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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Requirements for Graduation

Feinberg students are expected to complete the medical school curriculum within 6 years of matriculation. Approved joint degree programs that enhance a student’s medical education are encouraged, and will not count towards the 6-year limit. Appeals for exceptions to the 6-year rule must be made to the Student Promotions Committee. 

The MD degree will be conferred by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine to persons who have met the following requirements as determined by the faculty: 

  • Satisfactorily completed all competency and coursework requirements  
  • Achieved passing scores on the National Board of Medical Examiners USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 (CK and CS) 
  • Paid all tuition and fees in full 
  • Returned all materials/school property 
  • Attended the mandatory Exit Interview for medical school borrowers 

The Feinberg School Commencement is held each year in mid- to late May. Students who anticipate graduation must file a petition for graduation in December of the previous calendar year. That petition will be acted upon by the Feinberg Student Promotions Committee, and the list of eligible students sent to the Executive Committee of the Faculty for final school approval, then to the Board of Trustees of Northwestern University for conferral of the degree. 

Under special circumstances, the Feinberg School will grant the MD degree in December, effective upon the last day of fall quarter registration.  These circumstances include: 

  • Students in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) whose combined periods of enrollment in the medical and graduate school segments of the program can thus be optimized; 
  • Any other student who, through interruption of the usual curricular course for extramural study or because of academic, personal, or medical leave requires six months or less enrollment beyond their originally anticipated graduation date to complete degree requirements. 

The Associate Dean for Student Affairs will work on a case-by-case basis with students eligible for graduation in December. The petition for degree and approval by the Student Promotions Committee and Executive Committee of the Faculty must be completed in time for approval by the NU Board of Trustees at its fall meeting. A student whose degree is granted in December will be eligible to participate in Feinberg School Commencement ceremonies the following May. 

Phase 1a (M1) requirements 

Students must satisfactorily complete the requirements for each module and receive a passing grade for each block listed below before proceeding to Phase 1b (M2).  

Block 1 

Foundations 1 

Foundations 2 

Foundations 3 

Block 2 




Block 3 




Synthesis and Application Modules I (3 days) and II (1 week) 


Phase 1b (M2) Requirements 

Students must satisfactorily complete the requirements for each module and receive a passing grade for each block listed below before proceeding to Phase 2 (M3). They must also take and pass USMLE Step 1. 

Block 4 

Head & Neck 


Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences 

Block 5 



Block 6 




Synthesis and Application Module IV (1 week), Phase 1 portfolio review 


Phases 2 and 3 Requirements  

Required Core Clerkships      

(40 weeks) 

  • Required core clerkships include: 
    1. Surgery (8 weeks) 
    2. Medicine (8 weeks) 
    3. Pediatrics (6 weeks) 
    4. Ob-Gyn (6 weeks) 
    5. Psych (4 weeks) 
    6. ECMH/Chronic Care Experience (2 weeks)
    7. Neuro (4 weeks)
    8. ECMH/Longitudinal Primary Care Clerkship (15 visits)

Required Advanced Clerkships  

(36 weeks) 

  • Required advanced clerkships must be completed by the end of Block 24 (except for the Capstone which may be completed during Block 25. Required Advanced Clerkships may be taken when pre-requisites are met and spots are available.  
  • Required advanced clerkships include: 
    1. Sub-Internship (4 weeks) May be taken in Medicine, Surgery, PedsObGyn 
      (Pre-Requisites: Med, SurgPedsObGyn, Neuro, Psych) 
    2. Critical Care Medicine (4 weeks) May be taken in Adult or Pediatric ICU  
      (Pre-Requisites for Adult CCM: Med, Surg, Neuro; for Pedsiatric CCM: Med, Surg, Neuro, Peds) 
    3. Emergency Medicine (4 weeks) 
      (Pre-Requisites: Med, SurgObGyn, Neuro, Psych) 
    4. PMR (2 weeks) 
      (Pre-Requisites: Med, Neuro, Psych, Primary Care or ECMH) 
    5. ECMH/Longitudinal Primary Care Clerkship (15 visits)


(2 weeks)  

Offered during block 24/25 only 


Number of weeks required:  

  • Traditional MD students – 20 weeks 
  • MSTP students – 4 weeks 
  • Dual-degree students (MD/MBA, MD/MPH, MD/MA) – 16 weeks 
    4-week Electives (Internal and External) may have pre-requisites, which are listed on Oasis. 
  • 2-week Electives taken for Credit/No Credit only. Elective credit cannot be granted for a 2-week introductory elective which would be redundant to a 4-week elective already completed.  
  • No more than 3 blocks of elective time (total 12 weeks - which counts toward the graduation requirement) may be in the same discipline or sub-specialty  
  • Elective credits may be used for a Global Health elective, MPH course work, AOSC/research time+ (and count toward the graduation requirement). 
  • Only two, 2-week electives (may count toward the elective graduation requirement. 

+ requires approval of AoSC Director and faculty research advisor 

SAMs/Intro to Phases 

(4; 1 week each)  

Students must be present during Intro to Phases 2 and 3 and SAM VI but not during the Phase 3 Career Development week. 


One Friday afternoon, once per month, during which the entire class will convene to explore and integrate content from various elements/threads across disciplines.  

Teaching Selective 

Students must participate in a clinical teaching experience to prepare them for this task in residency. Students have the opportunity to teach first- and second year-medical students clinical skills in the clinical education center or lead a PBL small group. Other opportunities may also be permitted with approval. 


Students must satisfactorily complete the Phase 2 portfolio review, USMLE Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS before graduating.  

Area of Scholarly Concentration (AOSC) 

Each Feinberg student must complete an approved AOSC project before graduating. Exceptions include dual-degree students (MSTP, MPH, MA only) and any student who has received an AOSC waiver for academic reasons from the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education.  


Related LCME Standard 
9.9 Student Advancement and Appeal Process 


Last Updated: 1/28/2019