Medical Scientist Training/MD-PhD Program

FAQs

Q: What factors are considered in the selection of MD-PhD applicants?
Q: What is the evaluation process for MD-PhD applicants?
Q: What are the course requirements for MD-PhD admissions? Are they any different from medical school requirements?

Q: Is financial support available for foreign students?
Q: What about grading and academic pressure?
Q: What about security on the campus?
Q: Does Johns Hopkins accept transfer students?
Q: Is a separate research essay required on the Johns Hopkins secondary application?
Q: Can I apply to the MD-PhD Program if I already have a PhD?

Q: What factors are considered in the selection of MD-PhD applicants? 
A: Selection factors include proven academic achievement, experience in and commitment to research, and strong personal qualities. The MD-PhD Committee does not require a minimum grade point average or MCAT score. However, based on past experience, applicants with a cumulative GPA below 3.5 and total MCAT scores below 30 are less likely to be interviewed (average matriculant scores and secondary/interview invitation breakdowns are available here). Johns Hopkins also places a high value on the activities, experience, and personal qualities of the applicants. Individuals who have unusual talents, demonstrate leadership, creative abilities, and significant humanitarian experience are sought. Johns Hopkins welcomes applicants from diverse backgrounds and all sections of the country. A typical medical school class at the Johns Hopkins University has a size of 120 students (including 10-12 MD-PhD students) representing 25-30 states, 22 foreign countries, and 50-60 different colleges.

Accepted students generally have a strong research background, consisting of at least 1-2 years of part-time lab work, though many students have more. Although many students have been published in peer-reviewed journals, this is by no means a criterion for admission. Student research aptitude is evaluated primarily through letters of recommendation and a student’s ability to clearly and intelligently communicate their research experience and awareness of their scientific field during the interview. Students should also display a clear understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the MD-PhD training program and communicate why this course of study is appropriate to meet their career goals.

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Q: What is the evaluation process for MD-PhD applicants? 
A: Unlike most institutions, Johns Hopkins has an entirely separate MD-PhD applicant review process. Applicants do not need to be evaluated by the Medical School Admissions Committee to be accepted, although the School of Medicine’s Admission Committee may select one of the faculty interviewers.
As a result, a student is not automatically reviewed for MD-only admissions if they are rejected for the MD-PhD Program. Exceptional students will be passed on to the Medical School Admissions Committee, however this is by no means guaranteed.

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Q: What are the course requirements for MD-PhD admissions? Are they any different from medical school requirements?
A: No. Medical school course requirements are available here.  It is up to each student to ensure that they have completed the requirements before matriculation.
In general, MD-PhD admissions requirements are the same as medical school admissions requirements, although successful applicants tend to have more research experience.

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Q: Is financial support available for foreign students?
A: To be eligible for support through the Medical Scientist Training Program, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (hold a green card, or form I-551). Due to federal restrictions on the use of MSTP funds, the School of Medicine cannot provide financial aid for international students. However, foreign students may be offered non-funded placements in the program. For more information, please see information for international students on the Medical School Admissions Committee web site.

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Q: What about grading and academic pressure?
A: Hopkins is committed to each student’s success in his/her studies and preparation for entering medical research specialties of their choosing. Particular emphasis is directed at developing patterns of lifelong learning that promote individual excellence. Grades and written evaluations are used to assess each student’s performance in formal course work. Grading is on a Pass/Fail system. However, grades are used primarily for internal assesment, and class ranking is not distributed to residency programs. Please be aware that many institutions that aggressively advertise a “pass-fail curriculum” still maintain a four-interval grading system during the clinical years and ultimately rank students on their clinical and pre-clinical performance.

Furthermore, to de-emphasize their importance, grades are not routinely distributed to students. Students who are not doing well in a particular course are contacted and offered remedial help. Most importantly, the nature of the curriculum encourages students to work together in small groups. Among the medical students, there is an overwhelming sense of cooperation and camaraderie. During your interview day and revisit experiences, you will be given ample opportunity to meet current students and evaluate the environment for yourself.

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Q: What about security on the campus?
A: Given the central urban location of the Medical School campus, applicants often inquire about safety. The School of Medicine is deeply committed to the safety and the security of students, faculty and employees. We are proud of our location, of our partnership with the community, and our mission to serve the people of Baltimore. In 1994, a University-wide Corporate Security Services (CSS) was created under the direction of Joseph R. Coppola. Officers of CSS provide friendly but effective controlled access to the campus. Photo ID badges are issued to all students, faculty, and employees and are required for admission to campus buildings. CSS also provides for parking lot supervision and around-the-clock escort service. In the last three years, there have been no violent crimes against persons on our campus, an admirable record in any setting, urban or rural. Information about campus security and Baltimore is available here.

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Q: Does Johns Hopkins accept transfer students? 
A: No. Hopkins does not accept transfer students to the MD-PhD Program.

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Q: Is a separate research essay required on the Johns Hopkins secondary application?
A: No, the research essay required for the AMCAS primary application is sufficient.

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Q: Can I apply to the MD-PhD Program if I already have a PhD? 
A: MSTP funding is not available to students who have already completed a PhD. Thus, PhD holders should apply to the School of Medicine for an MD degree. Once accepted, students can participate in MD-PhD Program specific events like the Annual Retreat and Herlong Rounds.

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