Sanford School of Medicine Physician Scientist Program



We offer a combined degree to award both the M.D. and Ph.D. after completion of our program. You will follow a two-three-two schedule with the first two years focused on the M.D. Program, the next three years completing the Ph.D. component, and then the final two years completing the M.D. Program.


You can select a research project in any of the research areas offered by our medical school. Working with internationally recognized research mentors, students can perform important research in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, Anatomy, Pharmacology, Physiology, Microbiology, Immunology, and Neuroscience.

Years One & Two
  • The fall/spring semesters of Years One and Two are devoted to the pre-clinical course work of the medical training program. 
  • The summer semester of Year One provides time for your research activities. During this session, you will become acquainted with the research opportunities at Sanford School of Medicine and will select an area of dissertation research.
  • At the start of the second summer of the Physician Scientist program, you will prepare for and pass Step 1 of the USMLE.
Years Three, Four & Five
  • This two- or three-year block is devoted to course work and research appropriate to your area of specialization. 
  • Coursework within this block will vary considerably and will be customized for your interests and needs. 
  • You will receive instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research. This course provides students with practical instruction regarding the rules, regulations and professional best practices that are the foundation of Biomedical Research.
  • You will complete all research and prepare and defend the written dissertation document during this period of study.
Years Six & Seven
  • The first phase of this part of the Physician Scientist Program involves rotating through the clerkships of the clinical sciences of Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota. 
  • The second phase consists of a combination of clinical clerkship courses and clinical electives.