Office of the Dean

O’Dowd Hall, Room 428
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3634

Office Hours:
Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Elective Requirements


Elective Requirements


Authorizing Body:

Curriculum Committee


Robert Noiva, Ph.D., Lynda Misra, D.O.

Date Issued:

August 1, 2011

Last Update:

January 23, 2014


Students must take and pass a total of four (4) one-month electives.

Scope and Applicability:

All students enrolled in the School of Medicine

Standard Practice Guideline:


Electives must be taken in one-month blocks with the same preceptor. A request to change an elective must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the elective start date using the “Request to Change a Scheduled Clerkship” form which is available from the OUWB Director of Records and Registration and on the web.

Students may take two (2) two (2)-week electives in lieu of a four-week elective.

Please note that a request to establish an Independent Study Elective during the M3 year is looked at more closely, since at that phase of a student’s training it is less likely to be educationally beneficial. Thus, while OUWB-based Independent Study electives may be allowed during M3 year, established electives are preferred.

OUWB policy allows a student to receive credit for up to two electives in the same subspecialty. Additional electives in the same subspecialty may generally be taken if time is available in the student’s schedule, but will not count toward meeting graduation requirements.

Prior written approval is required to receive credit for all elective experiences.

Please note that paid clerkships or externships are not acceptable as official electives for credit towards graduation. If you get paid for an elective, you cannot also receive course credit for that elective. Students may however, receive a stipend for travel or living expenses and still receive credit as long as the stipend does not exceed: 

  • In the event of domestic travel the GSA Per Diem rate (
  • In the event of foreign travel the U.S. Department of State Per Diem rate
Types of M4 Electives:
Clinical Electives

A clinical elective is an educational experience that involves patient contact or diagnostic procedures used for patient care.

Research Electives

Research electives are educational experiences involving at least 40 hours of scholarly work per week. A student must submit a detailed project proposal research elective application including a detailed description of the project proposal and identifying the research mentor for approval by the Associate Dean for Medical Education or designee at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the elective.  Students are limited to a maximum of one month earned credit for a research elective.

Research electives should be taken within the OUWB School of Medicine, except when a compelling reason is present, such as the type of research not being available in system or a pre-existing project requires the student’s participation for completion.  In those instances, the Associate Dean for Medical Education or designee may approve an Away Research elective.  Away Research Electives may have additional or more stringent requirements. Please see Section III of the Medical Student Handbook for further information on the Away Elective Approval Process.

Independent Study Electives

Independent study electives are any elective taken during M3 or M4 year that does not have a previously defined and published syllabus, which describes the objectives, work hours and environment, resources, and evaluation methods of the course. In essence, the course is established by and for the particular student. This definition applies to proposed electives at OUWB as well as electives at other institutions (away independent study electives).

M3 Independent Study Electives can only be done at the OUWB School of Medicine. M4 Independent Study Electives can be done outside the OUWB School of Medicine. 

In addition to the standard information required to approve an elective (Please see Section III of the Medical Student Handbook), several additional criteria are used in considering approval of the Independent Study request, including but not limited to:

  • Student’s academic record
  • Presence of a compelling reason to establish such an elective (for example the absence of an identical elective course at the School of Medicine).

The student and the faculty mentor with whom the student plans to work must jointly develop the Independent Study proposal.  The proposal must then be approved by:

  • The faculty mentor’s chairperson or designee if the faculty mentor is a member of the OUWB Faculty.
  • The corresponding OUWB Department Chairperson or designee if the faculty mentor is not a member of the OUWB faculty.

Students will not be allowed to complete more than one independent study, except in extraordinary circumstances.

Directed Independent Study in Medicine (DISM)

Directed Independent Study is an elective course designed to address an individual student’s deficiencies in specific content areas that have been identified as a result of performance in courses or clerkships. OUWB faculty members design the curriculum. DISM does not provide credit towards graduation requirements. If the student chooses to undertake the DISM outside of OUWB, any costs that result, are the responsibility of the student.

Away electives

Away electives must be completed at LCME or ACGME accredited institutions or OUWB affiliated institutions.

Adding or Dropping Electives
  1. All requests to change electives must be initiated through the OUWB Director of Records and Registration. Add/Drop Change forms are available on the OUWB website.
  2. All requests to change electives, including supporting documentation, must be submitted at least 30 days before the start of the elective. This will allow completion of the change request by the OUWB Director of Records and Registration or Designee before the start of the elective. Electives cannot be dropped once they have begun.
  3. A change to an elective suggested by a student’s advisor or another faculty member does not automatically receive approval without review by the Associate Dean for Medical Education or designee via the procedures detailed above. Any change made by a student that does not have prior approval from the Associate Dean for Medical Education or Designee may not be recognized by the School of Medicine, resulting in denial of credit towards graduation for that elective.
The Associate Dean for Medical Education or designee’s decisions are final.


Related Policies and Forms:

M3-M4 Graduation Requirements
Modified M4 Schedule for Students with Academic Difficulties
OUWB Religious Observance Guidelines