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Selective courses provide first-year medical students with opportunities for enrichment and in-depth focus on areas beyond the core curriculum. Selectives are small-group learning experiences with faculty mentors. Some are classroom based, and some include hands-on experiences or site visits.

Roughly 50 Selectives are available in these categories:

  • Basic science: Content or experience primarily deals with issues of cell biology, physiology, pathophysiology of diseases, and scientific and statistical methods.
  • Clinical: Content or experience primarily related to patient care in the inpatient or outpatient setting, communications, public or global health, palliative care or health care policy.
  • Humanities: Content or experience primarily deals with ethics, medicine as the subject of literature or the arts, or the history of medicine.

View Selectives Courses


All first-year medical students are required to take and successfully complete at least four Selective courses with a maximum number of six. Students must enroll in a minimum of:

  • 1 Humanities
  • 1 Basic sciences
  • 1 Clinical
  • 1 additional selective from any of the three categories (humanities, basic sciences, or clinical)

Notice for MSTP students: Foundations in Molecular Cell Biology counts for two Basic Science credits.


Selectives are scheduled within three blocks of time, but some courses may span multiple blocks, with start dates determined by the course director. The first block begins after Labor Day. Selectives are scheduled to not conflict with core courses and usually begin after 3 pm.

  • Block 1 Session Dates: Tues., Sept. 4 – Fri., Dec. 14, 2018
  • Block 2 Session Dates: Mon., Jan. 7 – Fri., March 22, 2019
  • Block 3 Session Dates: Mon., April 8 – Fri., May 24, 2019


Save the Date!

Selectives registration event: August 2018
You must be present to select your courses.

Students register for all Selectives via a lottery system at the start of the academic year at an event that all students must attend. Selectives are offered voluntarily by our faculty and sessions are limited.

At the lottery event, there will be a selection round for each category (basic sciences, humanities, clinical, and then the additional basic or clinical). In each round, names will be read from a randomized list. When your name is called, you will be asked which course you are selecting for that category. A new randomized list will be used for each round. You will be emailed your position on the lists prior to the event.

Please be prepared to make your selections at the event. Have a “Plan B” in case the course you want fills up.

Add/drop policy

Add/drop information will be emailed to you by Stephanie Brelsford, Assistant Registrar, after the lottery event.  Please note, if dropping a course, you must submit your add/drop form at least four weeks prior to the start date of that Selective.  You cannot drop a course if dropping takes you below the minimum requirements.


Grading of first-year Selectives is Pass/Fail. Students must complete all Selective coursework satisfactorily by the end of the academic year, at the end of May. In no circumstance can a Selective be left uncompleted beyond the end of the current academic year.


To receive a Pass grade, students are required to attend based on the requirements set by the course director for each Selective. If unavoidable absences occur, notify the faculty member immediately regarding possible avenues of remediation and grading.