BUSM Curriculum

Changes to this program will take effect in the 2015–2016 academic year.

The BUSM curriculum offers students the opportunity to study medicine in a flexible, supportive environment that stimulates critical inquiry and provides a sound base of knowledge in the biological, social, and behavioral sciences. Curriculum review, integration, and modification is an ongoing process. Over the last several years we have restructured the academic program to expand early clinical experiences; we have reduced lecture hours and expanded small group exercises, laboratory sessions, and problem-based seminars; we have integrated the sciences basic to the study of medicine; and we have expanded flexibility and elective time throughout the program.


In Integrated Problems, students in small groups use case-based discussion to develop and integrate their knowledge in the biological and social sciences. The Introduction to Clinical Medicine course provides a mentored early clinical experience, creating an opportunity for students to develop communication and examination skills that are fundamental to effective clinical practice. These two programs provide a bridge between the basic science instruction of the first two years and the clinical clerkships of the third and fourth years.

The curriculum described below applies to the four-year program.

First year

The emphasis is on normal structure and function (anatomy and physiology).

Required Courses in the First-Year Curriculum

  • Biochemistry and Cell Biology
  • Essentials of Public Health
  • Genetics
  • Gross Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Human Behavior in Medicine
  • Immunology
  • Integrated Problems (IP)
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine 1A (Fall)
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine 1B (Spring)
  • Neuroscience
  • Physiology

Second year

The focus shifts to abnormalities in structure and function (pathology and pathophysiology). The majority of the second year material is delivered as an integrated Disease & Therapy (DRx) Curriculum, including the following modules:

  • Foundations
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cardiovascular
  • Pulmonary
  • Rheumatology
  • Renal
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Endocrinology/Nutrition
  • Reproduction
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Dermatology

In addition to the DRx Curriculum, students are also required to take:

  • Integrated Problems II
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine II

Third year

This is the core clerkship year. Students complete their initial clinical rotations, participating in active ambulatory and inpatient practices on major teaching services:

  • Medicine—8 Weeks
  • Surgery—8 Weeks
  • Family Medicine—6 Weeks
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology—6 Weeks
  • Pediatrics—6 Weeks
  • Psychiatry—6 Weeks
  • Neurology—4 Weeks
  • Radiology—4 Weeks

Fourth year

In the fourth year, students complete advanced clinical rotations in ambulatory care, geriatrics, and home care, as well as a sub-internship in the specialty of their choice. The third and fourth years combined include a minimum of 20 weeks of elective time with opportunities to pursue clinical and basic science research, as well as independent study programs.

Study Abroad and Research

Many students choose to spend some of this time at other institutions, either in the U.S. or abroad in BUSM’s very active International Health program.

BUSM is a major research institution and students may return to research interests they have pursued in the past, or try research for the first time. Stipends are available for those rising second-year students who wish to undertake a summer research fellowship.

Alternative Curriculum

Students may choose the alternative curriculum, spreading the requirements of a single curricular year over two academic years, paying half-tuition for each of those years. This can allow a student to decompress the program or to pursue research opportunities or other interests.