Master of Science in Medicine Degree Program

The "Master of Medicine" (MSM) program is a master's degree program that provides PhD candidates serious exposure to clinical medicine with a view to fostering translational research. The incredible pace of basic science discovery today stands in dramatic contrast to the slow rate of development of useful medical advances. There is urgent need for a more efficient mechanism to generate a larger pool of scientists knowledgeable about human biology and disease. The goal of the MSM program is to train a new generation of PhD students about human biology and disease, and thus better prepared to translate new scientific discoveries into useful medical advances.

Stanford University School of Medicine has long been a world leader in medical training and research and is therefore an ideal location for this program. Under the leadership of former Dean Philip Pizzo, the School launched five Institutes of Medicine, whose primary purpose is to promote translational research in the areas of Cancer, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease, Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neuroscience, and Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. As the Medical School and this program are located on the central campus of Stanford University, chemistry, physics, bioengineering, and biology students - as well as those enrolled in the various Biosciences PhD programs housed at the School of Medicine - will be able to participate.

The MSM program admits an elite group of highly talented people who have a serious commitment to translational research but are not interested in becoming clinicians. Students admitted to any of the PhD programs offered at Stanford University will have the opportunity to apply for admission to this program on a competitive basis. The first group of MSM students was admitted in spring 2006 (see Admissions). The program continues with approximately six students per year, and competition for these slots is intense. Funding for each student during the first year of the program is completely covered by scholarship support from the MSM program. Remaining costs are covered by each student's home PhD program beginning in the second year. Thus, all students selected to participate in the MSM program will be able to do so regardless of financial need as all tuition, stipend, and health insurance costs are fully covered by the MSM and PhD programs.

In practice, the program will extend the total time of training by about one year beyond the usual length of PhD training. During their first two years MSM participants will take basic biomedical science courses with the School of Medicine's MD students, as well as seminar series dedicated to issues in translational medicine. This course schedule allows MSM students to concurrently undertake some PhD course requirements and lab rotations. By early in the second year, students will choose labs for thesis research and elect clinical mentors. The Master of Science in Medicine degree will be conferred with the PhD degree upon each student's successful completion of her or his doctoral program.

Professor Ben Barres presents the Program to prospective students during the Biosciences Weekend 2016.


Download Master of Science in Medicine Brochure below.

updated 4/14/2016

Program director Ben Barres, MD, PhD, and graduate students Anna Poukchanski and Catherine Del Vecchio discuss the Master's of Medicine Program and how it helps move research discoveries from the bench to the bedside. Video length: 4 min 30 sec

MSM In the News

SOM News Release
April 6, 2009

Stanford Report
March 1, 2006

Wall Street Journal
January 20, 2006

SoM News Release
December 19, 2005