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Computing Requirements

UCSF School of Dentistry Computing Requirements: Equipment and Literacy

These requirements are effective as of July 31, 2015.

Only for Students entering in 2015.

These requirements are for students entering in 2015.
Students entering in 2016: your requirements are expected to be available at this page in June 2016.

Before orientation

Before you arrive on campus, we expect that:

  1. You have met our computer literacy requirement.
  2. You own a computer that meets our hardware requirement.
  3. Your computer has an operating system that meets our operating system requirement.
  4. You have legally obtained a version of Microsoft Office that meets our Microsoft Office requirement.
  5. You have successfully installed all the software in our additional software requirement.
  6. You have already set up or are in the process of setting up your internet connection with an internet service provider.
  7. You are able to send and receive messages with your UCSF e-mail account.

Hardware Requirement

All students entering the UCSF School of Dentistry must must own a computer that meets either Configuration A or Configuration B below, and must be confidently able to perform the tasks described in the Computer Literacy requirement without assistance.

How do I choose between configurations A & B?

Configuration A

Configuration B

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.


Computer requirements

If something is not listed as required, we offer no specific recommendations and suggest that you make purchase decisions based on your budget or your desire for particular features or convenience.

 

Configuration A
required if not buying a new computer

Configuration B
required if buying a new computer

How To Check

memory (RAM)

GB or more

GB or more

graphics hardware

No specific requirement

Select a graphics hardware option upgrade if available

 

printer

Yes

Yes

 

security cable

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

 

warranty

Not required

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

 

encrypted USB drive

Yes, 8 GB minimum (see below)

Yes, 8 GB minimum (see below)

 


If something is not listed as required, we offer no specific recommendations and suggest that you make purchase decisions based on your budget or your desire for particular features or convenience.

Laptops are REQUIRED

Computers come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit different needs, for example: desktop, minitower, tower, laptop, all-in-one. Dentistry requires laptops.

Extra Battery

We strongly recommend you consider the purchase of an extra battery for your laptop, as you may often be in environments with a limited number of available electrical outlets for long periods of time.

If something is not listed as required, we offer no specific recommendations and suggest that you make purchase decisions based on your budget or your desire for particular features or convenience.

Privacy Screen

A laptop privacy screen is a filter that attaches over your laptop's display to make information visible to only you, and we require it when you take certain exams. You'll need to select one that fits your laptop. Because there are many kinds of laptops and privacy screens we cannot provide recommendations or guidance on purchasing, but here are two examples:

3M™ PFMA13 Laptop Privacy Filter Apple® MacBook Air® 13-in
3M™ PF14.1 Privacy Filter for Standard Formatted Notebooks

You can usually find privacy screens at most 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.

 

Why do you require a security cable for computers that have a locking mechanism?

The UCSF Police Department regularly receives reports of laptop thefts, especially those left unattended and unlocked in the library.
See Tip: The 5 most common ways laptops are stolen (and how to avoid them).

What is an encrypted USB drive and why do you require it?

An encrypted USB drive is a data storage device that encrypts data stored on it so that it cannot be accessed by unauthorized persons. We require this because you will need an easy way to store legally protected data while also protecting that data from harm. This is so important to UCSF that our policy requires you to use only encrypted USB drives and other devices for UCSF business, research, and studies. See Buy Recommended Security Products?

What about netbooks and tablets? (e.g., Apple iPad, Google Chromebook)

Netbooks and tablets are small, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive computing devices that can be a wonderful alternative to a laptop computer. However, because these devices typically have less processing power and lack certain capabilities of a laptop, you should not use a netbook or iPad in place of a laptop. However, it's fine as a companion to your laptop.

What about smartphones?

A smartphone is not required. If you plan to buy a smartphone, we recommend iPhone because it is easier for our support teams to support. If you do not already have an iPhone or smartphone, we do not require one.

You can store up to 60 GB of files in UCSF Box

As a member of the UCSF community, you'll have access to Box, a web-based file storage and file sharing service. If you're familiar with the popular service called Dropbox, Box works similarly, enabling you to store files and share files or folders with individuals or groups. Details: UCSF Box.  Do not use Box for legally protected data.  Currently Box may not be used for legally protected or policy-protected confidential information such as patient records, social security numbers, or credit card numbers. For this kind of data, use your encrypted USB drive.
 

Operating system requirement

 

Configuration A
required if not buying a new computer

Configuration B
required if buying a new computer

Windows

Any one of the following:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

Any one of the following:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

Mac

Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion or later

Whatever Apple gives you by default


About OS X 10.11 El Capitan

Apple OS X 10.11 El Capitan is expected to be available in fall 2015 and is not yet confirmed to be supported by UCSF IT or compatible with UCSF systems. If you have a choice, we recommend OS X 10.10 Yosemite instead.

About Windows 10

Microsoft Windows 10 is expected to be available on July 29, 2015. Windows 10 is not yet confirmed to be supported by UCSF IT or compatible with UCSF systems. If you have a choice, we recommend Windows 8 or Windows 7 instead. (During its first year of availability, upgrades to Windows 10 will be offered at no charge for consumer users of genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.)

Windows 8.1 Pro for Students

As of June 23, 2015, Microsoft is offering Windows 8.1 Pro for Students for $69.99.


Microsoft Office requirement

Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are required.

 

Configuration A
required if not buying a new computer

Configuration B
required if buying a new computer

Windows

Office 2013 (any edition)

Office 2013 (any edition)

Mac

Office for Mac 2011 (any edition)

Office for Mac 2011 (any edition)

More details: Choose your Office

About Office 2016

Office 2016 for Mac and Windows is expected to be available sometime in 2015. Office 2016 is not yet confirmed to be supported by UCSF IT or compatible with UCSF systems.

Microsoft Office 365 is currently unsupported

Microsoft Office 365 is the latest version of Office. We do not require this version of Office, and we want you to be aware that as of June 2015 UCSF has not yet committed to supporting Office 365 for faculty and staff. This doesn't affect you directly, but you might need to implement workarounds as a result. UCSF might be unable to support your use of Office 365 should you require help.


About wireless

Wireless is available in all locations where people reasonably expect it. Access points support the following protocols:

  • 802.11a (54 Mbit/s)
  •  
  • 802.11b (11 Mbit/s)
  •  
  • 802.11g (54 Mbit/s)
  •  
  • 802.11n (600 Mbit/s)

These access points have separate band coverage for each of the four protocols. However, some access points are connected to the network through older network hardware that is limited to 100 Mbit/s. Consequently, in some locations wireless is restricted to slower speeds even if your device supports a faster speed. UCSF is addressing these limitations, but it is not yet known when all locations will have 802.11n speeds. UCSF does not yet support the 802.11ac protocol.

How to connect to the internet

For wired connections, simply connect using an Ethernet cable. For wireless connections, see Wireless.

Where do I buy computer and technology stuff?

You may purchase from any vendor. (UCSF does not have a campus computer store.)

What if I have a Mac?

The curriculum does not require any software that is available only on Windows. There are some compatibility issues with exchanging Microsoft Office documents between Windows and Mac and among newer and older versions, but in essentially all cases these issues have workarounds or solutions. Also, you'll have 24/7 access to computer labs that have both Mac and Windows computers.

Need financial help?

If you need financial assistance to pay for a computer and internet service, UCSF Student Financial Aid may be able to help. The funding source is an additional student loan, usually a Federal Stafford Loan. The loan will not be disbursed in a single check but will be divided equally by the number of quarters enrolled during the academic year.

To receive a loan to cover computer costs, you must:

  1. Purchase the computer and/or related equipment on or after Friday, August 1, 2015.
  2. Make the purchases in your own name.
  3. Charge the purchases to a credit card, or if you cannot or prefer not to charge, obtain an itemized estimate, including taxes.
  4. You'll need to provide electronic copies of your paid receipts or written estimates. If you have more than one document, combine them into a single PDF file or ZIP file.

Details: See Computer Purchases on Student Budget Increases.

If you have questions about financial assistance, contact Student Financial Aid at finaid@ucsf.edu or 415/476-4181 before you purchase the computer.


Related services

Borrow a laptop in the library

If your laptop is temporarily unavailable (e.g., in the repair shop), use a computer in one of our computer labs. Or, Kalmanovitz Library offers a Loaner Laptop Service, which enables you to borrow a laptop for use within the library.

Charge your laptop in the library

Kalmanovitz Library also offers a Laptop Charging Service in Room 240, which enables you to charge your laptop unattended in a secure locker. Details: Laptop Charging Stations.
 

Computer literacy requirement

Computer literacy is an entry requirement. You will not be able to complete your studies without a solid foundation in basic computer skills, which we define as confidence in using:

  1. Microsoft Excel
  2. Microsoft Word, including the Equation Editor
  3. Microsoft PowerPoint
  4. The web
  5. Adobe Reader DC
  6. Anti-virus software
  7. E-mail

To meet these requirements, you must be confidently able to perform the following tasks without assistance:

Microsoft Excel

  1. Create a new Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, and enter data into it.
  2. Create graphs and charts in Microsoft Excel using the spreadsheet data.
  3. Insert tables from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet into a Microsoft Word document.
  4. Insert graphs and charts from Microsoft Excel into a Microsoft Word document.

Learn more about Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Word

  1. Create a new document in Microsoft Word, and enter text into it.
  2. Cut and paste text.
  3. Format text using bold, underline, italics, superscript, subscript.

Learn more about Microsoft Word

Microsoft Equation Editor

Equation Editor is included as part of Microsoft Word.

  1. Set up an equation with the Equation Editor in Word and insert an equation into the document.
  2. Use Greek symbols using the Equation Editor.

Learn more about Microsoft Equation Editor

Microsoft PowerPoint

  1. Create a presentation with at least 3 slides.
  2. Begin the slide show.
  3. Stop the slide show.

Learn more about Microsoft PowerPoint

The web

  1. Visit a website with a browser and print a page to a printer.
  2. Open a PDF document on a website to view and print it.

Learn more about the web or Adobe Reader DC

Anti-virus software

  1. Check a computer for viruses using anti-virus software.

Learn more about computer viruses

E-mail

  1. Create and send an e-mail message to a given e-mail address.
  2. Open and read an e-mail message that someone has sent you.
  3. File received e-mails in folders according to topic.

Internet service choices

If internet service is included with your student housing, your apartment includes a direct connection to the UCSF network, and this meets your internet requirement. 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 $50 per month. The availability of these services can depend on where you live. Speed and pricing varies.

 

Additional software requirement

Use the links below to download and install the additional software we require. All these downloads are free.

Do not include any optional software with your download or installation. e.g., do not install McAfee Security Scan Plus.

Having trouble meeting this requirement?

If you are not yet able to complete these tasks with confidence, you are responsible for obtaining the required training before the first day of classes. Unfortunately, UCSF cannot provide support to help you meet this requirement. We suggest that you consider free tutorials online as well as courses available at community colleges and adult education centers.