MD with Distinction in the Health Professions Education Pathway


The HPE Pathway now offers a process by which students can be awarded an MD with Distinction (MDwD) in the HPE Pathway upon graduation. The requirements for the program include completion of the following:

  • The Advanced Program of the HPE Pathway (see additional details under requirements)
  • A rigorous innovative scholarly project
  • A written product approved by a thesis committee in the HPE Pathway
  • 2-year committment to the pathway, barring special circumstances

Unlike previous years, students wishing to complete the MDwD program must take an extra year to complete the Advanced Program and scholarly project.


All students enrolled in the HPE Pathway complete at minimum, the Core Program (see chart below). Students in the HPE Pathway MDwD program must complete the Advanced Program, which includes all of the requirements of the Core Program and additional coursework, seminar, and scholarly project expectations (see chart below).

Core Program
  • Coursework
    • Teaching Strategies and Curriculum Development course
    • Learning Theories course
  • Legacy Product Development Sessions (attendance of 3 sessions and presentations at 2 per year)
  • Teaching Practicum
  • Scholarly project (including abstract submission and presentation of work at Pathways Symposium)


(MD with Distinction)
  • All requirements of the Core Program
  • Additional coursework
    • Assessment course
    • Educational Leadership course
  • Attendance of 8 sessions/year combined:
    • ESCape seminars (2 minimum)
    • Medical Education Journal Club (2 minimum)
  • Scholarly project written project/thesis*

*The project of an MDwD student is expected to be more robust in scope, depth, and innovation (requiring up to two years to complete) than the typical project of a student in the Core Program. MDwD projects must be written up, submitted, and approved by the student's thesis committee for successful completion of the program and awarding of the MD with Distinction. See additional information about the thesis and thesis committee in the next section.


Thesis Committee

If a student's MDwD scholarly project proposal is approved, the HPE Pathway will appoint a three-member thesis committee for the individual student; this committee is charged with overseeing the thesis effort and providing help and guidance during the scholarly project and writing of the final scholarly project written product/thesis. The thesis committee will include the student's project mentor, an HPE Pathway faculty member, and another faculty member with specific content, education, or methodological expertise. The student and his/her mentor may make suggestions for individuals to serve on the thesis committee.

Following appointment of the thesis committee, the student will arrange to meet with his/her committee at least three times during the research year:

  • First committee meeting - within first two months of research period
  • Second committee meeting - within last two months of research period
  • Third committee meeting - within the month before the final scholarly project written product/thesis submission deadline on April 1st of the graduation year

The student must submit his/her scholarly project written product/ thesis to members of his/her thesis committee and the HPE Pathway via submission links that will be sent in advance of the following deadlines:

  • Draft of thesis due February 15th of graduation year
  • Final thesis due April 1st of graduation year


Program Timeline

  1. Submission of application - January of year prior to research year if applying for yearlong funding, June 1st (one month prior to start of research year) if not applying for yearlong funding
  2. First thesis committee meeting by end of August of research year
  3. Second thesis committee meeting within last 2 months of research year
  4. Draft of thesis due February 15th of graduation year
  5. Third thesis committee meeting within month of final thesis submission
  6. Final thesis due April 1st of graduation year
  7. Completion of all HPE Pathway Advanced Program requirements by early to mid-April of graduation year
  8. Presentation at Pathways Symposium (includes abstract and poster preparation prior to event) - early May of graduation year
One and Two-Year MDwD Timelines

Click on the links below to download the two-year timeline:

Application/Proposal Submission

Students can apply to the MDwD in the HPE Pathway in one of two ways:

  • Students seeking yearlong UCSF funding: contact the HPE Pathway and apply via the RAPtr application form, submitting by the January cycle deadline in the year prior to the start of the research year. To check this year's deadline and access the RAPtr funding application form, visit the RAPtr website.
  • Students not seeking yearlong UCSF funding: contact the HPE Pathway and apply via the Pathways to Discovery application form by June 1st (a month before the research year).

Additional questions may be directed to the Director of the HPE Pathway. See HPE Contacts.