Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Combined Degree and
Physician Scholar Programs

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MD/Master of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP)

Health policy research is a scientific field of inquiry that examines the structures, functions and outcomes of health services delivered to individuals and populations and the impact of and implications for policies governing the delivery of these services. The MD/Master of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP) program is based out of the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine in close collaboration with the Leonard Davis Institute (LDI) and the Department of Health Care Systems at the Wharton School. Building upon the trans-disciplinary nature of LDI, this program is also closely affiliated with the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Social Policy and Practice. The program’s primary goal is to train outstanding investigators in health services and policy research. The curriculum spans four major domains: health economics, health policy, qualitative and quantitative measurement, and statistics. Students completing the MD/MSHP program are well situated to pursue careers in academia, non-profit organizations and health policy. Tailored educational experiences enable students to engage effectively with community partners, policy makers, and other interested stake holders.  Through mentored research students learn to plan and execute policy-relevant, patient-centered research using a variety of different methodologies including qualitative, cross-sectional, simulation, quasi-experimental, and experimental study designs.

These guidelines offer prospective and current Perelman medical students specific information regarding components of the MD/MSHP dual degree program. When students are accepted into the Master of Science in Health Policy Research program, they must take responsibility for following all regulations and policies of the Medical School and of the MSHP Program.

Information Gathering

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

  • MSHP Program — the Master of Science in Health Policy Research program website provides detailed information on the program and application process.
  • MD/MSHP Information Session — every fall the Combined Degree office holds an MD/MSHP Information Session for medical students. Email announcements are sent out to students prior to the event. Check out the September 16, 2019 PPT presentation.
  • Kathlyn York — candidates are encouraged to contact Kat to discuss the Master of Science in Health Policy Research.
  • Amy Nothelfer — students are encouraged to contact Amy, Associate Director of Combined Degree Office, to discuss their interest in a Master's program.
  • MD/MSHP Student Advice document — Perelman medical students are encouraged to stop by the Combined Degree Office to pick up a copy of the MD/MSHP Student Advice document, which provides advice from current and past MD/MSHP students. Our students are a great resource of information on the program.
  • Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) Financial Aid Office — As soon as a medical student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised.

Additional health policy resources on Penn's campus:

Summer research opportunities:

Students who are interested in the program early in their time as medical students are strongly encouraged to contact Kathlyn York and to begin exploring possibilities for their research mentor/project. Interested students can work on a research project during the summer between years 1 and 2 of Medical School. Funding for summer research is available through:



At the time of application, each candidate identifies with the help of MSHP advisors the project they wish to pursue, along with the lead mentor, who will supervise the research project. The mentored thesis involves designing a research project, writing a formal research proposal, performing the study described in it, preparing a comprehensive scholarly scientific paper reporting the results, and presenting and defending the thesis at a public seminar.

In consultation with the lead mentor, and with the approval of the MSHP Advisory Committee, the candidate selects from the Penn faculty an individualized candidate MSHP thesis committee. This three person committee functions as an ongoing monitoring group for the candidate’s progress. Its members are faculty with expertise relevant to both the basic and clinical aspects of the candidate’s research, and each is expected to contribute their expertise to fostering the candidate’s research progress. The committee meets on a trimester basis to review progress reports submitted by the trainee.

Once a student is accepted into the MD/MSHP program, the student will meet with the MSHP senior leadership, Drs. Peter Groeneveld and Judy Shea, to develop a curriculum plan based on their research project and discuss potential funding opportunities.

After a curriculum plan is developed, the student must notify Helene Weinberg, PSOM Registrar, of his/her intention to pursue the MD/MSHP.

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


Curriculum & Program Structure

Program Requirements:

The following course units are required for the MSHP degree :

  • 7 core courses  (HPR 501, HPR 600, HPR 603, HPR 604, HPR 606, HPR 607, HPR 608)
  • 3 elective courses (one of which is an MD curriculum transfer credit*)
  • 2 credits for research project and masters thesis (HPR 951, HPR 952)

Required Course Units:               12

* Perelman medical students who are matriculated in the MD/MSHP program will earn one transfer credit for MOD320 Health Care Systems in the MD curriculum in place of an elective.


Perelman medical students will complete three years of the MD curriculum before beginning full time study in the MSHP program in July at the end of year 3. The July 1 start date at the end of year 3 for full time MSHP work means that MD/MSHP students will have only six months (from January through June) of year 3 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 scheduling issues are absolutely essential, given the compressed time frame. Students considering the MD/MSHP program should start planning as early as possible to make the best use of their time.

With careful planning, Perelman medical students may be able to complete both degrees in five years. 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/MSHP Degree Completion Time:               5 years

MD/MSHP Sample Study Plan:

All of year 4 and the fall of year 5 will be devoted to full time work toward the MSHP, during which time students are not registered for the MD. (Note that to retain status as a full time student during the MSHP program, students must be registered for at least 3 course units during the fall and spring semesters of year 4 and the fall semester of year 5. No registration is required for the summer term). The spring of year 5 will be used to complete the final requirements for both degrees.

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
MD curriculum (Module 5)
MD curriculum (Module 5) through June; July-Aug full time HPR
HPR 501*
HPR 600*
Research project
MD Tuition Fall and Spring; HPR Tuition Summer $47,167
4 HPR 603
HPR 604
Eliective 1
Research project
HPR 607
HPR 608
HPR 951 (Thesis 1)
Research project
Research project HPR Tuition $20,500
5 Residency interviewing
HPR 606
HPR 952 (Thesis 2)
Elective 2
Research project
Residency interviewing
MD curriculum (Module 5)
  HPR Tuition Fall; MD Tuition Spring Fall $10,250;
Spring $20,250

* Penn medical students have the option to take this course during the summer between first and second year via the PSOM Additional Course Policy. Please note that enrollment is limited to 1 to 2 medical students per class.

Note: each MSHP course is 1.0 c.u.

Medical School Planning:

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


Financial Information

Tuition Policy:

MD/MSHP students will be charged 7 semesters of medical tuition (6 semesters in years 1-3 and the final semester of year 5). During summer before year 4, fall and spring semesters of year 4, and the fall semester of year 5, MSHP tuition will be charged per course unit plus fees. David A. Asch Medical Student Scholars in Health Services Research Scholarships are available.

Tuition:               ~$5500/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 MSHP 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 MSHP student (versus full-time MD student), the MSHP 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.

David A. Asch Medical Student Scholars in Health Services Research Scholarships:

The PennMSHP has up to two David A. Asch Medical Student Scholars in Health Services Research scholarships available on a competitive basis. This new scholarship is named after Penn faculty member, David A. Asch, MD, MBA, in recognition of his founding role and ongoing impact on the PennMSHP, as well as his significant contributions to the health services research field. Asch Medical Student Scholars will receive training to become tomorrow's leaders in academic medicine, health policy and health system administration. Each scholarship covers 100% of PennMSHP tuition. Applications for admission (including scholarships) are due by February 1 of the third year of medical school. Contact Dr. Judy Shea for more information.



The admissions process for the MD/MSHP program is competitive and requires admission to both the MD and MSHP programs. Students may only apply to the combined degree MD/MSHP program after admission and matriculation in the PSOM. Medical students at other institutions are not eligible to apply.

Admissions process:
There are two steps to applying:

  1. Apply to the Master of Science in Health Policy Research Program
    The Master of Science in Health Policy Research program information and application can be obtained at MD/MSHP Applicants. Students are encouraged to contact Kathlyn York, for more information.
  1. Submit Master's Program Registration Form to the Combined Degree Office
    In addition to submitting an MSHP 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). The MSHP program will not consider any medical student's application unless it has certified that the student has submitted the form to the Combined Degree Office.

Application Deadline:               February 1 of third year



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

MSHP Program:

Kathlyn York
Master of Science in Health Policy Research Program
University of Pennsylvania
1310 Blockley Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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 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.