Fellows Survival Guide

Advanced Degrees

Depending upon your scholarly interests, pursuing an advanced degree during fellowship may be of interest to you. Such programs can provide additional training that will enhance your ability to succeed in your chosen scholarly activity and future career. Additionally, research activities conducted for a degree will usually fulfill your fellowship scholarly project requirement. Many fellows pursuing advanced degrees choose a master’s degree. These are often two-year programs and thus fit well with the fellowship timeline, particularly if a fellow completes most clinical duties during first year of training. However, any degree is possible if you can find a way to weave it into your training program.

Here are some examples:

  1. MSCI/MSCE: Master of Science in Clinical Investigation or Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology programs are designed to provide formal training in clinical research methods.
  2. MPH: Master of Public Health provides formal training to conduct clinical or public health research. It can also better prepare you for a career in public health.
  3. MEd: Master of Education programs are designed to foster educational skills, curriculum development, learner assessment, and program leadership among other areas. This degree is suitable for someone who intends to focus on medical education.
  4. Other possibilities: Quality Improvement training (Master’s degree in healthcare quality and safety, LEAN/Six Sigma training, InterMountain Health Advanced Training Program, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, AAMC Te4Q), Master of Science in Translational Research, Master of Science in Health Policy Research, or training in any field that aligns with your research interests (e.g., Pharmacology, Informatics, etc.).

In addition to assessing whether your fellowship program can provide the dedicated time needed to pursue advanced training, it is also important to consider how the degree will be funded. Some institutions offer T32 training grants or other training programs or internal funding resources that will support an advanced degree. An individual F32 grant may support some tuition costs as well. You may be eligible for tuition benefits from your institution, although these may be taxable, so not entirely “free”. Attending a public school with in-state tuition benefits is another way to reduce tuition costs. Be sure to ask about these issues during the interview process so you know what to expect.

International medical graduates interested in obtaining advanced degrees from their local public university may not qualify for in-state tuition, depending on state and/or university policy. You should research if you qualify for in-state or out-of-state tuition and whether your fellowship program or university provides any financial aid or education benefits. Some universities offer advanced degrees in clinical investigation through Clinical Scientist Training Programs at no cost for fellows affiliated with those institutions. Online master’s programs may be an alternative and more affordable option, including those offered by non-US institutions (e.g., London School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene).

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