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Peabody College M.D./M.Ed. Dual Degree Program

The imperative for physicians to function effectively in complex inter-professional health care systems has forced a major reconceptualization of physician training. As a result, the value of educational expertise has emerged at institutional, national, and international levels. A large and evolving body of literature demonstrates increasing sophistication in the theoretical underpinnings of medical education as a discipline and in the practice of being an educator. Those responsible for medical education now must master concepts and skills related to competencies and milestones, curriculum design, assessment strategies, and program evaluation. Because these structured approaches demand specialized knowledge and dedicated time, educational responsibilities at academic health centers and national organizations have fallen to a smaller cadre of professionals with a stronger commitment to medical education. What was previously considered a supplemental activity for all faculty members has rapidly become a professional focus for a select group.

Medical students interested in attaining further training, expertise and immersion in educational theory and practice while in medical school have the opportunity to study at Peabody College and complete a joint master’s degree in education (M.Ed.) and M.D. degree in 5 years. The focus of this program is to immerse students in the theory and science of how people learn, how to organize conditions best to optimize that learning, and provide an opportunity for students to pursue independent work in an area of their choosing.

Vanderbilt M.D.

At Vanderbilt, you’ll be the author of your own personalized medical education. Our curriculum trains you in the essentials you’ll need to navigate the field and gives you plenty of time to explore through immersive experiences.

  • 13-month pre-clinical curriculum
  • Learning communities
  • Interdisciplinary experiences
  • Clerkships


Peabody College Learning and Design M.Ed.

The Learning and Design M.Ed. program is planned as an immersive instructional design program spanning mid-July to graduation the following May. Coursework focuses on both in-school and out-of-school learning. Required courses include:

  • Learning Out of School
  • Diversity and Equity in Education
  • Learning and Instruction
  • Designing for Contexts
  • Capstone Seminar
  • Inquiry Into Contexts

Outcome of the program:

According to a study of the Dual Degree program at Vanderbilt, Sullivan et al. (2011) concluded that MD-MEd graduates' demonstrated commitment to medical education and credentials will allow them to take on greater educational responsibilities earlier in their careers and quickly gain experience. *

* Sullivan, W. M., DeVolder, J., Bhutiani, M., Neal, K. W., & Miller, B. M. (2017). The MD-MEd joint-degree program at Vanderbilt University: Training future expert medical educators. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 92(8), 1124–1127.


Students apply to the M.D. and M.Ed. programs separately and must be accepted by both programs to pursue the dual degree. Ideally, students will apply for dual degree status prior to enrolling in either program. However, medical students may elect to apply for admission to the dual degree program at any time during their first three years in the School of Medicine.


Dual degree students complete both degrees in five years, saving one year in school, as medical school ordinarily takes four years and the Peabody program two years. The structure of the schedule is shown below:

M.D./M.Ed. Schedule

MD MEd schedule

Double Counting of Credits

Peabody grants 12 hours of credit toward the M.Ed. degree for approved coursework completed in the School of Medicine. The School of Medicine in turn grants two units of medical school credit toward the M.D. degree for approved Peabody College coursework. It is this double counting of credits that permits students to complete both degrees in five years.


Tuition rates and financial aid arrangements are determined by the school in which students are enrolled in a particular semester. Students in the joint program spend three semesters in Peabody College and seven semesters in the School of Medicine. Students work with the Financial Aid Office of the school in which they are enrolled in each semester.

Education Curriculum

Medical students are granted 12 credits at Peabody College for coursework completed at the School of Medicine, bringing the total number of Peabody Credit hours a student must complete to 19. Likewise, medical students are granted two to three Immersion Phase rotation credits for coursework completed at Peabody College, reducing the number of immersions students must complete at the school of medicine.

Core coursework is limited to the Common Core in the Learning and Design program, and comprises 16 of the 19 credits needed at Peabody College. See Learning and Design M.Ed. page for further details.

Outside of the Common Core, students are encouraged to choose from any other coursework in the Department of Teaching and Learning that a student feels may be beneficial to his or her training. Close discussion with the program leadership and advisor can help determine the best options for a student. In general, both masters level and doctoral level courses in the Department of Teaching and Learning are available to dual degree students.
Students and their advisor should pay special attention to how many credits students are formally enrolled in each semester so that tuition does not exceed only the necessary 19 credits over the course of two years. Students are invited to "Audit" an additional course during each semester (for no grade) if interested in a particular course but do not need the credit for program completion.

Next Steps:

  1. To learn more, visit the M.D./M.Ed. Dual Degree Program website:
  2. Contact Dr. Andy Hostetler, Learning & Design Program Director, mail to: