1.06 Five-Year MD Program – HST

HST students are encouraged to allocate a larger fraction of their time to research than is possible in the four-year MD program. By extending the MD program to five or more years, a student can devote significantly more time to research. Many ways to accomplish this objective exist; one way is to extend the preclerkship period from two to three years, balancing research and a reduced course load. Another common arrangement is to dedicate one or more full years exclusively to research.

As soon as a student contemplates taking an additional year, he/she must initiate a consultation with the Advisory Dean or Associate Director of the London Society. That consultation will include a consideration of the rationale, timing, enrollment status, financial implications, and overall career implications of the additional year. This may require several sessions, possibly with additional referrals to the Office of Advising Resources (OAR), HMS Registrar, Harvard University Health Services (HUHS), Financial Aid, Society Scholars in Medicine fellow, etc. These requests will ultimately require formal application and review and will have specific deadlines associated with them (see Section 3.03Office of Scholarly Engagement). Students should also develop a Plan B that will be pursued if the initial proposal is not approved; typically, Plan B would involve continued enrollment in courses that meet the graduation requirements of the MD curriculum.

Students must demonstrate how they will support themselves financially during the additional year; a meeting with a representative of the Financial Aid Office is mandatory for students who receive financial aid. Competitive funding for such years through a research assistantship, traveling fellowship or other mechanism may be pursued through the Scholars in Medicine Office.

Students who wish to pursue another degree (e.g., MPH, MPP, MBA, PhD) are not considered to be enrolled in a 5-Year MD program. While a student is pursuing another degree, his/her status is tracked as Other Degree Program (ODP), and, generally, tuition and fees are being charged by and paid to the other school.

Students interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in conjunction with the MD degree may enroll in a Master’s program (either at another Harvard school or at another university) only after successfully completing the PCE and prior to beginning the final year of the MD program.

Students who need time off for extenuating medical/personal issues are advised to take a Leave of Absence from the School (Section 2.09). Students who are not in good academic standing at HMS are not eligible to enroll in an additional academic year for scholarly endeavors. Students may be eligible to be enrolled at HMS for additional periods for purposes of remediation or completion of degree requirements. An additional year will not be granted for students who have completed their MD requirements and/or are within 6 months of graduation.

Students considering postponing graduation from the MD program should be aware of the rules governing academic progress and time to degree at Harvard Medical School (Section 2.08Policy on Length of Time to Complete the MD DegreeSection 2.18Curriculum Continuity: Policy on InterruptionSection 2.19Satisfactory Academic Progress) and Section 6.02: Tuition Requirements for MD Degree Candidates. Ordinarily, students who take advantage of the 5-year MD program will be charged full tuition for the first four years and a facilities fee (reduced tuition) in the fifth year (Section 6.01).

Enrollment status during an additional year

Students who are actively making progress toward the MD degree doing credit-bearing activities (e.g., approved scholarly projects) will be designated as Enrolled at HMS (Section 2.19)NB: Students who enroll in a 5-year MD program will be charged reduced tuition in Year V (an in any subsequent years of enrollment) of the 5-year program (see Cost of Attendance for HST students).

The enrollment status of students who are enrolled in a master's or other degree program (at Harvard or elsewhere) is tracked as Other Degree Program (ODP) – students are not enrolled at HMS when enrolled in another degree program. 

Last Updated 8/9/18