MD/PhD Program Curriculum

MD/PhD Program Academics MD/PhD Program Curriculum
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MD/PhD Program Academics MD/PhD Program Curriculum

MD/PhD candidates at NYU School of Medicine’s Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences may follow one of three academic pathways, all of which integrate preclinical coursework, graduate training in the biomedical sciences, and clinical clerkships.

Our MD/PhD program handbook, accessible to current students by logging into our intranet community using your Kerberos ID, provides a detailed overview of program guidelines.

MD/PhD Program Timeline

MD/PhD candidates follow a general timeline within which they choose one of our three academic pathways. 

First Summer Rotation

Beginning July 1 of the year of your matriculation, you participate in a summer research rotation and attend the MD/PhD summer seminar series. You choose your research rotation mentor in consultation with a program co-director prior to arrival on campus.  

Medical School Year One

Students must comply with the policies of NYU School of Medicine’s MD degree program as stated in the MD student handbook. During the academic year, you are expected to participate in MD/PhD program activities, as your schedule permits. 

Second Summer Rotation

At the end of the first year, you participate in a second summer research rotation and attend our MD/PhD summer seminar series. You choose your research rotation mentor in consultation with a program co-director.

Medical School Year Two

During the academic year, you are expected to participate in MD/PhD program activities, as your schedule permits.

Transition to Graduate School

After completing the first 18 months of the MD degree program, you transition to PhD training in January of your second year. You take Step 1 of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination®  (USMLE®) by March 1 and must pass to continue laboratory research. While in PhD training, you comply with graduate school policies.

Upon entering the MD/PhD program, you are strongly encouraged to read the Association of American Medical Colleges’® Compact Between Biomedical Graduate Students and Their Research Advisors.

You must complete all academic requirements of the training program as outlined by Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences to receive a PhD.

Transition Back to Medical School

Re-entry into medical school requires careful coordination among you, your mentor, your thesis advisory committee, the MD/PhD program, and the MD training program.

In the MD curriculum, MD/PhD students undertake their clinical clerkships and selectives in 12-week blocks punctuated by 1-week intersessions. These blocks begin in April, July, or October (in some years the first week may fall in the preceding month), depending on which pathway is selected.

Clinical Clerkships

During a one-week orientation, you become familiar with aspects of a clinical clerkship. For example, you receive a campus tour, training on how to complete and file clinical data, and exposure to practical tools.

In addition, you take a six-week course, Introduction to Bedside Diagnosis, developed specifically for MD/PhD candidates nearing the end of their PhD thesis work, to acclimate you to the clinic again. This course consists of highly focused sessions taught by chief medical residents at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, which serves a broad range of patients.

When you return to the MD training program after completing your PhD, we provide up to 22 months of funding while you complete clinical clerkships. This includes one month of vacation, one month to interview, and one month to study for Step 2 of the USMLE®. Funding terminates on the last day of the month you graduate from NYU School of Medicine.

MD/PhD candidates also take the NYU School of Medicine comprehensive clinical skills exam in June (for those starting in April, July, or October) or February (for those on the accelerated pathway, described below). You must pass in order to graduate.

MD/PhD Program Pathways

MD PhD Pathway Timeline

NYU School of Medicine MD/PhD candidates may choose from one of three academic pathways. Confer with the MD/PhD director to discuss which pathway is right for you.

Pathway One: Traditional

In the first pathway, you take the USMLE® Step 1 by March 1 in your second year, following completion of MD degree coursework. You start work in the thesis laboratory immediately thereafter, unless a third rotation is scheduled. Until you pass USMLE® Step 1, you cannot continue to work in your thesis laboratory.

After a successful PhD thesis defense, you enter clinical clerkships. Entry dates are April 1, July 1, and October 1 of each academic year. Note that the April 1 entry date is the first clerkship entry point in the calendar year sequence. The April entry point cannot be considered a fallback if you do not meet the October deadline.

Pathway Two: Clinical Clerkship Prior to Graduate School

The second pathway is for students who wish to complete 12 weeks of clinical clerkships before beginning the PhD training and who have found a thesis lab during their first 2 summer rotations. You must obtain permission from the director before selecting this pathway by September of your second year. You enter into the lottery for clinical clerkships, or “palettes,” along with candidates in the MD training program.

You take USMLE® Step 1 by June 1 of the second year, upon completion of the 12-week clerkship and prior to starting in a thesis lab. Until you pass USMLE® Step 1, you cannot continue to work in your thesis laboratory.

Entry dates for clinical clerkships following successful PhD thesis defense are the same as for pathway one.

Pathway Three: Accelerated Seven-Year Program

NYU School of Medicine offers an accelerated three-year MD pathway to medical students. This pathway offers medical students a compressed MD degree curriculum and conditional acceptance into a residency program of their choice at NYU School of Medicine. On this pathway, you graduate in May, and your residency begins on July 1.

MD/PhD candidates have an option to choose this accelerated pathway upon reentry to medical school. You are eligible if you can complete and defend your PhD thesis and begin clinical clerkships by January 1 of your sixth year. You apply in October of your sixth year, having completed preclinical training and soon to be defending your thesis. Decisions are made in November, when you receive a conditional acceptance into a residency program. Admission to the program depends on there being an available spot in your chosen residency.

Students accepted into the accelerated program participate in the National Resident Matching Program®, and we use these rankings to make matches for residencies. You may apply to a residency outside of NYU School of Medicine, but the accelerated pathway does not allow for time away from a clerkship, selectives, or electives for residency interviews.

Clinical clerkships begin in January of the sixth year, followed by clinical electives, selectives, and USMLE® Step 2. If you apply but are not accepted into the accelerated pathway, you may begin your clerkship in April, July, or October.