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Program Overview

The MSCI program trains investigators in the techniques and processes used in clinical and translational research. This program provides a direct, mentored experience in clinical investigation and, through didactic work, provides trainees with a strong foundation in study design, biostatistics with R, biomedical ethics, human genetics, drug and device development, and genomics. The program typically takes two years to complete. Graduates successfully compete for grants such as the NIH K23, VA Career Development Award, NIH R01, and major foundation grants.


Eligible candidates for the MSCI Program include:

  • Board-eligible physicians enrolled in a fellowship program at Vanderbilt or Meharry Medical College,
  • Residents with protected time for research,
  • Medical students with protected time for research,
  • Vanderbilt faculty members with the consent of their Department Chair,
  • Post-Doctoral PhDs anticipating a career in clinical and translational research,
  • PhD candidates in the Nursing School anticipating a career in clinical and translational research, and
  • Scholars external to Vanderbilt/Meharry will be considered based on the availability of a suitable mentor within Vanderbilt and secured funding.

Candidates must be in good standing with their home department at all stages during admission and remain in good standing with the home department and the MSCI program throughout matriculation.

Program Components

Mentored Research Apprenticeship: The core of the MSCI Program will be the completion of a mentored research project. The research must have a clinical or translational orientation and involve direct measurements of patient-derived data or investigational therapeutic or diagnostic techniques. The mentor must be an established physician-scientist with experience in clinical and translational research. Use of the Vanderbilt University Clinical Research Center will be encouraged. The research project will account for 80% of the candidate’s commitment to the program.

Didactic Work: Candidates must complete 35 credit hours of courses covering the essentials of study design, biostatistics, ethics, drug development, and data analysis. It is expected that coursework will comprise 20% of the candidate’s time commitment. Core courses will be provided in two formats: intense courses that meet three hours each day (e.g., 8 am to 11 am) for four weeks and courses that can be offered less intensively (2-4 hours a week for several months). The course schedule maximizes protected time for clinical and translational research. Learn more about MSCI courses or view a sample course schedule.

Career Path Development: In addition to the formal curriculum, a monthly seminar series, “Clinical Scientist Career Seminars” will permit candidates to meet successful clinical and translational researchers. Topics of discussion will include academic “rules of the road,” time management, promotion/tenure issues, grants management, and authorship. Candidates will hone their scientific communication skills through a presentation at the annual Translational Research forum conducted in the Fall. The Program Directors will host networking events with the candidates, clinical investigators, mentors, and visiting scientists.

Master’s Final Project: The candidate will select to submit one of the following:

  • a first-authored manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal
  • a completed proposal for a major federal or foundation grant
  • a master’s thesis based on their research project (completion of the Master’s thesis will be evaluated by the MSCI Promotions Committee)


The MSCI Program is typically a full-time, two-year (5 academic terms) online program. Tuition is usually funded through NIH training grant mechanisms, corporate/foundation grants, or department resources. Learn more about potential resources for funding MSCI.

Current students may access their e-bill through the Office of Student Accounts or YES (Your Enrollment Services).

Tuition and student fee amounts for the upcoming academic year are determined every April by the Vanderbilt Board of Trust.

Tuition, 2024-2025

Tuition and student fee amounts for the upcoming academic year are determined every April by the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, and they are published by the Office of Student Accounts.

Tuition rates and fees for the 2024-2025 academic year
Year 1:

  • Tuition, $44,976
  • One-Time Transcript Fee: $100

Year 2:

  • Tuition, $22,488

Special Student (non-degree):

  • Tuition, $1,929 per credit hour
  • One-Time Transcript Fee: $100

Student Health Insurance:

  • Fall: Student Health Insurance, $1964
  • Spring: Student Health Insurance, $1964
  • Fall: International Student Health Insurance, $2085
  • Spring: International Student Health Insurance, $2084