M.D./Ph.D Curriculum

MDelta Curriculum for MD/PhD Students

The MD/PhD program is a distinctive academic offering by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Graduate School. MD/PhD students matriculate for the first and second years of medical school with standard MD students. At the end of their 2nd year, MD/PhD students leave the medical curriculum to pursue their PhD studies with plans to re-integrate as 3rd year medical students upon their return. While they are working on their PhD thesis, they are granted special matriculation in the Medical School giving them the ability to perform clinical activities. Thus, these students have the distinction of being dually enrolled in both the School of Medicine and the Graduate School throughout their entire matriculation at the University of Connecticut. MD/PhD students generally take 4 years to complete their PhD degree. It has always been a concern that this time away from the clinical setting made their transition back into the standard MD curriculum less than ideal. The new MDelta curriculum, as it pertains to the MD/PhD program, focuses on creating more clinical education continuity, providing more clinical preparedness when returning to the medical curriculum, and providing options and choices to personalize the education of these students.

I. STAGE 1 (18 months)

In first stage of the MDelta curriculum, students in the MD/PhD program are fully integrated into the standard MD program courses. Because their academic trajectory differs from regular medical students and because they also have Graduate School obligations, some program requirements have been modified.

MD/PhD students will attend the following parts of the MDelta curriculum mirroring regular MD students:

  • Case Oriented Essentials (COrE)
  • Fabric of Anatomy & Biology Lab
  • Delivery of Clinical Care (DOCC)
  • Medical Home
  • Clinical Longitudinal Immersion in the Community (CLIC)
  • Individualized Learning Opportunities (ILOs)
  • Vertically Integrated Teams Aligned in Learning & Scholarship/Interprofessional Education (VITALS/IPE). MD/PhD students will need to finish their community based project by the end of STAGE 1.
  • Discovery and Scholarship. Students receive instruction in Responsible Conduct of Research. All students are required to write a short research proposal. The proposal written by MD/PhD students will be the basis for their required lab rotation in the summer following first year (see below). Hence, they will need to identify a research lab for the summer early in the first year.
  • Pedagogies (i.e. Team Based Learning (TBL), Patient-Centered Learning, Realm)

In addition to the standard program, MD/PhD students are required by the graduate program to complete two laboratory rotations (8 weeks each) and two graduate school courses (each a semester long) during STAGE 1. To facilitate this, MD/PhD students will not be placed in medical student groups meeting on Monday afternoon in STAGE 1 so that they can participate in the required courses. The scheduling of these additional graduate program requirements is the responsibility of the MD/PhD Program Director in consultation with the Associate Dean of the Graduate School.

II. STAGE 2 (15 months)

The second stage of the MDelta Curriculum marks the cessation of certain STAGE 1 courses, specifically COrE, Fabric of Anatomy & Biology Lab, DOCC, Medical Home, and ILOs. Other courses from STAGE 1 will continue into this next phase including CLIC, VITALS/IPE, and Discovery & Scholarship. For the purposes of logistics and scheduling, STAGE 2 for MD/PhD students is divided into 3 separate phases. STAGE 2 is interrupted by the transition of students into the Graduate Phase.

  • Phase 1 of STAGE 2: FLEX PERIOD

Graduate Phase (3-5 years; Special Matriculation in Medical School)


Phase 1 of STAGE 2: FLEX PERIOD (4 months: March/April/May/June).

This period allows for protected flexible scheduling by both MD and MD/PhD students and can be used for study time in preparation for Boards part 1, as well as vacation, electives, or a clinical clerkship. This period includes special considerations for MD/PhD students in regards to certain courses while other course requirements remain the same as standard medical students.

  • Board Study Prep. MD/PhD students must take the USMLE Step 1 before the end of this 4 month period. They should plan for sufficient self-study time in preparation.
  • Vacation. MD/PhD students can schedule up to 2 weeks of vacation during this 4 month period.
  • Clinical Rotations. MD/PhD students may take one clinical rotation during this period. If they choose to do so, they must first complete LAUNCH.
  • LAUNCH. MD/PhD students are excused from taking this 2 week clinical introduction course if they are not participating in clinical rotations during this period.
  • CLIC. MD/PhD students will continue this program mirroring regular MD students.
  • Electives. MD/PhD students are not required to participate in any electives during this period. If students do participate in electives, the time will be credited towards their elective requirement for graduation.
  • VITALS/IPE. MD/PhD will continue to attend this program mirroring regular MD students.
  • Discovery and Scholarship. MD/PhD students are excused during this time.

GRADUATE PHASE (typically 4 years)

This time is devoted to the completion of a PhD. Special permission is required from the graduate program if this period is to exceed 5 years. The MDelta curriculum takes into account the need for continued clinical exposure during this period and has therefore modified the CLIC course to continue during this period in order for MD/PhD students to maintain and enhance their clinical skills.

  • CLIC. Students will continue attending a community longitudinal clinic modified to occur one half day session per month. All efforts will be made to continue students in their original clinical site from STAGE 1.

Phase 2 of STAGE 2: CLINICAL REINTEGRATION (4 months: March/April/ May/ June).

The reintegration phase will occur as students are finishing up their graduate phase/special matriculation to help them transition back into the MDelta curriculum. This phase will occur simultaneously with the FLEX period at the beginning of STAGE 2 for regular medical students. As with the prior FLEX period, special considerations are made for MD/PhD students in regard to certain courses while other course requirements remain the same as regular medical students.

  • LAUNCH. If not taken previously in STAGE2-FLEX period, MD/PhD students are required to take this 2 week clinical rotation introduction course at the beginning of March.
  • Clinical Skills Refresher. During this phase, MD/PhD students will participate in a special 4-month (March to June) clinical skills refresher course meeting one day per month. This course is designed to help strengthen their skills in preparation for clinically intensive rotations.
  • Clinical Rotations. MD/PhD students can choose to start clinical rotations at any time after completing LAUNCH, but they are advised to avoid clinically intensive rotations until their clinical skills refresher is complete. Most MD/PhD students will start their clinical rotations in July or later--this entry time is flexible depending upon credit from previous clinical rotations and electives. Entry time must take into consideration timely completion of all graduation requirements.

Phase 3 of STAGE 2: CLINICAL PERIOD (11 months)

  • CLIC. If the number of weekly CLIC experiences during STAGE 1 plus the monthly CLIC experiences during the graduate phase/special matriculation phase equals or exceeds 98 sessions, the requirements for the CLIC course are considered completed. However, MD/PhD students can choose to continue their CLIC with weekly half day sessions starting after return to clinical rotations. Alternatively, students may elect to have a modified longitudinal experience at a site aligned with their goals as future physician-scientists. These new sites will need approval from the CLIC program. Participating in either of these longitudinal experiences or having a significant monthly clinical experience for an extended special matriculation phase would qualify the student for elective credit as approved by the CLIC leadership and the Director of Electives.
  • VITALS/IPE. MD/PhD students will continue this program mirroring regular MD students.
  • DISCOVERY AND SCHOLARSHIP. MD/PhD students are exempt from further requirements.
  • Electives. MD/PhD students will have the same total elective requirements (20 weeks) as regular medical students. MD/PhD students may choose to participate in a special research elective involving manuscript completion or dissertation preparation. A maximum of 4 weeks of elective time will be granted.
  • Clinical Rotations. MD/PhD students will have the same expectations as regular medical students.
STAGE 3 (11 months)

This is the final stage of the MDelta curriculum and focuses on advanced clinical experiences and transition to residency. The expectations and requirements are the same as those for regular MD students with a few exceptions.

  • VITALS/IPE. MD/PhD will continue this program mirroring regular MD students.
  • DISCOVERY AND SCHOLARSHIP. MD/PhD students are exempt from further requirements including the capstone project. They will receive 8 weeks credit for this portion of the course.
  • Electives. MD/PhD students will have the same total elective requirements as regular medical students.
  • Clinical Rotations. MD/PhD students will have the same expectations as regular medical students.