Directed Study Pathway

The Directed Study Pathway (DSP) is a unique program for medical education that follows the same curriculum timeline as the Lecture/Discussion Pathway, but utilizes a different curriculum delivery model that is mostly independent of faculty lectures. DSP students are given modules that contain highly organized and specific learning objectives that are used in conjunction with the assigned text in order to drive the majority of the learning. The pathway requires the student to have well-developed organizational and time-management skills in order to complete the rigorous requirements in an independent manner.

How Does DSP Work?

The DSP requires independent motivated students that can pace themselves through the coursework. After attending lectures in anatomical sciences in the first semester, students transition to learning in an independent but closely directed manner. Direction is provided by highly structured learning objectives compiled by the faculty and incorporated into self-directed learning modules. With the absence of lectures, textbooks and other appropriate resources serve as the basis for learning. It must be stressed that DSP is not a “correspondence course” of study and requires significant on-campus presence throughout the two years. All modules require attendance, multiple times per week, course meetings include Q/A sessions, case-based learning, laboratory sessions, and small group discussions. After transitioning to the independent directed learning modules, students are typically on-campus from three to five days each week throughout the remainder of their two years in the curriculum. As such, all DSP students are required to live within 30 miles of Erie. While students utilize their time as they see appropriate, the pathway is closely directed by the faculty. Students meet with the faculty on a weekly basis.

Some courses require attendance in a lecture format, such as Basic Neuroanatomy, History and Physical Examination, and Osteopathic Principles and Practice.


All examinations include multiple-choice questions that are generated by the faculty and based upon learning objectives in the modules. These questions help prepare students for their national licensure examinations. The DSP students have a regularly scheduled date and time for each module examination.

Is DSP the choice for you?

DSP is ideal for students who:

  • Are self-motivated learners with good organizational and time-management skills;
  • Learn best through reading and small-group interactions;
  • Are dedicated, above all else, to the rigor of academic activities; and
  • Have a strong science education background.