Required Thesis

Office of Student Research

For more information, visit the website of the Office of Student Research.

Yale’s tradition of requiring a dissertation based on original research makes it unique among American medical schools. The M.D. thesis, a requirement since 1839, is an essential part of the curriculum, designed to develop critical judgment, habits of self-education and application of the scientific method to medicine. In addition, it gives students the chance to work closely with faculty who are distinguished scientists, clinicians, and scholars.

The investigation may have its origins in basic science or in clinical, laboratory, epidemiology and public health, or medicine and the humanities (medical ethics, history of medicine, etc.). A hypothesis must be defined, experimental methods developed, and data gathered to prove or disprove the hypothesis. Students are expected to use state-of-the-art methods appropriate for research and scholarship in each discipline.

Stipends are provided for summer and all other short-term research periods (four deadlines throughout the year). In addition there are many national funding sources students may pursue:

Research is conducted during designated periods in the third and fourth years and often over summer vacations. About half our medical students take an additional year of medical school to work on their research projects in greater depth, but this is not a requirement. Those students who obtain a fully funded year are eligible for a joint M.D.–Master of Health Science (M.H.S.) degree. Many students choose to take a fifth year to continue their research, pursue a joint degree or further their education in other ways.

A doctoral dissertation in the biological sciences that has previously been accepted as a part of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree may be submitted in lieu of a School of Medicine dissertation at the discretion of the Director of the Office of Student Research and the Thesis Committee.