Frequently Asked Questions
In addition to reviewing the answers below, we encourage you to consult with your college's premedical advisor(s).
For additional general information on MD-PhD Dual Degree Training, please see the AAMC website.
What factors does the MD-PhD Program consider in selecting students?
We encourage you to review the Selection Factors shared within the Harvard Medical School Admissions site. In addition to the qualities and experiences mentioned, the MD-PhD Admissions Committee is particularly interested in those candidates with sustained and productive research experience. For more specific guidance, we encourage you to consult with a pre-medical and/or research advisor at your institution. If you are without access to advising support, you may be able to secure additional resources here: https://www.naahp.org/public-resources/student-resources/find-an-advisor.
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 revise their selections after submitting their secondary application.
Is the GRE required?
While the MD-PhD Program does not require the GRE, some Social Science graduate programs may. Social Science applicants are encouraged to contact their PhD program(s) of interest directly to learn more about possible GRE requirements.
For "One Application" Social Science PhD programs that require GRE scores, you may upload the results to your HMS secondary application at time of submission (if available) or, if pending, these can be provided as an update to the admissions portal after application submission. The GRE is not part of the AMCAS application validation and does not need to be completed in time for the AMCAS submission deadline.
How do I apply as an NIH Graduate Partnership Program (GPP) student?
The MD-PhD Program does accept NIH GPP students; these applications do not, however, 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 on the NIH-GPP website.
International and DACA Applicants
Are international and DACA applicants eligible for support?
Yes. Though 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 alternate funding for students who are not eligible for NIH support.
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, dedicated research experience, and are highly committed to a career as a physician scientist.
When do students formally apply to the PhD program?
MD-PhD students have access to over 25 different PhD programs at Harvard and MIT.
Basic Science students explore PhD programs in their first year at HMS and apply formally in the fall of their second year of medical school. Those students admitted to the MD-PhD Program prior to matriculation and who plan to pursue a PhD in the Basic Sciences are guaranteed acceptance into a Harvard Division of Medical Sciences PhD program (Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics; Immunology; Neuroscience; Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology; Virology), and may apply competitively to MIT or other Harvard PhD programs.
MD-PhD students who plan to pursue a PhD in the Social Sciences apply to their PhD program concurrently with their HMS MD application, and if accepted, defer matriculation to the PhD program for two years, first completing two years of medical school. Admitted MD-PhD students who plan to pursue a PhD in the Social Sciences are accepted to their graduate program of interest upon MD acceptance.
Those students who wish to join the MD-PhD Program after matriculating to HMS via the MD-PhD Navigator Program apply competitively to all PhD programs.
Does the MD-PhD Program have a rolling admissions process?
No, we do not have a rolling admissions process. All admissions decisions are sent via email on the same date in early March.
If an applicant is not accepted into the MD-PhD Program, will they still be considered for the MD program?
Yes, if an applicant is not accepted into the MD-PhD Program, they may still be considered for admission to HMS. A student cannot, however, be accepted to the MD-PhD Program without being accepted to HMS in either the Pathways and/or Health Sciences and Technology (HST) curricula.
If I am not awarded Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) grant funding, can I still pursue an MD-PhD?
Yes. Harvard Medical School students committed to pursuing PhD training may join the MD-PhD Program after matriculating to HMS (this group represents 40% of our MD-PhD student body!). Those students who were interviewed by our MD-PhD Program but did not ultimately receive an MD-PhD Program offer have the option to join the program early (thus enabling participation in the MD-PhD summer course). All other MD students interested in joining the MD-PhD Program are invited to join via our MD-PhD Navigator Program during the academic year.
From the designated entry points, all students participate fully in MD-PhD program events and activities. Although joining the program after matriculating as an MD student does not come with a guarantee of full funding, students will be eligible for maximum funding available for M3 and M4 years. In the last six years (2018-2023), we have been able to provide 100% funding for all MD-PhD students in their M3 and M4 years.
Of note, joining the MD-PhD Program after matriculation at HMS does not guarantee acceptance to a PhD program; therefore, these students become "official" members of the MD-PhD Program once they gain acceptance into a Harvard or MIT graduate program. The individual PhD programs provide full funding for all accepted graduate students.
Does the MD-PhD Program accept applicants already enrolled in a PhD program?
In most cases, applicants who have already completed a PhD are ineligible to apply to the MD-PhD Program; however, applicants may choose to apply if their intention is to pursue a second PhD in a significantly different discipline.
Does the MD-PhD Program accept transfer applicants?
The MD-PhD Program does not accept transfer applicants.