Program Overview

The MD-PhD curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill follows a traditional MSTP-style timeline. Students usually graduate in 7 or 8 years, and selection of a graduate program can be delayed through the first two years in the program. In addition to academic curricula, the MD-PhD program includes an annual program retreat, Monday night dinner/seminar series, monthly Case Conferences, student presentations, and training in scientific ethics.

UNC-Chapel Hill MD-PhD Curriculum


MS 1


MS 2


GY 1-3 (4)

MS 3

MS 4


Basic Sci. Courses

BBSP First Year Focus Group


Clinical Sci. Courses

USMLE Step 1

Graduate Courses, Research
Qualifying Exams, Research

Clinical Clerkships

Clinical Electives


Year 1:

MD-PhD Students are strongly encouraged to perform a research rotation in the summer before their first year of medical school.  Following matriculation, the first year of medical school (MS1) is comprised of the first two semesters of the TEC curriculum. These two semesters of the Foundational phase include small-group and case-based presentations.  Introduction to the medical profession begins with two additional courses "Patient Centered Care (PCC)" and "Professional Development (PD)."  On Monday afternoons, MS1 MD/PhD students will participate in Focus Groups organized by the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP). During the summer after MS1, students perform their first (or second) research rotation.

Year 2:

The second year of medical school (MS2) consists of the third semester of the Foundational Phase, with continuation of the PCC and PD courses.  During the early spring after the final semester of this Foundational Phase, students take Part 1 of the USMLE board exam.  MD/PhD students will then complete one of the three 16-week blocks of the Application Phase (March - June), and in July, perform another research rotation if they have not yet selected a lab mentor.

Years 3,4,5 (6):

In the third year of the program, students enroll in a graduate program (GY1). During the graduate years (GY1-4), students will complete coursework, qualifying exams, and a dissertation project according to the requirements of their degree-granting department. Most students enroll in the Biological and Biomedical Science Program (BBSP) before declaring a departmental affiliation.

Year 6 or 7:

Re-entry into medical school is more flexible with the TEC curriculum than a traditional 2-4-2 MD/PhD program. Students will complete the remaining two 16-week blocks of the Application phase. As a whole, the three Application phase blocks cover the basic clinical clerkships (Internal Medicine, Surgery, Family Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics and Psychiatry.)

Year 7 or 8:

During MS4, students serve as acting interns and finish other elective courses. In this final year, most MD-PhD students have a flexible schedule due to transfer credit from their PhD work, thus allowing them the extra time to interview for residency positions.