RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — There are only a handful of medical schools in California, and UC Riverside has just been added to the roster.

Officials have given preliminary approval to UCR medical school’s proposed courses, which means the university can soon begin accepting applications, a campus spokesperson announced Tuesday.

“This is momentous … for Inland Southern California and for UC Riverside,” UCR Chancellor Timothy P. White said.

“This medical school is critically needed to address our region’s physician shortage and stimulate the local economy,” said White, who credited the Riverside community’s support in reaching this point.

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education withheld accreditation approval in 2011 because California’s budget crisis would prohibit UCR’s medical school from receiving sufficient funds.

The university has since secured millions in private donations, including $20 million from Riverside County, allowing plans for the medical school to move forward — an endeavor that began in 2006.

Classes will be held in the new School of Medicine Research Building and the renovated School of Medicine Education Building, campus officials said.

Prospective students can begin submitting applications to the four-year program later this month when the medical school is added to the American Medical College Application Service.

This will be the sixth medical school added to the UC system, which hasn’t inaugurated a new campus M.D. program since the 1960s.

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