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School of Medicine

VCU School of Medicine

Welcome to VCU School of Medicine

M.D. Program

Welcome to M.D. Program

Check out the new Curriculum video!

Curriculum Overview

The program for the M.D. degree is divided into four phases. M1, The Scientific Foundations of Medicine, occupies the first year of Medical School from August until May. This emphasizes foundational knowledge required to be able to understand the structure, function and pathophysiology of the different organ systems. In the second semester, students will study Hematology Oncology, the Musculoskeletal Systems,Gastrointestinal System and Metabolism, Endocrine and Reproduction Systems. 

The second phase, M2, occupies the second and third semesters of medical school and is called the Applied Medical Sciences. This is a multidisciplinary integrated curriculum in which students will learn the normal structure and function of each organ system integrated with the pathophysiology of disease and treatment strategies. Following a summer break, students return for the M2 phase which includes the Cardiovascular, Pulmonary and Renal Systems and Mind, Brain and Behavior (Behavioral Science and Neuroscience). The next phase is the Core Clinical Concentrations in which students will rotate through the various clerkships of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Surgery. This phase will run from

Access, download, and print a pdf copy of the Curriculum Overview here:

Curriculum Overview

April until the following May. The final phase lasting from May until graduation is the Advanced Clinical Concentrations which includes Acting Internships, an Urgent Care elective, a teaching requirement and an integrated Clinical Care experience. The remainder is open for electives at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center and its affiliated sites and at approved medical schools elsewhere in the USA and abroad.

The curriculum is viewed as a dynamic and evolving entity, and course titles, content or duration of emphasis may be subject to modification for the sake of improving the learning experience.

Each course in M1 and M2 is designed and implemented by a faculty committee, and each phase of the curriculum is supervised by a faculty coordinator.

image for curriculum overview - added 1/19/2016

Registration in courses offered by the School of Medicine is restricted to students enrolled in the VCU School of Medicine.



  • Scientific Foundations of Medicine:
    • Molecular Basis of Health and Disease
    • Principles of Physiology
    • Principles of Pharmacology
    • Infection and Immunity
    • Foundations of Disease
  • Practice of Clinical Medicine
  • Physician, Patient and Society
  • Population Health and Evidence Based Medicine



  • Applied Medical Sciences
    • Marrow and Movement
      • Marrow
      • Movement
    • Glands and Guts
      • Gastrointestinal
      • Endocrinology and Metabolism
      • Reproduction
    • Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, Renal
      • Cardiovascular
      • Pulmonary
      • Renal
    • Mind, Brain and Behavior
      • Neurosciences
      • Neurology
      • Behavioral Sciences
  • Quality & Safety
  • Geriatrics
  • Practice of Clinical Medicine
  • Physician, Patient and Society
  • Population Health and Evidence Based Medicine


During the third year, students receive clinical training by rotating through the various hospitals and ambulatory services. This clinical experience is supplemented by didactic presentations on practice related topics. All students participate in the following clerkships:

  1. Internal Medicine (8 weeks)
  2. Surgery (8 weeks)
  3. Pediatrics (6 weeks)
  4. OB/GYN (6 weeks)
  5. Psychiatry (4 weeks)
  6. Neurology (4 weeks)
  7. Family Medicine (4 weeks)
  8. Ambulatory Clerkship (4 weeks)


M4 is an elective year, with 232 electives offered. Each elective is four weeks long.

The School of Medicine, in an effort to serve best the needs and goals of the individual student, offers M4 students the option of choosing electives during the majority of their senior year. The elective curriculum has been arranged primarily to allow those students who have definite goals to pursue them logically without adherence to a required curriculum. At the same time, it allows those who have not yet defined their goals an adequate assortment of electives with which to explore career options. Where standard elective choices seem too limiting, students are encouraged to approach individual faculty members to develop courses that more closely approach individual needs. 

The year is divided into eleven four-week periods.


The electives catalog is available on the Web.

The USMLE Policy:

  1. All students are required to take U.S. Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 prior to the start of the M3 year. Students are required to pass Step 1 for promotion to the M4 year. If a student fails Step 1, he/she will be allowed to complete their current M3 clerkship and be required to take time off during the M3 year in elective status to study for and retake the exam. The time off will be individualized for each student after discussion with the curriculum office and approval by the promotions committee.
  2. All students are required to take U.S. Medical Licensing Examination Step 2 CK and CS for the first time after completion of their M3 year or by October 1. Students are required to pass USMLE Step 2 CK and CS for graduation. Students who do not pass Step 2 CK or CS within one year of completion of all other requirements for the M.D. degree will be dismissed from school.

If you are a student at another institution and are interested in participating in an elective at Virginia Commonwealth University, please contact Nancy Jackson, M4 Electives Coordinator, 804-828-9784.