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Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Seal of USU
Motto Learning to Care For Those In Harm's Way
Established 1972
Type Federal medical school
President Charles L. Rice, MD
Faculty Under 100 on campus
More than 3,500 adjunct
Undergraduates None
Postgraduates 750-850
Location Bethesda, Maryland,  United States
39°00′02″N 77°03′04″W / 39.0006°N 77.0510°W / 39.0006; -77.0510Coordinates: 39°00′02″N 77°03′04″W / 39.0006°N 77.0510°W / 39.0006; -77.0510
Campus Suburban
Colors Purple, gold and white
Mascot None
Affiliations Uniformed services of the United States

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) is a health science university run by the U.S. federal government. The primary mission of the school is to prepare graduates for service to the U.S. at home and abroad in the medical corps.

The university consists of the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, a medical school, and the Graduate School of Nursing, a nursing school. The university's campus is located in Bethesda, Maryland. USU was established in 1972 under legislation sponsored by U.S. Representative Felix Edward Hébert of Louisiana. It graduated its first class in 1980.

Formerly known by the acronym USUHS, it has officially adopted the abbreviated acronym USU. The university currently has two mottos, "Learning to Care For Those In Harm's Way" and "Providing Good Medicine In Bad Places."



The university is a federal service postgraduate academy. It is similar to the military federal service academies for undergraduates, such as the United States Military Academy (West Point) in that students are members of the uniformed services of the United States and are provided a free education by the federal government in exchange for a service commitment after graduation.

Unlike the undergraduate service academies whose students hold cadet rank, equivalent in pay to sergeants, medical students enter the university as commissioned officers via direct commissions in the grade of O-1 in one of four uniformed services: United States Army, United States Navy, United States Air Force, and United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. No prior service is required for admission to USU. Entering students who already hold commissions at higher rank are required to accept administrative demotion to O-1; officers of the United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps must resign their existing commissions and accept commissions in as O-1s in one of the four authorized services. Students pay no tuition or fees and receive the full salary and benefits of a uniformed officer in the pay grade of O-1 throughout their four years at the university. In return, students have a seven-year active duty service and a six-year inactive ready reserve commitment following their internship and residency after graduation.

Students in the graduate programs are a mix of both civilians and uniformed officers of various ranks. They also pay no tuition or fees. Civilian students may receive stipends and uniformed graduate students continue to receive their active duty pay and benefits while attending school at USU. The Graduate School of Nursing students are all active duty uniformed nurses or nurses in federal civilian service. Neither pay tuition or fees at USU and both uniformed graduate students and nursing students maintain their rank and continue to receive their regular salaries while students at the university. USU is one of many federal service graduate and graduate-level professional schools; others include the Naval Postgraduate School which has several Master of Science and Ph.D. programs, the U.S. Army War College (master's degree), the Army's ABA-accredited Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School which awards Master of Laws degrees, the Air Force Institute of Technology, and the National Defense University (master's degrees).

USU School of Medicine

With an average enrollment of approximately 170 students per class, the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine is located in Bethesda, Maryland on the campus of the National Naval Medical Center and is located across Maryland Route 355 from the National Institutes of Health. The school is named in honor of former Representative Felix Edward Hébert.

Typically, the first year class is composed of 63 Army students, 51 Air Force students, 51 Navy students, and two Public Health Service students. The Class of 2010 increased the Public Health Service student number to six. Students attending this institution receive free tuition, as well as reimbursement for all fees. They also receive salaries and benefits as junior officers. Textbooks are issued to the students at the beginning of each semester.

USU School of Medicine students are all active-duty uniformed officers during their schooling and receive pay and benefits at the grade of O-1 (second lieutenant for the Army and Air Force and ensign for the Navy and Public Health Service) - unless the student was prior service at a higher rank then that student will wear the O-1 rank but be paid at their previous pay grade (this is a relatively recent change which will greatly benefit seasoned officers). Upon graduation, medical students are promoted to the grade of O-3 (captain for the Army and Air Force, lieutenant for the Navy and Public Health Service) and are expected to serve at least seven years on active duty and six years in the inactive ready reserve. Currently, students graduating from the USU School of Medicine receive four years' credit toward retirement, which is obtained after he or she reaches 20 years of service credit.

When the school was first formed, United States Congress weighed whether to make each student a cadet (like the military service academies) or to give students full active-duty promotion benefits. A compromise was reached whereby medical students were commissioned as O-1 grade officers, were not promoted while enrolled in the School of Medicine, and do not receive time in grade or time in service while enrolled in USU. However, this status puts USU Medical Students in a unique position; unlike the Graduate School of Nursing and other programs, USU School of Medicine students are barred from promotion. Additionally, prior-service commissioned officers must accept a demotion to O-1 in order to matriculate. Upon graduation, when these officers are promoted to O-3, half of the time spent in prior active duty service is then added to their time-in-service (TIS)/time-in-grade (TIG) and used toward promotion to O-4. However, as of FY 2008, prior service officers will be paid their former base pay attending USU School of Medicine.

The curriculum at the School of Medicine includes two years of basic sciences, integrated into several key courses. Additional courses include Parasitology, Combat Medical Skills, Military Medical History, Officer Professional Development, Military Applied Physiology, Epidemiology, and several other courses. The third and fourth years are spent performing clerkships at various military hospitals.

Approximately 80 percent of military physicians reaching 20 or more years of service are graduates of USU. A majority of medical corps leadership positions are occupied by graduates of USU. Graduates of USU make up a majority of Army Special Forces physicians.

USU is featured in the documentary Fighting for Life.

Affiliated military and civilian teaching hospitals are:


Combined MD/PhD Program

Students can indicate their intent to apply for the MD/PhD program on the USUHS secondary application and complete the graduate school application. Applicants not selected for the graduate school are still eligible for acceptance into the medical school. The combined MD/PHD program requires the same military commitment as the school of medicine. Three MD/PhD degrees are currently offered; neuroscience (NES), molecular and cell biology (MCB), and emerging infectious diseases (EID). Students remain civilian until graduate school requirements are completed. Degrees are not granted until completion of both graduate and medical requirements.Facts about the MD/PhD Program at USUHS

USU Graduate School of Nursing

The Graduate School of Nursing (GSN) is the nursing graduate school at USU. Students enrolled in the GSN program who were previously in the military maintain active duty rank and privileges, to include time in service, time in grade, and promotions. Graduate nursing students at USU generally have already completed undergraduate nursing degrees and come from within the ranks of the uniformed services.

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ (USU) Graduate School of Nursing Nurse Anesthesia program received a national ranking of sixth in 2007 according to the U.S. News and World Report. [1]

USU Graduate School

Schistosoma mansoni at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Tropical rattlesnake at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

The graduate programs in biomedical sciences and public health in the USU School of Medicine are open to civilian and military applicants. Civilian students may apply to most of these programs. The faculty is composed of a mix of military and civilian professors. There is no tuition, stipends are guaranteed for three years, and no military service is required after graduation for civilian students. There also is no undergraduate teaching.

The graduate program at USU currently has approximately 170 full-time graduate students.

USU currently offers the Ph.D. in emerging infectious diseases, medical and clinical psychology, molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, pathology, preventive medicine and biometrics, and zoology.

USU also offers the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). Master's degree programs are offered in comparative medicine, military medical history, public health and tropical medicine and hygiene.

There are military students in the graduate programs, most notably the public health and tropical medicine programs and clinical psychology program. Generally, military students were in the military before beginning their graduate training, but some commission as they enter their programs.

USU Affiliated Programs and Centers

  • Alpha Omega Alpha
  • Alumni Association
  • Center for Deployment Psychology
  • Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine
  • Center for Health Disparities
  • Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
  • Courage to Care Health Campaign
  • DoD Center for Education & Research in Patient Safety
  • Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine
  • Medpix
  • Military Cancer Institute
  • Military Medical Student Association
  • National Capital Simulation Center
  • Spaceline
  • Tropical Medicine Central Resource

Notable people

  • Dr. Jay P. Sanford, founding Dean of the medical school in 1975, resigned in 1990, original author of Sanford's Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy
  • Dr. Norman M. Rich, renowned vascular surgeon, founding chairman of the Department of Surgery at USUHS, initiated the Vietnam Vascular Registry in 1965, currently the Leonard Heaton and David Packard Professor of the Department of Surgery at USUHS
  • Dr. Nancy E. Gary, Executive Vice President and Dean of its F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, 1992-1995.
  • Major (Dr.) Nidal Malik Hasan, graduate and sole suspect in the Fort Hood shooting.

External links


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