The MSTP is an integrated program, combining elements of the MD and PhD curricula to give students an individualized learning experience that is tailored to their backgrounds and goals. MSTP students participate in both medical and graduate school activities throughout their tenure in the program. Entering students meet with the MSTP director to craft their programs of study. This individualized advising, both formal and informal, continues through graduation.
The integration of the curriculum is evident in the first year when MSTP students may take core PhD courses in lieu of MD courses. MSTP students at all levels participate in the monthly MSTP dinner seminar, departmental seminars, journal clubs, retreats and social events.
Students undertake research rotations in the summer before the first (optional), second and third years of the program. The purpose of the research rotation is to expose students to different areas of research and a variety of laboratory environments in order to assist them in the selection of a thesis lab. At the beginning of the third year, students enter the PhD phase of training, typically spending three to five years in dissertation research. During this time, MSTP students may participate in clinical mentorships, a program that allows students to maintain clinical skills while experiencing a variety of medical specialties. Following the thesis defense, students undertake 15 to 24 months of clinical clerkships.
This course of study is typical for most MSTP students. However, other options are available, such as starting the research phase after completing the first year of the medical curriculum. The typical student completes the program in seven or eight years, though some students take less or more time to graduate.