Medical Education Curriculum

The Schedules Booklet contains the schedule of courses offered to students in the College of Medicine, and of courses taught by the faculty of the College of Medicine to students in Dentistry, Dental Hygiene, Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Pharmacy. It provides a calendar of events, lectures and laboratory room assignments, examination dates, and schedule of clerkships for medical students. Where applicable, non-medical graduate students enrolled in medical courses will comply with the class and examination schedules set forth in this booklet. The respective departments will schedule other courses, seminars, and examinations for graduate students.

The program of instruction of the College of Medicine provides the forum for the students to acquire the essential knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes necessary for the practice of medicine. In addition, time is provided in the schedule for elective courses, so that students can explore areas of special interests.

First Year

The first year integrated curriculum has four instructional blocks. They include one block (2 units) of instructions concerning Molecules and Cells, one block (3 units) dealing with Structure and Function and two blocks (2 units) of instruction entitled Medicine and Society. During the first semester instructional units in the Molecules and Cells block include: macromolecules and metabolism, molecular and cell biology, tissue histology, nutrition, basic microbiology, genetics and immunology. The Medicine and Society block consists of clinical and learning skills development. The structure and function block begins in the first semester with instruction in bones, muscles and skin. During the second semester, the Structure and Function block units include: head and neck; nervous system; thorax, abdomen and pelvis. The Medicine and Society block include: nutrition and global and environmental health.

Second Year

The second year integrated curriculum has five blocks. They include two blocks (6 units) of instruction covering the organ systems, One block (one unit) in introduction to clinical medicine, one block (one unit) in physical diagnosis and one block (one unit) dealing with medicine and society. During the first semester, instructional units in the first Organ Systems block include general principles; hematopoetic, lymphoreticular, musculoskeletal and skin systems; cardiovascular and respiratory system; and the renal/genitor-urinary systems. During the second semester, the Organ Systems block includes instructional units covering the gastrointestinal, endocrine and reproductive systems; the central nervous system and special topics. One unit each of Physical Diagnosis and Medicine and Society are also taught. The Medicine and Society block includes complementary/alternative medicine and biometrics and epidemiology.

Third & Fourth Years

The third and fourth years consist of units of instruction in a continuum of clerkships (internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology and rehabilitation, obstetrics and gynecology and family medicine) and examinations in the various clinical subjects. All junior medical students are required to take a course in Introduction to Health Care Ethics and Jurisprudence either during the first or the second semester. During the fourth year, opportunity is available for additional clinical or research experience through twenty eight (28) weeks of electives. A primary care rotation is also required during the fourth year, but the student elects the site for the experience. There are two required clerkships during the fourth year – internal medicine and general surgery. During these clerkships the students function as acting interns (AI). All rotations in the fourth year are four (4) weeks in duration.


Time is available for elective courses presented in the form of lectures, research, seminar and clinical experiences. These courses are designed to broaden the basic knowledge acquired in the Core Curriculum and also to meet the needs of individual students that arise from differences in background, interests, and choice of future careers in medicine or medically related professions. Beginning in the second semester of the first year, the freshman medical student may enroll in one (1) elective per semester through the second year. Enrollment in electives during the first two years may be done at the option of the student, and is not required for promotion to the second or third years. Clinical electives are not ordinarily open to first and second year students. First and second year students are strongly advised to select electives that will enhance their preclinical preparation.

Elective Requirements
Elective time is not available in the clerkship schedule of the third year. However, in the fourth year, a total of twenty eight (28) weeks are provided of which a minimum of twenty (24) weeks must be spent in elective courses, or research activity. These elective weeks include the primary care rotation. No more than eight (8) weeks can be spent in the same specialty, or subspecialty and no more than four (4) weeks in research. An optional four (4) weeks may be taken as "vacation" in addition to any other regular holidays during the year. During senior electives, students may simultaneously serve as externs in the selected course, or receive compensation as a US-PHS appointee in connection with an approved elective. The elective, however, must be a training experience and temporary employment cannot be substituted for electives.

Intramural electives Students desiring to take senior electives within the College of Medicine must register within the respective department(s) during the spring or early summer of the third year.

Extramural Electives In choosing electives, senior students may enroll in courses offered at Howard University (described in the booklet, "Senior Elective Courses") or, upon approval, electives may be taken at another institution in the United States. To do the latter, the student must first obtain and complete the "Medical Student Application for Extramural Elective Clerkship" form. The appropriate department chairman or clerkship director in the College of Medicine must next approve the request. Final approval of the request is made by the Dean or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs prior to transmitting the application to the extramural Chairman, Director, or Chief of Service at the host institution where the elective is to be taken.

International Electives — Students may also enroll in international electives. In this case, in addition to the standard steps the student must complete additional forms available in the office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Each student must provide the list of all electives showing the following:

  • Name of elective
  • Institution where the student will rotate for the elective
  • Dates for the electives
  • Supervisor or contact person (name, address, telephone number, fax number and email address for each elective)
  • Other requested (by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs) information for international electives