The combined MD/PhD program provides benefits to the scholarship and professional development of clinician scientists. The integration of clinical and research training experiences provides opportunities to foster translational research.
In keeping with the strategic direction of the Canadian Health Research Strategic Plan and the Government of Canada’s Science and Technology Strategy, our program emphasizes:
- the need for providing increased transsectorial and multidisciplinary training.
- building research excellence.
- translating knowledge into practical applications.
- deepening the pool of highly skilled clinician scientists.
The MD/PhD program is for students currently enrolled in medicine who then pursue graduate studies at the end of their second year or for current graduate students who are conducting health-related research.
Expected duration: 3–6 years (in addition to MD requirements)
Individuals in the MD/PhD program concurrently complete the requirements for two independent degrees. The MD component develops the skills necessary for a career in the practice of medicine. The PhD component develops research skills and provides experience required for biomedical research.
There are two pathways to enter the MD/PhD program. The traditional pathway is where medical students pursue a PhD in a health-related field during a sabbatical from the MD program after year 2 of medicine and before year 3 of medicine (i.e., clerkship). The second pathway to enter the MD/PhD program is where current graduate students in a health-related field get accepted into the MD program during their graduate program.
Traditionally, trainees first complete the first two years of the undergraduate MD program, providing a broad background in medicine and biology. They then take a funded sabbatical from their MD studies to carry out a health research-based PhD. This can be conducted in any department at UM that offers a PhD program, as long as the project is health-related. Project eligibility will be decided by the Advanced degrees in Medicine Program Admissions and Advisory Committee (PAAC). During the sabbatical from the MD program students will pay continuing MD fees while they are pursuing their graduate degree full time. When all experimental work has been completed and a completed doctoral thesis has been submitted, trainees resume medical studies at third year MD training. Students must provide ample notice to the Associate Dean of UGME and the Clerkship administrators about their intent to reenter clerkship. It is strongly encouraged that students fully complete their graduate degree (i.e., submission of doctoral thesis and completed defense) prior to reentering medicine.
Students pursuing a graduate degree within the health sciences field who then get accepted into medical school in the Max Rady College of Medicine are encouraged to meet with the program director to determine if they are eligible to apply for the Advanced Degrees in Medicine program.
Pursuit of graduate studies in some departments may require that candidates first register for the MSc program then transition to the PhD program upon satisfactory progress in the first year. This neither extends the time nor experimental productivity required for the doctoral degree. We attempt to accommodate individual requirements, and different research plans, meaning that variations on the above may be considered.
We provide a guaranteed PhD student stipend of $25,000 upon admission to the program, conditional upon maintenance of good academic standing. Trainees are also eligible to obtain up to $1,000 as a yearly research allowance. The expenses covered to support the research allowance must be pre-approved by the program director prior to purchase.
Students enrolled in the MD/PhD program are bound by the supplemental regulations of the host department where they are pursuing their graduate degree.
The following are minimum requirements to be considered for entry into the MD/PhD program. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the program.
The PhD program is for students currently enrolled in Medicine who then pursue graduate studies at the end of their second year or for current graduate students who are conducting health-related research.
Medical students are eligible to apply upon initial admission to Medicine and at any time during the first two years of the MD program.
To be considered for admission to the PhD Program, you must have completed an MSc or MA and possess a comprehensive understanding of what it means to conduct research.
Candidates with limited research experience are encouraged to obtain hand-on experience in the field (through the BSc Med program, for example) prior to applying for the MD/PhD program.
In addition to the admission requirements described here, all applicants must meet the minimum admission and English language proficiency requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
How to apply
You can apply to the MD/PhD program through one of two avenues:
- As an admitted medical student who wishes to pursue graduate studies before your third year of medicine
- As a current graduate student who has been accepted into medical school.
Students wishing to apply should contact the Advanced Degrees in Medicine Program Director early in the process to clarify any questions and establish a timeline for the application.
Acceptance will minimally require:
- Identification of a supervisor
- Review by the Program Admissions and Advisory Committee (PAAC) and their recommendation for acceptance, and
- Acceptance by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
The follow documents are required to apply to the program:
- Two letters of reference (one from the supervisor). The letters of reference should outline the suitability of the candidate to manage both graduate studies and medical school commitments and responsibilities.
- A description of the coursework timeline if coursework has not been completed (i.e. an outline of when required courses will be completed). If all coursework is completed, please indicate this in the application.
- Please indicate a research timeline for completion of the project that will encompass a completed full thesis draft ready for examination prior to the student starting clerkship in year three of Medicine.
- Web transcript (saved and sent as PDF) to indicate coursework completed, etc.
- A CV (Common CV in CIHR Format is fine, but free form is acceptable) of both trainee and primary supervisor.
- A research summary (up to two pages). This summary should clearly identify to the committee the scope of the research, how it is related to health-research, the objectives and purpose of the research, and outline a basic methodology.