Medical Doctor (MD) Program

Medical Doctor (MD) | Graduate

The curriculum of the College of Medicine is designed as a program of instruction and training to produce the physician-scientist. Students in pursuit of the Doctor of Medicine degree are enrolled in the traditional four-year program.

Program of Instruction

The program of instruction of the College of Medicine provides the essential knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes necessary for the practice of medicine to all medical students. In addition, time is provided in the schedule for elective courses, so that students can explore areas of special interests.

First Year

The first year integrated curriculum has four instructional blocks. They include one block (2 units) of instructions concerning Molecules and Cells, one block (3 units) dealing with Structure and Function and two blocks (3 units) of instruction entitled Medicine and Society.

During the first semester instructional units in the Molecules and Cells block include: macromolecules and metabolism, molecular and cell biology, tissue histology, nutrition, basic microbiology, genetics and immunology. The Medicine and Society block consists of clinical skills development.

During the second semester, the Structure and Function block units include: bones, muscles, skin; head and neck; limbs; thorax, abdomen and pelvis. The Medicine and Society block include: health services, policy, financing, and administration; nutritional determinants of health and disease; biological, psychosocial and cultural influences on behavior, health and disease, and global health.

Second Year

The second year integrated curriculum has five instructional blocks. They include two blocks (8 units) of instruction covering the organ systems, one block covering physical diagnosis and two blocks (2 units) dealing with medicine and society.

During the first semester, instructional units in the first Organ Systems block include general principles, hematopoetic and lymphoreticular systems, cardiovascular system , respiratory system, and the renal and urinary systems. The first semester Medicine and Society block includes instruction in complementary/alternative medicine, as well as environmental and occupational influences on health and disease. During the second semester, the Organ Systems block includes instructional units covering the gastrointestinal, central nervous, endocrine, reproductive, and musculoskeletal systems; skin and related connective tissue, and special topics. One block each of Physical Diagnosis and Medicine and Society are also taught. The Medicine and Society block includes the measurement sciences, epidemiology and biometrics and clinical preventive medicine.

Third & Fourth Years

The third and fourth years consist of units of instruction in a continuum of clerkships (internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology and rehabilitation, obstetrics and gynecology and family medicine) and examinations for various clinical subjects. All junior medical students are required to take a course in Introduction to Health Care Ethics and Jurisprudence. During the fourth year, opportunity is available for additional clinical or research experience through twenty four (24) weeks of electives. There are two required clerkships during the fourth year – internal medicine and general surgery. During these clerkships the students function as acting interns (AI).


Time is available for elective courses presented in the form of lectures, research, seminar and clinical experiences. These courses are designed to broaden the basic knowledge acquired in the Core Curriculum and also to meet the needs of individual students that arise from differences in background, interests, and choice of future careers in medicine or medically related professions.

Beginning in the second semester of the first year, each medical student may enroll in one (1) elective per semester through the second year. Enrollment in electives during the first two years may be done at the option of the student, but is not required for promotion to the second or third years. Clinical electives are not ordinarily open to first and second year students. First and second year students are strongly advised to select electives which will enhance their preclinical preparation.

Elective Requirements

Elective time is not available in the clerkship schedule of the eleven-month third year. However, in the fourth year, a total of twenty four (24) weeks is provided of which a minimum of twenty (20) weeks must be spent in elective courses, or research activity. No more than eight (8) weeks can be spent in the same specialty, or subspecialty and no more than four (4) weeks in research. An optional four (4) weeks may be taken as "vacation" in addition to any other regular holidays during the year.

During senior electives, students may simultaneously serve as externs in the selected course, or receive compensation as a US-PHS appointee in connection with an approved elective. The elective, however, must be a training experience and temporary employment cannot be substituted for electives.

Extramural Electives

In choosing an elective, senior students may enroll in courses offered at Howard University (described in the booklet, "Senior Elective Courses") or, upon approval, electives may be taken at another institution in the United States. To do the latter, the student must first obtain and complete the "Medical Student Application for Extramural Elective Clerkship" form which is available in the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The request must next be approved by the appropriate department chairman in the College of Medicine. Final approval of the request is made by the Dean or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs prior to transmitting the application to the extramural Chairman, Director, or Chief of Service at the host institution where the elective is to be taken.

International Electives

Students may also enroll in international electives. In this case, in addition to the above steps the student must complete additional forms available in the office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Students desiring to take senior electives within the College of Medicine will be advised to register within the respective department(s) during the spring or early summer of the third year.


Program Details

  • Degree Classification: Graduate
  • Related Degrees: M.D. / Ph.D.

Admission Requirements

Courses offered in the College of Medicine are available only to students in the health professions or graduate biomedical degree programs. Students in other programs who wish to enroll in medical courses must first meet all prerequisites for these courses.

To apply for course admission, a written request must be made to the Dean of the College of Medicine, with endorsement by the dean of the college in which the student is enrolled. Written approval must be granted by the College of Medicine and will be based on available space in the course, as well as whether the course is essential for the specific student's program of study. Such written approval is required prior to authorization by the Office of Enrollment Management to admit a student to a course.