Frequently Asked Questions

The following answers students' frequently asked questions. We recommend that you also consult with your college's premedical advisor(s).

For additional general information on MD-PhD Dual Degree Training, please see the AAMC website.

Applications

Is the GRE required?
While the MD-PhD Program does not require the GRE, some graduate programs may require this test, particularly those in the social sciences and engineering.  The GRE is not part of the AMCAS application validation and does not need to be completed in time for the AMCAS submission. 

Prospective applicants can refer to the websites of their PhD of interest to determine if the GRE will be required. 

For social science PhD programs: Applicants may send unofficial GRE scores and percentiles to mdphd@hms.harvard.edu after their AMCAS submission. 

For engineering PhD programs: Our students formally apply to PhD programs in December of their second year. If the GRE is needed, there is time to take the exam in the first year or the summer before the PhD applications.

How do I apply as an NIH Graduate Partnership Program (GPP) student?
The MD-PhD Program does accept NIH GPP students into our program; however, these applications do not go through the MD-PhD Program admissions process.  Therefore, applicants should not check MD-PhD in their AMCAS application unless they are also applying to the Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Program (i.e. PhD at Harvard or MIT) in the same cycle. Funding will be managed through our MD-PhD Program office and the student will be a part of our community in every way.  Of note, the funding provided by the NIH GPP program is not supplemented by HMS.  Students work with the HMS Financial Aid Office for additional support. If conducting the PhD prior to medical school (Track 3), GPP applicants should apply to HMS in the year prior to planned matriculation. Those GPP applicants planning to attend medical school before beginning their PhD (Track 1), should apply to medical school concurrently with the NIH-GPP application.

Additional information can be found here (see "NIH Graduate Partnership Program (GPP)) and the NIH-GPP website for prospective students.

Can I change the MD curricula (Pathways, HST, or both) and/or PhD program track (Basic Science or Social Science) after submitting my secondary application?
Regrettably, applicants are unable to make any changes to the MD track(s) they have chosen to apply to after submitting their secondary application. Question one of our secondary application specifies that “You can apply to either one or both options, but once you submit your application, you cannot change programs for this application cycle.”

In terms of PhD programs, applicants may apply to the Basic Science or Social Science track by selecting “Basic and Translational Sciences” or “Social Sciences” in response to the question "Indicate the PhD program type you are applying to.” Applicants may only apply to one track. Social Science applicants are encouraged to review details on the PhD programs of study and application process. Please contact us before you apply if you are unsure which track is the best fit for you.

Applicants interested in also being considered for a PhD only in parallel with their MD-PhD application may decide to apply directly to the PhD program. Applicants are encouraged to contact the PhD program(s) of interest directly to learn more about PhD admissions criteria.

International and DACA Applicants

Can international and DACA applicants receive funding? 
Although international and DACA students are not eligible to receive funding provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) grant, our MD-PhD program has funding from other sources for students who are not eligible for NIH support. Harvard Medical School (HMS) requires applicants to have at least one year of University level course work from a US or Canadian university. If you have a foreign school undergraduate degree already, then you would have to complete 1 academic year (2 semesters) in the United States or Canada prior to matriculating at HMS. 

Please see HMS's Admissions website for more information, and contact them directly with questions regarding MD eligibility.

Interviews

Does the MD-PhD Program interview non-science majors?
Yes, we interview non-science majors, most of whom are social science applicants. The most competitive applicants have a strong foundation in advanced science coursework and dedicated research experience, and are highly committed to a career as a physician and scientist.

Does Harvard provide reimbursement for travel and lodging when coming to Boston for your interviews?
All interviews will be conducted virtually for the 2021-2022 admissions season.

PhD

When do students formally apply to the PhD program?
MD-PhD students have access to over 25 different PhD programs at Harvard and MIT. Students explore PhD programs in their first year at HMS and apply formally in the fall of their second year of medical school. Some social science students apply to their PhD program concurrently with the HMS MD application and, if permitted, defer matriculation to the PhD program until after completing the first two years of medical school.

Accepted MD-PhD students are guaranteed acceptance into a Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS) PhD Program and may apply competitively to MIT or other Harvard PhD programs.

Is it possible to receive funding for PhD programs other than those listed on this website?
Yes, we are very supportive of combined physician-scientist training in a broad range of PhD disciplines.

Decisions

Does the MD-PhD Program have a rolling admissions process?
No, we do not have a rolling admissions process.

If an applicant is not accepted into the MD-PhD Program, will they still be considered for the MD program?
If an applicant is not accepted into the MD-PhD Program, they may still be considered for HMS. However, a student cannot be accepted to the MD-PhD Program without being accepted to HMS in either the Pathways or Health Sciences and Technology (HST) curricula. 

Alternatives

If I am not awarded Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) grant funding, can I still pursue an MD-PhD?
Students can pursue MD and PhD degrees at HMS without initial funding from the MD-PhD Program. Harvard Medical School students who demonstrate a serious commitment to pursuing PhD training may join the MD-PhD Program as an affiliate. Students who applied to our MD-PhD Program but were not accepted for a fully-funded slot are invited to affiliate early to participate in our summer course.  All other MD students may affiliate as early as November 1 of their first year.

Our affiliates participate fully in all MD-PhD program events. Although affiliation does not come with a commitment for future funding, our affiliate students can apply for MD-PhD Program support for their third and fourth years of medical school in the year prior to returning to medical school. Depending on the availability of funds, partial to full support may be awarded. All affiliate students are required to apply for NIH F30 grants, if eligible, in an effort to achieve partial support.

Of note, affiliating with the MD-PhD Program does not guarantee acceptance to a PhD program; therefore, affiliates become "official" members of the MD-PhD Program once they gain acceptance into a Harvard or MIT graduate program.   

Does the MD-PhD Program accept transfer applicants?
The MD-PhD Program does not accept transfer applicants.

Does the MD-PhD Program accept applicants already enrolled in a PhD program?
Applicants who have already started or received a PhD degree are not eligible for admission to our MD-PhD Program. 

Current PhD students who want to apply for HMS MD-only admissions must apply during the admissions season prior to completing their PhD degree. Please review  “When to Apply” and “Eligibility Restrictions” pages for additional information.