Medical student curricula are packed with essential courses and content that all students must master, yet most students find time to pursue areas of personal interest. A goal of the recent curricular revision was to provide increased opportunities for such exploration and growth.

We believe, and students confirm, that pursuing studies beyond the required curriculum helps students understand the connection between their basic science coursework and medical practice, and provides exposure to topics and specialties that cannot readily be included in the core curriculum. A mini-elective structure was developed to provide well-structured, rigorous and high quality experiences in areas not typically available to students (especially students in the pre-clinical years). 

These courses are offered to any first- or second-year student who is able to commit to attending all course sessions, typically four to eight of them. A student must be in good academic standing to enroll. Most mini-electives are only offered during the Spring Term of each academic year. Updates to the course list as well as date changes typically occur in the late Fall. An email is sent to students in early December announcing Spring registration dates. 

Please note that some of the longitudinal mini-electives that begin in the fall have registration through the course director or student association coordinator. Other fall minis may have registrations through Denise Downs in late August or September. The registration information is outlined in all the course descriptions. As mini-elective offerings are announced and registration opens, students will be notified of the offerings and registration details via email. 

Students who have other assigned academic commitments at the course times must meet those commitments. Therefore, some students may not be able to enroll in some mini-electives.

Course space is limited, based on the maximum number of students designated by the course director.

Students who successfully complete a mini-elective course will receive a certificate of completion. It will not be shown on their official University transcript.

Additional questions about mini-elective courses should be directed to Denise Downs in the Office of Medical Education at 412-648-9829 or

Mini-Electives are being updated regularly with the 2020-2021 course descriptions.

Courses for First Year Students

Fall Courses

Spring Courses

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Bystander Emergency Response
  • Cardiac Surgery 101
  • Diversity in Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE): Health and Healthcare
  • Drawing for Seeing and Understanding: The Human Figure
  • Family Planning - Beyond the Basics
  • How Did We Get Here? Practical Lessons on the History of Medicine
  • How to Win at Research: A Guide to Presenting and Publishing More
  • How We Breathe: Applied Pulmonary Physiology
  • Intimate Partner Violence: Introductory IPV Education for Medical Students
  • Introduction to Dermatology
  • Introduction to Ophthalmology
  • Introduction to Regional Anesthesia: Learning Ultrasound Guided Nerve Blocks
  • Introduction to Vascular Surgery
  • Multi-Disciplinary Approach to the Diagnosis of Musculoskeletal Neoplasms (April)
  • Narrative Medicine
  • Neuroanatomy Applied - Stroke by Stroke
  • Orthopaedic Surgery Sports Medicine
  • Palliative Care Communication Skills
  • Personalized Medicine: The Impact of Molecular Testing on Patient Care
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) Basics
  • Practical Medical Conversations in Spanish
  • Refugee Health
  • Rehabilitation Concepts in Muscle, Joint, Brain and Nerve Physiology
  • Transitions: Primary Care's Role in Addiction Medicine

Courses for Second Year Students

Fall Courses

Spring Courses

Longitudinal Mini-Electives