MD with Distinction in Global Health Pathway


The Global Health (GH) Pathway has a process by which students can be awarded an MD with Distinction in Global Health upon graduation. To be eligible, you must be enrolled in the GH Pathway and meet all core requirements of the Pathway:

  • a pathway-approved mentored scholarly project
  • the GHS 101 elective (online course okay)
  • the GHS 103 elective
  • completion of a legacy product
  • presentation at the Research Festival


For the MDwD Program, the legacy product is expected to meet the following criteria:

  1. Dissemination - A first-authored manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal completed under the direction of a faculty committee and approved by the Global Health Faculty Committee. Alternatives to a first-authored publication that might be considered include other forms of dissemination such as implemented curriculum that includes robust evaluation, a multi-media presentation with demonstrated impact, program implementation with robust evaluation, a policy paper with demonstrated impact. Ideally, these alternatives would be accompanied by a manuscript with a possibility of academic impact.
  2. Scope - In general the scope of the work would require additional time (i.e. an extra year). However, the Global Health Pathway Leadership would also consider projects that are longitudinal, completed over the course of medical school, or in the context of a track record which would assure the likelihood of the project meeting the dissemination criteria above.
  3. Impact - The student must demonstrate involvement of the affected/involved communities in the project, and dissemination of the project results to the affected/involved communities.
  4. Approval - The legacy product must be approved by GH Pathway leadership and the MDwD committee.

Ideally projects should be conducted with a UCSF faculty member or an institution that is closely affiliated with UCSF. Research project performed at other institutions, (e.g., CDC, NIH, other UC schools, etc.) may also be acceptable but are subject to approval by the GH Pathway leadership. Since the MDwD Committee must be formed within one month of beginning the research project, approval must be obtained as soon as possible from GH Pathway Director Christopher Stewart or Associate Director Madhavi Dandu.

MDwD Committee Formation and Meeting Requirements

Mentors will attest to their willingness to serve as the Chair of the MDwD Committee and to identify at least one additional faculty member who may be chosen for his/her specific content or methodological expertise to oversee the research effort. A third faculty member will be assigned to the MDwD Committee by the GH Pathway Leadership. The Committee will provide help and guidance during the project and supervise the writing of the manuscript.

Students will arrange to meet with their committee at least four times:

Two formal presentations to the MDwD committee, one during the first two months and one during the last two months of the research period.

  1. A meeting within two weeks before the rough draft deadline on February 15th of the graduation year
  2. A meeting within two weeks before the final draft deadline on April 1st of the graduation year.


Program Timeline and Deadlines

Submission of Application:

  1. Students seeking yearlong UCSF funding: Students must apply to the RAPtr program by the January cycle deadline. To check this year's exact deadline and access the RAPtr funding application form, visit the RAPtr website.

NOTE: Fulbright, Fogarty, etc. have different deadlines that are much earlier than the RAPtr deadline. Please discuss this with the GH Pathway leadership, by the Spring prior to your intended gap year so that you take avantage of all possible opportunities to seek funding.

NOTE: All yearlong funding applications must complete the RAPtr letter of intent by late fall (see RAPtr site for deadline) of the year prior to the start of the research year.

  1. Students not seeking yearlong UCSF funding: The last opportunity to submit a proposal to the RAPtr Program and be in the Global Health Pathway (with or without MDwD) Program is June 1 of the year prior to graduation.

NOTE: You must submit a proposal for GH Pathway approval regardless of your desire for funding.

Enrollment in the Global Health Pathway: Students with GH Pathway-approved projects can enroll in the GH Pathway any time before June 1 of the year prior to graduation.

Submission of the legacy product rough draft: By February 15th of graduation year, learners must meet formally with their committee at least once within one month of this date.

Submission of the final legacy product: By April 1st of graduation year, learners must meet formally with their committee at least once within one month of this date.

By May of graduation year: Presentation at the UCSF Research Festival.


Application/Proposal Submission

Submission of Application:

Step 1: After receiving approval of your mentored project from the GH Pathway Leadership, you should discuss the feasibility of the MDwD Program with your project mentor. Your mentor must attest to the following:

  1. I am willing to serve as Chair of this student's MDwD Committee.
  2. I will identify at least one additional faculty member serve on the MDwD committee.
  3. I confirm that it is feasible for this student to complete a first-authored manuscript and submit it to a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation.

See Step 3 for information on the mentor attestation process.

Step 2: You should enroll in the Global Health Pathway and declare your intention to pursue the MDwD (i.e., your GH Pathway legacy product will be a first-authored manuscript submitted to a peer reviewed journal or other criteria above). The link to enroll is available here.

Step 3: Within one month of beginning your research, you should confirm the establishment of your MDwD Committee to the Global Health Pathway MDwD administrator. Names of committee members should be submitted via a form that will be available here on August 1.

Your submission will trigger an automated email to your committee chair requesting that they attest to their willingness to provide the above oversight.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How does the MDwD Program relate to the Global Health Pathway Program?

A: Learners must be enrolled in the Global Health Pathway to be eligible for the MDwD in Global Health. To be eligible for the GH Pathway, learners must have a project approved by the Global Health Pathway Director.

Q: I completed a summer research Dean's Fellowship after Year 1 that evolved into a manuscript that was recently published. I am about to complete Year 3. Am I eligible for the MDwD Program?

A: As the recipient of a Dean's Summer fellowship, you are eligible for the GH Pathway, but you are eligible for the MDwD program only if you plan to complete a separate, unique project and manuscript before graduation. The MDwD does not "grandfather in" prior work, but it supports work done prospectively with an established MDwD Committee advising you along the way.

Q: I will be pursuing a yearlong fellowship at CDC related to Global Health and would like to be recognized for this work at graduation by being awarded an MDwD in Global Health. Is this possible?

A: Yes. You will need to contact the GH Pathway Director (Chris Stewart) to ascertain whether your away experience (i.e., mentored project, curriculum) is deemed equivalent to UCSF's GH Pathways Program. If your experience is deemed equivalent, you will be asked to establish a UCSF-based MDwD Committee. Since the MDwD Committee will assist you along the way, you must contact the GH Director no later than one month before you begin your away fellowship to gain approval. You will be expected to adhere to all deadlines established for the MDwD Program.

Q: I have been approved by RAPtr for a quarterly fellowship and would like to enroll in the MDwD Program. Is this possible?

A: It is possible, but it may be difficult to complete the MDwD requirement on a short timeline. You should seek advice from the GH Pathway Director, Chris Stewart, as to the feasibility of your plan. This meeting must occur within one month of notification of the approval of your proposal. If approved, you will need to apply to the GH pathway and adhere to the deadlines outlined above.

Q: My MDwD Committee has been established but it is difficult to find a time for everyone to meet and get the input that I need. I am concerned that I am off my timeline. What should I do?

A: As a first step, you should speak to your mentor. You may also seek the advice of the GH Pathway director.

Q: My project is not turning out as I envisioned, and I am afraid I will not be able to submit a first-authored manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal. What should I do?

A: You should discuss potential alternative legacy projects with your mentor and MDwD Committee and seek approval of an alternative legacy product from the Chair of the Global Health Legacy Committee (Chris Stewart). An alternative legacy product, for example, may be a systematic review of the topic suitable for publication along with a written explanation of why you were unable to complete your intended plan.

Q: How do a 'legacy product', a 'thesis' and a 'first-authored manuscript' relate to each other?

A: All Pathway learners must complete a legacy product. For MDwD Pathway learners, this is a first-authored manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal completed under the guidance of their mentor and MDwD Committee or the appropriate alternatives described above. We no longer use the term 'thesis' since we are defining the legacy product more specifically.

Q: Why are there so many different deadlines and programs?

A: The Global Health Pathway and MDwD Programs are designed to accommodate as many different types of learners as possible while adhering to high standards. With flexibility comes complication. If you have any questions, GH Pathway Director Chris Stewart is available to help you navigate your way through the process.