Computing Requirements

What is it?

Computers are an essential part of your medical education. The UW School of Medicine requires all students to own both a laptop and a mobile device, and to ensure data security to protect patient information.

What do I need to know or do?

Laptop Minimum Requirements and Recommendations

In order to ensure compatibility with various learning and assessment technologies, you are required to have a sufficiently recent model laptop with the following specifications:

  • Minimum 4GB of RAM (required - 8GB or higher recommended);
  • Minimum 120GB of storage (required - 256GB or higher recommended);
  • Wi-Fi (wireless) network capability (required);
  • Broadband Internet access at home with minimum download speed of 3 megabits per second (required - 7 Mbps or higher recommended);
  • Recent operating system (Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise, Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 Professional or Enterprise; or Macintosh OS X 10.7 Lion through 10.12 Sierra) with all current security updates (required);
    • Important note: Due to compatibility issues with our critical applications, Chromebooks and laptops running Linux variants do not meet the SOM minimum requirements for a laptop.
  • Full disk encryption enabled (required, see the Encryption page);
  • Anti-virus software with all current virus definitions (required; note: Sophos is available free from UW IT)
  • Microsoft Office Professional or Office 365 ProPlus (required; note: Office 365 ProPlus is available free from UW IT)
  • Encrypted file back-up, either UW OneDrive for Business or encrypted external hard drive (strongly recommended);
  • Lightweight (recommended);
  • Battery life of 6 hours or more between charges (recommended);
  • Extended warranty and/or technical support provided by the manufacturer (recommended)

Although iPads and similar Android devices have been used successfully by some students for day-to-day use in class, tablet devices are not a replacement for a laptop computer.

Please note that, aside from these requirements and recommendations, your choice of laptop is an individual matter, and should be made at your discretion. Please be aware that regardless of whether you choose a Macintosh or Windows PC, sometimes there will be minor compatibility issues if your professors or classmates are using a different platform. The School of Medicine strives to be as platform-neutral as possible in its selection of technologies for medical student education.

Mobile Devices

The School of Medicine requires students to have a mobile device to access medical information and personal productivity tools. Examples of devices that fulfill this requirement include hand-held devices (such as a smartphone or iPod Touch) and tablet devices (such as the iPad or similar device).  It is not required that the device use a cellular network for data access, although devices that use Wi-Fi only for Internet access may not be able to connect to a network at some clinical sites. These devices must be encrypted (see the Encryption page).

The UW Health Sciences Libraries has a useful mobile resources page.

Where can I go for help?

SOM Academic & Learning Technologies: somalt@uw.edu