Credit Requirements and Curriculum

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Students must earn 64 credits (56 credits if joint degree with HMS MD), generally meeting the requirements with 32 credits of course work and 32 credits of mentored research.


A typical timeline for the 64-credit program appears below.

Year 1

Fall:Semester: four courses (in addition to longitudinal core seminar)

• Research in Medical Education: Principles & Practice (research methods) course (4 credits)

• Qualitative research methods course (4 credits)

Teaching 100: The Theory & Science of Teaching course (2 credits)

• One Elective (4 credits). Program recommends statistics course at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Curriculum includes three approved electives based on career goals and thesis project: these should be chosen to support the student’s goals, such as a course in curriculum development, teaching methods, adult development, etc., depending on the student’s professional trajectory and objective learning needs.


• Begin research and enroll in the Harvard Macy Institute's "Program for Educators in Health Professions". Students will identify an important initial slice of their master’s research work to be completed by May when the second half of this course reconvenes. This will help ensure their thesis research gets solid momentum and they are ready for a productive second year devoted primarily to research.

• The Macy course’s curriculum also contains broad attention to, and practice with, core educational practices. The Macy course is both complementary to and supportive of the core skill training that the longitudinal seminar advances.

Through the Macy courses and the longitudinal seminar, all students will have coursework directly fostering teaching skills and pedagogy. Although the curricular plan of the longitudinal seminar is devised to ensure adequate development of pedagogic and other core educator skills across a variety of teaching venues, if students or their advisor feels further work is needed, the required electives will be used to fill those needs.

Spring Semester: three courses (in addition to longitudinal core seminar)

• HGSE Selective Course (students required to choose one course of two options):

      •T-006: Adult Development

      •T-127: Teaching & Learning Lab Practicum

• Two electives (see above) to connect to learner and program needs and goals.

Late Spring:

At the end of Year 1, each student will take the Harvard Macy Institute's “Leading Innovations in Healthcare and Education” course. This course has two core curricular themes—both of which advance the goals of the master’s program:

• Educational leadership

• Educational innovation

Year 2

The second year is devoted primarily to research. The mentored research project is the central component of the degree. The project will drive learning and imbue the learner and the community of learners with skills, practice, and ultimately products. Required and elective didactic coursework, the Macy programs and the longitudinal seminar, and the mentoring and team working will also foster learners’ spirit and skills of inquiry and provide tools to be rigorous and creative in their exploration. The structure, processes, oversight and ethos of inquiry, research, scholarship, and innovation will pervade the program.

HMS is graced by an abundance of skilled researchers and educational mentors, many of whom currently teach at the graduate level. Given the challenges of completing a research project within 21 months, students will be required to identify a specific area of research as part of their application to the program, often having already identified a mentor in advance (although it is possible for students to formalize plans with their research mentor soon after beginning the program). Since most of our students will already have a terminal professional or academic degree, we anticipate (and will indeed require) that they will already have reasonably defined goals and interests related to the program, and will have explored potential mentors and projects prior to beginning the program.

Each student will also have a principal academic advisor approved by the Director of the MMSc-Medical Education program. All principal academic advisors will be expected to have and maintain an appointment at Harvard, and all students will be expected to have an academic advisor. For students pursuing research projects outside of Harvard and its affiliates, additional mentors at home institutions will also be involved. In such cases, the Harvard mentor will be expected to coordinate closely with the mentor at the student’s home institution. Even if the research is being primarily done outside of Harvard, the Harvard mentor is ultimately responsible for ensuring the quality of the research experience, in part by ensuring robust assessment of and feedback from the mentor on-site. Regular meetings with the academic advisor (Harvard mentor) either in person or by Skype (or equivalent) will be expected regardless of the location of the research. Each principal academic advisor will have responsibility for guiding her/his student in conceptualizing the research project, designing an appropriate methodology to address the questions involved, shepherding the protocol through the appropriate regulatory requirements if necessary, analyzing the data, writing up the results, and preparing the work for publication.