Pathways incorporates pedagogical approaches that foster active learning and critical thinking; earlier clinical experience; and advanced clinical and student-tailored basic/population science experiences that will provide customized pathways for every student.

In the Pathways curriculum, the core basic/population science needed to succeed in clinical clerkships is taught prior to the core clinical year, while the more advanced science that is more relevant after intensive clinical experience follows completion of the core clinical clerkships. The third and fourth years focus on advanced scientific and clinical experiences: selective courses in basic/translational science, social/population science, pharmacology, and medical humanities; individual, faculty-mentored scholarly projects; clinical electives and subinternships; and Steps 1 and 2 of the national boards.

Preclerkship Phase 

The Pathways curriculum begins with the foundational building blocks to study medicine, including fundamentals of anatomy, histology, biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology; genetics; immunology; and introductory pharmacologic principles; the fundamental social and population sciences – health care policy, social medicine, clinical epidemiology and population health, and medical ethics and professionalism; organ-system-based modules focused on structure and function and normal and abnormal processes for each organ system; and a longitudinal clinical course, integrated with the basic and social science courses, during which students learn the fundamentals of patient-doctor communication, the physical exam, the dynamics of working in clinical teams and systems, and the process of developing a differential diagnosis.

Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) Phase

The Principal Clinical Experience (PCE), a 12-month integrated program of study, 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.

Post-PCE Phase 

After a year of clinical immersion, students engage in rigorous coursework with a new and deeper understanding of its importance through advanced integrated science courses (AISCs), clinical electives, and scholarly research projects. They may also take advantage of myriad opportunities across Harvard University and around the world to customize their route through Years III and IV to prepare optimally for whatever aspect of the profession of medicine that has attracted their curiosity and passion.


Manjinder Kandola: The larger role that physicians have to play


Barbara Ogur: Bringing the science of medicine to the care of individual patients


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Requirements - Preclerkship, PCE, Advanced Experiences, and Examination requirements

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