MD with Distinction

MD with Distinction (MDwD) recognizes medical students who engage in high-caliber mentored research. The student research project should demonstrate original hypothesis-driven investigation, excellence in methodology and interpretation of data, and a resulting body of original work reported as a legacy product or manuscript for peer-review. MDwD is a requirement for those who receive yearlong research funding. Students’ work will be evaluated by content experts in the field to ensure that the legacy product/manuscript meets the highest standards in the specific field of inquiry.


Completion requirements include: 

  • Legacy project and subsequent written product designed in consultation with a mentor and approved by their Individual MDwD Committee. This is usually, but not always, a first-authored manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Alternatively, a written legacy product that summarizes background, methods, work accomplished and implications for the field of work is acceptable.
  • Scholarship/research time: Most students graduating with MDwD have taken an additional year off engaged in mentor-supported inquiry (e.g. participation in a yearlong research program such as the UCSF Yearlong Inquiry Program (YIP)). 
  • Satisfactory participation with Individual MDwD Committee’s expectations for meetings and draft submissions.
  • Final approval by UCSF School of Medicine MDwD Award Committee.
  • All requirements of Doctor of Medicine in the UCSF School of Medicine.
Program Timeline
  • Before March (prior to year off/ or prior to graduation): Consult with potential mentors and develop research proposal.
  • March 30th (prior to year off/ or prior to graduation): Deadline to apply for Yearlong Research, which includes MDwD. See Applications and Deadlines for more information.
  • August (of research year): Designate Individual Committee members and meeting schedule.
  • February 1st (of graduating year): Submission Deadline for Legacy Product.
  • April 1st (of graduating year): Submission Deadline for Revisions (if requested).
  • April 15th (of graduating year): MDwD Award Committee Decision.
  • Spring (of graduating year): Present at Inquiry Symposium, as part of the Inquiry Curriculum.
MDwD Committee

Participating students will assemble Individual MDwD Committees (aka “thesis committees”) at the outset of their year-long research time.  Members must include 1) the Primary Mentor, 2) the student’s Inquiry Advisor, and 3) a faculty member chosen to advise in the same content area.  The goal of the committee is to generate advice and approval on the proposed project.  To meet this aim, the Individual MDwD Committee will meet at least three times:

  • Meeting #1 -Project Outset / August of research year
  • Meeting #2–Project Midpoint / June of research year
  • Meeting #3 –Year of Graduation / March after product submission

Students can elect additional project support by participating in the Yearlong Inquiry Program (YIP) which includes: works-in-progress, journal clubs, colloquia, and coursework.

Assessment of MDwD

All MDwD Committee members will assess the research and products submitted using the following categories:

  • Hypothesis generation
  • Background contextualization
  • Methodology
  • Statistics
  • Interpretation
  • Qualitative comments will be important as constructive feedback to the student and committee.

Completion of the MDwD program will be assessed by an MDwD Award Committee composed primarily of a panel of faculty from the Inquiry Funding Office. For more information, please contact Inquiry.