5.04 MD-MBA Program (Harvard Business School)

Vision and Mission of the Joint MD-MBA Program 

In 2004, recognizing the critical need in today's world for leaders who are educated in the intellectual disciplines and practices of medicine and management, Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard Business School (HBS) established a joint MD-MBA program to develop outstanding physician leaders, skilled in both medicine and management, to take positions of influence through which they will contribute substantially to the health and well-being of individuals and society. The Harvard MD-MBA Program, structured to be completed in five academic years, educates prospective leaders of organizations that deliver and finance health services as well as those who develop and market pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other health-related products. 


Students who are currently enrolled at HMS and are interested in pursuing both MD and MBA degrees are advised to contact the MD-MBA Program's leadership for guidance (Stan Finkelstein, MD, stan_finkelstein@hms.harvard.edu). HMS students currently enrolled in the Pathways and Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) programs may apply to HBS only during their second year at HMS and only in the second of three rounds of HBS admissions

Admissions Process

The HBS Admissions Office will decide independently about which HMS MD program applicants are to be interviewed and will inform applicants whether or not they will be admitted to the MBA program. A committee of the HMS Program in Medical Education will then review the HMS record of each student admitted to the MBA program. After a thorough review of the HMS records, the committee will determine which students will be invited to join the five-year joint degree program. If the committee does not support a student for the joint degree program, he/she will continue to have the opportunity to pursue the two-year MBA to which he/she has already been admitted. 

Once a student has been admitted to and enrolled in the joint MD-MBA Program, the student must complete satisfactorily the requirements for both degrees in order to achieve graduation from Harvard with MD and MBA degrees in the same year. If a student withdraws from HBS due to academic performance issues, the student must be enrolled for a full four years of medical school at HMS to fulfill requirements for the MD degree. If a student withdraws from HMS and wants to continue with the MBA program, the student must petition HBS for enrollment in the two-year MBA program. In neither instance will the student be allowed to complete a single degree in the abbreviated time afforded to joint MD-MBA degree students. 

All students who are admitted to the joint MD-MBA Program must complete all of the requirements of the first three years of the MD Program in good academic standing, including successful completion of USMLE Step 1 and the HMS Year III comprehensive exam, following the PCE, prior to entering the first year at HBS. Students who encounter academic difficulty in the MD program and are sanctioned by the HMS Promotion and Review Board are not eligible to apply to the combined MD-MBA Program, and students accepted into the combined program will not be eligible to enter the MBA component of the program if they fail to maintain good academic standing at the Medical School before matriculation at HBS in Year IV of the five-year program. 

Pathways students in the joint MD-MBA program are expected to complete the Scholars in Medicine (SIM) requirement within the joint program and will find that many of the entries in the SIM database of mentors and projects are management-related. HST students must complete their HST thesis requirement, but are also encouraged to consider pursuing a separate management-related project as a mentored independent study during the final year of the program. 

Tuition and Financial Aid

In Years I, II, and III of the joint MD-MBA Program, students are registered at HMS pursuing core medical school requirements and are charged the prevailing HMS tuition and fees. Students may apply to the HMS Financial Aid Office for financial aid in these years and will be subject to standard HMS financial aid policies. In Year IV, joint program students are registered at HBS, pursuing the MBA required curriculum, and are charged the prevailing HBS tuition and fees. Students may apply to the HBS Financial Aid Office for financial aid in Year IV and will be subject to standard HBS financial aid policies. In Year V, when the student is enrolled for one semester at HBS and the remainder of the year at HMS, the student's primary school of enrollment will be HMS, and the student will be billed the prevailing HMS full-year tuition and fees. Students in Year V of the joint program may apply to the HMS Financial Aid Office for financial aid. For more information, students are urged to speak with the financial aid offices at each school. 

Students in the joint MD-MBA Program pay 8 semesters of tuition to HMS and 2 semesters of tuition to HBS, or a total of 5 years of tuition. However, HMS reimburses HBS for tuition for one semester of the fifth year, so in effect joint MD-MBA students pay 7 semesters of tuition to HMS and 3 semesters of tuition to HBS. Joint MD-MBA students who enroll in HMS (with approval of both HMS and the MD-MBA Program) beyond the five years of the joint program will be assessed HMS tuition for a 9th semester, or a total of 8 semesters of HMS tuition, and will be charged the standard HMS reduced tuition for the 9th semester and any additional period of HMS enrollment, as is the case for all MD students who extend their MD enrollment beyond four years (or 8 semesters). See Section 6.02: Tuition Requirements for MD Degree Candidates and Student Cost of Attendance Budgets for MD Students for more information. 

Joint Program Curriculum Overview 

The five-year MD-MBA Program integrates the curricula of both HMS and HBS and is rigorously grounded in the concepts and practice of medicine and management. The program provides opportunities for students and faculty to merge these disciplines through new course work and scholarly pursuits. 

HMS - Years I-III 

Students in the MD-MBA Program spend the first three years at HMS, completing preclerkship courses, the Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) and a set of advanced HMS experiences – clinical and advanced integrated science courses - during their third year. Students also prepare for and take USMLE Step 1 following the PCE. For Pathways students, Step 1 must be taken by December 31 of Year III, and HST students must take Step 1 by June 30 of Year III. 

During Year III, MD-MBA joint degree students begin in earnest their management-related studies with a dedicated six-week block experience co-lead by HMS and HBS faculty. This required experience includes a didactic classroom course, Medicine and Management, that links clinical and managerial perspectives. During this time period, Pathways students are required to develop and submit proposals for the required Scholarly Project, which must be completed within the joint degree program, co-mentored by HMS and HBS faculty and submitted prior to graduation, according to the prescribed timeline for MD/MBA students. 


HBS has developed an online module, HBX CORe (certificate of readiness), which includes content on such topics as business analytics, economics for managers and financial accounting. HBS may require admitted applicants to complete this prior to entering the first year of MBA study. The MD-MBA joint degree program recommends that all admitted students complete this course, even if not required to do so. The HBX CORe is a “gated” program, requiring students to begin and end their participation on specified dates and to complete portions of the material each week, according to interim deadlines. Work toward completing this material must be done outside of class or clerkship hours, in a fashion not to conflict with expectations of clerkships or courses in which the student may be registered. 

HBS - Year IV 

The fourth year of the joint program is spent at HBS, completing the requirements of the first-year core business curriculum (Required Curriculum or RC year).

HMS and HBS - Year V 

Students in the fifth year of the five-year joint program take courses in the Elective Curriculum (EC) of the MBA Program and required and elective courses at HMS. MD-MBA students ordinarily enroll in the required HMS Capstone course during January of the fifth year. At HBS, students may take elective courses in either term including: 

  • At least 18 credits overall; 
  • At least 15 classroom-based credits; and 
  • A three-credit HBS field study course that completes HBS elective requirements and also facilitates completion of the HMS Scholars in Medicine project requirement. 

Joint MD-MBA students typically spend one semester of Year V at HMS and one at HBS. Because interviewing for residency programs is most intensive in the fall and early winter, many MD-MBA students do the EC at HBS during the spring semester of Year V. With approval and guidance from the HMS Registrar and the student’s Academic Society Advisor, some students may take elective courses in both schools in both semesters of Year V, provided the HBS courses do not conflict with HMS courses or clinical electives. 

HST students are eligible to apply to the program, though completing the basic research-intensive HST curriculum and its required research thesis along with the MBA curriculum and its required internship may make it difficult to accomplish all of the requirements in five years. In addition, the goals of the HST program and of the MD-MBA Program are quite different. For the unusual student who is judged by the faculty to be a candidate for successfully completing the joint program, the sequence in which the courses are taken and how to resolve conflicts in requirements for the two programs will be determined in consultation with the MD-MBA Program and HST/London Society leadership. 

Available periods for post-PCE enrollment in MD courses for MD-MBA students 

  • October Year III through August Year IV following the PCE (see below for Year IV financial aid eligibility; Year IV begins in July) 
  • June, July, August following the MBA RC year (see below for Year V financial aid eligibility; Year V begins in July) 
  • Fall or Spring Semester of Year V at HMS: September, October, November, December OR January, February, March, April 

Full-Time Status at HMS, Years III and IV 

Beginning with the Post-PCE phase of the MD curriculum (Year III for Pathways students; Year IV for HST students), full-time status requires a minimum of twelve-week equivalents (generally, this is three 4-week equivalent clerkships) per semester. See HMS Student Handbook Section 2.07 for more information about requirements for full-time status. 

Leaves of Absence and Additional Academic Year Policy

Harvard medical students have historically been allowed the flexibility to spend a year during medical school doing research or other scholarly enrichment activities and then return to complete their formal medical education (see Section 1.05). MD-MBA joint degree students are enrolled in a five-year, integrated program leading to both an MD degree and an MBA degree. The joint degree program has been constructed to allow students to, in essence, “save a year” of study. Given the integrated nature of the MD-MBA joint degree program and the stated goal of the program for students to complete the joint degree in a single five-year span of time, extensions to this program are exceptional and are considered on a case-by-case basis. This policy delineates the circumstances under which joint degree students will be allowed to request a leave of absence or an additional scholarly enrichment year from the joint program. 

For MD-MBA joint degree students, the policy of the joint degree program is to permit an enrichment/scholarship year only after the fourth year of the joint program. This policy allows the student to spend three years at HMS and one year at HBS, thus completing a significant portion of the joint/integrated curriculum prior to the scholarly enrichment year. Scholarly enrichment years will normally be for the period of July 1 to June 30. Additional enrichment/academic years must be completed prior to the final year of enrollment in the joint MD-MBA Program.

  1. Interruptions to the five-year curriculum are generally considered to be either voluntary leaves of absence (periods of time when the enrolled joint degree student is not enrolled in the program for a specified period of time for a specific reason), scholarly enrichment years, or involuntary leaves (when a joint degree student is no longer enrolled in the joint degree program because of academic, conduct, or other serious reasons). See Sections 2.09 and 4.05 for more details about voluntary and involuntary Leaves of Absence.
  2. MD-MBA joint degree students required to take an involuntary leave for any reason will not be allowed to continue in the joint degree program. Under such circumstances, students wishing to pursue a traditional two-year MBA degree are required to petition HBS to be granted entry into the single degree program. If the student is granted entry into the two-year MBA and remains enrolled in the MD program, the MBA must be completed after all requirements for the MD program have been fulfilled and the student has graduated from HMS 
  3. Voluntary leave or scholarly enrichment year requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Students must be in good academic standing at both the Medical School and the Business School and meet all applicable requirements and policies of the joint degree program and the partner schools. 
  • Students are required to provide a detailed, written petition to the MD-MBA Program Directors requesting a one-year leave of absence (LOA) or an enrichment year addressing the activity to be undertaken during the year and the student’s individual goals in taking the LOA or enrichment year. 
  • The deadline for submitting a petition is March 1st or the first business day after March 1stof the calendar year. 
  • Students requesting an “enrichment” or additional academic year of enrollment at HMS must submit a proposal to and gain the approval of the Scholars in Medicine (SIM) committee through the SIM fellow in their Academic Society. 
  • Joint MD-MBA students who enroll in HMS (with approval of both HMS and the MD-MBA Program) beyond the five years of the joint program will be assessed HMS tuition for a 9th semester, or a total of 8 semesters of HMS tuition, and will be charged the standard HMS reduced tuition for the 9th semester of HMS enrollment, as is the case for all MD students who extend their MD enrollment beyond four years (or 8 semesters). See Section 6.02: Tuition Requirements for MD Candidates for more information. 

NB: For students receiving the MBA degree as well as the MD degree, five years are required if in the joint MD-MBA Program; six are required if a student is in the two-year MBA program. On a case by case basis, a student may petition for one or two additional years. The student pays tuition for four years (8 semesters) for the MD degree and additional tuition for the Master's degree taken at another school of the University. Students enrolled in the MD program for more than eight semesters will pay reduced tuition for the additional enrollment periods. Ordinarily a student in this category will not be permitted to remain at HMS beyond seven years. See Section 2.08: Policy on Length of Time to Complete the MD Degree for more information. 

Last Updated 7/16/18