MD/MS in Biomedical Sciences

This 30-credit program offers you the opportunity to develop a research interest and perform a year of original mentored research in a medically relevant field of your choice.  You will take graduate level courses that deepen your understanding of research methods and content, participate in seminar courses that enhance your written and oral communication skills, attend and organize lectures given by top scholars from Columbia and beyond.  The program culminates in a Master’s thesis, the public presentation of your research and the conferral of the MD/MS degree. It can be pursued in five years. Select students may complete the program in four years.
For information, contact Dr. Elizabeth Shane,
Columbia University’s College of Physician and Surgeons (P&S) now offers a new dual degree for matriculated medical students: the MD/Masters in Biomedical Sciences (MD/MS).  This program reflects P&S’s commitment to develop clinicians who will be leaders in advancing medical research, practice, policy and education. By integrating research training with medical education, this program will enhance the research skills of medical students and provide opportunities for medical students to pursue their research interests. The MD/MS program is open both to students who were engaged in research before attending medical school and also to those who are new to medical research. Areas of research focus may include basic/translational science, clinical research, precision medicine, global health, medical education, narrative and social medicine, population health and biomedical informatics.
The MD/MS program requires students to conduct original research under the supervision of a mentor or team of mentors in a medical field of interest to them.  The curricular structure supports students with diverse research interests. The program will enable students to 1) articulate and develop a focused research question, 2) complete coursework and 3) conduct a year of mentored research that results in a Master’s thesis. It can be completed in 5 and, for select students, in 4 years. The program is divided into three phases:
Pre-thesis development  - completed within the first 1.5 years of medical school.  Includes three semester-long courses from the early medical school curriculum (10 points) and two months of research between first and second year culminating in a capstone report (3 points). 
  • Two semester-long graduate level courses (6 points) covering content and approaches critical for future research scholarly development.  (Must include Biostatistics and/or Epidemiology and/or one additional graduate level course of the student’s choice.) 
  • The year-long Medical Scholars Seminar (3 points) where students formally develop and communicate their research interests, mentor selection and thesis proposal. 
  • The year-long Research at P&S Lecture Series (2 points) where select faculty from Columbia University describe and discuss their cutting-edge research to P&S students in the Fundamentals curriculum; students present and discuss their work in journal club format.
  • Students interested in Global Health may elect to take Introduction to Global Health (3 points) and Research Methods in Global Health (1.5 points) in addition to or instead of the Medical Scholars Seminar and the Research at P&S Lecture Series.
Thesis content courses - completed before or during the year of research (1-2 points): Specific courses will vary with student scholarly interest.
  • A suite of courses on research practice, ethics, and conduct 
  • Advanced graduate level course directly related to student’s scholarly field
Thesis research, defense and presentation - completed after student’s major clinical year and before or concurrently with final phase of medical training (5 points).
  • 10-12 months of mentored research
  • Formation of and meetings with a Master Thesis Committee, which evaluates thesis progress, the thesis itself, and a public presentation of the work.
  • Culminates in a student research symposium where thesis work will be publically presented.