Applying to Medical SchoolDual DegreesPre-Med Academics

15 Facts You Should Know About MD-PhD Programs

Ever wondered what MD-PhD programs are all about? Do you know what MSTPs are? Here are 15 facts you should know about MD-PhD programs:

1. There are over 100 MD-PhD programs affiliated with medical schools
2. 44 MD-PhD programs are partially supported by training grants from the National Institute of General Medical Science. These programs are known as Medical Scientist Training Programs or MSTPs. MSTPs are usually better funded than non-MSTPs.

||Read: Medical Schools with the Most MD/PhD spots||

3. Most MD-PhD programs offer financial support in the form of stipends and tuition waivers. Each program differs in how much each student is supported. See the differences on this AAMC table.
4. It is more difficult academically to be accepted to an MD-PhD program compared to a normal MD program. In 2014, the average MCAT, GPA, and science GPA of MD-PhD matriculants were 35, 3.8, and 3.8 respectively. The average MCAT, GPA, and science for traditional MD matriculants was 31.4, 3.69, and 3.63 respectively.
5. In order to apply, you need substantive research experience. The following counts as substantive research experience:
a. Multiple summer projects
b. Senior thesis research
c. One or more years pursuing research activities after an undergraduate degree
6. There are about 1700 applications nationally. 1/3 of those applicants are usually accepted (2/3 of the applicants that receive interviews are accepted)

||Read: Is MD/PhD Worth it?||

7. The curricula is usually broken down in the following way:
a. Preclinical (years 1 – 2)
i. Explore research opportunities
ii. Complete USMLE Step 1 after second year
b. Research (years 3 – 6)
i. Finish dissertation research
ii. Complete PhD degree
c. Clinical (years 5 – 7 or 6 – 8)
i. Clinical clerkships
ii. Additional research experiences
iii. Complete MD degree
8. The MD-PhD dual degree takes approximately 7-8 years to finish. Then you have to finish a 3-7 year residency program if you want to practice medicine.
9. Roughly ~65% of MD-PhDs spend more than 50% of their work time doing research. 39% of MD-PhDs spend 75% or more of their time doing research.
10. 68% of MD-PhD graduates go into academics and 16% go into private practice. The rest work in industry, research institutions or other various opportunities.
12. Approximately 40% of NIH grants to MDs are received by MD-PhDs
13. There are MD-PhD programs that allow you to get a PhD in the humanities or the social sciences.
14. If you drop out of an MD-PhD program, some schools require you to pay back the investment that the school made in you. Read each school’s policies or talk to the school’s admissions office before you decide to apply.
15. Having an MD-PhD does not guarantee that you’ll get into a “better” residency.

Considering MD-PhD programs are significantly more difficult to matriculate into, you need to make sure your medical school application is the best it can be. MedSchoolCoach offers application support, you’ll be matched with a renowned physician and writing advisor to ensure you have the best application possible.

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Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to, please contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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