Patient Oriented Research

Despite the advances of the last two decades in molecular and cell biology, there is a clear consensus that clinical investigation—and the clinical investigator—must remain the cornerstones of patient oriented research. In response to calls from the National Institutes of Health for improved training of clinical researchers in academic medicine, Columbia launched the MS in Patient-Oriented Research (POR) program in 1999, a formal, joint endeavor between the schools of public health, medicine, nursing, dentistry, and the arts and sciences.

POR delivers rigorous, broadly based didactic training that prepares young researchers for independent careers as clinical scientists. Candidates in the program earn a Master's of Science in Patient Oriented Research.

POR provides training in the fundamentals of clinical investigation with a view to enabling young investigators to compete more effectively for research funding. The two-year, 30-credit Master’s degree program is comprised of a multidisciplinary series of courses and colloquia, some of which were developed exclusively for the POR program. The curriculum emphasizes strong quantitative training as well as critical thinking skills and practical strategies for addressing the complex challenges of clinical research. Graduates receive an MS in Patient-Oriented Research.

Admissions Information

The POR program is open to applicants with the following doctoral degrees: MD, DDS, DMD, DO, DC, ND, or DNSc. PhDs who want to become involved in clinical research may also be eligible. We encourage candidates from a wide range of patient-oriented research fields and specialty areas to apply, although all candidates must be engaged in either direct care of or research with patients.

Applications are due by April 15th* to begin studies the following July. Admissions and scholarship award decisions are made in the first week of May. In addition to the School-wide application components, POR candidates also require:

  • copies of certificates documenting the applicant's clinical training

  • a signed statement of commitment from the applicant

  • a statement of support from applicant's program director confirming that if accepted to the program, the candidate will continue to receive salary support during the program's two-year duration and will be permitted to attend the CSRI program (see time commitment details on POR website).


A limited number of full-tuition scholarships, generously provided by the CUMC Clinical Trials Office and the Mailman School of Public Health, are available to highly qualified candidates.* Awarding of these scholarships is determined by the POR Advisory Board during the admissions review process. At the first step, the Board ranks applicants who have demonstrated:

  • promise in clinical research

  • superior academic transcripts

  • prior involvement in clinical research projects

  • strong letters of reference

  • a record of publication

Next, an academic subcommittee assesses the candidates' perceived strengths and weaknesses and forwards this information, along with the application and their recommendations, to the full POR Advisory Board for final approval. Four to six applicants ranking highest among all admitted candidates in a given year are offered POR Scholarships for two years of study, covering up to 30 credits of coursework and research.

*To be considered for a POR Scholarship, applications must be received by March 1.

Learn More

View competencies, course requirements, sample schedules and more in our Academics section.