Advanced Studies Program


Recognizing that medicine is a highly complex and diversified field and that needs and interests of medical students are quite varied, the University of Massachusetts Medical School emphasizes a strong Elective/Advanced Studies program to complement the required areas of study. It is anticipated that each student, with the advice of his/her mentor will plan a program beneficial to his/her educational experience and postgraduate goals. 

An elective is defined as a structured learning experience in a field of medicine or related fields approved by the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which is not specifically required as part of the basic medical school curriculum. To fulfill the requirements for graduation, each MD Student must satisfactorily complete 24 weeks of elective time as outlined below: 

In addition to the required Sub I (and Neurology clerkship, for students entering clinical experiences prior to May 2012) students must complete *24 weeks of elective time as follows: 

      *Required Electives by Type: 

  • 12 weeks must be Type A or B and at least 8 weeks must be A or B1.
  • The remaining 12 weeks can be A, B or C electives.
  • 8 weeks maximum of clinical International electives can count toward graduation credit.
  • 12 weeks maximum of Type C electives can count toward graduation credit.

    *Required Electives by Length:

  •  Up to 8 weeks can be taken in blocks of two weeks or greater.
  • The remaining required electives must be in blocks of at least 4 weeks.

* Students who participated in Core Clinical Experiences during AY 2011-12 must complete an additional 8 weeks of A or B1 electives. 

Electives applied toward graduation credit are normally advanced fourth-year courses taken after required third-year clerkships are completed, electives taken for credit at other times during the student’s medical school career may be considered for graduation credit with the approval of the Clinical Science Academic evaluation Board (CSAEB). They should not interfere with required courses and all the prerequisites of the elective must be met. All electives require prior approval by the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Electives applied towards graduation credit are normally advanced fourth-year courses taken after required third-year clerkships are completed. The school does not restrict the proportion of time spent on internal versus external electives.

  • Students considering international electives must discuss their plans with Mick Godkin, PhD, Director for International Student Programs.
  • Elective programs offered are posted on the Student Affairs Website: www.umassmed.edu/studentaffairs/electives/list.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to arrange their fourth-year elective schedule, obtaining all necessary paperwork and approvals prior to the beginning of each elective. The Office of Student Affairs is available for assistance with any questions or concerns.
  • Elective schedules are maintained on a daily basis by the Office of Student Affairs. It is the student’s responsibility to check his/her online PSSA elective schedule to insure that an accurate elective program is on file.
  • The Office of Student Affairs must have a copy of the ‘approved’ paperwork for all electives scheduled, with the exception of those received through the 4th year Advanced Studies EVOS. Please note that having the elective listed on the PEP form does not indicate that a student has been approved for the elective. If the approved paperwork is not received by the Office of Student Affairs the student will not receive appropriate credit for the elective.

For changes to Elective/ Advanced Studies schedule please see: Section Three: "Attendance, Withdrawal, Rescheduling; Changes or Withdrawing from Electives/Advanced Studies Program." 


Types of Electives 
An elective is defined as a structured learning experience in a field of medicine or related fields approved by the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which is not specifically required as part of the basic medical school curriculum.


TYPE A:

  • Block of continuous time of at least four weeks.
  • Work-up approximately three new patients per week.
  • Perform initial history and physical exams.
  • Write orders (co-signed by house officer).
  • Coordinate work-up and follow hospital course.
  • Perform or observe all procedures on assigned patients.
  • Be responsible for “scut” work on patients.
  • Scrub for surgical procedures on assigned patients.
  • Take night call according to intern’s schedule.
  • Participate in AM work rounds and attending rounds.
  • Present assigned patients to attending physician.
  • Participate in teaching sessions regularly.

TYPE B1: Students must have direct contact with patients as a major feature of the elective. They are expected to obtain histories, perform physical examinations and offer diagnostic and therapeutic alternatives. Students need not have primary responsibility for patients. Such electives include the traditional consultative services in medical and surgical subspecialities as well as anesthesiology, preceptorships in primary care (medicine, pediatrics, family practice) certain experiences in community hospitals, etc.

Criteria to be considered in the definition of a Type B1:

  • Work-up approximately 15 patients per month.
  • Attends regular didactic teaching session (a minimum of one per week).
  • follows course of patients with appropriate follow-up notes if necessary.
  • obtain history and perform physical examinations on assigned patients.
  •  formulate diagnostic and therapeutic plan.
  • Present patients to preceptor or attending physician.
  • Make regular rounds on assigned patients.
  • Perform procedures related to a specialty as appropriate.
  • Review recent literature on diseases or problems encountered.

TYPE B2: Students must engage in the type of clinical care carried out by the clinicians practicing in this field but may not have direct patient care as a major feature of the elective. Such electives include advanced radiology electives (not the introductory radiology elective, which is a Type C), pathology electives, radiation oncology.

Criteria to be considered in the definition of a Type B2 elective:

  • Attends regular didactic teaching session (a minimum of one per week).
  • Follows course of patients as clinicians in this field do, with follow-up notes as appropriate to specialty.
  • Obtain history and perform physical examinations on assigned patients as appropriate to specialty.
  • Formulate diagnostic and therapeutic plan as appropriate to specialty. 
  • Present patients to preceptor or attending physician. 
  • Make regular rounds as appropriate to specialty.
  • Perform procedures related to a specialty as appropriate.
  • Review recent literature on diseases or problems encountered. 

TYPE C: This type of elective encompasses all those elective experiences in where there is limited contact with patients, as in diagnostic or therapeutic fields where major reliance is placed upon information gather or therapy administered via sophisticated techniques such as radiology, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, etc. It can also include electives in the basic sciences. The only requirement is that there be some general relationship to the broad area of medicine and the medical sciences. In general, such electives will be in four week blocks but programs can be modified to achieve the equivalent of a 4 week experience.  Electives applied towards graduation credit are normally advanced fourth-year courses taken after required third-year clerkships are completed.  Electives taken for credit at other times during the student’s medical school career may be considered for graduation credit only with the approval of the Clinical Science Academic evaluation Board.


Individually Designed Electives / Research: 
In collaboration with a faculty member, students may design an individual elective tailored to a specific interest. The elective must be sponsored by a UMass faculty member (whether the elective is completed internally or externally from UMass, the sponsor must be a UMass faculty member). An individually designed elective can be Type A, B1, B2 or C. The student and faculty member need to write a description of the elective, including the goals, methods of teaching, number of patients to be seen, supervision level, Type of elective (A, B1, B2 or C), length of the elective and grading basis (O/ AEP/ EP/ BEP/ NCR or CR/ NCR). This description must be signed by the faculty member who will be sponsoring this elective. The student then fills out the appropriate elective form (internal or external) and attaches the approved description to the form. The grading form will be completed by the approving sponsor if the elective is internal or by the direct supervisor and co-signed by the sponsor if the elective is external.


Evaluations of Electives - Completed By Student  
Each student is REQUIRED to submit to the Office of Medical Education a critique of each elective taken, whether for credit or non-credit. Student will not be given the evaluation of his/her performance in an elective until he/she returns a completed critique of that elective. The completed critique will be kept on file in the Office of Medical Education as a reference for the elective’s department as well as for future students choosing elective programs.