The School of Medicine has six Academic Communities that incoming students are assigned to and remain with throughout their medical education. These Communities help students in different years connect with each other and with faculty members.

Advising and Mentoring

UCSD values a multi-layered support system for its medical students that extends beyond academics. Students choose their own Faculty Advisor in their third year and also have support from older students in their earlier years, such as Senior Mentors and Big Sibs.

#5 - Keck School of Medicine, USC

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

HEAL Curriculum

The HEAL Program is an integrating feature across all four years of the KSOM curriculum. HEAL content and skills are delivered in required pre-clinical and clinical coursework, electives, creative writing workshops, and events that feature speakers whose expertise encompasses domains within the humanities, ethics, economics, art, and law. This longitudinal course of study builds skills in critical reflection, ethical decision-making, analysis of healthcare policy, and systems-based approaches to patient safety. It progresses from the personal to the professional, beginning with students’ examination of their own values and personal ethics, and moves toward the critical examination of the physician’s role in society.

Foundations of Physician Resilience Curriculum

KSOM offers a required curricular thread containing 30 hours of content in Years 1-3 entitled Foundations of Physician Resilience. This content is integrated into the curriculum so it is not a burden on students to attend.

Dean’s Research Scholars Program

The Dean’s Research Scholars (DRS) Program is a competitive fifth-year fellowship for medical students who wish to spend an additional year conducting full-time biomedical research in a discipline and area of their choice. Under the leadership of Dr. David Hinton, Director for the USC-Caltech MD-PhD Program and Professor of Pathology, Neurological Surgery and Ophthalmology, the DRS year is designed to provide medical students access to rigorous research experiences in both basic and clinical biomedical sciences. Students can pursue this option between years II and III or between years III and IV.

Keck & Saban Summer Research Fellowships

The Keck & Saban Summer Research Fellowship programs are available to students in the summer between years I and II. These opportunities allow year I medical students to conduct six weeks of full-time research with a faculty mentor. Students can learn about research opportunities and meet prospective mentors in their field of interest at Medical Student Research Brown Bag meetings and mixers occurring throughout year I.

Residency and Clinical Fellowships

From Anesthesiology to Trauma Care, clinical faculty of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California direct a broad range of accredited residency and fellowship training programs at the LAC+USC Medical Center and other nearby institutions. Many applicants to Keck School resident training programs are attracted by the opportunity to train at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center—one of the country’s largest teaching hospitals. Resident training also greatly benefits from training at USC-affiliated state-of-the-art private hospitals such as Keck Hospital of USC and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The majority of Keck School training programs admits new MD graduates through the national matching program and centralized application service administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges. Specific information regarding residency programs and clinical fellowship opportunities can be found within their respective department web pages.

#6 - UC Irvine School of Medicine 

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP)

The UCI-SOM Physician Scientist Training Program is a 2-year structured pilot program providing physician scientists with intensive mentorship and opportunities to apply for their first independent, federally funded awards (K08, K23) or other equivalent external career development awards. This program is supported by the Provost’s and Executive Vice Chancellor’s Research Growth Fund initiative, and is administered by the SOM Research Development Unit (RDU) with oversight by the SOM Associate Dean of Research Development and the Vice Deans of Clinical and Basic Research.

UCI Center for Clinical Research

The UCI Center for Clinical Research is a centralized clinical research operation driven to improve the health and wellness of people in Orange County and the world by providing lifesaving clinical trials designed to strengthen and accelerate the pathway of discovery from the medical laboratory to you.”

Institutes and Centers

The designation of “School Center” was established by the UCI Office of Research as a means of offering the flexibility for faculty, predominately within a particular school, to create research units that suit their needs and areas of expertise. The School of Medicine, with a faculty of wide-ranging and diverse expertise, encourages its faculty to form partnerships within the SOM for the purpose of pursuing a research initiative that can be strengthened by the establishment of a School Center.

Enhancing Rigor and Reproducibility

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need for rigorously designed published preclinical studies, to ensure that research findings can be faithfully replicated. In response to this need, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has established a formal initiative aimed at improving research reproducibility and are implementing significant changes to their policies, grant applications and peer-review process, which took effect Jan. 25, 2016. UC Irvine is committed to upholding the highest standards of conducting biomedical research.

Research Development Unit

The Research Development Unit (RDU), an entity within the UCI School of Medicine Office of Research, designs and implements services and other resources to help investigators succeed in obtaining and maintaining extramural funding.

#7 - UC Davis School of Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Research Fellowship and Selective

This is an opportunity for UC Davis School of Medicine students to enhance their medical training through direct participation in basic science, clinical investigation, or health care delivery research. The Research Fellowship Program was developed to provide funding for students interested in gaining academic experience.

Academic Coaching Program


The UC Davis School of Medicine Academic Coaching Program was developed in response to a request from students to have enhanced support throughout their growth as physicians in training.  Initially a limited pilot with five coaches, the coaching program was recognized by the institution as a valuable service to students and has now expanded to a group of 15 coaches who will support students throughout their time at UC Davis School of Medicine.

Student-run Clinics

UC Davis medical students and physicians make significant contributions to the health of underserved populations in the Sacramento area through their volunteer efforts at several community clinics. These clinics train students in delivering primary care services while simultaneously improving access to care in underserved communities.

UC Davis Global Health

UC Davis is uniquely positioned to provide integrated solutions, education, and expertise on issues surrounding global health through a collaborative effort involving Human Medicine, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture, Environmental Sciences, Engineering, Management, Public Welfare, and International Development.  Ours is a truly interdisciplinary approach, known as One Health, used to assess and improve the health of people, animals, and the environment.

Community Health Scholars Program

The mission of the CHS programs is to train medical student leaders to identify, understand, and serve the unique health needs of California's rural, urban, and valley communities.

#8 - UC Riverside School of Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

History of the UCR School of Medicine

The UCR/UCLA Program in Biomedical Sciences was established in 1974 with a dual goal of recruiting outstanding students to UC Riverside and increasing the number of medical students entering clinical training at UCLA. Students in the program completed their undergraduate work and the first two years of their medical education at UC Riverside, then transferred to UCLA for their third and fourth years, earning their M.D. from the David Geffen School of Medicine. Between its inception and the opening of the UCR School of Medicine in 2013, approximately 850 students went through the program, which was renamed the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences in 1997.

Thomas Haider Early Assurance Program

The Early Assurance Program (EAP) is a unique portal into the UC Riverside School of Medicine's Thomas Haider Program. It provides qualified, "mission-fit" UC Riverside undergraduate students or recent graduates with a guaranteed seat in a future UCR School of Medicine class. Admitted EAP students enter the School of Medicine one year after selection.

Designated Emphasis Programs

Designated Emphasis Programs (DE) are four-year programs that allow medical students to explore specialized areas. DE programs are made up of selectives as well as other non-course requirements.

M.D./Ph.D. Combined Degree

The combined M.D./Ph.D. degree is offered to students admitted to the UCR School of Medicine and to exceptional students from other four-year LCME-accredited medical schools. UCR Biomedical sciences students may apply for admission concurrently with their applications to the medical school or any time after acceptance to the medical school. For these students the MCAT is accepted in lieu of the GRE.

Research in the Division of Biomedical Sciences

The faculty and students of the UCR School of Medicine's Division of Biomedical Sciences are working to build a broad understanding of human disease, therapeutics and design of predictive experimental model systems through an innovative and rigorous program that integrates medical curriculum with mentored research and critical analysis of research-based modeling of human pathophysiology while working to bridge the gulfs between basic science and clinical medicine.

#9 - Loma Linda University School of Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?


The mission of the Loma Linda School of Medicine is to educate future physicians through a Christian lens. It emphasizes growth across all areas of the student, going beyond the intellectual. The school also further educates its students in the Word of God, and helps to facilitate their sharing of it.

L.I.F.E. Communities

First-year students are assigned to a L.I.F.E. community of ten students that will stay part of this group for all four years of education. Each group is led by a faculty member with whom the students can meet regularly for mentoring. The acronym stands for Learning, Integration, Formation, and Experience, and its purpose is to facilitate relationships between students and to provide educational, spiritual, and emotional mentoring.

Medical Simulation Center

The MSC is a virtual hospital that contains multiple training areas to simulate actual care settings. “Manikins” used are human-sized simulators containing organ systems that react accordingly to interventions. Interactions can be recorded or viewed live for later review and discussion.

Healthy Neighborhood Projects

These projects are run by current medical students to address the needs of the community. There are a number of programs currently in place, and are coordinated with local schools and organizations.

Standardized Patient Program

The SP Program uses adults trained to act as a particular patient in order to allow a student to work through their case. It allows students to gain exposure to patient interactions, clinical skills, and problem solving in a low-stakes environment. They may also portray difficult situations to provide students with practice for such scenarios.

#10 - Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Judaic Values

Touro University California, in keeping with its founding mission and principles, prides itself on its Judaic foundation and the values that this represents. Those values involve a commitment to social justice, intellectual pursuit, and service to humanity.

Project Roomkey

In California, Project Roomkey began as a way to find temporary, non-communal housing for the unhoused so that health officials can more easily corral the traditionally transient population into locations where they could shelter in place and limit their potential to spread COVID. Partnerships were formed and utilized to create an opportunity in the crisis for healthcare officials to do needed outreach to these communities of individuals, which are often very hard to connect with in ordinary circumstances.

IPE Simulation Center


The Touro Simulation Center is focused on teamwork and communication. Within a scenario, Students will be given responsibilities that fall within the disciplines they study. The context and intended experience for each discipline should be clearly thought through.

The Global Health Program

The Touro University Program in Global Health will ground the teaching of global health in the complex realities of local communities and health service institutions through an integrated curriculum of case-based courses, research apprenticeships, elective rotations, summer internships, and clinical and public health practicum.

College of Osteopathic Medicine Research Department

The main axes of research at TUCOM are nucleated around state of the art core laboratories:

  • Stable isotopes: nutrition and metabolic research in humans
  • NMR and drug design
  • Lipidology

#11 - Western University of Health Sciences

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Humanism, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Statement

At WesternU, we believe in caring for people–and that includes our students. We are committed to putting Humanism in every aspect of the WesternU experience so that our students learn to heal with compassion.

Clubs | University Student Affairs

WesternU is home to over 130 student-led clubs and organizations, with over 100 of those groups operating out of the Pomona campus. Below you will find a listing of all student led clubs and organizations on the Pomona campus.

About LEAD | Learning Enhancement & Academic Development (LEAD)

To provide supportive education and well-being services to the WesternU community to foster and promote the university’s humanistic values and tradition.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

All Western University of Health Sciences full-time students have direct access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for Students through OptumHealth. Under this Employee Assistance Program for Students, you and any member of your immediate household are eligible for up to six (6) free counseling sessions for each “incident” or situation.

Conference Weeks

Students partake in a unique process of longitudinal professional development whereby students can select topics of interest to personalize their growth as a student doctor; all of which makes for a highly dynamic and very strong student experience for all COMP students.

#12 - Kaiser Permanente Bernard J Tyson School of Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Learning Environment Reporting

The Office of Student Affairs invites your feedback on the KPSOM learning environment. Here you may report concerns about any mistreatment, bias, or other unacceptable conduct that is experienced or witnessed, or share your compliments and commendations recognizing the supportive contributions of students, faculty, and staff.

Anatomy Beyond Cadavers

Central to the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine’s Anatomy Beyond Cadavers, our Anatomy Resource Center (ARC) provides students with new and exciting ways to learn about the human body. In the ARC, you'll engage in case-based, small-group learning that allows you to master all of the anatomical sciences: surface, regional, and cross-sectional anatomy as well as embryology, histology, and diagnostic imaging.


Community Engagement and Service-Learning

At the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, we value the contributions our faculty members make beyond the classroom, including in their professional lives, the healthcare system, and the community. Serving the communities where we work is an essential way for the school to fulfill its commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity by ensuring that everyone has access to exceptional care and the opportunity to lead a healthy life.

Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity in Medical School

We believe diversity brings us together. It inspires us to respect the experiences and perspectives of others. Diversity encompasses much more than culture, race, and religion.

Student Well-Being

Support for student health and well-being is woven throughout the fabric of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. It starts with our commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity and permeates the intentional culture created by our faculty and staff. All of these efforts are designed to create a space where our students can learn, grow, succeed, and lead.

#13 - California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?


The College of Osteopathic Medicine partners with several local health care professionals and health care organizations to place students in clinical clerkships during their medical school education. In years three and four, COM students gain hands-on experience through their clinical clerkships based at the sites on this map which are regional hospitals, clinics, and health care facilities with qualified local health care providers in the community.

OMM Lab – College of Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) is a hands-on treatment DOs use to diagnose illness and injury and encourage the body’s natural tendency toward self-healing. Using Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), an osteopathic physician will move muscles and joints using techniques that may incorporate stretching, gentle pressure, and light resistance. OMT can ease pain, promote healing, and increase overall mobility without the use of medications.

As part of their education, CHSU-COM student doctors receive special training in the musculoskeletal system — the body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones. These hands-on OMT skills may be utilized in all specialties of medicine. Residencies with the designation of “Osteopathic Recognition” incorporate OPP/OMT into the residency programs. (ie. Family Medicine with Osteopathic Recognition, Emergency Medicine with Osteopathic Recognition, etc).

Teaching Kitchen

At the CHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine (CHSU-COM), we believe we can help improve the health of our community by educating our medical students and others in the Central Valley on healthy eating and nutrition. It is so important that we incorporated it into our COM curriculum where our medical students will learn the basics of nutrition and culinary medicine through team-based learning applications, case studies, and hands-on cooking classes in our Teaching Kitchen in our CHSU-COM building.

Student Health and Wellness

CHSU-COM has coordinated with Dr. Audrey Punnett (Clinical Psychologist) to provide psychological counseling to CHSU-COM students beginning on February 22, 2021. Eight clinical hour (45 minute) appointments are available on Mondays beginning at 12 noon and continuing on the hour thereafter. Dr. Punnett’s office is located in Fresno, CA. Please call 559-225-8963 to make an appointment.

This service is provided at no cost to students and is intended for short-term care (up to 6 consecutive sessions). Students requiring longer term treatment will be referred by Dr. Punnett to another provider. Emergency consultations may be scheduled at Dr. Punnett’s discretion.

Use of this service is confidential and the bills to CHSU-COM will de-identify the clients. There is a 24-hour cancellation policy and CHSU-COM will be billed for appointments canceled with less than 24 hour’s notice.”


Nutrition, clinical relevance, ethics, health policy, evidence-based medicine, and application of foundational knowledge, skills, and attitudes are added to achieve better retention and retrieval. The curriculum includes systems-based courses, longitudinal courses, and inter-professional education courses. To help serve the needs of the Central Valley, Medical Spanish courses help CHSU-COM students learn the language and also gain a better understanding of some of the cultural aspects that can play a role in a Spanish speaking patient’s health.

The teaching format utilizes Team-Based Learning (TBL), simulation, and other active learning modalities. Assessments are multimodal and include written, laboratory practical examinations, Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCES), and other innovative methodologies.

For the last two years of the curriculum, CHSU has partnership agreements to assure all the core third and fourth year rotations along with selective clinical education clerkships are completed in the California Central Valley, with a focus on clinical experiences serving diverse populations and provide opportunities for education in community health centers, hospitals and ambulatory settings.

#14 - California University of Science and Medicine 

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Early Decision Program

Through the Early Decision Program (EDP), students have an opportunity to secure acceptance to California University of Science and Medicine by October 1. Through EDP, CUSM seeks to enroll candidates who have keen observational skills, are logical, possess comprehensive analytical abilities, compassion, integrity, and good interpersonal skills. In order to assess the personal qualities of applicants, CUSM utilizes a holistic review system in the admission review process.

Living In the Inland Empire

CUSM is nestled in between the stately mountains and active cities of the Inland Empire, with Palm Springs, Los Angeles and beautiful Southern California beaches less than an hour away. Whether it’s culture, music, performing arts, sports, world class restaurants and more, the area is positively overflowing with activities for everyone.

Learning Communities

Upon matriculation, students will be assigned to small‐group learning communities or “colleges” headed by College Mentors. Each college will have two College Mentors during Years 1 and 2 – typically one with clinical experience (MD) and the other with research experience (Ph.D.). In addition, in Year 2 a clerkship director will be assigned to each college to foster a smooth transition into Years 3 and 4, where the clerkship directors will become College Mentors.

CARE Program

California University of Science and Medicine “CUSM” strives to impact the community with a mission to improve health disparities and the overall quality of health care in underserved communities. Underserved communities face significant challenges accessing health care services, and we want your help mentoring our future physicians on solutions addressing these challenges.

VIDA Program

The VIDA program at CUSM is dedicated to training future physicians to provide holistically excellent care to the Hispanic patient population. The VIDA program is the school’s largest and most successful program to date. There are currently over 180 first- and second-year students enrolled and an additional 40 student-leaders who all work together to play an essential role in the execution and development of CUSM’s student-led, faculty-supported VIDA program.

#15 - California Northstate University College of Medicine 

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Student Government

The College of Medicine consists of several levels of student leadership in order to provide the most comprehensive and integrated representation of the student body. Each class has its own representative body, and there are several other councils and committees representing all students in different avenues.

Self-Directed Student Scholarly Project

This project is completed by all second-year medical students. They work in groups to identify a research question and conduct a project under a faculty advisor, and such projects may culminate in publication. The project helps to further skills pertaining to teamwork and collaboration, scientific inquiry, investigation, and analysis.

Wellness Elective Courses

The College of Medicine emphasizes lifelong maintenance of personal wellness for its students. It offers three elective courses that teach evidence-based wellness methods and techniques for its students to use during their education and beyond. 

Service Learning Opportunities

Community involvement is emphasized so that students gain exposure to real-world issues and social problems. The goal is for students to build relationships with community members and start to understand the underlying causes of these issues. Many opportunities are available for medical students to engage in.

Phase A Curriculum

First- and second-year medical students follow the Phase A curriculum. This curriculum consists of a combination of: foundational science courses rooted in clinical presentations; teaching of medically-relevant skills ranging from communication to procedures; and multidisciplinary seminars followed by smaller-group discussion. The aforementioned Self-Directed Student Scholarly Project is also part of the Phase A curriculum and is conducted by second-year students.

#16 - UCLA (Drew) School of Medicine

What are the five most distinct opportunities/aspects of this program to highlight in your secondary essays and interviews?

Mission and Values

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science is a private non-profit student centered University that is committed to cultivating diverse health professional leaders who are dedicated to social justice and health equity for underserved populations through outstanding education, research, clinical service, and community engagement.

Medical Student Research Thesis Program

A distinguishing component of the Charles R. Drew University/UCLA Medical Education Program is the required medical research thesis. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) is among the few universities in the nation that require research training in the medical education curriculum. The Medical Student Research Thesis Program (MSRTP) assists students in the third and fourth years of the College of Medicine in developing and completing an independent research project. While the overall theme is healthcare disparities, students have wide latitude to choose research projects that include biobehavioral/psychosocial, health services research, and public policy with application to underserved communities. Fourth-year students present their findings at the annual medical student research colloquium held each spring.

Charles R. Drew/UCLA PRIME-LA


The Charles R. Drew/UCLA PRIME-LA program leads to the regular MD with special emphasis on leadership and advocacy to address healthcare disparities in medically underserved populations in California (and the US). The Program in Medical Education (PRIME) is a dual degree program leading to the MD and a master’s degree in an area that complements the mission of the program.


Pipeline Programs


Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science provides unique academic programs to expand the educational capacity of underrepresented youth to ensure their long-term success, health, and well-being. CDU currently offers Pre-K to 12th grade student’s pathway to careers in medicine, science, research and health through our various pipeline programs.


Student Financial Aid Services


The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship staff is committed to helping you find ways to close the gap between the cost of attending CDU and your ability to fund your education. We will work to construct a personalized financial aid package that combines any availability of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study.

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