3.08 Scholars in Medicine Office

Medical Education

More... Share to Twitter Share to Facebook
3.08 Scholars in Medicine Office

The Scholars in Medicine Office (SMO) is located in Suite 265, on the mezzanine level of the Holmes Society in the TMEC.

The Scholars in Medicine Office (SMO) manages the scholarly project graduation requirement for students entering HMS in fall 2011 and after. For their scholarly project, students will conduct an independent investigation of a scholarly question and write up their findings, with close faculty mentorship. To this end, the SMO offers significant funding opportunities to support students. A Faculty Committee on Scholarship in Medicine (also known as Society Fellows) oversees the scholarly project process.

The SMO also provides other program and financial assistance to students. SMO faculty and staff:

  • Advise and mentor students;
  • Recommend mentors for student projects;
  • Assist students in developing independent, funded projects;
  • Provide support for required and elective courses related to the scholarly project, exchange clerkships abroad, and language programs;
  • Alert students to a wide array of out-of-classroom experiences, events, and fellowships
  • Link students and faculty with information resources;
  • Organize instruction in Medical Spanish and assist other language programs at HMS for students who have interests in the practice of medicine in other cultures; and
  • Advise students on the process for graduating with honors in a special field (see below or Section 1.07).

More information about the SMO can be found on the SMO website in eCommons (click on Scholars in Medicine Office in the Student portal or the Education Links box on the eCommons portal page).

Student Funding

The SMO is a primary source of student funding for:

  • biological research
  • clinical or translational research
  • global and community health projects
  • health policy and health services projects
  • medical humanities projects
  • clinical epidemiology, quality improvement, and outcomes research
  • Boston or US-based community service
  • select international clinical electives
  • HMS-sponsored summer medical Spanish language programs (when offered)

Students participate in a rigorous application and review process to be eligible for Harvard funding. Students are strongly advised to read the weekly SMO e-newsletter; search the SMO searchable projects database for both current opportunities and past student project information; meet with SMO staff for advice; and work with a faculty mentor as they plan and implement projects.

SMO Database of Opportunities and Projects

Anyone with a HMS ID can access the SMO searchable projects database on the SMO home page in eCommons. The database lists:

  • faculty-identified scholarly projects;
  • other research opportunities, service projects, internships, and training opportunities both in the US and abroad ;
  • student reports on their projects; and
  • fellowship and awards offered by Harvard University and external organizations.

Students seeking local community service opportunities should contact the SMO and/or the HMS Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership (Section 3.19) for additional opportunities.

News You Can Use - SMO e-Newsletter

This weekly newsletter, e-mailed to all HMS and HSDM students (and posted on-line on the SMO website), is replete with information on application deadlines; opportunities for student research, community service, clinical electives, and language programs in the US and abroad; opportunities pertaining to all SMO programs; scholarships, grants, and awards; upcoming conferences; events at HMS, Harvard University, and elsewhere; and other health-related topics.

Soma Weiss Student Research Day

The SMO organizes the Soma Weiss Student Research Day held annually in January. This celebration of scholarly projects by HMS and HSDM students includes a poster session and oral presentations by students. Prizes are awarded for the best posters in several categories.

Honors in a Special Field

The MD degree with Honors in a Special Field (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) is awarded to graduating degree candidates who have performed original and meritorious investigation and demonstrated ability, scholarship, and special knowledge of their research field. This is the only way to earn academic honors at HMS. Students must otherwise be in good academic standing at HMS to be eligible for Honors in a Special Field.

An original thesis, describing basic or clinical research or other scholarly investigation (e.g., in social sciences, ethics, history of medicine) involving a minimum of four to six consecutive months (often more in the experimental biological sciences) must be submitted and will form the basis for an oral exam. The MD Honors Thesis must be distinct from any prior or concurrent graduate-level thesis (e.g., MPH, PhD). Candidates must speak with one of their Society Fellows, fill out a Statement of Intent no later than the first Monday of October in the expected graduation year, and submit their full proposal to the Coordinator of Honors in a Special Field in the SMO. The thesis submission deadline is during the first week of February of the graduation year. Oral examinations are held in March and April. Please also see Sections 1.07 and 2.03.

Foreign Language Learning Opportunities

In the fourth year, SMO faculty and staff organize an intensive medical Spanish course in July in Boston and a Spanish-speaking eight-week primary care clinical elective course in one of seven sites in Latin America during the academic year. The Harvard Medical Language Initiative, a student organization, organizes intermediate level longitudinal medical Spanish, medical Portuguese, and medical Mandarin classes.


The SMO coordinates the application process for several external and Harvard fellowships, among which are:

  • US Fulbright Program for study or research abroad
  • Various traveling fellowships
  • The Neil Samuel Ghiso Fellowship, which focuses on end-of-life care issues, palliative care, and compassionate medicine
  • Marshall Scholarship

More information is on the Scholars in Medicine Office website in eCommons.


Last updated on 7/30/15