We Teach Health Caring

School of Graduate Studies

We are the School of Graduate Studies and Research where training passes individually from professor to student.  Our program is designed to enhance student preparation for professional careers in the health sciences.


The School of Graduate Studies and Research at Meharry Medical College began in 1938 as a series of short courses in the basic and clinical sciences. In 1947, a Master of Science Degree program was implemented as the first graduate degree; a Ph.D. program was established in 1972 and an M.D./Ph.D. program in 1982.


Since 1970, our school has awarded more than 15 percent of the biomedical science Ph.D.s earned by African American scientists in the U.S. and is currently ranked 3rd nationally by Diverse Issues in Higher Education for the number of African American biomedical science Ph.D.s the School produces.

The Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) Program at Meharry was established in 1974 and graduated its first class of one student in 1978.


To date, our program has graduated approximately 300 professionals who occupy positions of leadership in many academic, public and private sectors of the country. The M.S.P.H. program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. (CEPH).

Our History

Learn a little more about our history.

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Find out what you can do to enroll as a Graduate student at Meharry!

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Learn about what kind of research is conducted by the School of Graduate Studies.

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View the School of Graduate Studies faculty by department.

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Academic Programs

The doctoral program leads to the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is divided into core, major emphasis, and dissertation phases.


The core phase occupies the first year of study in which all students enroll in courses covering fundamental aspects of biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, communication skills, biostatistics, and bioethics that are critical to success as a professional scientist. Students also rotate in a minimum of three research laboratories.


After completing the core phase, students identify an advisor for the major emphasis phase. Students may study with graduate faculty in a variety of basic and clinical science departments.


During the major emphasis phase students take courses and begin research in the advisor’s laboratory. The major emphasis phase ends when the student passes comprehensive examinations, thereby designating a student a candidate for the Ph.D. program. Most students require at least two years to complete the major emphasis phase.


During the dissertation phase, the successful Ph.D. candidate completes the research begun during the major emphasis phase under the direction of the advisor and dissertation committee. The candidate writes a doctoral dissertation describing the research in detail and defends it in a public seminar. To be granted the doctoral degree, the student must either publish or have accepted for publication a manuscript as first author in a peer-review journal, as well as present a public seminar on his/her dissertation research.

The M.D./Ph.D. program is offered jointly by the School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The program trains leaders in academic medicine by providing education in medicine and immersion in a research program of excellence.


Students considered for admission to the combined degree program must meet the admission requirements of both the medical and graduate schools, including outstanding performance on the Medical College Admissions Test, an excellent grade point average, letters of recommendation, a personal interview, and a research interest statement. Students enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program matriculate in the School of Medicine for the first two years of their training.


After successful performance on the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Part I, students begin their research training inclusive of graduate level courses. Once the Ph.D. requirements are successfully completed, which includes publishing a manuscript and successfully defending a dissertation, students re-enter their medical studies and complete the medical school curriculum.


Contact Dean Maria de Fatima Lima at for additional information.

The DDS/PhD program is offered jointly by the School of Dentistry and the SOGSR. This program trains clinical and research professionals seeking to identify and solve significant problems in oral health. Successful completion of the program leads to the DDS and PhD degrees.


Students considered for admission to the combined degree program must meet the admission requirements of both the dental and graduate schools. Students enrolled in the DDS/PhD program matriculate in the SOGSR for the first two years of their training.  After successful completion of graduate level courses and research training, the students enter the dental program.

The Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) is offered by the Division of Public Health Practice in the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The program is committed to training students who seek optimal health for individuals within the context of their communities.


Students in the M.S.P.H. program receive a foundation in the basics of public health and participate in externships, which have included the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Department of Veterans Affairs, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Harvard University, Tennessee Hospital Association, and the American Cancer Society. These externships lead to excellent opportunities for future employment as health professionals in the public, private, and voluntary health agency sectors at the local, state, federal, and international levels.

Clinical investigation is critically important for personal health, community health, disease prevention, healthcare delivery, and health policy. Although the rapid growth in basic science discovery has generated knowledge and technology that hold the potential to improve health care, the effective translation of these discoveries into better practice requires a robust clinical research enterprise.


The M.S.C.I. program teaches young doctors how to conduct well designed research to improve the care of patients with many types of illnesses, creating a necessary and balanced cycle of information and technology exchange between the laboratory and clinical scientists.


The Master of Science in Clinical Investigation program at Meharry Medical College is a two-year curriculum designed to prepare clinical faculty and fellows for careers in clinical research. The curriculum has two concentrations: Patient-Oriented Research (Track 1) and Epidemiology/Health Service Research (Track 2). Instruction includes core courses, electives, and experimental design sessions for research that spans the spectrum of translational science, ranging from molecular medicine to epidemiology to qualitative research. Each trainee, during the first year, develops a research project and establishes a mentoring committee, which reviews the project and assists the trainee with design and implementation. The trainee then conducts the research trial and analyzes the data to present a seminar and prepare a research paper.


The didactic phase has now been extended to include a mentoring component until the graduate is a successfully funded, independent clinical investigator. Program candidates must be doctoral candidates or have their doctoral degrees and must have sufficient time to commit to the course of studies. Relevant doctoral degrees are M.D., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.O., N.D., Ph.D., or Pharm.D. Trainees commit substantial time to the program but can still continue their routine clinical work, although on a reduced level.

Some of the projects currently undertaken by M.S.C.I. scholars are:

  • Numeracy disparities in diabetes: Hispanics and children
  • Evaluation of Raman spectroscopy to facilitate screening of women for cervical cancer
  • Acculturation of dietary changes in gestational diabetes
  • HPV serotypes in Africa and Nashville subjects with HIV
  • Disparities in pneumococcal antibody response to vaccine
  • Evaluating racial and age disparities in rehabilitation medicine
  • Prevalence/associations of urinary incontinence in underserved populations
  • Mortality and readmission rate of diastolic heart failure in African Americans
  • Motivational interviews to improve diabetes care in rural minorities
  • Disparities in mammography screening
  • Race-specific factors in occupational exposure in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Smoking cessation prognosticators in VA outpatient population
  • Asthma disparities in underserved populations: perception of symptoms
  • Disparities in motivation for obesity education
  • Oral pathology impact on systemic health

The M.S.C.I. Program is a multidisciplinary curriculum designed to provide: (1) a broad set of understandings and capabilities that enable collaboration across a wide range of disciplines and (2) a disciplinary depth to the scholar’s chosen area of concentration. The curriculum emphasizes health care disparities affecting minority and underserved populations to resonate with the mission of the College. The first year is intensive for this instruction; additional instruction is also offered during the second year. The core curriculum consists of 25 hours of the 36 required for completion of the M.S.C.I. degree.

The Health Policy Certificate Program at Meharry Medical College offers students, within various disciplines, the opportunity to expand their knowledge of health policy as it relates to health care planning, health care resource allocation, health maintenance, health promotion, health programs and interventions, and strategies specific to minority and underserved communities.


Students learn from faculty in multiple specialties from both Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University. The program’s curriculum spans one and one half years of training and includes a supplemental paid externship at a national organization.


Learn more about the Health Policy Scholars, as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at Meharry.

The Meharry Medical College Physician Assistant Sciences Program is committed to recruiting, educating, and graduating PA’s that provide compassionate, high quality, medical care as an integral part of the healthcare team. True to the heritage of Meharry, emphasis will be placed on providing PA educational opportunities to people of color, the disadvantaged, and others regardless of race or ethnicity who are committed to increasing health care access and improving the health and well-being of minority and underserved communities.

What is the Meharry Cancer SURP?

The Meharry Cancer Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is a 10-week intensive, hands-on research experience for undergraduate students. The overall goals of the program are to expose students to different types of cancer research (clinical, biomedical, and community-based) and increase their awareness of cancer health disparities. Program participants will work under the mentorship of a Meharry Medical College and/or Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty on a research project that explores the causes, diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment of cancer.

Contact the School of Graduate Studies & Research

Office of the Dean
Graduate Studies & Research
1005 Dr. D. B. Todd, Jr. Blvd.
Nashville, Tennessee 37208

Phone: 615.327.6533

News & Events

group photo
group photo
group photo
MSPH pins

To see more photos from the White Coat Ceremony, click here.

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, delivered a call-to-action to Meharry students during Inauguration Week.


Nearly 50 public health students, residents and faculty heard McCarthy’s call for all of us to take charge of our communities.  As for the Nashville and Tennessee communities, McCarthy said, “The growth around Tennessee, particularly in Nashville, highlights the importance of making sure that public health and the environment are at the core of all development and growth initiatives.”


Holly Fletcher of The Tennessean reported:

People tend to think about utilities and manufacturers as big polluters but many “don’t realize the car they’re driving is a source of pollution,” [McCarthy] said…“Public transit is key to creating sustainable cities where people can go outside without worrying about the impact of smog and soot.”


McCarthy initially came to share employment and extern opportunities with students. During her speech, however, students were given purpose in the public health realm.  Students should take their education seriously, she said, as environmental health is public health. “You are the next wonder of the world,” McCarthy said. “We need to use every tool in our toolbox to bring underprivileged communities up. I am protecting my kids, and I’m protecting yours.”


McCarthy was greeted by Meharry’s president, Dr. James E. K. Hildreth and Dr. Maria de Fatima Lima, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. After the session, McCarthy answered questions from students and faculty—many of which were about recent water contamination issues in Flint, Michigan.

EPA visits Meharry photo
EPA visits Meharry photo
EPA visits Meharry photo