Every UNC MD-PhD student must participate in the following activities or complete the following items:

MD-PhD Retreat

The MD-PhD Retreat is an annual event held the weekend before medical school orientation (usually the first weekend in August). We "force" you to go the beach for a whole weekend, eat good food, get to know your classmates and do a bit of MD-PhD business along the way. This is an event for MD-PhD Program students and staff only (spouses and significant others are not invited). The retreat for 2013 is scheduled for August 2-4 at the Blockade Runner Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

MD-PhD Seminars

Every other Monday night during the academic year we host an evening seminar. Faculty speakers make presentations about their science as well as about their life as academicians. Dinner is provided. All you need to do is show up! (Well, first year students are also expected to help by cleaning up after the event.)


Each MD-PhD student must complete a minimum of two research rotations. While we do not require that students complete a rotation before starting the first year of medical school, this is highly recommended. We have found that those students who do complete a research rotation before starting medical school tend to have a somewhat easier transition into graduate school.

MD-PhD students who have already completed one year of medical school and one research rotation will have the option of completing 2 shorter (i.e., 5-6 week) rotations rather than one longer (10-12 week) rotation.

After you have completed your first rotation, you are expected to turn in a written abstract and give a poster presentation. After your second rotation, you are expected to turn a written abstract and give a 10-minute oral presentation. All of the professors who served as summer mentors will evaluate your poster or oral presentation. In addition, each mentor will turn in a summary evaluation describing your experience in his/her lab.

Computer Science rotation: If you are considering the computer science department for your PhD, you will need to take your first rotation in that department. Computer Science at UNC is a highly competitive department. The department reserves the right not to enroll MD-PhD students into their PhD program if it deems the student is not competitive with their own applicant pool.

See the Rotation section for more information about selecting your rotations.

Supplemental Coursework

Responsible Conduct of Research:

This is a one-week half-day course given in the summer (usually mid-July) and designed to cover all topics related to the responsible conduct of research as required by NIH for all  students supported on NIH training grants. It is best to take this course during the summer of your initial research rotation.

Introduction to Study Design and Strategies for Data Analysis:

This one-week course is also given in the summer for a half day each day. This course covers the following topics: (1) basic study designs used in clinical/translational research; (2) overview of statistical methodology; (3) introduction to analysis strategies. You should take this course during the summer of your second research rotation.

State Residency

All incoming students are expected to complete all of the various items that are required in order for you to become a resident of the State of North Carolina. You will then need to submit an application form to the medical school at the beginning of the second year of medical school.

Students who are not NC residents when they are admitted need to complete the following items as soon as they move to the Chapel Hill area: Register your car and obtain car insurance in North Carolina, register to vote and vote, get a North Carolina drivers license and open a checking account to a local bank (if your current bank does not have local branches).

Required Forms, Applications, and Information

Throughout the course of your 7-9 years in the MD-PhD Program, we will require you to fill out forms, update biosketches, sign paperwork, travel forms, etc. While much of this may seem like bureaucratic paperwork, we do all these things for a reason. We do not make them up to torture you. Please respond promptly to all requests from the MD-PhD Program office, as well as all requests from the School of Medicine and the Graduate School departments. If they do not hear from you, then we will hear about it from them, and you, in turn, will hear about it from us!!