PhD Years

As an MD/PhD trainee at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, your life as a full-time PhD student begins after your second year medical school curriculum, and once you have completed the first step of the National Board Medical Licensing Exam.

During the PhD portion of your training, you will pursue advanced courses that match with your training area and interests. We offer three one-credit modules per semester. You may register for all three, or you may register individually for one or two modules. This arrangement allows you to "mix and match" modules from different areas (e.g., an immunobiology module, a signal transduction module, and an oncogene module).

In the fall of your third year, a General Knowledge Exam (also known as the “qual”) will be administered to determine if you have the skills needed within your training area to successfully undertake a thesis project.

After completing your exam, you will work with your thesis advisor to develop a thesis proposal. After developing your proposal, you will begin to work on the thesis, itself. While in the PhD portion of the program, you will be able to maintain your clinical skills through our Clinical Exposure course. For this course, you will perform three rotations through any of the clinical disciplines from the last two years of medical school, such as medicine, neurosurgery, pediatrics, and psychiatry. This will help you refresh and enhance your patient interviewing, physical exam, and presentation skills.

During your PhD years, you may also choose to maintain and hone your clinical skills through the East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership (EHHOP). EHHOP is a free, student-run clinic for uninsured patients in East Harlem, sponsored by the Mount Sinai Health System. Every Saturday, volunteer medical students function as primary care providers under the supervision of volunteer attending physicians. EHHOP provides an outstanding opportunity for medical students to “learn by doing” in a supportive, educational environment. MD/PhD students in their PhD phase have long played an important role at EHHOP. Recently, a formal Physician Scientist Track (PST) has been established for MD/PhD students within EHHOP, providing our MD/PhD students with the clinical information, skills, and confidence they need to excel during their clerkships.