Pathways to Discovery Program for Year-long Research

What is the Year-long Program?

The Dean's Year-long Research program is an option for UCSF students undertaking year-long research and is designed to facilitate opportunities for medical students to pursue full-time research for one or more years beyond the standard four year curriculum. 

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  • Registration is open to any School of Medicine learner in good academic standing who intends to complete one year of full-time research and whose project is approved for the MD with Distinction in a Pathway.
  • Participation in Pathways to Discovery and completion of all "M.D. with Distinction" graduation requirements are necessary for the honor of that Pathway. 
  • Learners who receive year-long funding will automatically be enrolled and oriented regarding the requirements. 
  • Applications must have a well-defined plan for a high quality research project that will be carried out full-time under the supervision of a faculty mentor/advisor.


The requirements listed here are general and apply to all Pathways. For details specific to each Pathway, students can contact the representatives listed below.

1) The research plan must be submitted to and approved by a Pathway's M.D. with Distinction Committee which will approve a three-member faculty committee to oversee the student’s progress, and help the student in the preparation and completion of a written manuscript suitable for publication.

2) Students will be asked to attend pathway-specific events, such as journal clubs and research seminars throughout the year, along with works-in-progress sessions required by their Pathways.

3) Students will complete a curricula appropriate to completion of their Pathway.

4) Participants are not allowed to receive academic credit, other than Medical Sciences 200, enroll in any UCSF courses, or complete any clinical rotations while in the Pathways.  Participants who must complete program requirements during that time audit the requisite courses.  Confirmation that the required course was audited must be provided by the course instructor to the directors of a participant's individual Pathway.

Conditions of Completion:
  • completion of all requirements of the M.D. with Distinction Program (i.e. completion of a manuscript which is formally approved by a 3-person thesis committee and the Pathway director)

Program Length and Timeline

The Pathway requires a minimum commitment to twelve (12) months of full-time research, which translates to four (4) consecutive quarters. 

In most cases, students will opt to start in the beginning or middle of the 3rd year of the medical school curriculum; i.e. after the completion of all pre-clinical studies and electives, and during their clinical rotations. Preliminary review of the student’s qualifications and research proposal will be done by the director of the chosen Pathway to Discovery program. Once approved at this level, the proposal will then be submitted to the MD with Distinction committee within the student's chosen Pathway. The committee will determine whether any revisions are required before formally accepting that student as a candidate for graduation with Distinction. Acceptance as an M.D. with Distinction candidate will constitute approval for participation in the Pathway.

Financial Support

Students pursuing a full year of research have a number of potential sources for funding. Most Students can apply for both external and internal grants. These funds are used primarily as a stipend to cover living expenses for the year. In some of these programs, additional funds are provided for payment of various fees required by the school. For students who do not obtain fellowships, other options include a Pathways Project Grant and financial support provided directly by their mentor.


Contact Pathways

Pathways Staff