Med School varies graduation plans

Jamie VanGeest

A new graduation option allows first-year medical students to choose how long their course of study lasts.

Most medical students take four years to graduate. But beginning with the current first-year University Medical School class, students will be allowed to complete their degrees in as little as 3.5 years and as much as six years.

Deborah Powell, dean of the Medical School, said she hopes students who choose to take longer to graduate will use the extra time as a learning opportunity.

“We’ve had medical students take time off before, but it has always been something that they have always done on their own,” Powell said.

Students will have time to volunteer both in the Twin Cities area and internationally. Medical students will also be able to research and participate in yearlong internships for biotechnology companies such as Medtronic, Powell said.

Tuition will be the same for students regardless of the graduation option they choose. All medical students will be charged for 11 semesters of tuition, with summer studies counting as semesters.

The University’s is the first public medical school in the country to offer this type of graduation timeline option.

Private schools such as Stanford Medical School and Yale Medical School have graduation programs similar to that of the University of Minnesota. These schools encourage students to take the time off mainly to conduct research, Powell said.

The University of Minnesota’s program was announced at orientation for first-year medical students.

This year’s first-year Medical School class is composed of 165 students who can consider the new graduation options.

First-year medical student John Cunningham said he is choosing to complete his degree in four years, but knows other students who will graduate in six years.

“I have a friend who just had a baby, and the six-year option is perfect for people like her,” Cunningham said.

First-year medical student Jennifer Thompson said she thinks it’s great that the medical school is giving students the choice of finishing anywhere between 3.5 and six years.

“I think that it’s nice because people don’t have to take the typical four years to graduate,” she said.

Thompson said she knows several of her medical school friends are considering graduating in six years. They want to take the extra time to study abroad and do research, she said.

Thompson said she will graduate in four years because she wants to get medical school over with.