Computer Requirements

Entering medical students to the University of Alabama School of Medicine (UASOM) will be required to have unrestricted access to a personal computer; a laptop/notebook computer is strongly recommended. In addition, students will be required to obtain dial-up or broadband access to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider of their choice. A computer is essential, as it will be used for official UASOM correspondence sent by e-mail and for delivering and communicating course assignments. The choice of personal computer to meet the requirements of this policy should be consistent with the most current Recommendations for Hardware, Software and Internet Service Provider to meet the Medical Student Computer Requirement Policy established by the University of Alabama School of Medicine - Medical Education Information Services.

Students will use their computers to:

  • access instructional websites
  • access information resources, such as bibliographic databases
  • send and receive e-mail
  • run Microsoft Office software (word processing, presentation graphics, etc)
  • install and run instructional software provided by instructors

Students may purchase, lease, borrow, or share the hardware and software necessary to meet this requirement. While we offer access to computers through our computer facility, these computers do not meet the requirement for unrestricted access. The cost of a computer, peripherals, associated software, and an Internet service provider can be included in financial aid considerations. Purchase and maintenance of hardware and software for student-owned computers is the student's responsibility. The choice of personal computer to meet the requirements of this policy should be consistent with the most current recommendations for hardware, software and Internet service provider provided below.

Recommendations for Hardware

An Intel-based PC running Windows is strongly recommended, because it is the standard, supported platform for the student computer facility. If you already own a PC or a Macintosh, either is acceptable, provided it can accomplish the tasks stated in the Student Computer Requirement Policy. MEIS offers no support for Macintosh computers. For students purchasing a new computer, the following are recommended minimum configurations based on an estimated three to four year life of a PC.

  • 2 GHz or faster CPU (e.g., Pentium 4, Intel Centrino, Intel Dual Core, Celeron M, Cyrix III, AMD Turion, etc.)
  • 1.0GB or more SDRAM
  • 80GB or larger hard drive
  • 24x or faster CD-RW drive
  • High-resolution graphics adapter with at least 256MB video RAM, supporting at least 24-bit color at 800 X 600 resolution. Laptops should have an external monitor port for connection to an external monitor or classroom projection system.
  • High-resolution color display (at least 800 X 600 resolution, 24-bit color. Laptop displays should be at least 12" diagonally. Desktop displays should be at least 15" diagonally.)
  • Sound support, including speakers or headphones
  • 56kbps V.90 modem (avoid any modem labeled "winmodem" or "modem for Windows") and/or Ethernet Adaptor
  • A high-quality printer (ink-jet or laser) is recommended, although printing facilities are available in the student computer labs.
  • Bundled software should include Microsoft Office Professional (available for small ($10) media fee at UAB bookstore).1
  • Laptop users should consider purchasing a wireless Ethernet Adaptor (802.11b/g) as wireless access points are available in select locations on campus and on the 4th and 5th floors of the new Volker Hall tower. Most newer laptop computers have wireless adapters installed by the manufacturer. Check with your retailer to see which models are available with wireless network adapters before you purchase one.

1The Microsoft Office suite comes with several applications, including Microsoft Word, the Excel spreadsheet, Outlook e-mail and personal information manager, PowerPoint (for class presentations) and Access (database software). A license to use Microsoft Office is available to currently enrolled students for their home computers. A portion of your computer lab fees are used to provide this license. However, the CDs required to install Microsoft Office must be purchased at the UAB Bookstore located in Hill University Center for around $10.

Click here for UAB vendors: Configure a new computer.

Software Standards

While other packages can provide the same functions, there are significant conveniences and advantages to using one of the standard packages. In many courses it is expected that the files submitted will conform to these standards.

  • Word processing — Microsoft Word
  • Spreadsheets — Microsoft Excel
  • World Wide Web browsers — Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • E-mail client — You may use any POP or IMAP compliant email software such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc. Your School of Medicine provided mailbox is accessible via the World Wide Web.

Internet Service Provider

Students must have an internet service provider. At this time, the school does not recommend any one service over another. However, UAB has established a program with BellSouth for reduced rates. Please visit for details.

About Laptops

Students may find that laptop computers offer significant advantages of mobility. A laptop computer is acceptable, but portability is not required.

Advice on Acquiring a Computer

Computer technology changes rapidly and prices for computers continue to drop. Depending on the student's individual situation, it may make sense to lease, or purchase. It is reasonable to expect that any computer will need upgrading over the course of four or more years. Make sure that your computer's memory is expandable.

Established by the University of Alabama School of Medicine Medical Education Information Services, May 15, 1999. Updated on 03/31/2008