PhD Years

Because MSTP students get graduate school credit for parts of the medical curriculum and complete 2-3 graduate courses during their first two years, they typically pass their qualifying examination and are admitted formally to PhD candidacy during their third year in the program. The PhD phase consists of additional basic science graduate courses as well as the PhD research and thesis.

After the first year of the PhD phase, students have the option of participating in the MSTP Clinical Tutorial, which consists of working with a clinical mentor one afternoon per week. The clinical area may be chosen to match the studentís interests. This unique program integrates clinical training into the PhD phase, allowing students to develop connections between their research interests and questions that arise in clinical settings. It may facilitate the choice of clinical field prior to the time for residency application. Completion of one year of MSTP Clinical Tutorial results in two weeks of elective credit during the final year of medical school. The MSTP Clinical Tutorial is optional but highly recommended. Enrollment in MSTP Clinical Tutorial occurs early in the fall semester (~September) and is coordinated by Dr. Debra Leizman, Director of the MSTP Clinical Tutorial (

Beginning with the class that matriculated in 2006, all MSTP students must take either MSTP Clinical Tutorial or CPCP (Community Patient Care Preceptorship) during the PhD phase. CPCP is a patient-based clinical training program in the MD program. It is recommended that CPCP be taken late in the PhD phase so that the experience falls close to the start of Med year 3.

The MSTP student's research progress is periodically reviewed by a Thesis Committee. The Thesis Committee also decides when the experimental findings should be written for the thesis defense. This group conducts the thesis examination, which includes a seminar that is open to all members of the university. The PhD degree is awarded if the examining committee finds the quality of research appropriate. Before approval, PhD theses are the basis for at least one manuscript published in a peer-reviewed journal. Case MSTP students publish an average of 3 first authored scientific papers and 6 total scientific papers.

Students are encouraged to apply for outside funding to cover training and research expenses during the PhD phase. More information can be found in the section on Grants.

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