Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Combined Degree and
Physician Scholar Programs

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MD/Master in Law (ML), Health Law Track

The MD/Master in Law, Health Law Track (MD/ML) is designed for Perelman medical and PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, and residents in the Penn Health system who are interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of health law and legal principles. The  program will help medical students navigate the increasingly dense and frequently changing regulatory environment in the United States and enable them to be effective advocates for health care delivery and collaborate productively with legal counsel across a wide array of issues. The program’s specialized curriculum is geared to health professionals entering a field that is increasingly defined by regulation and new service delivery models. Graduates of the program will develop legal knowledge and key analytical and critical thinking skills that will prepare them for careers as leaders of health practices and medical institutions as well as policy makers and advisers.  

The ML program has been incredibly rewarding and an invaluable complement to my medical career. I recommend it to physicians and students in healthcare and the sciences to better understand the legal and regulatory underpinnings of their work, enhance their training in this domain, and so be better prepared to practice, teach, and research in today's complex healthcare environment. — Manoj Mittal, MD, ML'18, CHOP, PSOM faculty

The information on this website describes the admissions process, curriculum, advising, and financial policies for the MD/ML program. Please note that these guidelines apply only to Perelman medical students.

Information Gathering

The first step of the process is to gather information regarding the MD/ML dual degree. Interested students have several resources:

  • Penn Law ML — the Master in Law website provides detailed information on the program and application process.
  • MD/ML Information Session — every fall the Combined Degree office holds a MD/ML Information Session for medical students. Email announcements are sent out to students prior to the event. Check out the August 24, 2017 MD-ML Information Session PPT.
  • Catharine Restrepo — candidates are encouraged to contact Cathy, Director of the Master in Law Program, to discuss the Master of Law program.
  • Amy Nothelfer — students are encouraged to contact Amy, Associate Director of Combined Degree Office, to discuss their interest in a Master’s program.
  • MD/ML Student Advice document — Perelman medical students are encouraged to stop by the Combined Degree Office to pick up a copy of the MD/ML Student Advice document, which provides advice from a current MD/MBE student. Our student is a great resource of information on the program.
  • Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) Office of Admissions and Financial Aid — As soon as a student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised.

Video testimonials of the ML program and courses:

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Advising

Perelman medical students who are interested in applying for the MD/ML program are encouraged to contact Catharine Restrepo, Director of the Master in Law Program. Once accepted into the MD/ML program, students will develop a curriculum plan in consultation with Cathy. As needed, Cathy may refer students to Steve Raper, MD, JD, who has an MD and Penn Law JD, and Ronald Litman, DO, who has taken a Penn Law course. Both faculty are available to provide guidance and advice to Penn medical students. Check out the video of Dr. Litman discussing his experience:

After a curriculum plan is developed, the student must notify Helene Weinberg, PSOM Registrar, of his/her intention to pursue the MD/ML.

Students should also meet with a staff member in the PSOM Office of Admissions and Financial Aid to discuss financial issues.

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Curriculum & Program Structure

Program Requirements:

The following requirements are needed for the ML degree :

  • 4 required foundation courses (Introduction to US Law, Introduction to Health Law and Policy, Introduction to Business Law, and Navigating the Regulatory State)
  • 4 elective courses (2 are taken from Penn Law upper-level curriculum and 2 are MD curriculum transfer credits*)

Required Course Units:               8

* Perelman medical students who are matriculated in the MD/ML program will earn one transfer credit for MOD610 Respect for Persons and one transfer credit for MOD320 Health Care Systems in the MD curriculum.

Take a look at the Course Descriptions for 2017-2018.

Timing:

For students who decide to pursue the MD/ML in their third year of medical school, they are enrolled in the MD program full-time for the first three years and in ML course work full-time during the fall of year 4. Then in spring of year 4 and throughout year 5, students will complete the remaining ML courses as well as the MD curriculum.

For students who decide to pursue the MD/ML upon matriculation to medical school, they will be able to take several ML courses during their first 3 semesters of medical school, which will enable them to complete the degree within 4 years. LAWM 511-301 is highly recommended as a first course.

The sample plans of study below provide details about the timing of ML course work for those who are familiar with the Perelman School of Medicine curriculum. The Master in Law plan of study will be individualized for each student.

MD/ML Degree Completion Time:               5 Years (or 4 Years with advanced planning)

MD/ML Sample Study Plan:

The following are possible scheduling scenarios that an MD/ML student might follow. They are based on the assumption that students will complete the requirements for two transfer credits.

Sample 1: 5 year plan

Year Fall Spring Summer Tuition and Billing Maximum Direct Loan Eligibility (2017-18)
1 MD curriculum MD curriculum 1 LAW cu (Evening Likely)* MD Tuition Fall & Spring; ML Tuition Summer $44,942
2 MD curriculum MD curriculum MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring $47,167
3 MD curriculum Boards 1
MD curriculum
MD curriculum MD Tuition Fall & Spring $47,167
4 3 LAW cus 2 LAW cus
MD curriculum
MD curriculum LAW Tuition Fall; MD Tuition Spring Fall: $10,250
Spring: 20,250
5 Residency interviewing
MD curriculum
Residency interviewing
MD curriculum**
  MD Tuition Fall; MD fees only Spring Fall: $20,250

*LAWM 511-301 is highly recommended and is offered in the summer, which is a great time to take this course in the evening.
**This semester will be billed as “MD fees only”, as the medical student will already have paid the required 8 semesters of MD tuition.

Sample 2: 4 year plan
It may be possible for a student to complete the MD/ML degree in 4 years, if the student front-loads their courses.

Year Fall Spring Summer
1 1 LAW cu
MD curriculum
1 LAW cu
MD curriculum
1 LAW cu (Evening Likely)
2 1 LAW cu
MD curriculum
MD curriculum MD curriculum
3 MD curriculum Boards 1
MD curriculum
MD curriculum
4 Residency interviewing
MD curriculum
Residency interviewing
2 LAW cus
MD curriculum
 
Medical School Planning:

There are several things to keep in mind when making your Medical School plans:

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Financial Information

Tuition Policy:

Tuition cost for the combined MD/ML program is far less than the total tuition cost would be if the two degrees were earned separately. MD/ML students will be charged 8 semesters of medical school tuition (6 semesters in years 1-3, spring of year 4 and fall of year 5). During fall semester of year 4, ML tuition will be charged per course unit. Finally, students will be charged “MD fees only” in spring of year 5.

Perelman medical students will be charged additional Law tuition for:

3 Law school course units

IF 2 transfer credits have been earned via MOD610 and MOD320,

AND

IF the student has not taken any other university registered credits under the PSOM Additional Course Policy, which allows med students to take 3 additional courses while registered for the MD program. Please refer to the PSOM Additional Course Policy for information on tuition implications.

Students will be charged for more than 3 course units if either of the above conditions are not met.  Students with questions about credits earned or needed should contact Helene Weinberg, Registrar of the Medical School.

Tuition:               $6,868/course
Additional fees (i.e. general fee and technology fee) will apply and may vary depending on a student’s enrollment status and fees paid elsewhere at the University of Pennsylvania.

Financial Aid:

As soon as a Perelman medical student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised. Students should contact Jean Fox at the PSOM Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. She is available to help explain program costs, the financial aid process, funding options and how to apply for financial aid. Here are some things to consider:

  1. When paying medical school tuition and registered as a medical student, an individual can retain his/her PSOM Scholarship and has a Direct loan eligibility of $40,500. When a student is registered as a full time ML student, he/she is not eligible for a PSOM Scholarship and has a Direct loan eligibility of $20,500. In accordance with federal regulations, all sources of aid (loan, scholarships, fellowships) cannot exceed the student budget.
  1. Direct loans have aggregate limits, which are cumulative and include any undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans borrowed in the Direct loan program. For any semester when a student is a full-time ML student (versus full-time MD student), the ML program aggregate limit is $138,500 versus the MD aggregate limit ($224,000).
  1. Students who require funds in excess of their Direct loan may apply for a Direct PLUS loan. Details on this loan and instructions for applying can be found at the PSOM Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.
  1. Tuition will be billed each semester based on course registration and program requirements. Financial aid is available only from the school charging tuition. It is the student’s responsibility to file all of the financial aid applications and documents required to the school in which he or she is enrolled. Students may not receive financial aid from both schools during the same semester. The student is limited to the policies and federal regulations surrounding each school’s educational program. Specific costs are determined annually and are available from the PSOM Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

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Admissions

The admissions process for the MD/ML program is competitive. A Perelman medical student may apply to the ML program during his/her first, second or third year.

Admissions process:
There are two steps to applying:

  1. Apply to the Master in Law Program
    Review and follow the application instructions. Students are encouraged to contact Catharine Restrepo, Director of the MD/ML program, for more information.
  1. Submit Master's Program Registration Form to the Combined Degree Office
    In addition to submitting an MD/ML application, Perelman medical students must also submit a Master's Program Registration Form to Amy Nothelfer, Associate Director of the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office (6th Floor JMEC).

Application Deadline:               Rolling Basis until March 15 of third year
(Please note that a student will be admitted for the semester following application submission.)

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Contacts

For more information about the MD/ML program, contact:

Penn Law School:

Catharine Restrepo, Esq. L'93
Director
Master in Law Program
(215) 898-4083
masters@law.upenn.edu

Natalie Green
Assistant Director
Master in Law Program
215-746-1877
ndgreen@law.upenn.edu

Perelman School of Medicine:

Amy Nothelfer, MSW, LSW
Associate Director
Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
(215) 746-2359
nothelfe@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Helene Weinberg
Registrar
Office of the Registrar
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
(215) 898-4646
hweinber@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Jean Fox
Financial Aid Officer
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Jordan Medical Education Ctr, 6th Floor
3400 Civic Center Blvd, BLDG 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5162
(215) 898-9118
jmfox@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the typical professional background of a ML lecturer?
The backgrounds of the ML lecturers vary. Check out the List of Master in Law Lecturers.

2. Do I have to take Intro to US Law and Legal Methods before taking any other course?
No; however, it is highly recommended and is offered every semester including in the evening during the summer.

3. The med school curriculum varies so much, what happens if I miss a ML class?
No problem. Just inform the course instructor in advance of your schedule conflict. ML courses are videotaped, so you can watch the video afterwards to catch up.
 
4. Is the course workload difficult?
No, the ML courses are quite manageable and comparable to other graduate level courses, but does involve some planning.
 
5. Are there any other options for med students if my schedule does not permit me to pursue the entire ML degree?
Yes, taking one or more courses when your schedule allows is a good option.  Another option is a Certificate in Law, which requires the completion of 4 courses.

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Disclaimer
Please note that policies concerning admissions, curriculum, funding and financial aid are subject to change. Additionally, though variations in the curriculum may be possible, any changes will need prior approval and may have financial implications. This website is meant to provide preliminary general overview information only. Students interested in or enrolled in the program should seek personal advising from relevant faculty and staff.