Frequently Asked Questions
What is the application process?
First, submit your medical school application to AACOMAS. Do this as early as possible. A limited number of students (MSUCOM admits 325 annually) are admitted to medical schools on a "rolling basis." The MSUCOM deadline is December 1.
What else should I do?
Second, fill out the DO-PhD application form (2018-2019) (2019-2020) and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. All applications are reviewed and qualified candidates will be contacted by the DO-PhD Program Office for an interview. Candidates who are not qualified will be notified by email.
Do I have to apply to a graduate program separately?
You must submit an application to a graduate program. Because the deadline for graduate programs at MSU is December 1 it is advisable to submit your medical school application in early fall (September).
How do I apply to a graduate program?
Candidates interested in applying to the PhD Programs in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell & Molecular Biology, Genetics, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Physiology, or Pharmacology & Toxicology must apply to the BMS (BioMolecular Sciences) Umbrella Program. The application deadline is December 1. Apply online; the cost is $50. Have all transcripts sent on your behalf and at least 3 letters of recommendation to: Graduate Secretary, BioMolecular Sciences Program, Biomedical Physical Sciences Bldg, 567 Wilson Road, Room 2240, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. Search the MSU websites for research that matches your experience and appeals the most to you. If your research interest is neuroscience, please go to the Neuroscience Program website and follow directions for applying to this program. For Medical Anthropology, Philosophy/Bioethics, or Epidemiology, please see their individual PhD program descriptions. For Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, and Computational Mathematics, Science & Engineering see their individual PhD Program descriptions.
How do the graduate programs review DO-PhD candidates?
Candidates are evaluated on the basis of GPA, MCAT, research experience, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. Highly qualified candidates are invited to attend a recruitment weekend held in February by the BMS Program and the Neuroscience Program. Other programs interview students directly. Select 4-5 faculty members that you have a special interest in and with whom you may want to carry out research for the PhD.
What makes a competitive applicant?
1-Your academic accomplishments. Over the last five years the GPA for accepted DO-PhD students ranged from 3.4 to 3.9 and the MCAT ranged from 508-514 (28 to 38). We look for applicants who display energy, enthusiasm for science, an eagerness and curiosity about learning, and love to be challenged.
2-Your research experience and potential to become a future physician-scientist, as described in the personal statement, is a very important part of the DO-PhD application. Students should have a significant amount of research experience – at least one year and 1-2 summers – prior to applying to the DO-PhD Program. Publications are NOT required. PhD programs such as Philosophy-Bioethics or Medical Anthropology, do not require laboratory bench research experience but do require a major or minor in those fields and/or some field experience. Those interested in Epidemiology should plan on beginning the DO-PhD Physician Scientist Program with an MS in Epidemiology.
3-Your recommendation letters. Strong letters of recommendation from faculty or other individuals who are very familiar with your research experience and potential to succeed in a graduate program, are very important. Sentences that read "Ms. Brown is the best student I've had in my 25 years at XXX University" are very helpful.
How many applicants do you interview and how many are admitted every year?
On average, six - eight students out of the 30-40 interviewed are admitted to the DO-PhD program every year.
Is the GRE required for the DO-PhD application?
No. The MCAT is the only required score to apply for the DO-PhD Program. However, the GRE can be helpful in applying to some graduate programs.
Are there "cut-offs" for the GPA and MCAT scores?
No, there are no "cut-offs." However, experience shows that students with GPAs below 3.3 and MCATs lower than 28 may not be successful in the DO-PhD Program. On the other hand, GPAs are not always indicative of success. The committee looks for well-rounded students and considers research experience, clinical shadowing, and other extracurricular activities.
Do I have to apply to a specific graduate program?
Yes. Students interested in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell & Molecular Biology, Genetics, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Physiology, or Pharmacology & Toxicology must apply to the BMS (BioMolecular Sciences) Umbrella Program, and choose their department or program in the spring semester of their first year. Students interested in Neuroscience, Epidemiology, Anthropology, and Bioethics (Philosophy), apply directly to these programs. Also for these programs, apply directly: Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, and Computational Mathematics, Science & Engineering.
Are Canadian citizens are other International students eligible?
Can I take a tour of campus and meet other current students?
Yes. Please contact the DO-PhD Program Office at 517-353-7785 to make arrangements for this.
Can I enter the DO-PhD Program after I have already started medical school?
Yes. If admitted to a PhD Program and after MSUCOM students complete all the medical coursework (year one & two) and take the COMLEX Level 1 Board exam, they can then enter the DO-PhD Program. Students wishing to do this should apply to a graduate program at the beginning of the second year of medical school. Students must be competitive with other DO-PhD applicants.
Can I transfer from another College of Osteopathic Medicine to MSUCOM and enter the DO-PhD Program?
Yes. Students must make a request to the COM they are attending for such a transfer. The optimal time to enter the program is after the second year of medical school and after passing the COMLEX Level 1. Students must apply to a graduate program at MSU and be accepted. Special requirements for transfer can be found at http://www.com.msu.edu/admissions/transfers.html. Students must be competitive with other DO-PhD applicants.
Can I complete one degree before beginning the other?
No. Students are admitted to the DO-PhD Program only if they will be working on both a PhD and a medical degree simultaneously. Students may complete both degrees one after the other, but they would not be considered part of the DO-PhD Program.
Offer of AdmissionIf not accepted to the combined DO-PhD Program, does that mean I will not be accepted to the medical school?No. Not being admitted to the DO-PhD Program will not affect your admission to medical school.When will I be contacted if I have been accepted to the DO-PhD Program?Admissions decisions are made in March. Students offered admission are contacted by email. Students must notify the DO-PhD Office by a specified date to accept the admission offer.When do I start the DO-PhD Program?Most DO-PhD students admitted to the program are expected to begin mid-May to mid-June . The summer semester begins with a laboratory rotation; students in arts and letters or social science PhD degree programs normally begin fall semester.
Is the DO-PhD program an MSTP?
No. The DO-PhD Physician Scientist Training Program at MSU is not an MSTP NIH-sponsored program. However, our DO-PhD Program offers similar training and benefits as those programs that have NIH MSTP funding.
How long does it take to complete the DO-PhD Program?
The average length of time is 7-8 years.
What is the structure of the DO-PhD Program?
Year 1: The first year is devoted to graduate course-work and laboratory research rotations.
Year 2-3: The next two years are devoted to medical school courses and some laboratory research.
Year-4-7: Following completion of the COMLEX Level 1 and the USMLE, students begin full-time research, which requires three years. The PhD dissertation must be defended before the student begins hospital-based clerkships. Some office-base clinical clerkships may be completed during this time, which will serve to maintain students' clinical skills.
Year-7-8: The clinical clerkships in the hospital are identical to those taken by third and fourth year medical students.
How will I be supported during my training?
MSU DO-PhD students are supported through the entire 7-8 year program with a graduate assistantship stipend paid bi-weekly, and receive significant reduced (50%) tuition rates. Health insurance is also provided at no cost to the student.
Is there a payback requirement if I leave the program before completing it?
Are there laboratory rotations?
Yes. Most DO-PhD students will take two-three laboratory rotations and select their PhD research mentor during the spring semester of year one (except for those students in arts and letters or social science PhD degree programs).
Can I get a PhD in a clinical Department?
No. The PhD must be conferred by a degree-granting Department or Program, and no clinical Departments at MSU grant PhD degrees. However, most scientists in clinical departments either have joint appointments with basic science departments or are members of interdepartmental programs such as Genetics, Neuroscience, or Cell & Molecular Biology.
Are there teaching requirements?
No. The DO-PhD Program has no teaching requirements.
Will my training differ from regular PhD students?
No. PhD training for DO-PhD students is just as rigorous and intensive as it is for regular graduate students. However, DO-PhD students complete their preclinical medical school curriculum before starting full-time laboratory research.
Will I be able to refresh my clinical skills during the 3 year laboratory research period?
Yes. The DO-PhD program has integrated a part of the clerkship curriculum (office-based clerkships) during the research years (years 4-7) to provide students an opportunity to translate what they see in clinic back to the laboratory, and also to ensure that their clinical skills do not diminish during the years they are completing the PhD.
Can I begin my hospital based clerkships while continuing to write my dissertation?
No. All students must complete the dissertation, defend it, and submit it to the Graduate School before starting hospital-based clerkships.
Student LifeWill I have special responsibilities as a DO-PhD student?Yes. Besides the obvious challenge of balancing graduate and medical training, we ask all DO-PhD students to play an integral role in recruitment, educational and social programs, and evaluation of incoming applicants.Are their special social events for DO-PhD students?Yes. Students are expected to attend the 2 – 3 social gatherings held by the DO-PhD Program per year: A Welcome Picnic for new students, an Award Dinner to congratulate graduates, and a holiday party.Are there special educational programs for DO-PhD Students?Yes. All students are required to attend an ongoing series of seminars held during the academic year. To remain an active participant in the program students attend these seminars: A Research Forum held annually, where individual students make a presentation on their research and progress as a DO-PhD student, Seminar Speaker Series, where invited Clinical Researchers make presentations on how they combine the practice of clinical medicine and research and reflect on their career, and five student driven programs, “Mysteries in Biomedical Research”, Clinical Journal Club, Translational Medicine, DO-PhD Grand Rounds, and Conversations in Research.Will the program pay for health insurance? What about the rest of my family?Yes. We consider health insurance an essential component of all graduate training programs. The program covers the entire cost for individual students and offers a mechanism for subsidizing dependents.