MD/Master of Science in Translational Research (MSTR)

PSOM medical students should read through the MD/Master's Overview page for general information applicable across all MD/Master's programs. This page provides specific information regarding the MD/ Master of Science in Translational Research (MD/MSTR).

The MD/MSTR program is designed to provide Perelman medical students with in-depth instruction in the fundamental skills, methodology, and principles necessary to be a well-trained translational investigator. The program aims to produce junior translational researchers who are knowledgeable about the complex issues associated with conducting sound translational research.

Please note that the guidelines below apply only to Perelman medical students.

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

  • MSTR Program — the Master of Science in Translational Research program website provides detailed information on the program and application process.
  • MD/MSTR Information Session — every fall the Combined Degree office holds an MD/MSTR Information Session for medical students. Email announcements are sent out to students prior to the event. Check out the fall 2023 MD/MSTR Information Session Zoom recording and PPT slides.
  • Website — students should discuss career and academic goals with their Advisory Dean and other faculty advisors.
  • Megan Maxwell, MSW — candidates should contact Megan Maxwell, Associate Director of ITMAT Education Programs, to discuss the MSTR program or contact the program here.
  • Assoc Director of CD Office — students are encouraged to contact the Associate Director of Combined Degree Office, to discuss their interest in a Master's program.
  • Current Students – connecting with a current PSOM MD/MSTR student is beneficial and may provide valuable insights based on personal experiences.
  • Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) Financial Aid Office — as soon as a student is considering the pursuit of an MD/Masters program, students should reach out to Mike Sabara for financial aid counseling and planning.

Program Requirements:

The MSTR curriculum is composed of 12 credit units, which are distributed among four types of requirements:

  • 6 core courses (MTR 6000, MTR 6010, MTR 6020, MTR 6030, MTR 6040, MTR 6050)
  • 2 elective courses
  • 2 laboratory experiences (2 different units of MTR 9999)
  • 2 credits for research project and masters thesis (MTR 6070, MTR 6080)

Required Course Units: 12

For more details about core courses and elective courses, see the course work descriptions.


Once admitted, the student is assigned a programmatic mentor to complement their primary research mentor(s). This committee functions as an ongoing monitoring group for the candidate’s progress. In the spring prior to matriculation, the student will meet with the MSTR mentoring committee to discuss program requirements and finalize a plan of study.


Perelman medical students will complete three years of the MD curriculum before beginning full time study in the MSTR program in July at the end of year 3. Students who are interested in the program early in their time as medical students are strongly encouraged to contact the program 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.

The July 1 start date at the end of year 3 for full time MSTR work means that MD/MSTR students will have only six months (from January through June) of year 3 to complete Step 1 and take the electives and sub-I they need for residency application. Ideally students should also try to complete Step 2. Faculty advising and close communication with the PSOM Registrar about scheduling is essential, given the compressed time frame. Students considering the MD/MSTR program should start planning as early as possible to make the best use of their time. Careful selection of a thesis project is crucial for students hoping to graduate in five years.

MD/MSTR Degree Completion Time: 5 years

MD/MSTR Sample Study Plan:

All of year 4 and the fall of year 5 will be devoted to full time work toward the MSTR, during which time students are not registered for the MD.

Clinical Rotations at Penn or other institutions are permitted during July and August between years 4 and 5. Please note that all courses require in-person attendance, and you may not attend a clinical rotation during a scheduled course.

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
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)

Boards 1
MD curriculum (Module 5) through June; July-Aug full time MTR 6010
MTR 6020
Research project

MD Tuition Fall and Spring; MSTR Tuition Summer $47,167
4 MTR 6000
MTR 6030
Research project
MTR 6040
Elective 1
Research Project
MTR 6050
MTR 9999 (lab)
Research Project
MSTR Tuition Fall, Spring and Summer $20,500
5 MTR 9999 (lab)
Elective 2
Research project
MD curriculum (Module 5)
MTR 6070
MTR 6080
  MSTR Tuition Fall; MD Tuition Spring Fall $10,250; Spring $20,250

Note: each MSTR course is 1.0 c.u.

Medical School Planning:

There are several things to keep in mind when making your medical school plans:

  • The MSTR degree counts as your Scholarly Pursuit requirement.
  • MD/MSTR students need to complete: 1 week of bioethics and the Measey STeP course.

Admissions process:

There are two steps to applying:

  1. Apply to the Master of Science in Translational Research Program
    The combined application form for the MSTR and TL1 training grant for MD/MSTR candidates and instructions for submission are available on the MSTR Application and TL1 Grant Funding webpage.
  2. Submit Master's Program Registration Form to the Associate Director of the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office.

Application Deadline: December 1 of third year [refer to MSTR Program website for details]


Admitted students should immediately notify their Advisory Dean, the Combined Degree Office, Registrar’s Office, and the Financial Aid Office.

PSOM Additional Course Policy:

  • The courses can be taken in any school in the University during the Fall or Spring semesters when the student is actively enrolled (not on a leave of absence or short-term break), and paying MD tuition (not just fees only).
  • To take a course for credit in a Summer semester, MD tuition must be paid in full for the previous Spring and following Fall semesters. Only Perelman School of Medicine (such as: Bioethics, Epidemiology, Health Policy Research, Translational Research, Public Health) or School of Law courses may be taken during the Summer. A student may take only one course in a Summer semester limited to the UPenn course catalogue.
  • In the event that a non-MD course requirement conflicts with an MD course requirement, the MD course must be given priority.

Tuition Policy:

MD/MSTR students will be charged 7 semesters of medical tuition (6 semesters in years 1-3 and the final semester of year 5). During summer, fall and spring semesters of year 4 and the summer and fall semesters of year 5, MSTR tuition will be charged per course unit plus fees.

Tuition and Fees:               

Tuition rates and fees are listed on the Master's Program Costs website. Tuition is listed per course unit and students are required to take 2 course units per term. View the MSTR program tuition costs by visiting the Master's Program Costs website and scroll to the Master of Science in Translational Science section, click on the title to expand and view the tuition and fees. The MSTR degree has a total of 12 course units. Tuition and fees for elective course units taken in the summer will be determined by the home school that offers that course. More information on Tuition and Billing.

Important Note:  In the sample plan of study, students take 2 courses total during the semester they are charged medical school tuition: MTR 6070 and 6080 in the final semester of year 5. As long as the student has not already used the benefit that allows med students to take 3 additional courses while registered for the MD program, there will be no additional charge beyond MD tuition in that semester. Please refer to the PSOM Additional Course Policy for information on tuition implications.

Grant Funding:

A potential partial funding mechanism for predoctoral students in the MSTR program is the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). Selected students will be appointed to the grant for 12 months with a TL1 award. Learn more about MD-MSTR grant opportunities here. Decisions to award CTSA funding will be made at the time of admission to the MSTR degree program.

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 MSTR student, they are 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.
  2. 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 MSTR student (versus full-time MD student), the MSTR program aggregate limit is $138,500 versus the MD aggregate limit ($224,000).
  3. Students needing loans are required to meet with Michael Sabara.

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

MSTR Program:

Emma A. Meagher, MD
ITMAT Education Programs

Megan Maxwell, MSW
Sr. Associate Director,
ITMAT Education Programs

Danielle Williams, MSEd
Education Coordinator,
ITMAT Education Programs  

Contact Us

Perelman School of Medicine:

Francia G. Portacio, MPH
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

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.