Medicine (University Program), MD

 Degree: Doctor of Medicine (MD)

Programs Leading to MD

Today, applicants can choose from three programs to obtain a medical degree at Case Western Reserve University: the University Program, the College Program (Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University), and the Medical Scientist Training Program. Students in all three programs:

  • are introduced to clinical work and patients almost as soon as they arrive on campus.
  • learn medicine using an integrated, systems-based approach.
  • are treated as junior colleagues by faculty members.
  • are taught the science of medicine infused with the skills of communication and compassion.
  • learn how to learn- a skill they will call on throughout their careers in the quickly changing field of medicine.

Overview of the University Program

The School of Medicine curriculum has always reflected the most current educational principles, practices, and knowledge. In the 1950s the School of Medicine was the first to introduce the organ systems approach to teaching the basic sciences. In July 2006, the University Program launched the Western Reserve2 Curriculum (WR2) to develop a learner-centered and self-directed curriculum framework and implement dynamic small group learning teams. Students learn in an environment that fosters scientific inquiry and excitement.

The University Program in Detail

The WR2 Curriculum has high expectations for self-directed learning, and seeks to train physician scholars who are prepared to treat disease, promote health and examine the social and behavioral context of illness. It interweaves four themes - 1) research and scholarship, 2) clinical mastery, 3) teamwork and leadership, and 4) civic professionalism and health advocacy to prepare students for the ongoing practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing healthcare environment of the 21st century.

Scholarship and clinical relevance are the benchmarks for learning, and clinical experiences and biomedical and population sciences education are integrated across the four years of the curriculum. The WR2 Curriculum also creates an independent, educational environment where learning is self-directed and where student education primarily occurs through:

  1. facilitated, small-group student-centered discussions
  2. large group interactive sessions such as Team-Based Learning or didactic sessions that offer a framework or synthesis
  3. interactive holoanatomy, radiology, and ultrasound sessions
  4. clinical skills training
  5. patient-based activities

Clinical experiences begin in the first weeks of the University Program when students participate in community-based health care field experiences. In spring of the first year, the outpatient clinical activities begin. Each student works with a community physician one afternoon a week for five  weeks.

Electronic resources make the most of classroom time while improving opportunities for self-directed learning and capitalizing on the innovative technology available at Case Western Reserve University.

A key component of the University Program is the unscheduled time on some Thursday mornings and some weekday afternoons. Students use this time for self-directed learning as well as to pursue a joint degree, take electives, participate in interest groups, shadow a practicing physician, or become active in student organizations.

Each student in the University Program is a member of one of the following advising societies: Blackwell-McKinley Society, Gerberding Society, Robbins Society, Satcher Society, Geiger Society, or Wearn Society. Each society is headed by an advising dean, who helps the students navigate the curriculum, advises them on residency and career planning, and writes their dean's letters. The Society Deans hold regularly scheduled small group and individual meetings with the students. The Society Deans are all members of the faculty of the School of Medicine and participate actively in the educational programs of the school. 

Education throughout the Four Years is Centered on

  1. Fostering experiential and interactive learning in a clinical context;
  2. Stimulating educational spiraling by revisiting concepts in progressively more meaningful depth and increasingly sophisticated contexts;
  3. Promoting integration of the biomedical and population sciences with clinical experience;
  4. Transferring concepts and principles learned in one context to other contexts;
  5. Enhancing learning through deliberate practice, or providing learners with direct observation, feedback, and the opportunity to practice in both the clinical environment and in the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine's Mt. Sinai Skills and Simulation Center.

The Western Reserve Curriculum has 10 Guiding Principles

  1. The core concepts of health and disease prevention are fully integrated into the curriculum.
  2. Medical education is experiential and emphasizes the skills for scholarship, critical thinking, and lifelong learning.
  3. Educational methods stimulate an active interchange of ideas among students and faculty.
  4. Students and faculty are mutually respectful partners in learning.
  5. Students are immersed in a graduate school educational environment characterized by flexibility and high expectations for independent study and self-directed learning.
  6. Learning is fostered by weaving the scientific foundations of medicine and health with clinical experiences throughout the curriculum. These scientific foundations include basic science, clinical science, population-based science, and social and behavioral sciences.
  7. Every student has an in-depth mentored experience in research and scholarship.
  8. Recognizing the obligations of physicians to society, the central themes of public health, civic professionalism and teamwork & leadership are woven through the curriculum.
  9. The systems issues of patient safety, quality medical care, and health care delivery are emphasized and integrated throughout the curriculum.
  10. Students acquire a core set of competencies in the knowledge, mastery of clinical skills and attitudes that are prerequisite to graduate medical education. These competencies are defined, learned and assessed and serve as a mechanism of assessment of the school's success.

Learning Outcomes

  • Analyzes and effectively critiques a broad range of research papers (Research & Scholarship).
  • Demonstrates ability to generate a research hypothesis and formulate questions to test the hypothesis (Research & Scholarship).
  • Demonstrates ability to initiate, complete and explain their research (Research & Scholarship).
  • Demonstrates ability to apply knowledge base to clinical and research questions (Knowledge for Practice).
  • Demonstrates appropriate level of clinical, basic, and health systems science knowledge to be an effective starting resident physician (Knowledge for Practice).
  • Uses effective written and oral communication in clinical, research, and classroom settings (Interpersonal & Communication Skills).
  • Demonstrates effective communication with patients using a patient-centered approach (Interpersonal & Communication Skills).
  • Effectively communicates knowledge as well as uncertainties (Interpersonal & Communication Skills).
  • Commonly demonstrates compassion, respect, honesty and ethical practices (Professionalism).
  • Meets obligations in a reliable and timely manner (Professionalism).
  • Recognizes and addresses lapses in behavior (Professionalism).
  • Critically reflects on personal values, priorities, and limitations to develop strategies that promote personal and professional growth (Personal and Professional Development).
  • Recognizes when personal views and values differ from those of patients, colleagues, and other caregivers and reflects on how these can affect patient care and research (Personal & Professional Development).
  • Identifies challenges between personal and professional responsibilities and develops strategies to address them (Personal & Professional Development).
  • Obtains thorough and accurate information through an H&P adapting to the clinical setting (Patient Care).
  • Uses evidence from the patient’s history, physical exam, and other data sources to formulate and prioritize clinical decisions (Patient Care).
  • Incorporates diagnostic, therapeutic, and prognostic uncertainty in clinical decision making and patient care discussions (Patient Care).
  • Incorporates patient perspective, values, and goals into all aspects of the clinical encounter (Patient Care).
  • Identifies and critically analyses relevant literature and practice-based guidelines to apply best evidence of patient care and management (Patient Care).
  • Performs effectively as a member of a team (Teamwork & Interprofessional Collaboration).
  • Respects and supports the contributions of individuals on an interprofessional health care team to deliver quality care (Teamwork & Interprofessional Collaboration).
  • Applies knowledge of the basic structure of health care systems to patient care discussions (Systems-based Practice).
  • Demonstrates awareness of context of care, patients’ values and health care system resources in clinical decision-making (Systems-based Practice).
  • Applies principles of quality improvement and safety to patient care (Systems-based Practice).
  • Demonstrates habits of ongoing reflection using feedback from others as well as self- assessments to both identify learning needs (cognitive and emotional) and practice continuous quality improvement (Reflective Practice).


Inquiries about admission and application should be addressed to the Office of Admissions-University Program.

Office of Admissions-University Program

School of Medicine
9501 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4920
Phone: 216.368.3450 or

Getting Started

Students wishing to apply to any MD program at the School of Medicine must initiate this electronic process through the American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS). Visit AMCAS to learn more about the medical school application process.

Admissions Process

After the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is completed the applicant receives an e-mail directing him or her to the CWRU School of Medicine online secondary (final) application where the applicant can designate to which MD program(s) they wish to apply. Applicants can apply to both MD programs and/or the MSTP. It is possible for an applicant to be interviewed by and receive an admission offer from all three programs.

Applicants should complete this secondary application as instructed. After the applicant has submitted the secondary application and all supporting materials, the appropriate admissions subcommittee will review the information and decide whether to invite the applicant for an interview. After the interview, the Admissions Committee of the CWRU SOM will discuss each applicant and decide whether to extend an offer of admission.

Admissions Criteria

Although academic credentials are important in the admissions process, high grades and a high score on the MCAT are not the only criteria for admission. Just as important are interpersonal skills, exposures to medicine, well-roundedness and qualities such as professionalism, empathy, and leadership ability. The School of Medicine includes a widely diverse student body.

Academic Requirements

Given the variability in the way undergraduate institutions structure various courses, there is some flexibility with some of our prerequisite courses. Please closely review the prerequisite charts for each program.

If these prerequisites were not fulfilled at an accredited, four-year, degree-granting American or Canadian college or university, the applicant should be prepared to take at least 1 year of challenging, upper-level sciences at one of these institutions prior to application.

If all science prerequisites were taken at a community college, the committee strongly recommends that the applicant take at least one year of upper-level sciences from an accredited four-year degree granting university within the United States or Canada. If a few science prerequisite courses were taken at a community college, the committee will evaluate them on a case-by-case basis.

Undergraduate students should pursue a major in a subject of their own choosing; they should not structure their undergraduate experiences in an attempt to sway the medical school admissions committee but instead, base it on their own personal interests and goals.

Financial Aid

About 70 percent of the University Program's medical students receive some financial aid based strictly on financial need. It's impossible to provide precise figures for financial aid before each specific situation is completely analyzed, but here is a description of the general aspects of the process:

The School of Medicine adheres to the unit loan concept used by most private medical schools. Under this concept, if a student qualifies for financial aid, he or she is expected to obtain a specific portion of his or her support from outside sources such as a Federal Direct Loan, savings, and family. Once the student obtains this amount, the remaining aid would be provided through the School of Medicine resources, up to the amount determined to be his or her reasonable need. The school's contribution would be a combination of loan and scholarship, with the exact ratio determined by the student's particular circumstances.

The University Program each year offers a number of merit scholarships to each class through its Dean's Scholars program. These scholarships, which vary in annual amounts, are awarded for up to four years for selected students. Application for the scholarships is by invitation of the Admissions Committee. Recipients are students with records of exceptional academic and personal achievement.

Educational Authority

Governance of the educational programs leading to the medical degree resides in the Faculty of Medicine. Each class of students selects representatives who become voting members of the Faculty of Medicine. The faculty of the School of Medicine is responsible for the content, implementation, and evaluation of the curriculum. The Dean of the School of Medicine serves as its chief academic officer, with overall responsibility to the university for the entire academic program. The Vice Dean for Medical Education carries the Dean's academic and administrative authority and has direct supervisory responsibility for the units that lead and support the curriculum.

The faculty's Committee on Medical Education (CME) evaluates, reviews and makes recommendations concerning overall goals and policies of the School’s medical education program. Acting for the faculty, the Committee on Medical Education is responsible for:1) the formal approval and adoption of the School’s educational program objectives and ongoing monitoring to ensure that the objectives serve as guides for establishing curriculum and provide the basis for evaluating program effectiveness, 2) the review of performance in each program's competencies, and 3) the evaluation of the overall content and appropriateness of the educational programs and curricula leading to the MD degree. The faculty elects the majority of the members of the Committee on Medical Education. Student representatives also serve on this committee and its curriculum councils.

The operational responsibility for the medical curriculum is invested in curriculum committees that report to the Committee on Medical Education.  There are four curriculum committees:  (a) the WR2 Curriculum Committee (University Program), (b) the Program Evaluation and Assessment Committee (University Program), (c) the Curriculum Steering Council (College Program), and (d) the Joint Clinical Oversight Group. These committees are responsible for the strategic planning, content, design, selection of teaching leadership, oversight of the curriculum, student assessment, and program evaluation.

Expectations for Personal and Professional Characteristics

Students are evaluated on their knowledge base, clinical skills, and professional behavior and attitudes. The following characteristics are evaluated throughout the medical curriculum, and students are expected to adhere to these standards in both their academic and personal pursuits:

Interpersonal relationships: Provide supportive, educational and empathetic interactions with patients and families, and is able to interact effectively with "difficult" patients. Demonstrates respect for and complements roles of other professionals, and is cooperative, easy to work with, commanding respect of the health care team.

Initiative: Independently identify tasks to be performed and makes sure that tasks are completed. Performs duties promptly and efficiently, and is willing to spend additional time, assume new responsibilities, and able to recognize the need for help and ask for guidance when appropriate.

Dependability: Complete tasks promptly and well. Present on time and actively participates in clinical and didactic activities. Always follows through and is exceptionally reliable.

Attitude: Are actively concerned for others. Maintain a positive outlook toward assigned tasks. Recognizes and admits mistakes. Seeks and accepts criticism, using it to improve performance.

Integrity and honesty: Demonstrate integrity. Is honest in professional encounters. Adheres to professional ethical standards.

Tolerance: Demonstrate exceptional ability to accept people and situations. Acknowledges her or his biases and does not allow them to affect patient care.

Function under stress: Consistently maintain professional composure and exhibits good clinical judgment in stressful situations.

Appearance: Always display an appropriate professional appearance.


Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is actively developing Pathway programs, health care concentrations available to medical students who want to focus on particular aspects of health and patient care. Students in both University and College programs have the option of specializing in one of several longitudinal pathways:

Andrew B. Kaufman World Medicine Pathway

The World Medicine Pathway will prepare medical students for advanced training and careers that address global health challenges.  A foundational curriculum during the pre-clerkship years will focus on building knowledge, skills, and attitudes through a series of seminars, simulations, and other experiences.  Students will then have a mentored experience in the clinical years focused on biomedical research, clinical care, capacity building, or global health policy/advocacy which will include international elective time.

Advocacy and Public Health Pathway

The goal of the Advocacy and Public Health Pathway is to support, develop, and sustain students’ professional commitment to advocacy.  The first five weeks of the core curriculum provides all students a solid foundation in epidemiology, biostatistics, bioethics, health systems science and health disparities.  This introduction to the complex determinants of health, how social and environmental factors impact health and the value and importance of public health, provides a basic understanding of how physicians can act as advocates for patients within healthcare and public health systems.  Through a framework of interprofessional experiences developed in partnership with multiple community organizations, The Advocacy and Public Health Pathway builds on this foundation, providing additional training for students interested in exploring the multitude of ways physicians can leverage their power and expertise to support the social, economic and political change necessary to improve the health of populations.

Climate and Health Pathway

The Climate and Health Pathway will foster awareness and inspire action among medical students on the impact of our changing climate on the health of patients and communities, including interconnections with advocacy and health equity. Students will also explore the profound impact that modifications in the delivery of healthcare can have on our environment. Through seminars, workshops, and experiential learning, students will gain the confidence and knowledge to educate their patients, colleagues, and other health professionals, be poised to incorporate climate change and health issues into their practice of medicine, and become leaders in the field of climate change and health.

Edward J. & Nancy M. Mueller Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship Pathway

In today’s world, innovation and aligned entrepreneurial activities are increasingly focused upon as required value-drivers in patient care, healthcare economics, and regional economic development.  The goal of the Edward J. & Nancy M. Mueller Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship Pathway is to address issues relating to the commercialization of medical-related inventions by exposing students to the challenges and opportunities encountered when attempting to develop innovative concepts from the point of early discovery to the market.  The students will gain insight into what constitutes innovation, the skills necessary to become successful entrepreneurs, and future approaches on how to manage their clinical practice.

Humanities Pathway

The vision of the Humanities Pathway is to use arts and humanities-based courses and experiences to promote the development of health care professionals who will explore the fundamental questions of what it is to be human and to be a healthcare professional. Students will think critically about the complex interplay among patients, health care professionals, and culture. They will develop innovative and informed approaches to health, well-being, and quality of life for the patients and communities they serve while developing resilience and passion to improve the culture of medicine. 

Medical Education Scholars Pathway 

Today’s students are tomorrow’s teachers.  The Medical Education Scholars Pathway seeks to support students in their development as teachers and educational scholars.  Students collaborate with faculty to co-create curricula and use well-established approaches to turn their efforts into scholarship.  Additionally, they serve their local School of Medicine colleagues through their teaching and the Greater Cleveland population through their efforts to provide community education.  

The Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Wellness and Preventive​ Care Pathway

The mission of this pathway is to provide participants with insight and skills in wellness and health promotion as it relates to the domain of the mind, body, and spirit, social interactions, and the community. The vision is to incorporate and advance the promotion of health and wellness at the individual, family, institutional, professional and community levels.

Urban Health Pathway

The Urban Health Pathway is designed to provide selected students with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills in caring for patients in an urban setting, and to foster a better understanding of medicine and health in urban communities by aligning students' engagement, clinical and research goals with the community's health care needs.

Medical Student Organizations 

The list of medical student organizations and activities available to medical students continually evolves to reflect the interests of current students.


Licensure to practice medicine in the United States and its territories is a privilege granted by the individual licensing boards of the states and territories. Each licensing board of the individual jurisdictions establishes its policies, eligibility, and requirements for the practice of medicine within its boundaries pursuant to statutory and regulatory provisions. The degree of doctor of medicine awarded by Case Western Reserve University is an academic degree and does not provide a legal basis for the practice of medicine.