Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Combined Degree and
Physician Scholar Programs

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MD/Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE)

The MD/Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MD/MSCE) degree program is for Perelman medical students interested in academic careers in clinical research. The goal of the program is to train individuals for successful careers as independent academic clinical investigators. The comprehensive clinical research training program consists of courses in clinical epidemiology, research methodology, and biostatistics; elective courses; extensive independent readings; attendance at research seminars at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB); and the completion of an independent research project.  Specifically, the program is designed to:

  • provide in depth knowledge of the research techniques appropriate for clinical epidemiology research
  • provide intensive, supervised research experience with mentors in clinical epidemiology, applying these techniques to issues of various medical specialties and subspecialties

By graduation, students will have obtained the following skills:

  • knowledge of elements of research design, including randomized clinical trials, cohort and case-control studies, surveys and quasi-experimental studies
  • detailed and in depth facility with one of the designs listed above, the one which will be used in the research protocol
  • knowledge of the concepts of health measurement as applied to epidemiologic research
  • ability to critically appraise the medical literature
  • in-depth familiarity with the principles of biostatistics, especially as they apply to epidemiologic and health services research
  • ability to use and interpret a variety of PC-based database management and analytic programs
  • ability to design, implement and analyze a research project

Please note that the following guidelines apply only to Perelman medical students.  If you are a medical student at another institution, you may apply for the MSCE program directly, but the admissions, curriculum, and financial information listed here will not apply. Medical students from other institutions will typically need two or more years of full-time study to complete the MSCE program.

Information Gathering

The first step of the process is to gather information regarding the MD/MSCE dual degree. Interested students have several resources :

  • CCEB MSCE Program — the Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics (CCEB) Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology program webpage provides detailed information on the program and application process.
  • Jennifer Kuklinski — candidates are encouraged to contact Jennifer Kuklinski, Coordinator for Educational Programs in Epidemiology,  to discuss the MSCE program.
  • Amy Nothelfer — students are encouraged to contact Amy, Associate Director of Combined Degree Office, to discuss their interest in a Master's 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.



Once a student has applied for the MD/MSCE program, the student must notify Helene Weinberg, PSOM Registrar, with his/her intention to pursue the MD/MSCE.

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with a staff member in the PSOM Financial Aid Office to discuss financial issues.

Upon entering the first year of the MSCE degree program, students are assigned to a faculty mentor who will act in an advisory capacity throughout that students’ course of study.  Advisors may assign additional readings and will work with each student to develop the required research project.


Curriculum & Program Structure

The vast majority of students enrolled in the MSCE program are physicians.  Many are simultaneously engaged in a clinical residency or fellowship training program. Each student works closely with a mentor and other members of a mentoring team to develop a program tailored to his/her individual interests, building upon a required core of basic courses in epidemiology and social science research methodology and statistics.  Additional requirements include protocol development, critical review of the medical and epidemiologic literature, and seminars devoted to current topics in research.  Students also may complete elective courses on topics of special interest. The formal courses serve as the framework for the program’s major component – the development and completion of an independent clinical research project and the write up of the results in the form of a thesis.

Evaluation of MSCE students is based on course performance, interactions with the primary mentor and other members of the mentoring team and the MSCE Comprehensive Examination. The purpose of the exam is to ensure that students possess the knowledge, critical and synthetic reasoning skills, quantitative skills, and written communication skills needed to embark on their thesis projects.

Program Requirements:

The MSCE degree is composed of 14 course units (cus):

  • 6 cus of core courses
  • 1 cu for a one-on-one tutorial in epidemiologic research
  • 2-4 cus of elective/concentration requirements
  • 3-5 cus of thesis research

Required Course Units:               14

The program also has several non-credit requirements, including completion of web-based training sessions in CITI, bioethics, and HIPAA as well as attendance at CCEB seminars and research ethics discussions.

For detailed course descriptions, go to the CCEB MSCE course descriptions.  Course work is also laid out in a sample study plan below.


With careful planning, highly motivated Perelman medical students may be able to complete both degrees in five years.  However, an additional year may be needed.  Time to completion may vary, because an essential component of the degree program is the development and completion of an independent clinical research project and the write up of the results in the form of a thesis.  Careful selection of a thesis project is crucial for students hoping to graduate in five years.  The sample plan below describes the program for a student who is able to complete the requirements of both degrees in five years.

MD/MSCE Degree Completion Time:               5 years (with careful planning)

It is anticipated that most Perelman medical students will complete three years of the MD curriculum before beginning full time study in the MSCE program on or about July 1st at the end of year three.  However, students may take selected MSCE summer courses earlier if desired and, in fact, are encouraged to do so.  The advantage in starting the MSCE curriculum earlier is that students are able to begin working with their MSCE mentor on the development of a research protocol.  Further, the July start date for full time MSCE work, if begun at the end of year three, means that MD/MSCE students will have only six months (from January through June) of year three to complete step 1 of the boards and take the electives and sub-I they need for residency application.  Faculty advising and close communication with Helene Weinberg, PSOM Registrar, about MD scheduling issues and with Jennifer Kuklinski about MSCE scheduling issues are absolutely essential, given the compressed time frame.  Students considering the MD/MSCE program should start planning as early as possible to make the best use of their time.

All of year four and the fall of year five will be devoted to full time work toward the MSCE, during which time students are not registered for the MD.  The spring of year five will be used to complete the final requirements for both degrees.

MD/MSCE Sample Study Plan:
Year Fall Spring Summer Tuition and Billing Maximum Direct Loan Eligibility (2019-20)
1 MD curriculum (Modules 1,3,6) MD curriculum (Modules 2,3,6)   MD Tuition Fall and Spring $42,722
2 MD curriculum (Modules 2,3,6) MD curriculum (Modules 4,6) MD curriculum (Modules 4,6) MD Tuition Fall and Spring $47,167
3 MD curriculum (Modules 4,6) Boards 1 and MD curriculum (Module 5) MD curriculum (Module 5) through June; then Jul-Aug: EPID 510, EPID 526 MD Tuition Fall and Spring; MSCE Tuition Summer $47,167
4 EPID 527
EPID 549
EPID 610
EPID 532
EPID 560
EPID 570
EPID 640
EPID Elective and/or EPID 900 MSCE Tuition $20,500
5 EPID Elective and/or EPID 900 MD curriculum (Module 5)
EPID Elective and/or EPID 900
  MSCE Tuition Fall; MD Tuition Spring* Fall $10,250
Spring $20,250

* No additional charge for MSCE thesis credit received in the spring of year 5 if the student has not already used their PSOM Additional Course Policy eligibility.

Medical School Planning:

There are several things to keep in mind when making your Medical School plans:


Financial Information

Tuition Policy:

MD/MSCE students will be charged 12 semesters of tuition and fees.  Seven semesters are billed by the MD program and 5 by the MSCE program. (The 7 semesters of MD tuition are charged during the fall and spring semesters of years one, two and three and the spring semester of year five. MSCE tuition is charged during summer, fall and spring of year four and the summer and fall of year 5.)   

Note: students receive 1.0 credit for the Master’s thesis during the final semester of the program, when they are charged Medical School tuition. As long as the student has not already used the PSOM Additional Course Policy, which allows med students to take up to three courses while registered for the MD program, there will be no additional charge beyond MD tuition in that final semester.

Tuition:               ~$6600/course. This includes a general University fee and the technical fee. (2019-2020)

Financial Aid:

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:

  1. 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 MSCE student, he/she is not eligible for 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.
  1. 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 MSCE student (versus full-time MD student), the MSCE program aggregate limit is $138,500 versus the MD aggregate limit ($224,000).
  1. 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.
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:

Part-time student:

- 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. See 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.

Grant Funding:

Currently no grant funding is available.



The admissions process for the MD/MSCE program is competitive and requires admission to both the MD and MSCE programs. The MD/MSCE program as detailed above applies only to students who are or will be enrolled in both degree programs at Penn. (Medical students at other institutions are welcome to apply independently to the MSCE, but the Sample Study Plan will not apply.)

Admissions process:
There are two steps to applying:

  1. Apply to the MS in Clinical Epidemiology Program
    Information about the MSCE application process is available at MSCE Admissions. Perelman medical students interested in the MD/MSCE program should contact Jennifer Kuklinski for additional details.
  1. Submit Master's Program Registration Form to the Combined Degree Office
    In addition to submitting an MSCE application, Perelman medical students must also submit a Master’s Program Registration form to Amy Nothelfer, Associate Director of the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office (6th Floor JMEC).

Application deadline:               December 1st prior to the desired date of enrollment



For more information regarding the MD/MSCE program, contact:

MSCE Program:

Jennifer Kuklinski
Coordinator, Educational Programs in Epidemiology
926 Blockley Hall

Perelman School of Medicine:

Amy Nothelfer, MSW, LSW
Associate Director
Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162

Helene Weinberg
Office of the Registrar
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162

Michael Sabara
Director of Financial Services
Financial Aid Office
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162


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 change 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.