MD-PhD Roadmap

We hope this Roadmap is useful in guiding your journey through your MD-PhD program here at UB. This document is not meant to replace the MD-PhD Policy Guidelines. Instead, it should be used as a companion.

Note that this is a working document. If you see something that is no longer accurate, or if you would like to add something, please reach out to Brittany to make updates. We are always looking for more tips from those who have been there and successfully navigated a step along this journey.

Jump To


Who to Contact

During your time here, you will find that there are many resources available to you. However, that also means it can be difficult to determine who you should contact! This guide can get you started.

RGE/MD-PhD Office

  • MD years: Tuition, Stipend, or Appointment questions
  • PhD years: Tuition questions
  • MST 601 Registration, Schedule, Attendance, and Grading
  • MD-PhD Academic Standard requirements
  • Matching to Laboratory process
  • Returning to MS3 process (alongside OME)
  • F-30 Support (alongside your PhD department)
  • PhD Commencement

Office of Medical Education

  • MD Curriculum & Registration
  • MD Coursework Academic Support
  • USMLE Step Exams
  • EthicsPoint, MedHUB, Top Hat
  • Clerkship and elective lotteries
  • Away Electives
  • Required vaccinations
  • Residency applications
  • MD Commencement

Your PhD Department

  • PhD Years: Stipend, Appointment, or Insurance questions
  • PhD coursework requirements and milestones
  • Conference attendance
  • Basic science seminars


  • NYS Residency application: UB Student Accounts
  • Insurance during MD years: UB Student Health Insurance Office
  • Taxes: a professional accountant 

Individual Program Meetings

Twice a year, all MD-PhD students will have an individual meeting with Dr. Taylor and Brittany. These meetings are an opportunity to discuss progress towards degree completion, review any concerns and give a general update on how you are doing in the program.

You will be contacted by Brittany when it comes time to schedule your meeting. Prior to the meeting, you will be asked to fill out an update form so that all parties are prepared.

Meeting Months

  • MS1: August, January, and May
  • MS2: November and April
  • GS1: October and March
  • GS2: October and March
  • GS3+: September and January
  • MS3: August and February
  • MS4: September and February

Academic Standards

MD-PhD students are expected to remain in good standing and maintain the highest standards in both the MD and PhD components of the program. A formal review of each student’s progress will occur following the end of each semester.

MD Years

Students in the MD component are expected to receive a grade of at least 80 or be at or above the class mean, whichever is lowest, in all medical school courses. 

PhD Years

Students in the PhD component are expected to receive a letter grade of B+ or better in all courses.

Learning Sciences and Educational Success Program

Offers workshops, interactive learning sessions, and individual academic counseling for exploring content, processes, and thinking skills to maximize student success. Learn more

Tuition, Stipend and Insurance


The MD-PhD program will cover your tuition throughout your time in the program. During your PhD, report your credit hours to RGE in August and January so we can process your tuition scholarship.

Stipend & Fees

  MD Years PhD Years
Stipend $28,000 $31,000
Paid by MD-PhD Program PhD Advisor
Annual Fees Approximately $3000 + Additional out-of-pocket expenses $0

You should be prepared for the change in stipend during the transition years and make sure you are budgeting accordingly. We cannot waive or assist with fees in the MD years.


If you’re in the MD years and not on an F30, you’re paid by the UB Foundation as a Fellow.  Access your paystub info online. If you’re working in a lab or on an F30, you’re probably paid by the Research Foundation and you’d see your info online here: Access Employee Self Service.


MD Years

The University at Buffalo requires all full-time students to have health insurance coverage. All new students will automatically be charged for the University plan on the first tuition bill for the semester.

If you currently hold private health insurance that is ACA Compliant with more than emergency/urgent care benefits in the Buffalo, NY area, you may be eligible for a waiver. If approved, you would be required to complete the waiver annually. The waiver must be done prior to or soon after your arrival at UB for you to be refunded. You are still responsible for paying the amount for the insurance; the refund will be issued only after you’ve paid the fee.

PhD Years

PhD students are eligible for UB employer-subsidized health insurance. You should receive more information from Human Resources once your appointment has been processed. The type of insurance you receive will depend on how you are paid and is specific to each department. 


As a Fellow, you are not considered an employee of UB. As such, you will not have taxes deducted from your paychecks and will need to declare this income when filing your annual tax return. We recommend consulting with your accountant about the best way to declare this income since you will not receive a W2 from the university.

MD-PhD Seminar

MST 601 | Tuesdays 4-5pm | Bi-Weekly

All MD-PhD students will take MST 601, a bi-weekly seminar during the fall and spring semesters throughout the entirety of the program. 

A schedule will be sent out prior to the start of the semester including final dates and speakers.

PhD students will also be selected to present their research during seminars in the spring semester.

All MD-PhD students will be registered for MST601 by the RGE office. 


  • H - Attended all seminars
  • H - Attended up to 2 approved makeup seminars, to equal total of all seminars
  • S - Attended half or more seminars
  • S - Attended up to 2 approved makeup seminars, to equal half of all seminars
  • Inc - Attended less than half of seminars

Professional Development

American Physician Scientist Association (APSA)

All MD-PhD students will receive a membership in the American Physician Scientists Association. Students are encouraged to attend the APSA Annual Meeting. The RGE office has a limited amount of funds to send a small number of students each year. Leadership positions are also available within our local chapter. 


Polity is the Medical Student Government of the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo whose main goal is to work toward the betterment of student life within the Medical School Community. Within Polity, there is an MD-PhD representative.

Graduate Student Association (GSA)

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is the representative body for graduate students at the University at Buffalo. The MD-PhD GSA Club serves to increase the camaraderie, network, and career resources of current and aspiring physician-scientists, and to provide opportunities for outreach and communication with physician-scientists who are active in research and clinical responsibilities. Leadership positions are also available.

Biomedical Graduate Student Government (BGSG)

BGSG's purpose is to create strategies/proposals that will be communicated to the administration in the greater JSMBS community to make positive changes and improve the graduate student experience. We aim to provide a safe space for students to voice their concerns about issues affecting the success including academic, social, and emotional issues, as well as provide general resources and support for all students. We also aim to strengthen interdepartmental friendships and collaborations within the greater JSMBS community.

Tri-Institutional Research Day

Every October, UB participates in a Tri-Institutional Research Day with the University of Rochester and SUNY Upstate. Each institution hosts this research day on a rotating basis and all students are expected to attend. When held at UB, a planning committee of students is formed

MD Program Year 1


Class Information

Classes run from August-May and are lecture-based, with lab and small group/seminar components.

Fall Course Schedule

Orientation 3 days
MST 601 MD-PhD Seminar 16 weeks
PAS 500 Gross Human Anatomy 16.5 weeks
IDM 520 Clinical Practice of Medicine 15 weeks
IMC 500 Medicine and Society 1.5 weeks
IMC 502 Fundamentals 1: Molecules, Cells & Molecular Genetics 8 weeks
IMC 504 Fundamentals 2: Metabolism, Human Genetics & Principles of Pharm 8.5 weeks

Spring Course Schedule

MST 601 MD-PhD Seminar 16 weeks
IDM 521 Clinical Practice of Medicine 1 19 weeks
IMC 516 Host Defenses and Hematology 7.5 weeks
IMC 510 Gastrointestinal System and Metabolism 6 weeks
IMC 512 Urinary Tract and Renal System 4 weeks
IMC 514 Musculoskeletal System and Integument 3 weeks

Important Dates

  • Labor Day: No Classes
  • Humanities Day: Mandatory Attendance
  • Thanksgiving Break: No Classes
  • Winter Break: No Classes
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: No Classes
  • February 1: Deadline for NYS Residency Application
  • February-April: Summer rotation selection/scheduling
  • Spring Break: No Classes
  • Memorial Day: No Classes


Fall of MS1: The Exploratory Phase

The transition to Medical School can be tough! Use this time to focus on your studies while also exploring potential lab options. 

To Do

  • Look at the mentor’s track record of PhD and MD-PhD students. Where did they end up? Did they get funding? Where do they publish? How many publications were they able to finish?
  • Ask your fellow senior MD-PhD about recommendations, they likely know about potential mentors/personalities/etc. 
  • Make sure you know what the mentor studies and have read a few of their papers before meeting them. Mentorship is a two-way street and they can also easily say you are not a good fit for their lab if they get the sense you are not engaged.

Spring of MS1: Narrow it Down

By now, you should have a good idea of where you want to rotate. Spend this time setting up your summer rotations.

To Do

  • If you haven't already, you should start contacting potential PI's to begin discussions of matching to their lab, and scheduling rotations. 
  • During your one-on-one meeting, discuss your plans with the Program Director and Coordinator.
  • If rotating at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, begin the onboarding process to gain access to labs.

Summer: Complete Rotations

During the summer between M1 and M2, students will be required to rotate through at least 2 but preferably 3 research laboratories to become acquainted with programs and departments related to their research interests and to acquire research skills. Each rotation will be approximately 3 weeks. Scheduling these rotations is flexible and completely up to you and the PI.

To Do

  • During the rotation, get a sense of the lab culture. This is typically something that stays constant if a lab has been around for a while. 
  • Do you have support while in the lab? Do you need support or are you okay with figuring out everything on your own? 
  • When interacting with your mentor, do you feel like you are being treated like a student/junior scientist in training or a tech? Ask if it would be okay to speak with previous members of the lab.
  • If you are really curious about where the projects are going or about future directions, it does not hurt to ask for a copy of their grant to read. It may also give you a sense of whether they will be a good mentor for writing grants/papers etc.

In-State Residency

Deadline: February 1

All out-of-state students must apply for New York State Residency for Tuition Purposes. 

Changing your residency status to in-state will save the school significant funds over the course of your time in the program. In the MD years, there is typically a difference of about $25,000 per year.

The application is called the Residency Application for New York State Tuition Purposes and is available on the UB Student Accounts website. You will be eligible to apply after your first term at UB since you are a supported graduate/professional student.  

Note that you MUST have a NYS Driver’s License or Non-Driver ID and other documentation to support your case for residency. Below are other recommendations that could improve your chances of being approved:

  • As soon as possible, visit HUB to change your mailing address to Buffalo
  • Establish a bank account in Buffalo under your local address
  • Establish at least one utility under your name at your local address.
  • Change the billing address on a credit card to your Buffalo address.
  • If applying for Winter/Spring - Documents must be dated September 1st of that year or prior.

Attending classes and working here are not enough on their own; you must demonstrate a paper trail that proves your residence here. Please carefully review the list of required documents at the link above and arrange for them well in advance of the application deadline. The Office of Student Accounts will not accept applications after the published deadlines. 

If students elect not to apply for New York State Residency, they will be responsible for payment of all tuition costs above that are normally provided for in-state-residents each semester beginning in M2 and until they gain New York State residency status or graduate.

MD Program Year 2


Class Information

Classes run from August-April and are structured similarly to M1.

Fall Course Schedule

MST 601 MD-PhD Seminar
16 weeks
IDM 620 Clinical Practice of Medicine 2 18 weeks
IMC 602 Human Cardiovascular System 7.5 weeks
IMC 604 Lung and Respiration 5 weeks
IMC 606 Neuroscience 5.5 weeks

Spring Course Schedule

MST 601 MD-PhD Seminar
16 weeks
IDM 621 Clinical Practice of Medicine 2 14 weeks
IMC 606 Neuroscience (cont'd) 3 weeks
IMC 610 Behavior 3 weeks
IMC 612 Endocrine 5 weeks
IMC 612 Reproductive System 3.5 weeks

Important Dates

  • Labor Day: No Classes
  • MS2 - IP Education Forum: Mandatory Attendance
  • Thanksgiving Break: No Classes
  • Winter Break: No Classes
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: No Classes
  • Spring Break: No Classes
  • April-June: Step 1 Dedicated Study Period
  • 2 weeks after Step 1: Begin working in Lab


Fall of MS2: Narrow it Down - Again!

Hopefully, by now, you have a pretty good idea of who you want as your mentor. You'll continue to have conversations regarding joining their lab and your future project.

To Do

  • Continue a conversation with that person, including the potential for joining their lab.
  • Verify that they have funding to support you.

Spring of MS2: Select Your Lab!

It's time to make it official! There are some approval steps to get you there, so you'll want to start preparing this as soon as you know where you're going.

To Do

  • In April, you will submit a research proposal abstract and the CV of your intended mentor to the MD-PhD Director for Steering Committee Approval.
  • Once approved, you will meet with the MD-PhD Director and your Research  Advisor to sign the Intent to Enroll Form. This form is your responsibility to complete and should be submitted to the RGE office after all signatures are obtained.

PhD White Coat Ceremony

Each June, the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS) hosts an Annual Awards and PhD White Coat Ceremony for students matching into their labs. MD-PhD students and their new mentors are invited to attend. Students will be cloaked in their PhD White Coat at this ceremony.

Step 1 Exam

After the completion of M2 courses, you will have an approximately 8 week “dedicated study period” to allow you time to study and sit for the USMLE Step 1 Exam.

You can apply for the Step 1 exam online at or Instructions for registration and many other helpful resources can be found in your Office of Medical Education course on UBLearns in the Step 1 Resources folder under Course Documents. 

PhD Program



Before Qualifying

You will be required to take a minimum of 9 credits per semester until after your qualifying exam. You should plan on taking a research ethics class since this is a requirement for an F30 application.

After Qualifying

Every semester you should take Research (at least 1 credit) and Seminar (1 credit).

You will plan your PhD curriculum so that in your last year, you will have only 4 credits remaining out of the 36 required to graduate (Research and Seminar in Fall/Spring). If for some reason you complete your program early, you can use more credits toward research in your last semester.

Example Plan

PhD Year Fall Credits Spring Credits
Year 1 9 9
Year 2 9 5
Year 3 2 2
    Total Credits = 36


Each program has its own curriculum, which should be discussed with your mentor and program administrator to ensure degree requirements are being satisfied.

Basic Science Seminars

You are expected to attend appropriate basic science seminars in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and/or your degree department.

GS1 Year

You will begin research within 2 weeks of taking the Step 1 Exam in your new lab. You can expect that this will be much less regimented than medical school. You should set a personal schedule to set and keep you on track.

Note that your pay rate will change to $31,000 and your method of payment may also change depending on your program department.


You should complete the preliminary examination within 12-18 months of entering the PhD component. You will also form a prelim exam committee and a thesis committee, each consisting of 3 faculty members, plus your mentor. These don’t need to be the same faculty members, although they typically are. Qualifying exams are graded pass/fail or provisional pass. 

GS2+ Years

Thesis Registration

PhD students are expected to register for at least one credit hour of research each semester. It is your responsibility to register for this credit or to get assistance from your PhD department or program administrator. 


You can apply for an F-30 on April 8th, Aug 8th, or Dec 8th. You will work with Sponsored Projects to assist with setting up your application. 

You should plan on at least one month to write the F30 (while you are still actively working in the lab). After your application is submitted, you’ll receive a study section date usually set for 2-3 months later. You’ll receive a score within about a week of the study section, and you’ll receive a Summary Statement of your score within 30 days of the study section. Each primary application can be resubmitted up to 1 time, however, there is no limit on the number of primary applications that can be submitted.

Returning to MS3

Let Us Know You Are Finishing Your PhD

Let the OME and RGE offices know you are finishing in the Fall of your last Graduate year so that they can put you on the listserv for all important class meetings for planning for the next year. DO NOT ignore emails or you may miss something important.

Defend Thesis

Plan backward from the date that you want to defend. Make sure you are aware of all of the department's policies and deadlines for meetings/presentations/written documents/permission for defense. Give yourself a little cushion time in case something sets you back.

Additional Steps for the Graduate School

  • Complete an M-Form with your PhD department and submit the original copy to the RGE office. Do NOT submit to the Graduate School.
  • Submit an Electronic submission of your dissertation (ETD)
  • Complete the doctoral degree recipient surveys
  • Refresh before return to M3

Third Year Lottery

All students take the same 6 required clerkships during third year, but your third year schedule of clerkships is determined by way of the Third Year Lottery. The lottery is conducted in the spring before third year on MedHub. 

You need to email the OME Registrar in the year prior to your planned return to M3 to remind them that you are coming back. Third Year also has scheduled space for two electives. You will register for these in HUB on a first-come, first-serve basis. 


Annual proof of TB screening and influenza vaccination is required before stepping onto the wards. Just prior to starting M3, it is also a good idea to get your certifications completed for Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). BLS is required for entering M3 and ACLS is required by most elective 4th year Sub-internships (Sub-Is). These requirements can be met either through a course offered by UB, or via an outside vendor (there are plenty in Buffalo). You will also need to be able to furnish vaccine records for Tdap etc.

Change in Fees/Pay From MD Years

Remember, your stipend will return to $28,000 during M3 and M4, and Medical School requires a number of fees. Plan ahead for this; we are unable to waive any of these fees. Also, make sure you do not have a lapse in insurance during your transition.

MD Program Year 3



Third year runs all year from July-June.

MST 601 MD-PhD Seminar Fall & Spring
IDM 701 Dilemmas in Clinical Medicine All Year
IMC 730 Core Topics Winter Intersession


Third-year begins with a mandatory 3-day orientation. Your first clerkship will begin the following Monday. Clerkships are scheduled in four 12-week blocks. Medicine and Surgery are both 12 weeks long. Pediatrics, OBGYN, Psychiatry, and Family Medicine are all six weeks long, each making up half of one block. Within both Medicine and Surgery is a 4-week module space for an elective. 

Under direct supervision, you will have the opportunity to observe and participate in the care of patients with a wide variety of illnesses and will be given progressively more responsibility as your skill develops. Educational experiences also include an emphasis on lecture demonstrations of clinical problems, small-group problem-solving, conferences, and ward rounds. Increasing emphasis is placed on disease prevention and primary care.

At the end of each clerkship is a shelf exam. For most courses, this will determine what you get on your final grade. Take the shelf exam seriously, and study early. Talk to upperclassmen about what study strategy/resources worked best for them. Keep in mind though, that everyone has a different study strategy.

There will be two weeks of vacation for all students during the intersession period. You will not be permitted to take vacation time other than the two-week winter break, and no out-of-town electives will be allowed during the third year. You can ask for a few days off during a clerkship (reasonably 3) for a conference with prior approval from the Dean of students and the clerkship director a few months in advance. Your chances of approval is increased if you are giving a talk or multiple posters.

Step 2 Exam

Third Year Clinical Competency Exam

All third-year students will take the Third Year Clinical Competency Exam during the spring of the third year. Passing this exam is required for promotion to fourth-year. It serves as a practice exam for USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS). 

Step 2

Passing both Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS are requirements for graduation. To be eligible to participate in the Match, students must take this by Dec. 31 of the 4th year, although these are usually taken earlier.

Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK)

Most students will take this between the end of July and September. Some residencies want a CK score before issuing you an interview. Scheduling permits for this exam and CS require a new verification of student form that is filled out, sealed by the school, and mailed to the central USMLE office if your previous verification of student form has expired (i.e. if you spent greater than 3 years to do your PhD). Plan accordingly and make sure OME is aware or you may be mailing out letters while the rest of the class is picking test dates.

Step 2 Clinical Skills

OME highly recommends taking Step 2 CS immediately after completion of the third year.

There is no official dedicated time off to study. You can use one of your vacation modules to use to study, but you may not have control over whether you will be able to get a vacation module during blocks A-C (dependent on the lottery).

Preparing for MS4

Fourth Year Lottery & Electives

The lottery is conducted in the spring of your third year. Fourth-year electives are registered for on a first come first serve basis in HUB.

Out of Town Electives

You may take out-of-town electives at any of the more than 200 clinical institutions and hospitals with which we have affiliation agreements. Approval of out-of-town electives are made on an individual basis, considering the academic value of the elective and your academic status.

Students have 11 months to complete 8 courses and must save time for interviews. Application dates vary from school to school. You may need to take a vacation month before or after an out-of-town elective rotation to fit their schedules.

Residency Prep

Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) Letters

All students applying to residency will need an MSPE, also known as a dean's letter. The Office of Student and Academic Affairs will send more information about the MSPE to your UB email. A meeting between you and one of the Student and Academic Affairs deans will be scheduled during the spring of your third year. There will also be time to review your MSPE before it is submitted during your fourth year.

Some specialties require a Chair’s letter. Make sure you read up on the requirements for the specialty you are applying to. Also, some fields have started to switch to standardized video interviews and standardized letters or recommendations.

Letters of Recommendation

Start asking for letters of recommendation early. It is okay to get a verbal commitment first and then email them later on with specifics of how to do it.

MD Program Year 4



Fourth-year runs all year from July-May.


The curriculum is designed so you may plan a significant part of your educational program. The elective approach affords students with different backgrounds and aspirations an individual educational experience.

The fourth-year schedule is broken up into eleven 4-week modules. All required courses must be taken in Buffalo, while electives can be taken both at UB and away. The schedule also allows for 3 modules of unscheduled time. MD-PhD students cannot take research modules.

Required Courses

  • MST 601 MD-PhD Seminar
  • NEU 801 Neurology
  • MED 802 Advanced Clerkship in Medicine
  • SUR 800 Surgical Specialties
  • IDM 810 Transition to Residency
  • Electives (5)

The Gold Humanism Honor Society created a Fourth Year Survival Guide, which can be found on UBLearns in your Office of Medical Education class under Course Documents. It provides helpful tips and more detailed information on many topics relevant to fourth-year medical students.

Residency Preparation


Most students will be applying to residency via the Electronic Residency Application System (ERAS). The MSPE letter will be an important part of your application and will be discussed with you during Spring of your third year. Letters of Recommendation and a personal statement are also important pieces of the application. 


Once you send your application and supporting materials to your chosen programs, the interview process begins. Residency interviews usually occur from September-January, with December and January being the busiest. If you are selected for an interview, programs may begin contacting you as early as September or as late as December, depending on the program. Some specialties offer interviews earlier than others, while some wait until they receive all application materials and letters of recommendation.

If you accept an interview early in the process but decide later that you don’t wish to interview with that program, let someone in the program know as soon as possible. Programs often have waiting lists for applicants they were unable to schedule, so this will allow them to invite another candidate. Releasing the interview you’re no longer interested in reflects well on you and UB while it gives another worthy candidate an opportunity.

Rank Order List (ROL)

You will need to submit a list of programs, ranked in order of preference, to the Match program after you’ve registered and completed your interviews.

Program directors will submit their ROL of applicants to the appropriate match programs. A computer algorithm matches applicants to the highest program on their list that has, in turn, ranked the applicant and has not filled with applicants more preferred by the program. A matching agreement is contractually binding, and you must attend the program where you match, even if the program is not your first choice. So, while including on your ROL all the programs you’re willing to attend greatly reduces the likelihood of failing to match, make sure you could be successful and reasonably happy at every program on your list.


Match Day

The Match Day Ceremony is held annually. Family and friends are invited to attend.

All students will open their match envelopes simultaneously at the prescribed time set by NRMP. Keep an eye out for information from OME regarding this event.


The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences holds two commencement ceremonies each year. One is for MD’s and the other is for the Biomedical Sciences programs (undergraduate, graduate, and Roswell Park). MD-PhD students are invited to attend both.

OME coordinates the MD ceremony while RGE coordinates the Biomedical Sciences ceremony. Keep an eye out for information from OME and RGE regarding these events.

The MD ceremony is traditionally at the beginning of May, while the Biomedical Sciences ceremony tends to be in the middle of May.


MD-PhD/RGE Office, Suite 6130

Taylor, Robert

Robert Taylor, MD, PhD

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Assistant Dean

Clinical and Translational Research Ctr. Room 6088 875 Ellicott St, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: 7168817460


Brittany Sandor.

Brittany Sandor

Admissions Coordinator

955 Main Street, Room 6130, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-3695


Elizabeth White.

Elizabeth White

Administrative Director for Research and Graduate Education

Office of Research and Graduate Education

955 Main St., Room 6130, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-3399; Fax: (716) 829-2437


Office of Medical Education

Other Resources