technology requirements fall 2016

A. Campus requirements

All PharmD student pharmacists must satisfy the UCSF campuswide Technology Requirements for Students. These specify hardware, operating system, security software, and other software that is required for all students at UCSF.

B. School requirements

Additionally, PharmD student pharmacists have specific requirements which extend and/or supersede campuswide requirements.

The requirements below are for PharmD student pharmacists entering in 2016. PharmD student pharmacists entering in 2017: your requirements are expected to be available at this page in June 2017.

  1. A laptop is required for accessing course materials and taking computer-based assessments.

    1. Your laptop must satisfy UCSF campuswide requirements as specified in Technology Requirements for Students.
    2. You can use Mac or Windows. Student preference heavily leans towards Mac with about 80% of current PharmD student pharmacists using Macs.
    3. Your laptop must be able to operate on battery for at least three hours of normal activity (e.g., web browsing, word processing, wireless). For computer-based exams, we cannot guarantee in every case that your seat or setting will provide you with access to power.
    4. Additional required software made available to you at no charge and which you’ll learn more about later includes:

      1. ExamSoft SofTest (for taking exams)
      2. FastTest WebLock (for taking the PCOA exam)
      3. Citrix Receiver (for accessing our electronic medical record system called APeX)
    5. Devices that do not meet these requirements are not supported.

    As of June 2016: We have encountered severe compatibility problems with the exam software we use called ExamSoft SofTest and the Dell Data Protection Encryption software that UCSF requires. This issue has impacted only Windows users. About 15% of these users have experienced a crash during an exam that resulted in total data loss. We are working with ExamSoft and Dell and UCSF Information Technology (IT) to resolve this problem, but we do not know when it will be resolved. Until then, we recommend:

    • If you plan to buy a new computer, consider a Mac laptop instead of a Windows laptop.
    • If you have a Windows laptop, consider using an iPad with an external keyboard to take SofTest exams. See the Tablets section below.
  2. A privacy screen is required during all computer-based exams.

    1. A privacy screen is a filter that attaches over your device’s display to make information visible to only you, and we require it when you take exams. You’ll need to select one that fits your device. Because there are many kinds of devices and privacy screens we cannot provide recommendations or guidance on purchasing, but see 3M Privacy and Screen Protectors for examples.
    2. You can usually find privacy screens at stores that carry computer accessories. When not taking an exam that requires it, we do not require you to use the privacy screen. Most privacy filters detach easily, enabling you to use them only when needed.
  3. We require that you follow UCSF’s security standards for electronic information

    1. Your laptop must satisfy security software requirements as specified in the UCSF campuswide Technology Requirements for Students.

      1. Your computer will not be able to connect to the campus network unless all requirements are met.
      2. To access certain services from off campus, including desktop-application-based email, you must connect via our virtual private network (VPN).
      3. Your device’s settings might need to be modified to meet UCSF minimum security standards. E.g., Android device encryption, blocking of PIN and image login options on Windows, limited password attempts, and session timeout after inactivity.
    2. During orientation, the School will provide you with an 8 GB encrypted USB drive, and this fulfills the campuswide requirement specified at Hardware Requirement, so you do not need to buy one.

    3. In your first quarter you will be required to complete an online security awareness training module. You’ll learn more about this and other security requirements later.

    4. If you set up a wireless network at home, we require that you secure it with WPA2 encryption. (Personal wireless networks are not permitted in campus housing, so if you’re in campus housing this doesn’t apply to you.) For help with setting up WPA2 encryption, contact your internet service provider or your wireless access point manufacturer. UCSF cannot set up your home wireless network for you.

Technology recommendations

Tablets and smartphones are not required. Read on for details and our recommendations.


If you do not already have a tablet, we do not require one. If you plan to buy a tablet, we recommend iPad since it can be used at various points in the curriculum. Currently, Anatomy 116 uses an iBook that is also available as a PDF, certain elective courses in the School of Medicine use iBooks, and you will have the option to take some of your exams from an iPad using the SofTest-M exam software app. If you choose to use an iPad to take an exam, we require that you have an external keyboard for it.

Note: Apple has discontinued iOS updates for iPad 1 and will inevitably discontinue iOS updates in the near future for iPad 2 and iPad Mini 1. At that point, certain apps such as SofTest-M may no longer work on older devices.

If you plan to buy an iPad, we recommend that you buy the latest model. If you have an iPad now, consider upgrading it after 3 years.


Although not currently required, smartphones have become ubiquitous among health science students and professionals. Smartphones are permitted when taking many objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) exams and are widely used on clinical rotations. We recommend iOS and Android devices for access to the most popular apps. Two of the most popular apps among our PharmD student pharmacists are MICROMEDEX, which is available for free through the library, and LexiComp, which is usually provided to you during your second year.



Technology requirements for student pharmacists entering in:

Questions or feedback?

Contact the Student Computer Support Help Desk at [email protected].