Satisfactory Academic Progress



To establish rules and regulations governing satisfactory academic progress of UCSF medical students.


Under the School of Medicine Faculty Council, and with the assistance of the Undergraduate Medical Education unit and the Registrar, the Committee on Academic Progress is charged with reviewing the satisfactory academic progress of all medical students matriculated at the UCSF School of Medicine. This policy shall apply to all medical students who matriculate at UCSF School of Medicine on or after July 1, 2016. 

Related LCME Standard

LCME Standard 9.9: Student Advancement and Appeal Process


  • Students must make satisfactory academic progress to continue in the curriculum and to receive financial aid. 
  • The school will provide timely communication to students about any potential or actual changes to their financial aid eligibility or disbursements. 


Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Satisfactory Academic Progress is the appropriate successful completion of degree requirements according to established increments that lead to degree completion within published completion limits. Sound academic principles require that students maintain standards of satisfactory academic progress. Financial aid eligibility is based on a financial aid award year in accordance Federal regulations from the Student Aid Handbook.

  • Students who fail to maintain satisfactory academic progress during any established increment may be placed on financial aid warning or financial aid probation, an academic plan, and/or dismissed. 
  • Students who are placed on financial aid warning, financial aid probation, an academic plan, and/or dismissed will be informed of their status in writing. 
  • All students are reviewed for satisfactory academic progress after each Foundations 1 course as MS1s and MS2s; for Foundations 2 and Career Launch, student progress in both phases is reviewed after each of the Foundations 2 8-week core clerkship blocks
  • Students are allowed one term of financial aid warning. If a student is not making satisfactory academic progress at the end of the term in which a warning was placed, they can be placed on financial aid probation. Eligibility for continued financial aid under probation will be measured in accordance with the established academic plan.

Qualitative Standards: Academic Probation and Financial Aid Warning and Probation

  • A student may be placed on academic probation (See Regulations of the School of Medicine) and given a financial aid warning or financial aid probation if the student has 6 or more units of E (a provisional non-passing grade) in any quarter or 10 or more units of E or F in 3 consecutive quarters.
  • A student may be removed from academic probation following removal of all E or F grades and one subsequent quarter of satisfactory performance.
  • A student may also be placed on academic probation and given a financial aid warning or financial aid probation if the student cannot demonstrate adequate professional and personal attributes both within and outside the boundaries of a course or clerkship.
    • Such attributes are known as physicianship and a Physicianship Evaluation Form indicates that a student has not reached the expected competency.
    • Students who receive two or more Physicianship Evaluation Forms in Foundations 1 and subsequently receive a Physicianship Evaluation Form in Foundations 2 or Career Launch, or two or more Physicianship Evaluation Forms in Foundations 2 or Career Launch may be placed on academic probation. (For details see the Physicianship Evaluation Forms and Policies [4].)

Minimum Units Per Quarter

The School of Medicine Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy requires that all students are registered for a minimum of 12 units per quarter. In exceptional situations - including quarters that fit only one nine-unit core clerkship, in the spring quarter of the graduation year when students finish in mid-May, and in situations approved by the Associate Dean of Curriculum - students may register for fewer units.

Competency Requirements

Upon graduation, students are required to have demonstrated competence in all of the MD Program Objectives (MD competencies). For each competency and phase of the curriculum, a set of milestones defines the expected progress throughout medical school toward achieving competence. See MD Program Objectives for details.

Unit Requirements for Graduation

  • Students must complete a total (minimum) of 216.5 units according to the criteria set forth in this policy.
  • Students must complete all courses/clerkships with a passing grade, including all required courses prescribed in the curriculum of the UCSF School of Medicine.
  • Students should be registered in the quarter of graduation from the School of Medicine. Under exceptional circumstances – such as a student whose graduation is delayed due to a provisional grade or a failure to satisfy another graduation requirement - the Associate Dean for Curriculum can approve graduation in a term in which a student is not registered.
  • To progress to the Career Launch curriculum phase, students must take USMLE Step 1. To continue in Career Launch, they must pass USMLE Step 1.
  • Students must complete all Foundations 1 courses, a total of 89 units. The detailed requirements for completing the Foundations 2 and Career Launch curriculum phases can be found here.
  • Students in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program (JMP) and the UCSF Medical Student Training Program (MSTP) have unique sets of course unit and completion requirements.
    • JMP students begin their program at UC Berkeley where they complete the MD requirements, which consists of Problem Based Learning for Foundational Sciences (PBL), Patient Care & Clinical Systems (PCCS) and Preceptorship curricula, prior to transferring to UCSF to complete their core and advanced clinical studies. The JMP program also requires completion of all required and elective coursework and any other requirements for the UC Berkeley master's degree (MS) in the Health and Medical Sciences to be completed prior to transferring to UCSF. Thus, the JMP students are not required to take the 89 units in Foundations 1, but rather complete the UC Berkeley JMP unit requirements below.
    • In addition to completing requirements for the MD program core curriculum and one of the UCSF graduate PhD programs, MSTP students are required to complete:
      • During their first year, Medicine 170.09 (MSTP Seminar Series) and Med 170.10 (MSTP Journal Club).
      • During their PhD years, one to six quarters of Medicine 160.04 (Clinical Preceptorships) and Medicine 170.03 (Into the Clinic), a course designed to prepare the MSTP students for re-entry into the clinical MD program curriculum.

Year 1

Total Required Units

JMP-MD curriculum


JMP-MS curriculum


Year 2


JMP-MD curriculum


JMP-MS curriculum


Year 3


JMP-MD curriculum


JMP-MS curriculum


USMLE and Academic Progress

  • Students must pass the USMLE Step 1 within three attempts to be eligible to continue in the MD program. A student who fails the third USMLE Step 1 attempt will be dismissed.
  • Students must pass the USMLE Step 2CK as specified in the UCSF SOM USMLE Policy [3] to make satisfactory academic progress. If this exam is not passed within the maximum number of attempts, the student is not making satisfactory academic progress. A student who has not passed Step 2CK by the expected graduation date but has completed all other graduation requirements will not be eligible for financial aid.
  • Requirements to pass licensing examinations may be waived/altered at the discretion of the Committee on Curriculum and Educational Policy (CCEP) if national public health emergencies or other crisis impacts the national board’s ability to administer licensing examinations. Any change will follow the Liaison Committee of Medical Education’s accreditation requirements.

Maximum Time Frame and Pace

The MD program is a four-year curriculum. However, due to academic or personal difficulties, a student may require additional time. For students with academic or personal difficulties, an academic plan may be established for the student that departs from the standard curriculum. The plan may require the repetition of all or a part of a year of study (i.e., subsequent to incomplete or unsatisfactory course work or an approved leave). To be making satisfactory academic progress, students ordinarily must complete the first phase of the curriculum by the end of the third year after initial enrollment; the remaining requirements of the curriculum ordinarily must be completed by the end of the fifth year after initial enrollment. Requests for exceptions are subject to review by the Associate Dean for Curriculum. A student is eligible for university-funded financial aid for a maximum of 14 quarters of enrollment excluding time spent on approved leave of absence. The maximum time permitted for completion of the MD degree is six years unless a national public health emergency or other crisis impacts the school’s ability to administer the standard curriculum. Refer to the Time to Graduation Policy for details regarding special programs and allowable gap years.

For Students Matriculated on or after July 1, 2016 
SAP and Leaves of Absence

A student may be granted an academic, medical, or personal leave of absence after consultation with the School of Medicine. Students should also be in communication with affected departments.

For Students Matriculated Before July 1, 2013

The time that students take to complete work in a Pathways to Discovery or on a school-approved leave DOES NOT count toward the maximum time permitted for completion of the MD degree.

For Students Matriculated on or after July 1, 2013

The time that students take to complete work in a Pathways to Discovery or on leave DOES count toward the maximum time permitted for completion of the MD degree.

Notification of Lack of Satisfactory Academic Progress

During the periodic review of a student’s academic progress by the Committee on Academic Progress, progression to the next block, quarter, or year is based upon a review of academic performance - including incomplete, provisional non-passing, and failing grades, performance in the competencies, and other educational metrics. Any student not making satisfactory academic progress receives a letter from the Committee on Academic Progress that is copied to the Student Academic Affairs’ Student Financial Services Office. The letter shall indicate the nature of the deficiency and consequences that have resulted or may result such as academic probation, financial aid warning, financial aid probation, faculty-mandated leave of absence, required remediation, repetition of courses or clerkships, and/or referral to the Committee on Academic Standards. 

Dismissal or Withdrawal

Students who are dismissed, withdrawn, or discontinued from the School are not making satisfactory academic progress and are not eligible to receive financial aid.


Students who wish to appeal for reinstatement of financial aid eligibility may do so in writing in accordance with the appeal mechanism set forth in Appendix VII of the Academic Senate, and subject to Federal regulations with regard to any Federal Student Aid.

Related Policies

Accountable Deans

  • Associate Dean for Curriculum and Associate Dean for Competency Assessment and Professional Standards