BUSM Laptop & Tablet Requirements

Last updated: 02/02/24

Boston University School of Medicine requires incoming MD students to have a laptop and tablet computer to access course content and to use for examinations. While all of the instruction materials will run under either the Macintosh or the Windows platform, the decision whether to purchase a Macintosh or a Windows-based computer must be made by each student.

Many students find the use of a tablet (Android, IOS, Chrome) facilitates notetaking, highlighting and indexing of content using the available tablet applications. Please see details in the next section for minimum requirements since some required software (such as ExamSoft’s Examplify and NBME’s Secure Browser) is not fully supported on many types of tablets.

Laptops are required for the BUSM I Histology sessions (virtual microscopy), course examinations, and testing by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Wireless internet connections, and some power outlets support laptop use in the Alumni Medical Library, large lecture halls, and common spaces and study spaces throughout the medical campus. Printing is available in the Library and in the L-Basement.

Student laptops must meet the minimum requirements listed below. Additional suggested options for consideration are likewise included below. Please visit the BU TechWeb Personal Technology Purchases website for links to Lenovo BU, and Apple BU (Apple requires BU login) as well as Microsoft Office software.

Students can have their laptops registered with the Boston University Police Department to aid in theft deterrent and enable return of stolen or lost laptops. Registration for students is free of charge.

Once students have obtained a BU login name and Kerberos password, they can download and install Endpoint Protection software free of charge. Other anti-virus software must be removed prior to installation. Also, MS Office for BU Students is available as a free download, with permission to download only one copy of EACH version of Office (Mac OS and Windows) offered (BU login required).

Minimum Requirements for BUSM Tablet and Laptop Computers

iPads and Tablets

ExamSoft Examplify: iPad Requirements:

(See also: iPad Requirements)

  • Hardware =iPad 5+, iPad Air 2+, iPad Mini 4+, iPad Pro
  • Operating System = iPadOS 15, iPadOS 16, and iPadOS 17
  • Only genuine versions of iOS are supported
  • 500 MB of free space required to commence an exam
  • iPad must not be Jailbroken
  • Internet connection for Examplify Download, Registration, and Exam Download/Upload

ExamSoft Examplify: Surface Pro Requirements:

(See also: Windows Requirements)

  • Surface Pro 4 or newer Microsoft Surface Pro devices (Non-Pro Surface devices are NOT supported)
  • Windows 10  (“S mode is NOT supported and can be switched out by following these instructions)
  • See PC (Windows) and Mac (OS X) Requirements for ExamSoft’s Examplify & NBME for additional information)

NBME (National Board of Medical Examiners) Requirements:

  • Surface/Tablets are NOT allowed
  • iPad Air 2 or newer, iPad Pro, or iPad mini are allowed (onsite only)
  • ASUS Laptops with touchpad/touchscreen are
    not allowed
  • Android tablets are not allowed
  • Laptops with integrated touchscreens are allowed

Laptops: PC (Windows) and Mac (OS X) Requirements:

ExamSoft’s Examplify & NBME:

(See also: PC requirementsMac requirements)

  • 64-bit version of Windows 10 and Windows 11
  • Alternate versions of Windows 10, such as Windows RT and Windows 10/11 S, are NOT supported at this time
  • Only genuine versions of Windows Operating Systems are supported
  • The English (United States) Language Pack must be installed
  • The versions of Windows certified for use are Windows 10 22H2, Windows 11 22H2, and Windows 11 23H2
  • Supported Mac OS versions: macOS Monterey (12.x), macOS Ventura (13.x), macOS Sonoma (14.x)
  • Devices using Apple’s M1 and M2 processor and Apple Rosetta 2 are supported
  • RAM: 4GB or higher (see RAM upgrade recommendation below)
  • Hard Drive: highest recommended for the operating system or 1GB of available space
  • 13” screen with a minimum screen resolution of 1280×768 is required with 32-bit color setting
  • Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection
  • Headphones or Earbuds with a microphone (Headset if preferred)
  • For onsite support, a working USB port is required (newer devices may require an adaptor)
  • Administrator level account permissions
  • Updated Virus & Spyware Protection
  • Recommended browsers include Edge (PCs only), Firefox & Chrome (current version plus one previous version),  and Safari 12 or higher (Mac only). Do not use beta versions of these browsers. Please check with your faculty and instructors for preferred browser(s) for a particular class or exam
  • Both ExamSoft’s Examplify and NBME require a keyboard. Bluetooth keyboards must be paired prior to launching an exam. An external mouse might be easier to use compared to a built-in touchpad mouse but it’s not a must
  • Both ExamSoft’s Examplify and NBME’s web based tests cannot be used on virtual operating systems such as Microsoft’s Virtual Machine, Parallels, VMware, VMware Fusion or any other virtual environments
  • At least 4 hours of actual battery life. Batteries are consumable products and their performance degrades over time. You may need to replace your batteries when run time is no longer sufficient

Optional Considerations Prior to Laptop Purchase

  • Upgrade to a faster processor to improve performance
  • Upgrade to a Solid State Drive (SSD) with 256GB or larger capacity
  • Upgrade to 8GB RAM or more. Some systems offer this as a standard. Increasing RAM will improve performance of the computer but in some cases RAM cannot be upgraded
  • Upgrade to larger battery if weight is not a concern to increase the time the laptop can be used without having to plug into a power outlet for recharge. Be aware that batteries degrade over time and must be replaced when run time is no longer sufficient
  • Purchase 15” or larger screen. Larger screens generally provide higher resolution and therefore more information on the screen at one time but may also increase the weight of the laptop. If scrolling is a problem, particularly during an exam, then consider a computer with a larger screen
  • Certain software packages (like SAS) used by some students may require the Windows OS and if used on a Mac would require the additional purchase of the appropriate Windows OS and a virtualization software like VirtualBox (free), VMware, or Parallels Desktop
  • Consider purchasing a “no fault” protection plan
  • Be aware that certain models of Mac and PC notebooks do not have a Kensington Security Slot nor will user be able to do any upgrades, including changing the battery

The BUMC IT staff, located in the Alumni Medical Library (L1109) and the Crosstown Building (Suite 485), will provide assistance with student laptops after matriculation, including providing a laptop loaner service for students whose computers are being serviced by the IT Help Center on the Charles River Campus or an outside repair shop. For more information about school or department related software, please contact your school’s administrator. Please contact BUMC IT at at bumchelp@bu.edu or (617) 358-1111 for additional information.