Course and Examination Requirements for the MD Degree

Medical Education

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Course Requirements in Years I and II

New Integrated Curriculum (NIC) of the New Pathway Program (Cannon, Castle, Holmes, Peabody)

The following courses must be passed by students who matriculated in August 2006 or later. If you matriculated prior to August 2006 and have questions about your preclinical curriculum course requirements, please contact the Registrar's office (

Fundamentals of Medicine Course Requirements

Year I
IN555.0 Introduction to the Profession
IN751.0 The Molecular and Cellular Basis of Medicine
IN753.0 The Human Body
IN755.0 Human Genetics
IN759M.J Patient-Doctor I
SM750.0 Introduction to Social Medicine and Global Health
AC511.0 Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health
HC750.0 Introduction to Health Care Policy
SIM 501 Scholarship in Medicine (SIM)*
PIC 503 Physician in Community (PIC)*
IN752.0 Integrated Human Physiology
IN754.0 Immunology, Microbiology & Pathology
MA701.0 Medical Ethics and Professionalism

* Students who plan to apply for HMS funding for a Summer Research or International/Global Health/Community Project are required to select either SIM 501 or PIC 503; these courses are elective for all other students.

Year II
IN757.0 Human Systems
IN731.0 Human Development
PS700M.J Psychopathology & Introduction to Clinical Psychiatry
IN761.M Patient-Doctor II

In order to proceed to the Principal Clinical Experience all students must complete certified training sessions in Mask Fitting and Basic Life Support, HIPAA and OSHA requirements, and an annual TB test, and required immunizations must be up-to-date.

Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) Course Requirements

Year III
Medicine I (12 weeks)
Surgery (12 weeks)
Obstetrics and Gynecology (6 weeks)
Pediatrics (6 weeks)
Neurology (4 weeks)
Psychiatry (4 weeks)
Radiology (4 weeks)
Patient-Doctor III (longitudinal)
Primary Care Clerkship (longitudinal)
Principal Clinical Experience course (longitudinal)

Students whose entry to the PCE is delayed beyond May should consult with their Academic Society and the HMS Registrar regarding their PCE schedule and plan for fulfilling their requirements for the MD degree.

For students who are unable to start their PCE clerkship rotations in May (e.g., HST students or students who have permission to delay USMLE Step 1), attendance at the longitudinal sessions is required beginning in May (starting with the transition days and including the multidisciplinary course). It is anticipated that all students will complete the PCE core clerkships prior to entering the Advanced Experiences in Clinical Medicine and Basic Science curriculum.

Students who start PCE clerkships after the May rotation may request permission to take advanced electives before completing the core clerkships when there is a compelling academic reason to do so. This request will be subject to the approval of the Academic Society, the PCE Director, and the HMS Registrar. To qualify for this exception, a student must have completed the equivalent of 12 months of PCE longitudinal experiences and 10 months of core clerkship experiences. In this case students will be required to complete one of the two remaining one month core clerkships no later than June following the PCE and the other one month core clerkship no later than November following the PCE. PCE core clerkships are the prerequisites to advanced electives; in the rare instance a student is missing a core clerkship, he/she will be required to complete the core prior to enrolling in the advanced elective (i.e., core psychiatry is a prerequisite to any of the advanced psychiatry electives).

Because the PCE is designed as a continuous, longitudinal block, every effort will be made by the faculty to help students complete the full 12-month course in sequence. Occasionally, however, students may have academic or personal difficulties that result in interruption of the PCE. In such cases, the following guidelines apply:

  • Students are required to complete the Primary Care Clerkship and all components of the PCE longitudinal curriculum. Arrangements for meeting these requirements will depend on the length and timing of the interruption and will be made in conjunction with the PCE director and the HMS Registrar.
  • If a student misses up to 3 months of the PCE, generally (and with the permission of the PCE Director), he/she can re-enter the PCE with his/her class. The months of clerkships missed (but not the longitudinal curricular components of the PCE) will be made up at the end of the PCE, preferably at the original PCE site, if space is available. If the interruption occurs during a four-week or six-week clerkship, the entire clerkship must be repeated. If the interruption occurs during a 12-week clerkship, the student will re-enter at the beginning of a 4-week block of the 12-week clerkship, depending on when the interruption occurred. For example, if the interruption occurs during the second 4-week block, the student would re-enter at the beginning of the second 4-week block.
  • If a student misses 4-5 months of the PCE, a committee of PCE leadership will consider the optimal approach for the student to fulfill core clerkship and PCE requirements and will design an alternative schedule that ensures fulfillment of the educational requirements for the MD degree. The guidelines for up to 3 months will apply.
  • If a student misses more than 5 months of the PCE, re-entry is not an option, and the student will be required to restart the longitudinal components of the PCE during the next class cycle. Clerkships that were completed before the interruption need not be repeated unless there is an academic reason to do so. The guidelines for up to 3 months will apply in such cases as well.

Advanced Experiences in Clinical Medicine and Basic Sciences Course Requirements

Year IV or final year
Medicine II or Advanced Pediatrics (4 weeks) [must be completed by March of Year IV]. A second Subinternship in a surgically-oriented discipline is highly recommended but not required.
Clinical Elective (CE) (8 weeks)
Unspecified (CE or nonclinical elective [NCE]) (20 weeks)

Beginning with the advanced electives (Year IV), full-time status requires a minimum of twelve-week equivalents (generally, this is three 4-week equivalent clerkships) per semester. See Section 2.07 for more information about requirements for full-time status.

NB: students are limited to no more than two clinical electives representing the same course in the same medical/surgical discipline. Students who choose to take more than two will not receive additional academic credit.

Examination Requirements for Graduation

The following examinations must be passed to receive the MD degree:
HMS Patient-Doctor II Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) [Year II]
HMS Comprehensive Examination [June following PCE]
United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE):* Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), and Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)
*USMLE examinations are scheduled by, and are entirely the responsibility of, the individual student.

USMLE Step 1

Students are required to take USMLE Step 1 prior to entering the Principal Clinical Experience. Students who are unable to complete this requirement must obtain prior approval from their Society Master or Associate Master and the Office for Advising Resources. Students entering a PhD program after Year II are required to take Step 1 prior to starting their PhD.

USMLE Step 2 - Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills

Students are required to pass both parts of Step 2 in order to graduate. Because of limitations in the availability of test slots and the extended reporting timeline for Step 2 test results, students are required to complete Step 2 Clinical Skills by November 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge by December 31 of their final year. Test scores must be reported to the HMS Registrar in order to receive an MD degree. If a student's passing scores are not reported to the HMS Registrar before graduation, that student will not receive an MD degree at graduation. Because failure to receive an MD degree will have an impact on a student¡¦s ability to start postgraduate training, the Academic Societies require students to confirm their test schedules as they prepare the Dean's Letter; failure to schedule the test before the HMS deadline will be noted in the Dean¡¦s Letter. To learn more about resources available to help with study strategies, exam taking, etc., see Section 3.03, Office of Advising Resources.

Students should be aware that some residency programs may require that students have passing scores available for all parts of USMLE, including Step 2CS, by the rank order deadline for the residency match (late February) in order to be considered for ranking by the program. Therefore, HMS now requires students to take CS by early November to ensure the results will be posted prior to rank. Students should check directly with the residency programs for specific requirements.

For the USMLE CS Reporting Schedule, please refer to link here.

Please click here for the Course Catalog.



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