final two years

(aka the "penultimate year” (which typically includes defending and returning to clinics), and “MS4” (graduation year).

typical schedule

During the final two years of the program, students typically do the following:

  • Finish the dissertation and defend
  • Make any necessary dissertation revisions and tie up any loose ends in lab
  • Prepare to return to clerkships (studying; participating in “refresher” activities)
  • Complete remaining core clerkships
  • Take clinical electives
  • Apply for and interview for residency
  • Complete CSI and Step 2CK
  • Complete one week required MD bioethics course (usually offered Feb or March of MS4)
  • Return to Research (R2R): do additional research (in thesis lab or elsewhere)

tips and resources

While everyone's path through these final two years is individualized, there are some common tips and resources offered through the links below. There is also an annual meeting as each cycle approaches for the group of students anticipating defending in the coming months.  Click here for the PPT and video (Pennkey required) from the Oct 2023 meeting. Also, here is the video (Pennkey required) of a student advice panel session on navigating the final phase of dissertation and RTC process held December 2023.

topics related to longer term future

And for topics related to the longer term future like “the bridge years”, see the Planning for the Future page.