Answering the Call

A pressing need for medical scholars who are well trained in research continues. Opportunities for physician-scientists to teach and conduct research exist not only in medical schools but also in foundations, government and private industry.

What is the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)?

The MSTP is a dual MD-PhD degree program that makes it possible for a small number of outstanding students to earn their doctor of medicine and doctor of philosophy degrees concurrently, typically in 8 years. The MSTP is designed primarily for students who are interested in a future career in academic medicine with a focus in research related to medicine. The Michigan MSTP is offered cooperatively by the Medical School and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

In which fields may the PhD be earned?

In the MSTP, the PhD may be earned in any field that is relevant to medicine. At Michigan, MSTP fellows have the option of choosing to pursue their graduate studies in core biomedical fields or from a variety of non-traditional programs.

How does a student select a doctoral field?

While some MSTP fellows enter the program with a firm idea of their research interests, others may have only a general idea of a field of specialization. A list of potential mentors for the core fields and their research areas is available. Fellows are assigned a personalized Research Rotation Advisory Committee that provides guidance and advice regarding the selection of research mentors and PhD departments. Fellows do a least two lab rotations before selecting their thesis mentor.

Do MSTP fellows follow a curriculum different from that of the students in the standard Medical School program?

The medical curriculum for an MSTP fellow is the same as that of a standard program student, except that the fourth year of medical school can be shortened if the fellow so desires to ~5 months of clerkships. The PhD is undertaken after the first 1.5 years of medical school. Read more about the MSTP curriculum.

Do you have to apply to the MSTP before entering Medical School?

Students may apply to the MSTP at the time they apply to the Medical School or during the first two years of medical education at U-M. Students who have begun PhD studies at UM may also apply during the first two years of the doctoral program.

Is it difficult to get into the MSTP?

Admission to our MSTP is highly competitive, and typically only 10 – 12 fellows matriculate each year. Particular attention is given to the quality of an applicant's scientific preparation and research experience. Applicants also must be acceptable to the Medical School.

How should a student decide whether he or she should apply for the MSTP?

There are many factors that go into the decision. Most MSTP fellows possess the following:

  • Excitement or curiosity about an area of the biomedical sciences which has led the applicant to pursue research
  • Commitment to a career in which the primary focus is medical research but includes clinical practice. Often the research is basic and mechanistic in nature
  • Understanding that a dual degree program requires considerable training, hard work, and fortitude, and represents only a beginning
  • Record of high academic motivation and achievement
  • Sensitivity to human needs and a desire to be of service
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency—state of residency is not a factor in the admissions process

How do I apply to the MSTP?

Applications should be made through the American Medical College Admission Service (AMCAS). Applications to the MSTP are accepted between June 1 and October 15 of the year prior to the one in which the student is seeking admission. 

Read more about Medical School admissions.

Medical Scientist Training Program

University of Michigan Medical School
2965 Taubman Medical Library
1150 W. Medical Center Drive
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-5619