MD/PhD Program Curriculum

Curriculum Overview

The MD-PhD curriculum at the University of Kentucky follows a traditional MSTP-style curriculum. Students usually graduate in 7 or 8 years; our average length of training is 7.3 years. Below is the typical time-line for training; in rare instances, individuals may tailor a different program.

MD/PhD Program Curriculum

Summer

MS1

Summer

MS2

Spring

G1 - G4

MS3

MS4

Research Rotation

Medical School Courses

Research Rotation

Medical School Courses

USMLE Step I

Graduate School Courses

Qualifying Exam

Research

Clinical Clerkships

Internship Electives (Exempt from AHEC Internship)

Research

Research

Research

ICR Course

Research or Graduate Courses*

ICR Course

Research or Graduate Courses*

Research Rotation (optional)

Qualifying Exam

Research

Doctoral Submission

Clinical Research

*PPS/IMP Clinical Experiences

MONTHLY: Program Meetings, DDLS, CTS seminars

YEARLY: Student Research Day, Retreat, Recruitment, Welcome Party, Graduation Party

 Year 1 (MS1):

Students are encouraged to perform a research rotation in the summer before their first year of medical school. In addition, students are encouraged to enroll in the Medical Student Summer Research Program. For more information on this fellowship, please see Transitions.

Most students will matriculate into the first year of medical school (MS1). The medical school curriculum has a module block structure that provides an intensive, concentrated exposure in each content area. Blocks include Human Structure, Cellular Structure and Function, Neurosciences, and Human Function. During the summer after MS1, students perform their first (or second) research rotation.

Above: First year MD/PhD student Ryan Cloyd demonstrates MSK anatomy to fellow students.

Year 2 (MS2):

Courses in the second year of medical school (MS2) include Immunity, Infection and Disease, and Mechanisms of Disease and Treatment. Students take Step I of the USMLE board exam in May/June after MS2 and perform another research rotation in the summer, if they have not yet selected a dissertation laboratory. Students are expected to have identified a Department for their dissertation research by July after MS2 and their dissertation mentor by the end of the summer after MS2. A graduate school application has to be completed during the spring of the second year of MS2. Please note: it is recommended that this application be completed in early January of MS2. Refer to Transitions for more specific details on applying to The Graduate School. 

Years 3-6 (Graduate Years, or GYs):

The graduate school application has to be completed in the spring of the second year (MS2) in order for students to enroll in a graduate program in their third year. During the graduate years (GY1-4), students complete requirements as determined by their particular graduate department, including coursework, qualifying exams, and dissertation requirements. Students who select a graduate department in the College of Medicine can receive credit for successful completion of the first two years of medical school to satisfy the requirements of first year of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program curriculum.  

While in graduate school, students complete an MD/PhD-specific "Introduction to Clinical Medicine" course, which provides clinical training and pairs students with a clinical CATalyst to introduce them to translational approaches. The CATalysts (aptly named for their function and the Kentucky Wildcats) are experienced and influential faculty and talented junior faculty who spark enthusiasm for building collaborative research teams. Upper level MD/PhD students lead clinical pathology conference discussions three times a year.

Year 6 or 7 (MS3):

Most students return to medical school in the summer or fall of MS3. The third-year curriculum provides the student with broad exposure to the major medical disciplines, including rotations in Clinical Neurosciences, Family and Community Medicine, Internal Medicine and Emergency Care, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Surgery.

The CPX is a requirement for the third year medical students immediately following the end of third year rotations; taking and passing the CPX (graded on a Pass/Fail basis) is a requirement for graduation. Students cannot take Step 2 CS until after they have taken the CPX and been apprised of their grade. Students with a failing grade will be required to undergo remediation through the Office of Medical Education. This remediation may take the form of specific exercises, repeat testing, or specific M4 course requirements. Students who pass the CPX may take Step 2 CS at any time prior to December 31st of that calendar year.

Year 7 or 8 (MS4):

During MS4, students complete two four-week acting internships, one in a medical discipline and one in a surgical discipline. In addition to Advanced Clinical Pharmacology and Anesthesiology and the Dean’s Colloquium, students complete 16 weeks of elective rotations at the University of Kentucky or another approved site. MD/PhD students are exempt from the M4 off-site/2nd AHEC requirements; these comprise one course. 

Required Program Activities During All Years:

  • Monthly MD/PhD Lunches with visiting scientist or invited faculty member
  • Work-in-progress presentation at the CTS Seminar
  • Annual AOA and MD/PhD Research Day – includes attending the invited speaker seminar, presenting at the afternoon poster session, and attending dinner with the speaker
  • Annual Program Retreat

Attendance at recruitment lunches and dinners and other social events during the year is requested.

Students are also encouraged to attend the monthly Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which generally occurs the first Thursday of the month.

Students are required to publish two manuscripts of original work and submit a F-30 grant application on their research for extramural funding.