MD Student Honors Program Requirements
As a student in NYU School of Medicine’s Honors Program, you conduct hypothesis-driven scientific research and write and defend a thesis under the guidance of a faculty mentor. To apply, you write a proposal that details the framework for a research project to be completed in a minimum of 20 weeks during your MD training.
Honors research projects can be completed as part of the four-year MD and dual MD/master’s degree tracks. We suggest you identify a research mentor, write your research proposal, and submit your Honors Program application materials as early as possible in your medical training. This allows you enough time to complete your project and write and defend your thesis.
The following are required of all applicants to the Honors Program:
- completing at least one year of medical school
- identifying a research mentor under the supervision of the program director
- drafting a half-page abstract summarizing the project, including a framework for the research
- developing and submitting a research proposal
As an honors student, you also complete the Responsible Conduct of Research course from the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative before or during your first research period. To complete the course, register as an independent learner and select NYU School of Medicine as your organization. This ensures that the cost of the course is covered from our institutional subscription.
After you’ve received confirmation that you’ve completed the course, send the information to Takeya Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Necessary Elements of an Honors Research Project
An honors research project must meet the following criteria:
- It is hypothesis driven and approved by your mentor and the program director.
- It involves a research mentor who has either a research project grant from the National Institutes of Health, also called an R01 grant, or approval from the program director.
- It lasts a minimum of 20 weeks.
- It is completed at an NYU School of Medicine laboratory.
- It includes a 20-page thesis that you defend with a thesis committee.
You may be able to apply to the Honors Program after you have completed your research or if you participate in outside research programs, with approval. Schedule a meeting with our program director if you have any questions about the eligibility of your research project for honors distinction.
After you have written an abstract and proposal with your mentor, you upload all materials to the Honors Program online tracking form (Kerberos ID required), where your mentor and the program director review, approve, and provide feedback on your proposal, thesis, and defense. This form is used to issue academic credit for eligible research projects; therefore, it is important that you keep it up to date.
Writing and Defending Your Honors Thesis
After your research is complete, you write a thesis under the supervision of your mentor. The thesis represents original and rigorous scientific effort and includes a literature review, a description of the methods and results, and a discussion of your study findings.
If you have published a manuscript as part of your research efforts, you can revise it to meet your thesis requirement, but a copy of a published manuscript cannot be submitted as a thesis. Your mentor can help to ensure that your thesis meets formatting requirements.
You submit your thesis and conduct an oral defense no later than March 30 of your graduation year. A thesis committee consisting of your mentor, two other faculty members with expertise in your research area, and our program director assesses your work. You schedule your defense at a convenient time for all committee members and work with our program coordinator to secure the meeting room for your defense.
At least two weeks before the defense, you email your thesis to the committee to ensure they have ample time to read and critique it. You upload your thesis with any final revisions to the online tracking form at least 48 hours before your defense.
A typical defense lasts 45 minutes and includes a brief opening statement and the background, results, and conclusions of the study. You explain the thought processes behind your research, demonstrate the knowledge and skills you have acquired, and engage in collegial conversation with committee members.
You then step out of the room while the committee discusses your defense. The committee may grant approval right away or make it contingent upon revisions. If they cannot decide immediately, you meet at a later time with your mentor to learn of the committee’s decision.
After approval, your honors designation and thesis title are reflected on your diploma.
Suggested Four-Year Plan to Complete the Honors Program