A closeup of the Penn State College of Medicine logo is seen on the jacket of a white coat, draped over the arm of a medical student who is also holding a White Coat Ceremony program. The student was part of the July 2016 White Coat Ceremony, in which incoming medical students at the College receive their short white coats signifying their status as future doctors.

MD Program

MD Program Details

The Penn State College of Medicine MD curriculum is focused on creating humanistic physicians who are adaptive, critical-thinking, collaborative, and scholarly.

The four-phase Penn State College of Medicine curriculum is designed to reinforce the enduring tenets of the practice of medicine and address the broad and changing healthcare needs of society.

All students will be expected to meet our list of competencies before graduating with an MD degree.

Program of Study

Learner-Centered, Integrated Curriculum

The practice of medicine is undergoing major changes. Many of these changes are part of a transformation that will alter the way healthcare is organized and delivered in the future.

The four-phase curriculum is learner-centered and has been developed to prepare you for a successful career in a more integrated healthcare system.

The committee on undergraduate medical education, composed of faculty and students, meets regularly to evaluate and modify the curriculum to keep pace with new knowledge and changes in healthcare delivery.

Goals for our Graduates

Through our curriculum, you will gain:

  • A well-grounded connection between basic science and patient care
  • A commitment to evidenced-based medicine
  • An appreciation of the patient experience of illness
  • A commitment to humanistic patient care
  • Advocacy for access to all and reduction in healthcare inequities

Our Four-Pillar Model

Traditionally, medical education has focused on two pillars: basic science and clinical care. Today — as healthcare delivery rapidly shifts from physician-centric to patient-centric, from care of the individual to care of populations — a more comprehensive model is needed.

At Penn State College of Medicine, the two pillars have transformed to four:

  • Humanities
  • Basic science
  • Clinical science
  • Systems science

As an MD student, you will learn health, healing, and humanity through:

  • Early patient experiences
  • Small-group learning teams
  • Longitudinal care in a team-based medical home
  • Peers helping each other
  • Quality improvement
  • Supportive environment

About the Patient Navigator Program

Penn State College of Medicine is among 11 of the nation’s medical schools — including the University of Michigan, Vanderbilt, and NYU — to be awarded a $1 million grant from the American Medical Association to transform the way medical students are prepared for today’s health system. One of our initiatives is the patient navigator program, an opportunity for students to guide patients through the complicated process of getting the care they need.

In this video, Penn State College of Medicine students describe their participation in the Patient Navigator program.

Emphasis on Humanities

We value the art of healing — not just the science of it. Penn State College of Medicine was the first medical school in the country to have a dedicated humanities department, and this focus is reflected in our curriculum:

  • Phase 1: Humanities coursework every Tuesday morning
  • Phase 2: Humanities stripe across clerkships (“backstory rounds”)
  • Phase 4: Month-long humanities selective (required). Recently offered courses include:

Additional humanities activities include the Farmers Market in Hershey, the arts and literature journal Wild Onions, and the Kienle Center Players, a drama group.


A supportive community is powerful, especially in a rigorous learning environment like medical school. At the College of Medicine, four learning communities—called Societies—provide a way for students and faculty to connect, encourage, and learn from each other.

Each Society has a faculty Society head, approximately seven to eight Society advisors (each clinical faculty member is assigned to five first-year, five second-year, five third-year, and five fourth-year students), College of Medicine alumni (both within the College and from the community), and two to three basic science faculty.

Contact Us

For more information, contact 717-531-8755 or StudentAdmissions@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.