MD/PhD Combined Degree
To see specific MD/PhD programs, see the Programs section of the GMS Bulletin.
The Combined MD/PhD program is offered in collaboration with the School of Medicine and Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS). This program is designed for, and open to, highly qualified individuals who are strongly motivated toward an education and career in both medicine and research. The purpose of the program is to provide students with the opportunity to obtain advanced education and research training in one of the medical sciences, while providing exposure to and training in clinical medicine. The goal of the program is to provide exposure to both throughout the entire training period of the student. Students may join one of 14 degree-granting departments or programs that are listed on the website. The program expects to produce graduates who are superbly trained to cope with the increasingly multi- and interdisciplinary nature of teaching and research in the medical sciences, as well as those who will enter residency programs with a sufficient background in basic science to allow them to pursue productive careers in translational research.
The program requires a minimum of seven years and an average of eight years of study to complete both the Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
The degree requirements for the Combined MD/PhD program are those of the separate degree requirements for the Doctor of Medicine in the School of Medicine and for the Doctor of Philosophy in Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS). To obtain the MD, the student must be at least 21 years of age, must have fulfilled all the requirements for admission to the Boston University School of Medicine, and must give evidence of having been enrolled for at least four full academic years in the School of Medicine. To obtain the PhD, the student must have fulfilled all the requirements for admission to Graduate Medical Sciences and give evidence of having been enrolled in GMS for at least an equivalent of two full academic years. In addition, the candidate must have fulfilled all the requirements for their department or program, including qualifying examinations. In addition to coursework, students are expected to attend bimonthly professional training sessions for MD/PhD students. As part of the PhD program students are expected to submit a competitive grant proposal. Students enrolled in the Combined MD/PhD program must complete the requirements for both degrees before any degree will be awarded, with the exception of certain unusual circumstances.
Students admitted directly to the MD/PhD program will begin their training with the first two years of the standard School of Medicine curriculum. To matriculate into the graduate years, MD/PhD students must be eligible at that time to matriculate into the third year of medical school. Therefore, they must pass step one and have no first- or second-year courses that are incomplete. To expose students to laboratories for doctoral dissertation work, students are required to complete a minimum of two separate rotations. These are conducted after summer 1 and summer 2. Once these requirements are completed, and upon acceptance into a laboratory, the students begin their graduate education and research training in the major departments or areas of their chosen specialization within GMS. Oral defense and dissertation submission must be completed and approved prior to returning to the third year of the medical school curriculum.
The following departments/programs are available for MD/PhD students:
- Anatomy & Neurobiology
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biomedical Neuroscience
- Cell & Molecular Biology
- Genetics & Genomics
- Nutrition & Metabolism
- Molecular & Translational Medicine
- Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
- Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics
- Physiology & Biophysics
More information is available from the Graduate Medical Sciences website.
The applicant must meet the requirements for admission to both the School of Medicine, as a candidate for the MD, and to Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS), as a candidate for the PhD. The minimum entrance requirements and the prerequisite courses for the School of Medicine are the same as those for GMS. Applicants for the MD/PhD will be required to submit only the results of the Medical College Admission Test and not those of the Graduate Record Examination, which are normally required for admission to GMS. The applicant shall have completed the special prerequisites of the major department of GMS in which they are planning to specialize. Applicants must also have carried out research during their undergraduate programs or postgraduate years.
It is anticipated that most applicants will apply for admission to the program as first-year students, but applications will be accepted from students who are already enrolled in the School of Medicine at any time before the beginning of the third year of their MD studies. Students actively enrolled in a PhD program of GMS are not eligible for the MD/PhD program until completion of the PhD program. Applications to the School of Medicine may be submitted in the final years of the PhD program.
Applications and instructions for submission of complete credentials for the Combined MD/PhD program are available from the Boston University School of Medicine, Admissions office, 72 East Concord Street, Building L, Room 124, Boston, MA 02118.
Applicants to the MD/PhD program applying as first-year students will initially be screened for their admissibility to the School of Medicine using the same criteria for admission as students applying only to the School of Medicine. After determination of acceptability into the School of Medicine, application for the MD/PhD program will be submitted to the MD/PhD Admissions Committee for processing through the normal channels for admission to this dual degree program. One of the letters of reference should come from the director of the research laboratory in which the applicant worked. This will typically be a person in the academic profession who has personal knowledge of the applicant’s qualifications for graduate study and research ability, and is required by GMS to complete the application. Applicants applying while in residence in the School of Medicine or GMS should obtain application information from the MD/PhD program’s Administrative Coordinator.