Attending Medical School

Medical School Curriculum + Timeline

Ultimately, to be successful, medical students must hit the ground running. Be prepared by familiarizing yourself with this year-by-year overview of the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).

Please consider that the information presented here is the standard timeline for students with a four-year scholarship. If you have a three-year scholarship, your timeline will entail the same milestones, but in a compressed format.

All Military Medical Students

  • Commission as a second lieutenant in the Army or Air Force, or as an ensign in the Navy, at the time of entry into the scholarship program.


  • Attend officer training if openings are available.

  • Begin your civilian classroom studies.


  • Attend officer training.

  • Begin 18 months of your pre-clinical curriculum and participate in field exercises, including Military Field Practicum 101 (MFP 101), in which students learn austere medical and warrior skills, and Antietam, a reenactment based on one of the Civil War's major battles.

All Military Medical Students

  • At the completion of the second year of medical or osteopathic school, you will take Step one of your United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or Level one of your Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States (COMLEX), depending on your medical school's schedule.

  • Regardless of when the examinations are taken, and outside of any internal university testing deadlines, students must submit their passing scores as part of the Joint Service Graduate Medical Examination (GME) application process. Typically, this due date is at or around Oct. 15 of your fourth year.



  • Attend officer training if you can fit it into your academic schedule and have not already done so. If you have completed officer training, participate in one annual training period, which may be a research rotation or school orders.

  • Depending on your school, you may begin your rotations, in which you train in multiple specialties at various hospitals. This will allow you to apply your coursework and determine the specialty you will apply to for residency. Keep in mind that you will need to do at least one rotation at a military hospital to help you select a military residency.


  • After you finish your pre-clinical curriculum, you will begin your clinical rotations by visiting various military medical facilities across the United States. While there, you will apply what you have learned in the classroom, learn about various military specialties and figure out which specialty you will apply for before residency. You will be assigned your rotation based on a lottery system, and USU will cover your travel, lodging and food costs.


  • Start attending your rotations. Most rotations will take place at your school, but keep in mind that you will need to do at least one rotation at a military hospital so that you can audition and interview for a military residency.

  • Complete an annual training period. A clinical rotation at a military hospital may count as an annual training period.


  • Complete your required clerkship or pre-clinical, initiate advanced clinical rotations, and begin interviewing for residency programs throughout the nation.

All Military Medical Students

  • In early summer, the Joint Service Graduate Medical Education Selection Board (JSGMESB) will release the list of residencies available for the next year.

  • Start filling out your application packet and ranking military residencies of your choice. If you wish to attend a civilian residency, rank that first.


  • Take elective rotations abroad.

  • Participate in Operation Bushmaster, a field exercise required of all fourth-year students in which you act as a trauma doctor during a simulated deployment.


  • Joint Services GME Selection Board (JSGMESB) application opens.

  • Interview with military residency programs.


  • Interview with military residency programs.

  • Apply to the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), used for the civilian match, in case you do not match to a military residency and the Military authorizes you to attend a civilian residency.


  • Interview with military residency programs.

  • JSGMESB application closes, although changes can be made, and military interviews continue into October.

  • Deadline for providing results for Step two (Clinical Knowledge) of your USMLE or Level two (Cognitive Evaluation) of your COMLEX.


  • Schedule interviews for civilian residencies for late December/January.

  • Receive results of the military match via email.

  • If you match to a military residency, you must withdraw from the civilian match process and cancel any interviews you have set up at civilian institutions.

  • If you get permission to continue in the civilian match, you must wait to find out whether you match to a program in March.

If you do not match to a military residency and do not get permission to continue in the civilian match, you should plan to do a one-year civilian or military internship and reapply for a residency during the first half of your internship.


Graduation | All Military Medical Students

  • You will be promoted to captain in the Army and Air Force or lieutenant in the Navy rank and immediately transition to their residency training program.


During your rotations, you will need to start thinking about where you would like to do your residency. You will need to choose your rotations wisely and think of them as auditions. If you have a family, or are considering starting a family in the future, this is also a great time to begin researching the military benefits that will be available to you and your family when you begin service.

If you are an HPSP student, you should perform at least one rotation at a military medical facility where you think you may want to do your residency, while USU students will perform all of their rotations at military medical facilities.

Match Day

Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) students have the same chances of “matching” with their residency of choice as civilian students, and the Military will never dictate which specialty you choose. For reference, this process (i.e., “Match Day”) is a system by which residency candidates and residency programs simultaneously “match” to fill postgraduate training positions. In general, the more competitive you are as a student, and the more programs you apply to, the better your chances of matching. The availability of residency slots, however, depends on the Military's needs at that particular time and how competitive the residency is overall.

Students who do not receive their first specialty choice may elect to take a transitional year internship and reapply for their first specialty choice in the following years. 
If you have a specialty in mind and are wondering about the chances of getting the residency of your choice, contact a recruiter.

If You Do Not Match

If you do not match into the military or civilian residency of your choice, you will still have options. In some cases, you could switch to a military residency in another field if a slot is available. Otherwise, you should plan on completing a one-year civilian or military internship. After the internship, you will be able to obtain your license to practice medicine. Then you can either reapply for a residency, or you can serve as a General Medical Officer (GMO).