MSTP | ISTP Curriculum


A hallmark of the University of Chicago’s Medical Scientist Training Program is our unique curriculum wherein students graduate with an Interdisciplinary Scientist Training Program (ISTP) PhD.  This novel, highly adaptable program allows students full access to the superb graduate programs within the Division of Biological Sciences, the Division of Physical Sciences, and the Division of Social Sciences. The ISTP allows students to pursue training in one field or to craft a unique course of study that integrates two classical disciplines. Examples of the latter include computational biology and human genetics, structural biology and immunology, or developmental biology and microbiology. Such integrations reflect the evolution of biomedical research in which several disciplines are brought to bear on important questions in human disease.

The first year of the program combines both medical and graduate school classes. Students then typically begin their PhD thesis research work and return to the second year of medical school after a successful defense. This structure ensures a focused, intensive research experience and preserves the continuity of clinical training. On average, MSTP trainees complete both degrees in eight years.

Graduates of the MSTP are awarded a MD from the Pritzker School of Medicine and a PhD from the graduate studies arm of the MSTP, the Interdisciplinary Scientist Training Program (ISTP). The Pritzker School of Medicine is one of the top fifteen medical schools in the nation. The curriculum is taught in small study groups that emphasize active learning and scholarship. It fully integrates other scientific disciplines in order to highlight how advances in the basic sciences shape the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

A New Way to Structure Your Path: 1-4-3

Advantages of the 1-4-3:

  • Group graduate classes with graduate work
  • Group clinically relevant courses with clinical exposure
  • Bigger blocks of time for students to bond with peers in both graduate and medical school programs