Academic Progress and Promotion

Two faculty committees are appointed by the dean to review and evaluate the academic progress of each student. Each committee meets several times a year, approximately every two months, to review the academic progress of students in their segment of the curriculum who are having academic difficulty, and recommend measures to assist the student in addressing the difficulty.

  • The Fundamentals Faculty Committee evaluates the progress of students in the Fundamentals curriculum.
  • The Clinical Faculty Committee evaluates the progress of students in the Major Clinical Year and Differentiation & Integration curricula and is responsible for the certification of students for the Doctor of Medicine degree.

Academic Progress Oversight Responsibilities

In evaluating the progress of students in the curriculum, the overriding concerns of the committees are ultimately the safety, welfare and lives of patients. Decisions on repetition of a course, repetition of a year or portion of a year, or delay in graduation are made only after thorough review of a student’s record and appraisal of a student’s professional behavior and potential for satisfactory performance.

A committee member is required to recuse themselves from voting when a potential adverse outcome for a student results from a course or clerkship the committee member oversees.

View our policy on Grading Process, Timeliness,and Appeals.

Academic Promotion: Fundamentals

In order to be promoted to the Major Clinical Year, a student must pass all required courses of the Fundamentals curriculum. In the Fundamentals curriculum, remediation after failure of an exam in a course or a section of a course may be offered only after approval by the Fundamentals Faculty Committee. Each student is permitted to remediate a maximum of three exam failures in the first two semesters combined, and two exam failures in the third semester. In the first semester, students will be allowed to have two attempts to achieve a passing score of 70% on written exams. If the exam retake score is less than 70%, this will be considered an exam failure. Students who require more than one attempt to pass an exam in the first semester more than once will be followed by the FFC. Students who require more than one attempt to initially pass on three or more exams in the first semester will be considered to have one exam failure. Students who have four or more failures in the first two semesters combined or 3 or more failures in the third semester may be required to remediate exams in the summer, repeat a semester, or repeat the year. The format for remediation of an exam failure is usually a written or occasionally oral re-examination, and is at the discretion of the course director.

Failure of the anatomy course may be made up in a summer course. Failure in a re-examination will result in the student being required to repeat the course or course section. In the Fundamentals curriculum courses are only offered once a year so the student must take a leave from the curriculum for the next year until the course or course section is offered again. Additional failures beyond the threshold described above will result in the student being required to repeat the semester or year.

Repetition of an entire Fundamentals semester or a Fundamentals year is only permitted once.

Students required to repeat any year of the curriculum must pay full tuition and fees.

At the end of each semester, the Fundamentals Faculty Committee will decide which students are promoted or failed at a meeting of the entire committee. If a student is deemed to have insufficient knowledge to be promoted to the next semester, the Fundamentals Faculty Committee may require correction of this perceived deficiency by remediation for a short period and re-examination in the section or course(s) in which performance is deemed insufficient prior to starting the next phase of the curriculum, by repetition in a summer course, or by repetition of the entire Fundamentals curriculum without exemption from any course. Faculty may terminate the matriculation of any student who does not pass all courses and of any student whom faculty believes to be unprepared to move forward in the curriculum.

Students who are failing at the end of the first semester may, at the discretion of the Fundamentals Faculty Committee, be offered the opportunity to leave the academic program and re-enter the VP&S Fundamentals curriculum the following academic year after having met requirements of the committee to correct those factors which may be affecting the student's performance. Provision of such an opportunity is not automatic.

Revision approved by Fundamentals Subcommittee 8/8/19
Revision approved by Curriculum and Education Policy Committee 10/4/19

Academic Promotion: Major Clinical Year

Students must pass all required clerkships of the Major Clinical Year. Passing the Major Clinical Year is required for promotion to the Differentiation and Integration curriculum.

A student whose work is incomplete or does not meet passing standards is assigned the provisional grade of Credit Pending (CP). Requirements to convert a CP to a passing grade are determined by the clerkship director and may include completion of assigned work, make-up activities and/or repetition of the clerkship. Students who do not satisfactorily complete requirements to convert a CP to a passing grade will be assigned a grade of Fail (F).

The Clinical Faculty Committee (CFC) reviews the record of any student assigned a CP or F to identify the causes for not passing and the student's total academic record. A grade of F on one or more clerkships may result in failure of the Major Clinical Year. The CFC may take the following actions for students failing the Major Clinical Year:

  • Require repetition of specific clerkships
  • Require repetition of the entire Major Clinical Year
  • Require completion of a remediation plan targeting deficiencies
  • Terminate matriculation

Repetition of a clerkship or an entire Major Clinical Year is permitted only once.

Students required to repeat any year of the curriculum must pay full tuition and fees.

Revision approved by Major Clinical Year Subcommittee 8/8/18
Revision approved by Curriculum and Education Policy Committee 8/31/18

Academic Promotion: Differentiation and Integration Curriculum

In order to be approved for graduation, a student must pass all required electives of the fourth year or beginning with the Class of 2013, all required electives and the Scholarly Project requirement of the Differentiation and Integration period. The Clinical Faculty Committee reviews all elective course failures and weak elective performances. If a student fails an elective course, the Committee will require repetition of the same course or the undertaking of a suitable designated academic program. If a student fails two elective courses, the Committee may declare the senior elective component or all of Differentiation and Integration a failure, which may result in termination of matriculation.

The committee also reviews performance in the Scholarly Project requirement. A student whose scholarly project does not meet passing standards, as defined in the “Capstone Common Document”, will be asked to revise her/his Capstone by the track director, who will return the document to the student and mentor with specific questions and comments. Capstones returned for revision will be re-submitted by the student and reviewed a second time by the Mentor and Track Director. Students whose projects do not meet passing standards after a revision will be presented for formal review by the Differentiation & Integration: Scholarly Projects Program (D&I:SPP) Committee by their Track Director. Students whose projects do not meet passing standards as determined by the D&I:SPP Committee will be assigned a failing grade and referred to the Clinical Faculty Committee for review.

The Clinical Faculty Committee may terminate the student’s matriculation or delay graduation until the student has acquired requisite knowledge and skills in programs designated and monitored by the committee. If a student fails an elective course or scholarly project which has been directed by the committee for correction of deficiencies noted in an elective performance or scholarly project evaluation, the committee may, after thorough consideration of the academic record, terminate the student’s matriculation or delay the student’s graduation.

Feedback to Students

The faculty committees encourage course directors to provide students with clear statements of objectives and performance expectations in each course. Students should be advised in a clear and timely fashion of their performance, including any deficiencies in performance in any course or portion of the curriculum. Mid-course feedback is required for clerkships, excluding one week ones and selectives, with signed acknowledgement by the student. Where necessary, faculty and administration should recommend the steps needed to strengthen performance and should assist students in the achievement of performance expectations. If a student fails to appreciate the seriousness of his/her academic problems and fails to take the recommended steps to correct performance, the course director may elect to send the student an official warning letter.

Monitored Academic Status

Monitored Academic Status (MAS) is an internal designation made by the Fundamentals and Clinical Faculty Committees for students who are having significant academic difficulty. Students with this designation are notified by the senior associate dean for student affairs when it begins and ends. MAS designation means that the appropriate Faculty Committee will review the student’s academic performance at their regular meetings to further identify any difficulties early. Course directors may then intercede with tutors, guidance and other support systems to improve the student’s learning experience and ensure success. This designation is not recorded in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation or in the permanent record.


In addition to successfully completing all course requirements in each phase of the curriculum, students are required to pass USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge to be eligible for graduation from VP&S.

Before certifying students for the Doctor of Medicine degree, the Clinical Faculty Committee must be assured that students have acquired the knowledge, skills, and attitudes essential for the safe assumption of responsibility for patient care in postgraduate education. The committee will not certify for graduation any student whom it believes to be unsuited for the practice of medicine.

Appeal of a Faculty Committee Decision

The student has the right to appeal a decision made by the Fundamentals or Clinical Faculty Committee. The appeal must be made in writing within seven days of the time the student is notified of the decision, and it must clearly state the grounds for appeal. Such appeal should be sent to the Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Vagelos Education Center, Suite 1103. A hearing will be convened with the student, who may be accompanied by his/her advisory dean, or another member of the VP&S faculty, and a committee of faculty, appointed by the dean or his designee, that does not include members of the Faculty Committee that made the original decision.  The hearing is held, in collaboration with the Columbia University Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS), before a committee comprised of three members of the VP&S faculty, appointed by the VP&S dean or his designee. If the Committee hearing the appeal reaffirms the original decision, the student may appeal the decision within seven days of notification to the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who may refer the matter to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council. There is no further appeal within the University.

Revision approved by Curriculum and Education Policy Committee 1/25/19