The HST curriculum leads to an MD degree from HMS and is oriented toward students with a declared interest in a career in biomedical research and a strong interest and background in physical or biological sciences.
The program is particularly appropriate for students who are planning multidisciplinary research careers in academic medicine. The curriculum, research, and clinical experiences prepare students receiving the MD to excel as physician-scientists highly qualified to care for patients and participate in biomedical research careers in which they will assume leadership positions. While the MD can be obtained in four years and all students do research, many pursue a more intensive research experience made possible by extension of the MD program over five-six years (see Section 2.08: Policy on Length of Time to Complete the MD Degree). Approximately 50 percent of HST MD students pursue a combined MD-PhD program.
The program of study is designed to develop superbly trained, clinically and socially responsible physicians with a deep understanding of the underlying science of medicine. The approach is rigorous and quantitative and presents human biology in a fashion that incorporates fundamental features of molecular biology, biotechnology, engineering and physical sciences.
The courses in human pathophysiology, specially developed for this curriculum, represent the joint efforts of life scientists, physicians, physical scientists and engineers selected from the faculties of both Harvard and MIT. The courses are presented at both universities and are organized in semester format to provide maximum scheduling flexibility and to interface easily with the academic schedules at MIT and Harvard University. The semester format enables MD students to take courses at both universities and also permits HST PhD students to take some of the MD courses. This joining of MD and PhD students in the preclinical curriculum is another differentiating feature of the HST curriculum that enriches the MD student experience.
The program provides students with richly diversified educational opportunities specific to their interests, talents and aspirations. The relatively small class size facilitates productive interaction between students and faculty.
HST MD students are required to become actively involved in independent research under the direction of a faculty member. Such research may be conducted longitudinally throughout a student’s medical studies, if carefully planned. Students are encouraged to slow the rate of progress through the formal curriculum in order to devote more time to research.
HST students join students in the other Societies for the Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) core clinical clerkships and advanced experiences (clinical electives). See Sections 1.01 and 1.03 for more about the PCE and Advanced Experiences.
As a requirement for graduation, every HST student must present evidence of scholarly work in the form of a thesis based on laboratory research or clinical investigation. A written thesis proposal must be submitted by October 31 of the second year, and the thesis in final form must be submitted by the first Monday in February of Year IV.
In pursuit of advanced study, HST MD students may become candidates for the Master of Science degree from MIT or a Master of Medical Sciences degree from Harvard Medical School or for a combined MD/PhD or MD/MPH degree with graduate study and research at Harvard University or MIT. The HST Division encourages and facilitates such combined degree programs, but the pursuit of a combined degree is not a Division requirement.
Students are required to spend four years of full-time study at Harvard Medical School. Within those four years, course and credit distribution requirements must be fulfilled as described in the core curriculum and graduation requirements, Section 1.03. Students whose class year has changed by one year can choose to meet the preclinical graduation requirements of their original class but will be encouraged to meet requirements of the new class; this decision must be approved by the Advisory Dean/Director or Associate Director of HST. All students must follow the current clinical and advanced experiences graduation requirements regardless of matriculation year.Last Updated 8/9/18