Health Sciences & Technology (HST)

Medical Education

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Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST)

The HST curriculum leads to an MD degree from HMS and is oriented toward students with a declared interest in a career in biomedical research and a strong interest and background in physical or biological sciences.

The program is particularly appropriate for students who are planning multidisciplinary research careers in academic medicine. The curriculum, research, and clinical experience prepare students receiving the MD to excel as physician-scientists highly qualified to care for patients and participate in biomedical research careers in which they will assume leadership positions. While the MD can be obtained in four years and all students do research, most pursue a more intensive research experience made possible by extension of the MD program over five or more years. Approximately 40 percent of HST MD students pursue a combined MD-PhD program.

The programs of study are designed to develop superbly trained, clinically and socially responsible physicians with a deep understanding of the underlying science of medicine. The approach is rigorous and quantitative and presents human biology in a fashion that incorporates fundamental features of molecular biology, biotechnology, engineering, and physical sciences.

The courses in human pathophysiology, specially developed for this curriculum, represent the joint efforts of life scientists, physicians, physical scientists, and engineers selected from the faculties of both Harvard and MIT. The courses are presented at both universities and are organized in semester format to provide maximum scheduling flexibility and to interface easily with the academic schedules at MIT and Harvard University. The semester format enables MD students to take other classes throughout both universities and also permits HST PhD students to take some of the MD classes. This joining of MD and PhD students in the preclinical curriculum is another differentiating feature of the HST curriculum that enriches the MD student experience.

The program provides students with richly diversified educational opportunities specific to their interests, talents, and aspirations. The relatively small class size facilitates productive interaction between students and faculty.

HST MD students are required to become actively involved in independent research under the direction of a faculty member. Such research may be conducted longitudinally throughout a student’s medical studies, if carefully planned. Students are encouraged to slow the rate of progress through the formal curriculum in order to devote more time to research.

HST students join students in the other Societies for the Principal Clinical Experience (PCE)/core clinical clerkships and advanced experiences (clinical electives).

As a requirement for graduation, every HST student must present evidence of scholarly work in the form of a thesis based on laboratory research or clinical investigation. A written thesis proposal must be submitted by October of the second year, and the thesis in final form must be submitted by the first Monday in February of Year II.

In pursuit of advanced study, HST MD students may become candidates for the Master of Science degree from MIT or a Master of Medical Sciences degree from Harvard Medical School or for a combined MD/PhD or MD/MPH degree with graduate study and research at Harvard University or MIT. The HST Division encourages and facilitates such combined degree programs, but the pursuit of a combined degree is not a Division requirement.

Students are required to spend four years of full-time study at Harvard Medical School. Within those four years, course and credit distribution requirements must be fulfilled as described in the core curriculum and graduation requirements section. The choice of courses within selective areas is made by the student with the aid of his or her advisor. Students whose class year has changed by one year can choose to meet the graduation requirements of their original class but will be encouraged to meet graduation requirements of the new class; this decision must be approved by the Associate Master of HST.

HST graduates will work at the very frontiers of human medicine, always pushing the boundaries and often achieving breakthroughs that will shape the future of health care for generations to come. For detailed information about the HST Curriculum, click here.

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