Non-Clinical Electives Guidelines

Guidelines and Definitions Regarding
Non-Clinical Electives

Understanding that historically, medical school training is, has been, and will continue to be a primarily clinical training program;

  • Determined to assure that clinical training is holistic and humanistic;
  • Respecting that alternative applications of a medical degree may not be purely clinical;   
  • Aware that well-trained, clinicians should ideally be well-rounded and balanced and therefore might benefit from alternative non-clinical experiences during their training;
  • Demanding that the intensity and quality of medical education be assured regardless of the clinical or non-clinical nature of an approved elective; 


The following guidelines and definitions are established:

•    Clinical electives involve direct patient care or activities that actively impact on patient care.  Non-clinical electives do not have direct impact on patient care; however, these electives are medical in nature and may include learning experiences from the humanities, education, teaching, and research.  Longitudinal electives are those that are spread out over a longer time frame than the standard 2-4 week elective.

•    Due to academic requirements in place in the College of Medicine (Sept 2003) that include a series of required clerkships during the M3 year, a subinternship, and a core series of specialty rotations during the M4 year; no restrictions regarding the number of non-clinical electives is necessary.

•    In general, faculty contact, supervision, and the organized workload of the non-clinical elective should exceed thirty hours per week.  A guideline for non-clinical curriculum design will be an assumed 3-hours of preparation per one hour of class time.  If the ratio of direct supervision or faculty contact time to unsupervised time is less, the elective must document the intensity of library or institution-based research. The exact distribution will be defined by the individual course. If an elective requires fewer than 8 hours of faculty contact and direct supervision per week, it will be more critically reviewed by the M4 Curriculum Subcommittee. The review will include exit interviews of students to assure that the work required per credit hour is appropriate.  If approved, new non-clinical proposals will be offered a one-year probationary time period prior to consideration of a full 4-year curriculum approval if such a critical review as described above is necessary.

•    Proposals for longitudinal electives will be encouraged and considered by the M4 Curriculum Subcommittee.  Factors will include but not be limited to defined prerequisites, guidelines regarding who may take the course, and the potential impact of the course on concurrent work demands of the student.  Any required course may disqualify one of its students from taking a longitudinal elective based on the student’s performance in the required course.  Regarding concurrent courses, please refer to existing College of Medicine policy.

Students taking longitudinal electives must receive prior approval from the course director of the longitudinal elective.  The student must be in good academic standing.  In addition, M1 or M2 students wishing to participate in a longitudinal non-clinical elective, must receive approval from the Dean of Curriculum.