Health Sciences & Technology

Founded in 1970, the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) is one of the world’s oldest interdisciplinary educational programs focused on translational medical science and engineering.

HST is an inter-institutional collaboration between Harvard University, Harvard Medical School and MIT, dedicated to fostering academic excellence, scientific rigor and clinical expertise.

HST has two educational tracks, one leading to the MD degree from Harvard Medical School, and the other to the PhD degree in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics from MIT or Harvard University.
HST graduates are committed to leadership and innovation in academic careers across medicine, basic and translational research and the social sciences.

The preclerkship curriculum in the MD program at HST is composed of concurrent, semester-long offerings allowing creative interactions between courses—as well as reinforcement of important concepts from different perspectives. There is also an interconnected curriculum called the Growth of the Physician-Scientist (GPS) woven throughout the first pre-clinical year designed to address the specific challenges of combining a career that balances clinical medicine, research and family.

Students engage in translational research projects, collaborating with Harvard and MIT faculty drawn from across departments and disciplines to develop preventative, diagnostic and therapeutic innovations. The research opportunities in HST are legion, spanning the entire academic landscape from Cambridge to Boston, and offering laboratory experiences in engineering, wet-bench investigation and computational research. Students on the four-year track typically spend a minimum of 4-6 months working on a research project; some HST students elect to take either an additional full-time year of supported research (typically occurs after the second year of the MD curriculum) or to affiliate and enter a PhD program.

We believe every class, every clinical and research experience and every student we welcome should work toward a single goal: to use basic science, social science and engineering to advance human health.

Preclerkship Phase

During the first two years, HST MD students build a deep understanding of the medical sciences and lay the groundwork for further exploration. Students explore the complex mechanics of human biology, study the technical underpinnings of healthcare and gain a fundamental knowledge of molecular biology, biotechnology, engineering and the physical sciences. Students also explore the human side of medical science, meeting with a variety of patients in classroom and clinical settings. Courses are taught in groups of 30-50 students (including HST PhD students), with small group (4-8 students) case-based exercises, problem-solving sessions and laboratory experiences. A detailed curriculum map can be found here.

In the first year, HST MD students join their Pathways colleagues in early August for Introduction to the Profession (ITP), and in January for the Essentials course, where they study social and population sciences including health care policy, social medicine and medical ethics. HST MD students are also joined in the classroom by their peers from HST’s PhD Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) program. Together these two cohorts study side-by-side gaining a deep understanding of the biomedical sciences, a strong quantitative foundation and extensive hands-on clinical experience in Boston-area hospitals.

Students will also conduct research in a lab at MIT, Harvard or one of the teaching hospitals, building expertise and learning from a thriving community of researchers, educators and fellow students.

Beginning in April of the second year, HST students join their classmates from the Pathways MD track in clinical clerkships and electives, gaining valuable real-world experience in a clinical setting.

Principal Clinical Experience (PCE)

The PCE is a 12-month integrated program of study, and provides a clinical base for exposure to the broad disciplines of medicine and experiences essential to credentialing as a licensed physician. The PCE occurs primarily at a single hospital site and is comprised of clerkship rotations lasting 4-12 weeks and supplemented by a longitudinal multidisciplinary curriculum that incorporates primary care experiences, mentoring, multi-disciplinary clinical science case conferences, and developing physician sessions.

Anchoring Clinical Experience (ACE)

ACE is a two-month clerkship designed to ground the clinical skills learned in Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) for HST students doing a research project between their second and third years of medical school. Held at Mount Auburn Hospital, an academic community teaching hospital, the clerkship will be divided into one month of outpatient/ambulatory medicine split between a primary care site as well as subspecialty clinics, and one month of inpatient medicine on the hospital wards. In addition to attending the daily hospital based teaching conferences for Mount Auburn internal medicine residents, students will have a case-based didactic curriculum that will focus on core topics in internal medicine. Finally, students will be expected to complete a case presentation with a focus on applying primary basic science and clinical trials literature into a discussion of clinical reasoning and decision-making.

Post-PCE Phase

After a year of clinical immersion, students take advantage of myriad opportunities across Harvard University and around the world to customize their route through Year IV to prepare optimally for whatever aspect of the profession of medicine that has attracted their curiosity and passion.

Matthew Frosch: Helping students who are scientifically and experimentally minded

More Program Details:

HST MD Degree Requirements - HST, PCE, Advanced Experiences, and Examination requirements
HST MD Research and Thesis Requirement
Student Funding - Funding for Fifth Year, Clinical Elective/Travel Abroad, Community Service, Fellowships

Please note that the curriculum is undergoing continuous review and improvement and is subject to change at any time.

Updated: 8/12/21