Three Med Students in White Lab Coats Walking Outdoors.


Pursue your passion and calling to care for others with a strong foundational education in a hands-on environment.

A Career in Medicine is Immensely Rewarding and Exciting

Our medical students complete their training through an innovative three pillar curriculum. This training combines a foundation in biomedical sciences and early hands-on clinical experience.

Diversity enriches our learning environment. Sanford School of Medicine is committed to recruitment and retention of diversity at all levels of our school. We also provide many programs to help us promote and enhance diversity.

Select students are able to complete their clinical training in rural communities through our FARM program. We're focused on rural medicine and want our students to experience this type of practice by living and training in rural communities.

To best prepare our graduates to be skilled and confident physicians, our curriculum focuses on what we call the three pillars of medicine. This curriculum offers more integration rather than individual courses and allows students to individualize their learning.


Degrees & Offerings

Medicine (M.D.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

To best prepare our graduates to be skilled and confident physicians, our curriculum focuses on what we call the three pillars of medicine. This curriculum offers more integration rather than individual courses and allows students to individualize their learning.

Concurrent Medicine, Business Administration (M.D./MBA)

Concurrent Program
  Vermillion Main Campus

Concurrent Medicine, Public Health (M.D., MPH)

Concurrent Program
  Vermillion Main Campus

Program Details





Medical School Admissions

Admissions Requirements

To pursue an M.D. degree at the USD Sanford School of Medicine, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You also must be a South Dakota resident or non-resident with strong ties to the state.

Known for Excellence

At USD, you'll find a high-quality educational experience strengthened by our faculty's research and creative scholarship. See what makes the Sanford School of Medicine exceptional.

Our Three Pillar Schedule

Our curriculum is organized into three pillars that span the course of four years.

Group of Students with Faculty Members Standing Outside Building.The first pillar establishes a strong foundation through 18 months of integrated basic science, in which students will learn anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology interwoven into organ-system blocks, such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal.

Education research shows that students learn and retain basic science better when they can apply it to patient care early in their education. We blend that foundational teaching with regular patient care experiences and cases.

The second pillar focuses on acquiring clinical skills, integrating learning across specialties and focusing on experiential learning. Students work closely with experienced physicians during longitudinal integrated clerkships, where students spend a half day per week in a different discipline, like pediatrics, surgery and neurology. Students may also take part in a rural track, which allows them to experience medicine in a smaller community.

The third pillar includes advanced medical knowledge. It give students an opportunity to delve more deeply into areas of interest through electives and expanded opportunities for research.


The longitudinal integrated clerkships allow students to complete all their clerkships simultaneously instead of instead of spending eight weeks in a block clerkship and then moving on the next.

Through this method, students will:

  • Learn clinical and professional skills at a deeper level because they are applying concepts in several settings at once.
  • Establish longer relationships with patients and be able to take part in a patient's care for the course of an illness or pregnancy.
  • Establish longer relationships with faculty and experience more meaningful mentoring.

We designed a yearlong clinical education experience that begins with short clerkship blocks, primarily focusing on hospital care, followed by nine months of longitudinal integrated clerkships.

Career Pathways

Whether you want to be a primary care physician or a specialist, our flexible curriculum means you  are exposed to many different areas of medicine during your education.

If you're not yet sure what you want to do with your medical degree, our program gives you early opportunities for unique electives in a wide variety of clinical and research areas to help you decide.

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several housed in the Sanford School of Medicine. You may be interested in serving as class president or working with the Medical Student Association, developing new skills and connecting with peers.

Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community. 

Join Now

Medical Student Wellness Committee

Each class selects a wellness officer as part of the Medical Student Wellness Program. Wellness officers determine how to use a budget for promoting wellness in each of their respective classes. Previous events include yoga, picnics, movie nights and other activities.

Women in Medicine/American Medical Women's Association (AMWA)

This group improves the understanding of women’s health issues and addresses issues faced by female physicians. First and second-year medical students of all genders are encouraged to participate. Only female students may be officers for positions involving the AMWA portion of this group.

Your Academic Department

Our faculty and department have served in distinguished hospitals and facilities and are passionate about inspiring the future leaders in medicine. Given our small class sizes, our expert faculty work closely with students like you, enabling discussion-driven classes and hands-on, guided learning opportunities.
Exterior of Lee Medical Building during the day.

Medical Student Affairs

Aiding through all aspects of Medical School through a web of resources.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Sanford School of Medicine. 
Bio Image for Faculty Member Michelle Baack

Michelle Baack

Chair, Pediatrics/Professor


Physiology, Pharmacology
Sanford Research
Bio Image for Faculty Member Daniel Bird

Daniel Bird

Assoc Dean, Basic Biomed Sciences/Associate Professor


Bio Image for Faculty Member Donis Drappeau

Donis Drappeau

Crd, Diversity & Pipeline Prog
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jerome Freeman

Jerome Freeman

Bio Image for Faculty Member Janet Fulk

Janet Fulk

Assistant Director, FARM
Faculty Default

Carolyn Gilbertson

Clinical Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Keith Hansen

Keith Hansen

Chair, OB/GYN
Bio Image for Faculty Member Damon LeaderCharge

Damon LeaderCharge

Director of Tribal Outreach
Bio Image for Faculty Member Pasquale Manzerra

Pasquale Manzerra

Assist Dean, Med Student Affairs/Associate Professor


Bio Image for Faculty Member William Mayhan

William Mayhan

Dean, Basic Biomedical Science/Professor


Bio Image for Faculty Member Timothy Soundy

Timothy Soundy

Chair, Psychiatry
Bio Image for Faculty Member Xuejun Wang

Xuejun Wang

Director of MD/PhD Program/Professor


Cardiovascular and Physiology
Group of Individuals Doing Yoga on Campus Lawn.

Well Students, Well Doctors, Well Patients 

The Sanford School of Medicine Wellness Program provides students with the resources to recognize the need for and to foster self-care, allowing them to better provide compassionate patient care. The program is part of a curriculum designed to support personal growth and reflection over the four years of medical school.

Student-Directed Wellness Program

Wellness officers are elected for each class. They oversee their budget and how they want to use it to promote wellness for each of their respective classes. Examples of activities include: 


  • Yoga and other fitness classes
  • Self-defense classes
  • Study-a-thons with snacks and massages

View Our Retreat Photos
 Student Working in Lab with Faculty Member.

Mentoring and Advising 

As  a student, you also have a support system including basic sciences advisors, clinical mentors and advisors, and peer mentors from the class above. In addition, you'll have access to a learning specialist, supplemental instructions and one-on-one tutoring. As the Step 1 licensure exam is one of the greatest causes of stress, several sessions are devoted to Step 1 prep. Career advising is another component and starts in the first year of your medical training and continues until you are matched.

Career Advising

Study Skills
Students in White Lab Coats Listening in Classroom.

Stress Management and Resilience Training

The Stress Management and Resilience Training program provides students with skills to promote lifelong optimal health. This involves programs built into the curriculum, such as:

  • Daylong retreats that address the stress points of medical education, including the transition to medical school and Step 1 prep
  • Sessions on mindfulness meditation practice, addressing cognitive distortions and the impostor syndrome, relaxation techniques, breathing techniques to reduce anxiety and more

Take the Next Step