Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What are Scholarly Concentrations and how do I learn more about each?

Scholarly Concentrations are complementary curricula offered to GW SMHS students that draw on the unique expertise of GW’s faculty and our location in the Nation’s Capital.  Through monthly seminars, summer internships, scholarly projects, and a range of available elective coursework, students can take a deep-dive into areas from Health Policy and Public Health to Disaster Response to Translational Research and more.  Learn more about the expectations and deliverables. In addition to important information listed on the website, OSPE also encourages you to check out the Scholarly Concentration Program Blackboard site.

How do I apply to be in a Scholarly Concentration? Are they required?

If you are interested in applying, review process. While a majority of the current class of 2025 is participating, participation is not required.

What do I need to include in the Scholarly Concentration Application? When is it due?
Students typically have until late October to submit an application for an individual SC area. There are three components to the application: Demographic questions, SC related questions, and your CV/Resume.
I’m interested in a few Scholarly Concentrations, but how do I choose? Can I apply to more than one?
Students should only apply to one Scholarly Concentration. To aid in your decision making, OSPE encourages your attendance at SC Information Sessions, which happen within the first few weeks of your first year. At these sessions, students will meet the SC Directors, OSPE leadership, and current SC students, and will hear about SC objectives and lecture topics
Are there any caps on total student enrollment into an SC?
Currently, a few SCs have enrollment caps: 50 per class year for Clinical Translational Research, 25 per class year for Disaster Medicine, and 25 per class year for Global Health. If the cap is exceeded in one or more areas, the SC Director/s determine admittance based on the strength of the application materials.  If a student is unable to enroll in the Concentration area that they originally selected, they are encouraged to apply to another Concentration area.
What is a Scholarly Concentration Leader? What do they do, and how do I express interest in being one?
The student leader serves as a liaison between OSPE and the students within that respective concentration, and as a point person for SC Directors. If you have questions about your SC, the 8-week summer requirement, or just want peer support, feel free to reach out to your Student Leader. If you’re interested in expanding your leadership experience by becoming an SC Student Leader, please email and we will send you information on next steps.
I’m feeling overwhelmed. Will dropping my SC have negative consequences?
If you determine that your involvement in a Scholarly Concentration is no longer best, then OSPE is here to support you. Students are able to withdraw from their SC without penalty, no questions asked, at any point during medical school. Withdrawal from an SC will not have negative consequences on your Dean’s Letter or academic record.
I’ve decided I need to withdraw from my SC.  What is the process for withdrawal?
To withdraw from your SC for any reason, and at any point, please complete this SC Withdrawal Form. After completing this form, someone from the OSPE team may contact you to finalize your withdrawal and to learn from you how we can improve the program for future students. 
I need an extension on an SC deliverable. What steps should I take? 
Getting in touch with your SC Director is often the best, first step when requesting an extension on an SC deliverable. If an extension is approved, please forward that correspondence to, and we’ll document it in our records.
I’m experiencing medical student burnout. Can OSPE help?
Self-care is important to us. Feel free to email to set up a time to meet. We’d love to be a listening ear and provide some friendly advice. Additionally, check out the Mental Health Support Resources provided through the Office of Student Support.
I’d like to have my SC notated on my diploma, what’s the process to do so?
During the spring of your MS4 year, the Registrar’s office will send an email requesting that you complete the “Graduation Application”, on which you can opt-in to have your Scholarly Concentration recognition included on your Diploma. 
If I’m going on a Leave of Absence (LOA), how is my Scholarly Concentration involvement impacted?
Communication is crucial when considering taking a Leave of Absence (LOA). You’ll need to notify your SC Director and OSPE about your planned LOA and complete this LOA Form before you go.  Before you return from your LOA, notify your SC Director of your planned return date, and complete the Return from LOA form.
What is the Opportunities Database and how do I use it?
The Opportunities Database provides SMHS students with information on hundreds of regional, national and international internships, apprenticeships and research fellowships offered in various specialities and disciplines by nationally recognized organizations. The database includes long-term training programs such as research fellowships, shorter term programs for elective and summer study, international opportunities, conference schedules and awards programs. 

All SMHS students, staff and faculty have complete access to the Opportunities Database. Simply go to this site and use your NetID and password.
My research has been accepted into a regional or national conference. Does the OSPE provide scholarships?
At this point in time, OSPE does not offer scholarships for regional and national conferences. Oftentimes,  the conference itself will offer travel awards for student submission, and we would recommend looking at that first. In the future, please also check the Opportunities Database and search for "fellowship/scholarship/grants" under "Search by Opportunities." 

SC Lectures

What is the SC lecture requirement and how do I check my attendance?

Scholarly Concentration students must attend lectures during their MS1 year, and through the fall of your MS2 year. In general, students can miss one lecture per academic year.  Please contact your SC Director for specific information on your SC’s lecture requirement.

To check your attendance on Blackboard, follow these steps: Go to the “Scholarly Concentration Program” Blackboard site, and click on “tools'' then “my grades.” Once there, locate “MS1 lecture attendance” and “MS2 lecture attendance.” To determine your percent attendance, divide the total number of required* lectures by the number of lectures that you attended (as recorded by OSPE). If your percentage is under 100%, you’ll want to attend make-up lectures approved by your SC Director. 

*SC Directors determine the total number of required SC lectures, accounting for permitted absences.

My Blackboard attendance isn’t correct. What steps should I take?

Updating your attendance on Blackboard is a manual process done by the OSPE office, and it may not update in real time. Please allow two weeks for OSPE to update Blackboard after each lecture. If, after two weeks, your attendance appears inaccurate, please contact

How do I “make up” for missed SC lectures?
Students can substitute missed lectures with “make-up” activities with prior SC Director approval. Please forward SC Director approval email to to receive attendance credit. 

Summer Projects

Summer Projects

How do I approach the summer project?
If you are not sure where to start looking for a summer project, we suggest you start by  getting specific about your own interests. What are you passionate about? It could be a disease,  a population, a particular health issue. Expand from there and identify clinicians, populations, or organizations in that space. Research those topics, and reach out directly to people and organizations about your interest in working with them (the “cold call” approach).  Explore several  opportunities. Ask potential mentors: “who  else would you suggest I talk to that’s also working in this space?” 
Where can I find opportunities for a summer project?
  • View archived past summer projects and fourth year scholarly projects on Blackboard. Talk with MS2s, MS3s, and MS4s about their past projects, and what they liked about them.  Contact OSPE and your SC Director to discuss summer project ideas.
  • Review this GW faculty project list, and reach out to faculty if a project interests you.
  • Review the OSPE “Opportunities Database”.  You can search by type of opportunity (e.g. summer internship, year-long research fellowship) or Scholarly Concentration relevance. Use your net ID login and password.
  • Review the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) list of paid summer public health/research projects (you can apply on their website).
  • You are in the District of Columbia and have access to the nation’s premier health and research organizations in various department of the Federal government (NIH, FDA, CDC, Departments of Veterans Affairs, State, and Defense and the US Congress) as well as the national headquarters of nearly every health professional and advocacy organization and think tanks. Consider reaching out to any of these organizations that do work in your interest area and see if they have any programs/research opportunities that they would be interested in having a motivated medical student join.
Does my summer project need to be related to my Scholarly Concentration in order to receive the Health Services Scholarship (HSS)?
While we strive to fund as many projects as possible, first priority will be given to students enrolled in a Scholarly Concentration AND submit a project that is directly related to their concentration area. To ensure your summer project meets this requirement, please speak with your Scholarly Concentration Director.
How long does my project need to be?
Your summer experience must be a minimum of 8 weeks.  Lastly, many students will combine more than 1 summer opportunity  to cover a longer period over the summer. There are always ways to extend opportunities even  if internships or experiences only last from 2-6 weeks. Consider adding a literature review,  asset mapping, community site visits, interviews, etc. SC Directors are great resources if you’d like to explore this further. 
I haven’t heard back from a potential mentor or organization I emailed;  what should I do?
Don’t worry - this happens often! We suggest waiting for at least 14 days before sending  another follow-up email. Because of this, we highly suggest starting to look for projects and  mentors sooner rather than later! Physicians and community organizations are busy,  and we always want to be respectful of their time and email boxes. One of the quickest ways to  not get a response is by overloading them with emails and being inpatient. Consider calling  the organization to speak with someone, but after 2-3 contacts with no response, it is probably  a good sign that this may be a difficult relationship to establish for a project.
Can I do more than one activity over the summer?
Yes and no. We don’t encourage students to take on more than one major project over the  summer. However, many students integrate other opportunities, such as  shadowing, site visits, or literature reviews into their main project. Please aim for a project you  are passionate and interested in and focus on creating strong deliverables.
Does my project have to be in the DC area? Does my project have to be in the US?
Absolutely not! Your summer experience can be completed anywhere you would like. Your  priority should be finding a project you are passionate and excited about, regardless of where it is.
Do I need a deliverable?
The only deliverable you need to complete is a reflection paper at the end of your  summer project (due in September when you return). If you receive extra funding or a  scholarship, there may be requirements to fulfill that which are separate from your  reflection paper. Many students join publications, write abstracts, or create posters based on  their project but this is entirely up to you and not required for scholarly concentrations.