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Frequently Asked Questions

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What does it mean to have an MD/PhD?

MD/PhD programs provide training in both medicine and research for students who want to become a physician-scientist. MD/PhD graduates often go on to become faculty members at medical schools, universities and research institutes such as the NIH. MD/PhD trainees are prepared for careers in which they will spend most of their time doing research, not just taking care of patients. It is a challenging career that offers opportunities to benefit many people by advancing knowledge or health and illness, developing new diagnostics and treatments for diseases, and inventing new technologies for clinical application. 

What is the difference between MD/PhD and MSTP?

Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) indicates that an MD/PhD program has been awarded a training grant (T32) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences that financially supports trainees in the program. There are currently about 46 MSTPs.  Non-MSTP MD/PhD programs also provide environments where students receive outstanding dual-degree training.      

What is MSTP funding?

MSTP funding comes from the National Institute of General Medical Science T32 training grant.  This grant is used to financially support trainees in MSTPs.

How do I know if my school accepts MSTP funding?

A list of schools that have MSTPs can be found here.

How do I know if I qualify for MSTP funding?

The only requirement to qualify for MSTP funding is that trainees must be citizens or noncitizen nationals of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess an alien registration receipt card I-151 or I-551).  Your individual medical school’s MSTP determines any other requirements. 

Are there opportunities for international students?

There are MD/PhD opportunities available around the country for international students, but at this time, the NIH MD/PhD Partnership Training Program funding is only available if you are a US citizen or permanent resident and admitted to a U.S. medical school or MSTP.



What’s the benefit of getting my PhD with the NIH?

The National Institutes of Health is the largest biomedical research facility in the world. Scholars who are accepted to one of the graduate programs at the NIH are able to take advantage of its amazing facilities and technologies. The NIH is comprised of 27 different Institutes and Centers, each with its own specific research agenda; this promotes an engaging and diverse research environment with lots of room for interdisciplinary collaboration. To learn about the NIH and its many resources, please visit or contact the administration with any specific questions.

Do I select which track I am on?

No. Your track is based on your current educational status. Please visit the “How to Apply” page to determine your track.

Do I have to do my PhD with the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program?

It is not a requirement of the NIH MD/PhD Partnership Training that you participate in the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program; however, Track 1 candidates are automatically granted a place in the OxCam Program when they are awarded a slot in the MD/PhD Partnership Training Program. The OxCam Program is also the only program within the NIH GPP that has a deferral process in place to enable students to complete the first years of medical school. Visit our page on the GPP to learn more about other Institutional or Individual Partnerships.

What’s an Individual Partnership?

An Individual Partnership is a partnership with a program or university that does not already have an existing agreement with the NIH through the GPP. These partnerships are arranged through the GPP and are based on the specific needs of an individual student. For more information, contact the GPP.

Will I be getting clinical experience during my PhD?

There is no formal requirement that you get clinical experience during the PhD phase of your training. However, you may get involved with Clinical Grand Rounds and other didactic sessions, bedside teaching rounds and other clinical training opportunities, and clinical research protocol activities at the NIH and partnering institutions.

How much time will I spend away from medical school?

The time it takes to complete the PhD portion of your training depends on the graduate program in which you participate. NIH OxCam Scholars are expected to complete their PhD in about four years.

How much time will I spend at the NIH?

Approximately half of your PhD thesis research must be completed at the NIH. NIH OxCam Scholars will spend approximately two years at the NIH and two years at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.

When do I select my PhD mentor?

You select you mentor after you are officially admitted to the program. If you are a Track 1 student, you will select a mentor at the NIH before beginning medical school; Track 2 students select their mentors during the time frame determined by their graduate program.

Are there GPA/MCAT cut-offs?

The NIH MD/PhD Partnership Training Program is highly competitive, but there are no hard and fast cut-offs for grades or test scores; however, acceptance into the NIH MD/PhD Partnership Training Program and receipt of extramural MSTP funding is pending acceptance to a qualifying MSTP program at a participating medical school.  This means that applicants to the NIH MD/PhD Partnership Training Program must meet the minimum acceptance requirements of the programs to which they are applying.

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