MD Curriculum at NYU School of Medicine

MD Curriculum at NYU School of Medicine
Simulation Center
MD Curriculum at NYU School of Medicine

NYU School of Medicine trains future physicians with an innovative, flexible MD degree curriculum known as the Curriculum for the 21st Century, or C21. Our program enables students to master the skills necessary to succeed in medicine and provides opportunities to customize their studies at designated points in their training. 

C21 is organized in four stages:

  • foundational basic science instruction
  • clinical skills
  • research and specialization
  • career preparation 

Whether it’s gaining early acceptance to a residency program with the accelerated three-year MD pathway, training to become a physician-scientist with our MD/PhD degree, or exploring a professional area that complements the MD degree with one of our dual MD/master’s degrees, C21 offers many options for students to achieve their career goals. 

Our Curricular Pillars

C21 provides patient-centered and disease-focused training that emphasizes six essential competencies known as pillars. Each pillar is based on one of the following areas of study: cancer biology, cardiovascular disease, metabolism and obesity, microbial pathogenesis, neurodegenerative diseases, and population health. 

Grouping areas of medical study into curricular pillars helps our students make connections between basic science concepts learned in the classroom and their real-world clinical application.

Pillars serve as overarching themes or core concepts. Study in each pillar involves “spiral cases,” diseases and conditions (or social and economic considerations in the case of population health) that align under that theme and are used to show how classroom learning is translated into clinical practice. During your training, you learn increasingly complex information about each pillar and the diseases associated with it in an upward spiral of learning. 

For example, you explore spiral cases in atherosclerosis as part of the cardiovascular pillar and spiral cases in diabetes as part of the metabolism and obesity pillar. Other cases you may encounter include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the neurodegenerative diseases pillar, and value-based healthcare and social determinants of health in the population health pillar.

Pillar concepts are woven into the preclinical curriculum in your first 18 months of medical school. In your clerkship year and beyond, those concepts are reinforced through daily patient contact, online and simulation exercises offered at NYSIM, the New York Simulation Center for the Health Sciences, and progress assessments. Diversity and health disparities are explored in the context of each pillar.

You can read more about specific graduation policies in our MD Student Handbook