Technology Requirements for Students Fall 2018

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This page specifies campuswide technology requirements for students who are new to UCSF or purchasing a new computer. This is part two of a three-part series:

  1. Technology Introduction for Students
  2. Technology Requirements for Students
  3. Student Software Guide



UCSF is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) campus and requires all students to personally own a device for UCSF-related activities. The purpose of these requirements is to ensure that devices meet or exceed a set of standards that will allow students to participate effectively in the UCSF technology ecosystem. Technology will be an integral component to your UCSF education. Having adequate hardware is worth the investment--your focus should be on your education, not dealing with technical issues caused by dated or underpowered devices.

Additionally, this policy ensures that incoming students have installed all security software required by the UCSF Minimum Security Standards for mobile computing including device encryption, virus and malware protection, endpoint management, and being setup for secure remote access. In addition to these measure, please ensure you are familiar with additional standards and required practices by reviewing the UCSF Minimum Security Standards Checklist (PDF).

Only for students entering in 2018
  • These requirements are for students entering in 2018.
  • Students entering in 2019: your requirements are expected to be available at this page in April 2019.
  • For previous versions of this document, see the Technology Requirements for Students Archive.

Requirements Overview

  1. Prior to arriving, you must own a computer that:
    • Meets or exceeds our hardware requirement.
    • Has an Operating System that meets our requirement.
  2. Install required software, including:
    • A version of Microsoft Office that meets our requirement.
    • All security software provided by UCSF.
    • Additional software as indicated.
  3. Setup your UCSF email account and be able to send/receive messages.
  4. Have or are in the process of setting up your home internet connection.
  5. Review and meet all additional requirements established by your specific program.

International Students

UCSF highly recommends that international students wait until arriving in the United States before purchasing hardware and software. There are a number of important reasons based on prior experience, including:

  • Newest hardware is more readily available in the United States.
  • Costs are typically lower.
  • Warranty may not cover service in the United States.
  • Certain software does not work with foreign versions of Operating Systems.

1. Hardware Requirement

All students must own a computer that meets either Configuration A or Configuration B. If something is not listed as required, we offer no specific recommendations and suggest that you make purchase decisions based on your budget, features, and preference for Mac or PC.



Configuration A
required if not buying a new computer

Configuration B
required if buying a new computer


Lists the specifications we require if you have purchased a new computer within the past 2 years and do not plan on buying a new computer. This configuration will likely not provide adequate performance through the end of your program.

Lists the specifications we require if you need to purchase a new computer. This configuration will likely provide adequate performance for 3 to 4 years.

Regardless of when you purchase your computer, plan on upgrading or purchasing a new computer 3 to 4 years later.



Configuration A
required if not buying a new computer

Configuration B
required if buying a new computer


Intel Core i5 or i7 processor.

Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. Select the newest generation available (Currently 8th Generation).

Memory (RAM)

8 GB or more

Hard Drive 256 GB or larger SSD

Graphics Hardware

No specific requirement

Select a graphics hardware option upgrade if available.



Security Cable

Required only for portable computers that include a locking mechanism (e.g., Kensington security slot).


Not required

3 years parts and labor with on-site or in-store support.

Checking Your Processor and Memory:

Windows: right-click Start Menu icon, select "System" from the menu.

macOS: select "About this Mac" from the Apple menu.

Mobile Devices

There is currently no mobile device requirement. However, smartphones and tablets have been ubiquitous among students and can be very useful in health sciences education and clinical care settings. For schools that use Ilios, you will find that syncing your class schedule to your phone is very useful. If you choose to sync your UCSF email with your device, minimum security standards will be enforced including remote wipe capability, passcode unlock and encryption.


No Unencrypted External Drives

The use of unencrypted external drives (a.k.a. external hard drives, USB flash drives, thumb drives, memory sticks) is prohibited. Use secure alternatives like Secure Box or Secure email. These can be easier to use and do not carry the risk of physically losing data. The use of encrypted external drives is allowed. UCSF recommends hardware-encrypted flash drives like the Apricorn or Corsair models because of greater compatibility and less software issues. Software-encrypted drives will never work with non-computer devices like copiers and may require occasional updates. For instance, the Edge DiskGo requires a wipe + firmware update to be compatible with macOS 10.12.0+. For additional information see Recommended Security Products.

In the future, UCSF will offer DDPE External Media Shield (EMS) a tool that will allow the use of common, inexpensive external drives to securely store UCSF data. Rollout to BYOD users is estimated to begin in the second half of 2017.

No Apple Macbooks or Core M Processors

Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are fine but 2015 to 2017 MacBooks have notably underpowered processors (Intel 4.5W Y-Series) and do not meet our requirements. Additionally, PCs containing Core M or Y-Series processors do not meet our requirements. If you have one of these devices we recommend that you do not use it for anything involving UCSF business, research, or studies.

No Netbooks or Chromebooks

Netbooks and tablets are small, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive computing devices. They do not meet our requirements due to low processing power and lack of capabilities. The use of Chromebooks raise significant security and privacy concerns. Chromebooks are not supported by the encryption software that UCSF provides and personal Google accounts including Gmail are not HIPAA-compliant. If you have a Chromebook, we recommend that you do not use it for anything involving UCSF business, research, or studies.

No Tablets

An iPad or Android Tablet alone does not meet our requirements, the use of a tablet as a companion device is fine. For schools that use ExamSoft, you may take your exam on an iPad as long as you have an external keyboard--responding to essay questions does not work well with the onscreen keyboard.

No Microsoft Surface or Surface Laptop

Non-Pro versions of Microsoft Surface and the Surface Laptop do not meet our requirements due to incompatible hardware and Operating Systems including Windows RT and Windows 10 S. Software we require will not run on these versions of Windows. If you have one of these devices, we recommend that you do not use it for anything involving UCSF business, research, or studies. The Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 and 2017 Surface Pro are fine if equipped with an i5 or i7 processor.

2. Software Requirement

Operating System

If you have a Windows or Mac operating system that is older than those listed as required, you must upgrade to meet the requirement. Apple provides macOS upgrades for free. UCSF does not provide Windows for students, however, a steeply discounted upgrade to Windows 10 Education is available via OnTheHub.


Configuration A
required if not buying a new computer

Configuration B
required if buying a new computer


Windows 10 (Home, Pro, Education, or Enterprise)


macOS Sierra 10.12 or later

Current version provided by Apple

Always wait to upgrade to new major versions of operating systems.

UCSF has many computer systems, and it's impossible for all of our systems to be compatible with new major versions of operating systems on the day they become available.

Consequently, we strongly discourage you from upgrading until UCSF Information Technology has sent an all-clear message to the community.

If you forget to wait to upgrade, UCSF IT will support you as best it can, but until a permanent solution is in place, you might lose certain functionality.

Microsoft Office

UCSF provides Office 365 ProPlus for Mac and PC users which includes Office 2016 desktop versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher (PC only), and Access (PC only). If you are using an older version of Office, you will need to upgrade to Office 2016. Students currently using Office 2016, may want to upgrade if their current version does not include Outlook, Publisher, and Access.

You can access the Office installer directly on the "My account" page when logged into your UCSF Office 365 account. Additional information available in the Student Software Guide.

Security Software

You are required to install the following security software that is provided and licensed by UCSF. You may be prevented from connecting to the UCSF network without them. Download and install instructions are available at For additional information about this software please visit the Student Software Guide..

  1. Dell Data Protection Encryption (DDPE) with IBM BigFix - File-Based Encryption and Endpoint Manager
  2. Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) - Virus and Malware Protection
  3. ForeScout SecureConnect - Network Access Control Agent
  4. Junos Pulse - Virtual Private Network Client
  5. CipherCloud for Box - Decryption Agent for Secure Box files

Additional Software

The following software is required to ensure access to all UCSF systems and education materials. It is essential that you keep all this software constantly updated to the latest versions in order to protect your device from security risks. All downloads are free except Flip4Mac.


Adobe Media:

Java Applications:

Media Players:

3. Setup UCSF Email Account

Prior to arriving to campus, you must be able to send/receive messages from your UCSF Email. Use of this email account is required for all communications involving UCSF business, research, and studies. The use of third party email services is not approved by UCSF--including the forwarding of email to an outside service.

UCSF email serves as the primary means of communication between you and campus. This includes messages from faculty and administrators, IT Service Desk, UCSF Listservs, UCSF WarnMe, Campus Life Services, OrgSync messages, and CLE announcements. You are expected to check this account periodically to stay apprised of all program and campus messages.

In addition being able to send/receive messages, you are required to enroll at This will enable you to perform your own password reset in case you are accidentally locked out of your account. Otherwise, it requires a call to the UCSF IT Service Desk.

4. Internet Requirement

We require that you have a home internet connection. If internet service is included with your student housing, this meets your internet requirement. Additional information about internet services can be found on Campus Live Service's Move In Checklists. All other students are responsible for selecting an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and purchasing service.

DSL and Cable are the most common internet service technologies available in San Francisco. You are responsible for the cost of this service, which averages about $60 per month. The largest providers are Sonic (DSL or Gigabit Fiber), AT&T Internet (DSL), and XFINITY from Comcast (Cable). Availability, speed, and pricing can vary depending on where you live and level of service you prefer.

5. Meet School Specific Requirements

Your school or program may have additional or more specific requirements. Programs will notify students prior to orientation about these specifics. Please contact your program's administration office regarding these requirements.