Years 3, 4, 5 (or 6): The Graduate Years
After the student takes Step I of the USMLE, those who have selected laboratories will begin work under the direction of their thesis advisors combining laboratory work with the completion of any remaining course requirements. In addition, the completion of the preliminary examination must occur by the end of the third year. Students who have not selected laboratories will have the option of completing a third rotation in the summer preceding the third year but are still expected to complete the preliminary examination by the end of year three. The progress of each student is monitored by his/her mentor, by the thesis advisory committees, which must meet annually, and by meetings with the Program Director and members of the Executive Committee. We expect that most students will have developed a thesis proposal by the end of the first year of graduate work and that the majority of course work will have been completed by that time. It is expected that most students will have defended their theses by the spring of their 4th graduate year (6th year total). Throughout the years in the PhD, students participate in the Clinical Competence Program and MD-PhD student specific Statistics and Ethics in Research courses.
During subsequent years, students work on their thesis research under the direction of their advisors. Progress continues to be monitored by the thesis advisory committee, by the director of the graduate program in which the student is enrolled, and by the MSTP directors. Depending on progress, the thesis is written and defended by December of the sixth year, so that the student can return to medical studies by January of the following year.