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.


  • May 1 of penultimate year (February 7 for global health projects): Scholarly project concept and mentor information to OSE
  • August 1 of graduating year: Scholarly project proposal and mentor agreement to OSE
  • March 1 of graduating year: Scholarly report to OSE
  • April 25 of graduating year: Upload reviewer approved scholarly report/honors thesis to ETDs 

Current students 

Access the internal Scholarly Project site for more information on the scholarly project requirement. HMS account ID is required. 

View a sampling of scholarly project titles 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:

  • Conversations with Society (SIM) Fellows, faculty, Office of Scholarly Engagement (OSE) staff, and fellow students; area seminars; HMS and Harvard websites
  • Area seminars
  • HMS and Harvard websites
  • The Harvard Catalyst Profiles website: login and select the Opportunity Search tab


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. Contact Rebecca Santiago for more information. 

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

To advertise an opportunity to students, complete the Student Opportunity Submission Form    

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 for more information.