Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Combined Degree and
Physician Scholar Programs

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MD/MTR Information Session

MD/Master of Science in Translational Research (MTR)

The MD/Master of Science in Translational Research (MD/MTR) 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 junior investigator. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are expected to have developed a strong foundation in the fundamental techniques of translational research. The program will produce junior clinical researchers who are knowledgeable about the complex issues associated with conducting sound clinical research.

Please note that the following guidelines apply only to Perelman medical students. The program is not open to medical students from other institutions.

Information Gathering

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

  • MTR Program — the Master of Science in Translational Research program website provides detailed information on the program and application process.
  • MD/MTR Information Session — every fall the Combined Degree office holds an MD/MTR Information Session for medical students. Email announcements are sent out to students prior to the event. Check out the September 11, 2018 MD-MTR Information Session PPT.
  • Dr. Emma Meagher — candidates are encouraged to contact Dr. Meagher, Program Director, to discuss the MTR 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) Office of Admissions and Financial Aid — As soon as a student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised.

Additional Translational Research resources on Penn's campus:



Prior to application, each candidate identifies the project they wish to pursue, along with the lead mentor, who will supervise the research project. Students are encouraged to reach out to the MTR Program to discuss their project and mentor selection prior to submitting their application. Additionally, it is helpful to meet with the MTR Program to understand potential funding opportunities. 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.

Upon acceptance, each student is assigned additional programmatic mentors to complement their primary research mentor(s) and create a mentoring committee. This three or four person committee functions as an ongoing monitoring group for the candidate’s progress.

If accepted into the MD/MTR program, the student will be requested to formally confirm enrollment with the MTR Program Administration. In the spring prior to matriculation, the student will meet with the MTR mentoring committee to discuss program requirements and finalize a plan of study.

The accepted student must notify Helene Weinberg, PSOM Registrar, of his/her acceptance into the MD/MTR program.

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


Curriculum & Program Structure

Program Requirements:

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

  • 6 core courses (MTR 600, MTR 601, MTR 602, MTR 603, MTR 604, MTR 605)
  • 2 elective courses
  • 2 laboratory experiences (2 different units of MTR 999)
  • 2 credits for research project and masters thesis (MTR 607, MTR 608)

Required Course Units:               12

For more details about core courses, most elective courses and laboratory experiences, see the course work descriptions. Course work is also laid out in a sample study plan below.


Students enroll in a core set of courses and also choose an academic pathway to concentrate in a specific area of translational science:


Perelman medical students will complete three years of the MD curriculum before beginning full time study in the MTR 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 director, Dr. Emma Meagher, 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 MTR work means that MD/MTR 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 Registar, about scheduling issues are absolutely essential, given the compressed time frame. Students considering the MD/MTR 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/MTR Degree Completion Time:               5 years

MD/MTR Sample Study Plan:

All of year 4 and the fall of year 5 will be devoted to full time work toward the MTR, 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 (2018-19)
1 MD curriculum (Modules 1,3,6) MD curriculum (Modules 2,3,6)   MD Tuition Fall and Spring $44,942
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 MTR 601
MTR 602
Research project
MD Tuition Fall and Spring; MTR Tuition Summer $47,167
4 MTR 600
MTR 603
Research project
MTR 604
Elective 1
Research Project
MTR 605
MTR 999 (lab)
Research Project
MTR Tuition $20,500
5 MTR 999 (lab)
Elective 2
Research project
MD curriculum (Module 5)
MTR 607
MTR 608
  MTR Tuition Fall; MD Tuition Spring Fall $10,250; Spring $20,250

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

Tuition:               ~$5000/course. This includes a general University fee and the technical fee. (2018-2019)

Note that in the sample plan, students take 2 courses total during the semester they are charged medical school tuition: MTR 607 and 608 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.

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 Jean Fox at the PSOM Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.  She 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 PSOM Scholarship and has a Direct loan eligibility of $40,500. When a student is registered as a full time MTR student, he/she is not eligible for PSOM Scholarship 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 MTR student (versus full-time MD student), the MTR 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 Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Students will need to proactively enroll for Penn Student Insurance Plan for both years 4 and 5 and are responsible for associated fees.

Grant Funding:

A potential partial funding mechanism for the MTR program is the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) TL1 training grant. Selected students will be appointed to the grant for 12 months. During the year of appointment (typically July 1-June 30 of year 4), the CTSA grant will provide a stipend of $24,324 and tuition of $20,500 (2018-2019 appointment year). Please keep in mind that the amount of stipend and tuition may change based on NIH regulations each grant year.



The admissions process for the MD/MTR program is competitive and requires admission to both the MD and MTR programs. Students may only apply to the combined degree MD/MTR program after admission and matriculation in the Perelman School of Medicine. 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 Translational Research Program
    The combined application form for the MTR and TL1 training grant for MD/MTR candidates and instructions for submission are available by contacting the MTR Program Administration. For additional information, check out the MTR Application and TL1 Grant Funding.
  1. Submit Master's Program Registration Form to the Combined Degree Office
    In addition to submitting an MTR 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:               October of third year [refer to MTR Program website for exact date] (in 2018: October 26)

Perelman medical students may apply to the MD/MTR program at any time during their first, second or third year of medical school. Decisions to award CTSA funding will be made beginning in the fall of the third year.



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

MTR Program:

Emma A. Meagher, MD
Director, ITMAT Education Programs
8032 Maloney Bldg.

Rachel Bastian
Administrative Director, ITMAT Education Programs
8033 Maloney Bldg.

Megan Maxwell
Coordinator, ITMAT Education Programs
8033 Maloney Bldg.

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

Jean Fox
Financial Aid Officer
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
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.