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Frequently Asked Questions


Why does UMass have MD/PhD specific courses and what is different about them?

The MD/PhD Program has specific courses that bridge research and medical academics. During the first two years of Medical School, MDP740A & MDP740B Developing Solutions to Research Problems, exposes MD-PhD students to predominant areas of basic and translational research, and to the knowledge skills necessary to conduct research in these areas. These discussions are held both in a group format and one-on-one with faculty. During the PhD years, MDP741 stresses clinical skills by placing the graduate students in a clinical setting for hands-on experience.

Why does the PhD portion of the MD-PhD Program take only 3-4 years instead of 5?

The Graduate School Core Curriculum, a one year program, is waived for MD/PhD students as they have already completed the pre-clinical course work in the Medical School. In addition, MD/PhD students are required to have bi-annual research committee meetings to help keep them on track with their research.

What makes your MD-PhD Program different from all of the others?

There are several reasons:

  • The overarching collaboration between research and clinical faculty members at UMass Chan Medical School.
  • The hands-on approach taken to working with our students to ensure success in both Medical School and Graduate School; a single advisor for all years in the Program.
  • Bridge courses designed to maintain connections with both schools during your academic career.
  • Over 350 research faculty to choose from for a thesis mentor; 11 different Graduate Programs for thesis research.

What is the average class size?

The average MD/PhD class size is ~10. Enrollment for the past three years has been between 8 and 12.

What is the annual stipend?

The annual stipend for AY20/21 is $31,850.

Is there a payback requirement for withdrawal from the Program?

Yes, if a student withdraws from the Program, there is a Special Program Fee which requires a student to pay back a set amount for each semester (Fall and Spring) if they withdraw from the Program.

In which fields may the Ph.D. be earned?

The Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is an umbrella program which encompasses many different Programs. All PhD degrees are earned in Biomedical Sciences regardless of faculty thesis mentor or affiliated Program. Learn more:

How will my training differ from other "straight PhD" students?

You are not required to take the Core Curriculum and must take any advanced courses recommended by your thesis advisor. All of the other requirements for the PhD Degree are the same.

How many students are currently enrolled in the MD/PhD Program?

There are 76 students enrolled for academic year 2020/21.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The overall length of time in the MD/PhD program is 7-13 years for students who graduated in 2014-2020. Most students complete in 8-9 years.

How is the UMass MD-PhD Program structured with regard to integration of the two degrees?

The typical program structure is 2 1/3 / 3-5 / 1 2/3 where the students begins by completing the pre-clinical medical education, plus one thematic section in the clerkships, shifting to the graduate school for the PhD studies and returning to finish up to two clinical years of Medical School. However, the Program is flexible enough to accommodate changes based on a reasonable request.

How does a student select a doctoral field?

The Program provides many opportunities to meet with faculty via research retreats and poster sessions, literature tutorials, summer lab rotations and seminars.

Do UMass Chan students have opportunity for hands-on patient-care experience?

Yes, beginning with the first year of Medical School, students have the opportunity to work directly with patients as part of a Community Clerkship and the Physician Patient and Society course, part of the Medical School curriculum. Please review the curriculum information online for the Undergraduate Medical Education.

Can I get a PhD outside the medical school?

No, every student must complete both their MD and PhD at UMass Chan Medical School.

Can I get a PhD in a Clinical Science?

Yes, there is a Clinical and Population Health Research (CPHR) Program in the Graduate School that focuses on clinical research. They have a curriculum to their students that the MD/PhD students must complete if they choose to apply to this particular program. Please find more information about CPHR at:

Can I do one degree before the other?

No, the integration of the two programs is what makes it unique. Completing one degree after another simply provides you with two degrees, but no any interaction between the clinical and research components.

Are there teaching requirements?

Yes, there is a teaching requirement which can be fulfilled in a number of different ways including student participation in the MD/PhD seminar series. Since there is not an undergraduate program at UMass Chan Medical School, the teaching requirements are not the traditional TA positions.

Are there a minimum number of laboratory rotations I'm required to do?

Yes, you are required to complete 16 weeks of lab rotations in 4 or 8 week blocks. One must be completed prior to the beginning Medical School.