Curriculum Details

We work closely with every student to help them complete the program in a way that best meets their needs. Students typically advance through the MSTP as follows:

Summer Before M1 Year

Optional Research Rotation (June-July), most students do not do this.

M1 "Basic Science Trunk" Year

In addition to the M1 curriculum, most MSTP students take a graduate school class, Biological Chemistry 552, during the fall term. This is a literature-based discussion class designed specifically for MSTP students.

M2 "Clinical trunk" Year

This includes clinical rotations in traditional medical specialties internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, ob/gyn, psychiatry, neurology, and family medicine, divided into 12 periods of ~4 weeks each. MSTP students complete 5 to 7 of these periods, then have study time to prepare for and take USMLE Step 1. They then embark on their PhD training, after which they return to medical school.

PhD Phase

After obtaining advice from their Research Rotation Advisory Committee and other sources, students undertake 2 or 3 research rotations. They then select their PhD thesis mentor and PhD program.

Starting September of the first graduate year (G1), students take courses and begin their thesis research. Required courses are usually completed in one year. There are formalized (but optional) clinical activities to maintain clinical skills during the PhD training. Every student undertakes a clinical refresher when they transition back into medical school.

There is a lot of flexibility in when students are permitted to defend the PhD thesis and return to medical school, which facilitates completing the program in 8 years.

Return to M2, Post-PhD

Students undertake a clinical refresher and then complete their M2 year.

M3 & M4 "Branches"

MSTP students may shorten their Branches by ~6 months if they want, which is why flexibility in the timing of return to medical school allows for timely graduation. All students must take Emergency Medicine, ICU and sub-internship rotations.

Curriculum — Graduate Phase

Laboratory Rotations & Thesis Research

In the Michigan MSTP, two laboratory rotations are required; however, many MSTP fellows take three. The purpose of these rotations is to allow you time and opportunity to find a lab in which to complete your dissertation. The MSTP and the Doctoral Programs provide formal guidance and oversight in the selection of research mentors.

Some things to note about the MSTP Graduate Phase:

  • Fellows choose a PhD Department before graduate school courses begin.
  • All Departments give MSTP fellows graduate course credits for medical school classes.
  • Ph.D. course requirements usually are completed after one year of graduate study.
  • You may take additional courses, including courses outside the Medical School.

Information about the doctoral programs may be obtained from the individual program offices. Adjustments in the PhD program requirements facilitate their integration with the Medical Scientist Training Program.

Thesis research is guided by a mentor or by co-mentors. A dissertation committee is required, all in compliance with the stipulations of the Graduate School.