MD/Master in Law (ML), Health Law TrackThe MD/Master in Law, Health Law Track (MD/ML) is designed for Perelman medical and PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, and residents in the Penn Health system who are interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of health law and legal principles. The program will help medical students navigate the increasingly dense and frequently changing regulatory environment in the United States and enable them to be effective advocates for health care delivery and collaborate productively with legal counsel across a wide array of issues. The program’s specialized curriculum is geared to health professionals entering a field that is increasingly defined by regulation and new service delivery models. Graduates of the program will develop legal knowledge and key analytical and critical thinking skills that will prepare them for careers as leaders of health practices and medical institutions, policy makers and advisers, pioneers in medical technologies and business entrepreneurs. To learn more, check out the article — Master in Law Report: At the Intersection of Medicine and Law.
The ML program has been incredibly rewarding and an invaluable complement to my medical career. I recommend it to physicians and students in healthcare and the sciences to better understand the legal and regulatory underpinnings of their work, enhance their training in this domain, and so be better prepared to practice, teach, and research in today's complex healthcare environment. — Manoj Mittal, MD, ML'18, CHOP, PSOM faculty
The information on this website describes the admissions process, curriculum, advising, and financial policies for the MD/ML program. Please note that these guidelines apply only to Perelman medical students.
The first step of the process is to gather information regarding the MD/ML dual degree. Interested students have several resources:
- Penn Law ML — the Master in Law website provides detailed information on the program and application process.
- Master in Law Report: At the Intersection of Medicine and Law article
- MD/ML Information Session — every fall the Combined Degree office holds a MD/ML Information Session for medical students. Email announcements are sent out to students prior to the event. Check out the full recording of the August 24, 2020 BlueJeans info session here or just the Powerpoint here. Also, if you missed the spring info session, check out the full recording of the February 15, 2021 BlueJeans info session here or just the Powerpoint here.
- Catharine Restrepo — candidates are encouraged to contact Cathy, Executive Director of the Master in Law Program, to discuss the Master of Law program.
- Assoc Director of CD Office — students are encouraged to contact Associate Director of Combined Degree Office, to discuss their interest in a Master’s program.
- MD/ML Student Advice document — Perelman medical students are encouraged to stop by the Combined Degree Office to pick up a copy of the MD/ML Student Advice document, which provides advice from a current MD/MBE student. Our student is a great resource of information on the program.
- Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) Financial Aid Office — As soon as a student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised.
Video testimonials of the ML program and courses:
- Dr. Narainder K. Gupta, "Just take a class and find out for yourself."
- Dr. Narainder K. Gupta, "Everyday is a learning phenomenon."
- Dr. Narainder K. Gupta, "Regulation is a conglomeration of everything."
- Dr. Howard Julien, "Stretches your critical reasoning skills that you never knew existed."
- Dr. Manoj K. Mittal, "A more informed consumer of the law."
- Dr. Levy Rivera, "Super beneficial to future physicians and even current practicing physicians."
- Dean Theodore Ruger, "The Law shouldn't just be limited to those who make their careers as lawyers"
Perelman medical students who are interested in applying for the MD/ML program are encouraged to contact Catharine Restrepo, Executive Director of the Master in Law Program. Once accepted into the MD/ML program, students will develop a curriculum plan in consultation with Cathy. As needed, Cathy may refer students to Ronald Litman, DO, ML'18 and Sean Johnson MD/ML ’19, who are available to provide guidance and advice to Penn medical students. Check out the video of Dr. Litman discussing his experience:
After a curriculum plan is developed, the student must notify the Registrar of the PSOM of his/her intention to pursue the MD/ML.
Students should also meet with a staff member in the PSOM Financial Aid Office to discuss financial issues.
The following requirements are needed for the ML degree :
- 4 required foundation courses:
- Intro to U.S. Law and Legal Methods (LAWM 511-301)
- Intro to General Business Law (LAWM 528-301)
- Navigating the Regulatory State (LAWM 529-301)
- Intro to Health Law and Policy (LAWM 530-301)
- 4 elective courses:
- Elective from JD curriculum
- Elective from JD or ML curriculum
- MD curriculum transfer credit*
- MD curriculum transfer credit*
Required Course Units: 8
* Perelman medical students who are matriculated in the MD/ML program will earn one transfer credit for MOD6011 Doctoring 1B and one transfer credit for MOD320 Health Care Systems in the MD curriculum.
For students who decide to pursue the MD/ML in their third year of medical school, they are enrolled in the MD program for the first three years, ML program for the 4th year, and the MD program for the 5th year .
For students who decide to pursue the MD/ML upon matriculation to medical school, they will be able to take several ML courses during their first 3 semesters of medical school, which will enable them to complete the degree within 4 years. Intro to US Law and Legal Methods (LAWM 511-301) is highly recommended as a first course.
The sample plans of study below provide details about the timing of ML course work for those who are familiar with the Perelman School of Medicine curriculum. The Master in Law plan of study will be individualized for each student.
MD/ML Degree Completion Time: 5 Years (or 4 Years with advanced planning)
MD/ML Sample Study Plan:
The following are possible scheduling scenarios that an MD/ML student might follow. They are based on the assumption that students will complete the requirements for two transfer credits.
Sample 1: 5 year plan
|1||MD curriculum||MD curriculum||1 LAW cu (Evening Likely)*||MD Tuition Fall & Spring; ML Tuition Summer|
|2||MD curriculum||MD curriculum||MD curriculum||MD Tuition Fall & Spring|
|3||MD curriculum||Boards 1
|MD curriculum||MD Tuition Fall & Spring|
|4||3 LAW cus||2 LAW cus (part-time)||MD curriculum||LAW Tuition Fall & Spring|
|MD Tuition Fall & Spring|
*Intro to US Law and Legal Methods (LAWM 511-301) is highly recommended and is offered in the summer, which is a great time to take this course in the evening.
Sample 2: 4 year plan
It may be possible for a student to complete the MD/ML degree in 4 years, if the student front-loads their courses.
|1||1 LAW cu
|1 LAW cu
|1 LAW cu (Evening Likely)|
|2||1 LAW cu
|MD curriculum||MD curriculum|
|3||MD curriculum||Boards 1
2 LAW cus
Medical School Planning:
There are several things to keep in mind when making your Medical School plans:
Tuition cost for the combined MD/ML program is far less than the total tuition cost would be if the two degrees were earned separately. MD/ML students will be charged 8 semesters of medical school tuition (6 semesters in years 1-3 and 2 semesters in year 5). During year 4, ML tuition will be charged per course unit (minimum of 2 cus per semester required).
Perelman medical students will be charged additional Law tuition for:
3 Law school course units
IF 2 transfer credits have been earned via MOD610 and MOD320,
IF the student has not taken any other university registered credits under the PSOM Additional Course Policy, which allows med students to take 3 additional courses while registered for the MD program. Please refer to the PSOM Additional Course Policy for information on tuition implications.
Students will be charged for more than 3 course units if either of the above conditions are not met. Students with questions about credits earned or needed should contact the Registrar of the Medical School.
Tuition: $7,092/course (2020-2021)
Additional fees (i.e. general fee and technology fee) will apply and may vary depending on a student’s enrollment status and fees paid elsewhere at the University of Pennsylvania. Please refer to the ML tuition and financial information page.
As soon as a Perelman medical student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised. Students should contact Michael Sabara, Director of Financial Services. He is available to help explain program costs, the financial aid process, funding options and how to apply for financial aid. Here are some things to consider:
- When paying medical school tuition and registered as a medical student, an individual can retain his/her MD Scholarship (for tuition/living expenses) and has a Direct loan eligibility of $40,500. When a student is registered as a full time ML student, he/she is not eligible for a MD Scholarship (for tuition/living expenses) and has a Direct loan eligibility of $20,500. In accordance with federal regulations, all sources of aid (loan, scholarships, fellowships) cannot exceed the student budget.
- Direct loans have aggregate limits, which are cumulative and include any undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans borrowed in the Direct loan program. For any semester when a student is a full-time ML student (versus full-time MD student), the ML program aggregate limit is $138,500 versus the MD aggregate limit ($224,000).
- Students who require funds in excess of their Direct loan may apply for a Direct PLUS loan. Details on this loan and instructions for applying can be found at the PSOM Financial Aid Office.
- Tuition will be billed each semester based on course registration and program requirements. Financial aid is available only from the school charging tuition. It is the student’s responsibility to file all of the financial aid applications and documents required to the school in which he or she is enrolled. Students may not receive financial aid from both schools during the same semester. The student is limited to the policies and federal regulations surrounding each school’s educational program. Specific costs are determined annually and are available from the PSOM Financial Aid Office.
Part-time Student Status Implications:
If a student is considering a Master's curriculum plan that would include one or more part-time Masters semesters, we urge students to consider the following:
- Is registered for 2 cus or 2.5 cus in a Masters primary semester.
- Is eligible for student loans and loan deferment.
- Part-time students’ health insurance (PSIP) coverage is not mandated by the University. Students are strongly encouraged to continue health insurance of some kind and are eligible to opt-in to the PSIP plan.
- To opt-in to PSIP: Online application during open enrollment periods. Please refer to the PSIP website for open enrollment schedule.
- A student who is full-time in the fall is considered subject to the insurance coverage requirement. This means that they must be enrolled in PSIP or waive out, and that enrollment or waiver is good for 12 months. If this student becomes part-time in the spring term, the PSIP enrollment or the waiver will not be terminated.
- A student who is part-time in the fall, and becomes full-time in the spring term will at that point become subject to the insurance requirement for the spring term and must then waive out or be enrolled for that term.
- The clinical fee, which provides access to Student Health Services (SHS), is mandatory when on PSIP. A Primary Care Physician (PCP) designation needs to be considered for students who are not opting into SHS and who used SHS before for this purpose. If a part-time student is not enrolled in PSIP, they can opt-in to the clinical fee to have access to SHS. Students can stop by SHS for the application or call the insurance office at 215-746-3535 to request it.
- Is not eligible for Penn gym membership, but the student pays less in fees, which hopefully offsets this expense.
The admissions process for the MD/ML program is competitive. A Perelman medical student may apply to the ML program during his/her first, second or third year.
There are two steps to applying:
- Apply to the Master in Law Program
Review and follow the application instructions. Students are encouraged to contact Catharine Restrepo, Executive Director of the MD/ML program, for more information.
- Submit Master's Program Registration Form to the Combined Degree Office
In addition to submitting an MD/ML application, Perelman medical students must also submit a Master's Program Registration Form to the Associate Director of the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office (6th Floor JMEC).
Application Deadline: Rolling Basis until March 15 of third year
(Please note that a student will be admitted for the semester following application submission.)
For more information about the MD/ML program, contact:
Penn Law School:
Catharine Restrepo, Esq. L'93
Perelman School of Medicine:
Francia G. Portacio, MPH
1. What is the typical professional background of a ML lecturer?
Master in Law degree & certificate students will take classes from both the ML courses designed for and limited to non-lawyers and JD courses alongside JD students. For the most part, ML courses are taught by lecturers who are practitioners experienced in their fields, bridging legal principles and practice and translating complex legal concepts to professionals who are not lawyers but who interact with the law on a regular basis. Based on the understanding that many students come to the program without a law background, our lecturers make legal concepts digestible while providing students with a solid foundation for their future ML and JD courses. Learn more about ML lecturers.
2. Do I have to take Intro to US Law and Legal Methods before taking any other course?
No; however, it is highly recommended and is offered every semester including in the evening during the summer.
3. The med school curriculum varies so much, what happens if I miss a ML class?
No problem. Just inform the course instructor in advance of your schedule conflict. ML courses are videotaped, so you can watch the video afterwards to catch up.
4. Is the course workload difficult?
No, the ML courses are quite manageable and comparable to other graduate level courses, but does involve some planning.
5. Are there any other options for med students if my schedule does not permit me to pursue the entire ML degree?
Yes, taking one or more courses when your schedule allows is a good option. Another option is a Certificate in Law, which requires the completion of 4 courses.
Please note that policies concerning admissions, curriculum, funding and financial aid are subject to change. Additionally, though variations in the curriculum may be possible, any changes will need prior approval and may have financial implications. This website is meant to provide preliminary general overview information only. Students interested in or enrolled in the program should seek personal advising from relevant faculty and staff.