Scholarly Project (Pathways)

The HMS scholarly project requirement is designed to provide every Harvard medical student with an opportunity to pursue a mentored scholarly experience analyzing a medical or health-related question, issue, or problem in depth. Students can approach issues through a wide range of disciplines in the biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, humanities, arts, or other field. The process of discovery is as important as the outcome; students and their mentors are partners in this process.

Current students can access the internal Scholarly Project site for more information on the scholarly project requirement. HarvardKey password required. 

View a list of highlighted scholarly projects from past students.

Scholarly Project

Objectives of the Scholarly Project

For all Pathways students, the learning objectives of the scholarly project are to:

  • Engage in original scholarly work addressing a question in medicine/health, using approaches from a range of scientific or social science fields
  • Work closely with a faculty mentor on a scholarly project in a partnership that is mutually beneficial
  • Inspire curiosity, develop critical thinking skills, and identify analytical tools useful for the future physician-scholar
  • Craft a scientific plan through a written proposal that will be vetted by HMS faculty
  • Review and reinforce (via quizzes) basic concepts concerning responsible conduct of research and IRB processes
  • Write a report on scholarly work which will be critiqued by HMS faculty


Some Pathways students will also have the following experiences, depending on the nature of their projects:

  • Review and reinforce (via quizzes) basic concepts concerning global health professionalism (for those working on global health projects)
  • Prepare a submission to local IRB offices on the proposed human subjects or animal research
  • Learn statistical tools and analysis techniques through practical experience
  • Prepare for the challenges of working and living abroad
  • Write a manuscript for publication and learn about publication requirements, processes, and protecting one’s intellectual property


Finding a Project

Students may find scholarly projects through:


Students may request up to four months of optional SIM500 credit for full-time or part-time work on their approved scholarly project. The Program director authorizes this credit application.

Advisory Structure

Advisory Structure

A robust Faculty Committee on Scholarship in Medicine advises students pursuing their scholarly projects. Cannon, Castle, Hinton, and Peabody Societies each have three designated Scholars in Medicine (SIM) Fellows who are the principle student advisors and have expertise in basic, clinical, outcomes and global health research. They help with mentor and project identification and review student funding proposals, scholarly project proposals and scholarly project reports. Additional faculty are available to advise students who work in the following specialty areas:

  • Community and Global Health
  • Medical Humanities (Ethics, Medical Narrative, Education, History of Medicine, Creative Arts)
  • Health Care Policy and Health Services
  • Primary Care

The HMS OSE staff support this faculty committee and also provide advice and assistance to students carrying out their scholarly projects.

Mentoring an HMS student

  • How to advertise an opportunity: Email to advertise an opportunity to students.                       
  • Information for HMS-affiliated mentors: Faculty can find information about the scholarly project and mentor requirements on the OSE internal site for faculty.
  • Information for non-HMS affiliated mentors: Non-HMS affiliated faculty are invited to mentor students. These faculty should complete the same mentor agreement available to HMS faculty. Students with non-Harvard mentors are required to also have an HMS mentor who is familiar with Harvard research processes in the event support is needed. Contact or 617-432-2750 for the required documents and more information.