Pre-Health Undergraduate Program

Thank you for your interest in the Pre-Health Undergraduate Program. The 2022 application will be available in late January. The program does not provide nor assist with shadowing opportunities.

The UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Training Program offers a summer clinical research training program for up to 15-20 underrepresented minority undergraduate students who are planning to attend dental, medical, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation therapy, pharmacology or other professional schools after graduation, and who have an interest in a career in clinical research. Students will be paired with a UCSF trainee who is enrolled in the Designing Clinical Research (DCR) course. The purpose of the course is to train students to evaluate the medical literature, to design clinical and translational research studies, and to encourage long-term collaborations between UCSF and undergraduate students.


In addition to the DCR course, PUP consists of a one-week pre-course program, which includes didactics, approaches to reviewing the literature and sessions to allow the student to know themselves and their UCSF partners better.


During the four weeks of the course, students may also have special lunchtime sessions with information focused on careers in clinical research and presenting their research findings.

  • Students will meet with faculty mid-course and at the end of the course to discuss the course experience and provide feedback and suggestions.
  • Students will be asked to complete evaluation forms during and after the course in order to measure the impact of the program.

Who Should Consider Applying

The academic careers of UCSF faculty include either a research or a clinical instruction focus. In addition, all health professionals need to be able to read and interpret research articles and apply the findings to their clinical practice. By taking this course, undergraduate students will be able to read and critically evaluate research studies, and may discover a career path in clinical research.




Currently enrolled underrepresented minority third and fourth-year pre-health disciplines and students from other disciplines at accredited four-year universities are welcome to apply. Students should be juniors or seniors in the fall quarter/semester immediately preceding the application period. A GPA of 3.5 or higher with strong writing and quantitative (math) skills is preferred. All students may apply, but if the GPA is less than 3.5 a description about the applicant's strengths must be included in the Candidate Essay. Students must commit to attend all classes at UCSF in July and August, complete all reading and written assignments and participate in small groups. Vacation time or time off may not be taken during orientation or throughout the DCR course. Students who already have a bachelor's degree and higher should not apply.




Costs of tuition and textbook will be provided.




We offer a $2000 stipend for each student.




BEFORE Applying: Please complete the Self-Screening Form.


2021 Application Form (Please review Required Documents immediately below before completing the application.)

Blank Sample Application PDF


Application Deadline: March 1, 2021

Recommendation Form Deadline: March 8, 2021


All documentation must be received by the March 8 deadline in order to be considered. Please do not contact the program to check on the status of your application. The program will follow-up on missing forms prior to the deadline.


Required Documents


Please collect the following documents before completing the online application. Only PDF versions of the documents will be accepted. (Please do not submit secured or password-protected PDFs. Secured or password protected PDFs may delay or even forfeit your application.)

  • Transcript: Unofficial copies are accepted.
  • Transcripts from other institutions: Unofficial copies are accepted. You may load up to two additional transcripts.
  • Letter of Recommendation: You will be sent a link to the Recommendation Form once you submit your application. The recommender has a deadline of Mar 8. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO SEND THE FORM TO YOUR RECOMMENDER WITH ENOUGH LEAD TIME TO MAKE THE MAR 8 DEADLINE. The letter must be from a faculty or staff member of a learning institution (high school counselor, college counselor or instructor, graduate student) familiar with your educational experience and potential. ONLY ONE LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION IS ALLOWED PER APPLICANT. Subsequent recommendations will not be taken into account. THE PROGRAM WILL CONTACT YOU IF RECOMMENDATION LETTERS ARE MISSING; PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT US.
  • Resume: Most current resume.
  • Applicant Essay: DO NOT EXCEED two pages or 600 words. Please address the following within the limit:
  1. Your motivation to pursue a career in health and any obstacle that you have surmounted along the way.
  2. Your interest in learning about a career in research.
  3. Any academic counseling you have received that has encouraged you in your pursuit of a career in dentistry, medicine, nursing, physical therapy, and pharmacology.
  4. Goals you would set for yourself if selected to be a UCSF CTSI undergraduate student in the Designing Clinical Research course.
  5. If your GPA is less than 3.5 yet you believe that you would be a strong candidate, include a description of obstacles or barriers you have encountered that should be taken into consideration.

About the Course

Designing Clinical Research (Epidemiology 150.03) is focused on teaching students to understand how to design a feasible, high-quality clinical research study. The course takes place in August and includes eight lectures (75 minutes each) and eight small-group sessions (90 minutes each). The course covers the following:

  • Critical appraisal of the medical literature. The DCR course, while focused on training students to design high-quality research studies, also provides an in-depth understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of published clinical research studies.
  • Experiential training in research design. Each student will be paired with a UCSF trainee in the DCR course. UCSF trainees are required to come to the course with one or more research questions, formatted as "Does a characteristic, exposure or risk factor increase risk for or cause a disease or health condition in a certain group of people?" UCSF trainees are required to complete a protocol for a research study as the product of the course. During the course, undergraduate students will be expected to:
    • Complete all course assignments, which include attendance at lectures, participation in small-group sessions, course reading and homework.
    • Complete a review of the medical literature related to the UCSF student's research question and write a three-page critical summary of this literature that will be incorporated into the Background section of the protocol.
      • Collaborate with the UCSF trainee to search the medical literature and contact faculty and other experts to obtain information needed to complete the protocol. Such information might include standardized questionnaires, measurement techniques, estimates of the incidence of disease, event rates, etc.
      • Collaborate with the UCSF trainee to write and revise the research protocol.
      • At the end of the course, write a three-page critique of the planned research design.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How many students will be selected? We will select 15-20 undergraduate students for this summer program. These students will take part in a course offered to UCSF health professional students and residents. Students will also participate separately in two meetings with UCSF faculty to help them process the experience, monitor their progress and problem-solve issues or challenges that may arise.
  2. I am a student at an accredited two-year institution (such as junior, city or community college) or I am transferring to a four-year institution this fall. Am I eligible? Only students already attending an accredited four-year institution are eligible. If you are not starting at a four-year institution until after the program, you are ineligible.
  3. I graduated from an accredited four-year institution in a period prior to spring of the current year or I am currently in a post-baccalaureate program. Am I eligible? Only students currently enrolled in an accredited four-year institution including those graduating in spring of the current year are eligible. If you graduated in winter or fall or already have your bachelor’s or higher, you are ineligible.
  4. I am not a US citizen or legal resident attending college in the United States, or I am a foreign student studying in another country. Am I eligible to apply? No, our program is supported by federal funding and thus all participants must be citizens or legal residents of the U.S.
  5. My current grade point average (GPA) is less than 3.5. Am I ineligible to apply? If your GPA is less than 3.5 and you feel you would be a strong candidate for this program, we encourage you to apply. In your Candidate Essay be sure to describe any obstacles or barriers you have encountered that should be taken into consideration.
  6. Will there be any stipend paid? We offer a $2000 stipend for each student. Course tuition and the textbook will also be paid for.
  7. Can I take vacation or time off during the program? No, students are expected to attend ALL lectures and small-group sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays from August 2-23 (25 for those who can stay), from 9 a.m.–noon as well as other activities in the afternoons. In addition to the course, all students are required to attend the Orientation Meeting and the Medical Literature Search Course on July 26 and 28, as well as two group meetings led by UCSF faculty in August.
  8. When will I know if I have been selected for the program? Candidates will be notified around May 3 if they have been accepted into the program.
  9. Will course credit be offered? No course credit is offered.
  10. How will I meet the UCSF trainee that I will be working with? You will be assigned to a UCSF trainee and will meet them during the pre-course sessions on July 26 or July 28.
  11. Where is the class held? The lectures and small-group sessions for the course will be held at UCSF at the Parnassus campus in San Francisco. All other meetings will also be at either of these campuses. This is currently planned to be virtual. We will notify you of any changes.
  12. Where can I find out more about the content of the Designing Clinical Research course? You can view the course website. 
Please note that undergraduate students must complete all reading assignments. Written assignments will differ from the ones assigned to UCSF residents and students.
  13. What are the course requirements for undergraduate students? The requirements for undergraduate students are listed above; see About the Course above.
  14. Is housing provided? No, unfortunately, housing is not provided by the program. When the program first started it was exclusively for UC Berkeley students. When we decided to expand a few years back it was mainly to include students from San Francisco State University. Almost immediately however, we started getting applications from throughout the country. Most out-of-towners have ended up using all or part of the stipend we provide to help with rent.
 San Francisco is a very expensive city, and UCSF has very little of its own housing. In addition to this, UCSF runs year-round (July 1-June 30), meaning there are never any breaks in which UCSF housing has room for summer students the way many other schools do.
 We do set up a housing forum once the year’s class has been selected. On the forum, we provide any resources we come across along with local students sharing their resources if they or their friends have or know of rooms for the summer, usually near UCB or SFSU.
  15. If I have further questions, whom should I contact? If you have questions about the application process or the program, please email Christian Leiva at [email protected].