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Combined MD/PhD Degree

IU School of Medicine students can obtain both MD and PhD degrees within seven years in one of two ways. The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is a highly competitive program in which students take basic medical science courses for the first two years, leave medical school to complete graduate studies and dissertation in the next approximately three years, and return to complete medical school clinical rotations for the final two years. Admission to the Medical Scientist Training Program provides a stipend for the four years of medical school and three years of graduate research.

Students who are not accepted into the Medical Scientist Training Program complete a separate graduate application in addition to a regular medical school application. Successful applicants complete an identical curriculum as Medical Scientist Training Program dual-degree students. Students on this path receive no financial support for the medical school portion of training, but the department selected for graduate study provides a stipend and tuition payment for graduate research.

Following completion of the first two years of the MD curriculum, combined degree students enter the doctoral degree program with 25 course credits. To complete the requirements for the combined degree, students are required to complete the following five credits of coursework and 60 credits of research (F701 Research in Physiology).

  • F702 Seminar: 1 credit
  • G505 Responsible Conduct in Research: 1 credit
  • G855 Experimental Design and Research Biostatistics: 1 credit
  • G655 Research Communication Seminar: 1 credit
  • Elective: 1 credit

Additional Combined Degree Requirements

Combined degree students are encouraged to integrate laboratory rotations into the first two years of medical school. Rotations are usually performed during the summer between the first and second year of medical school. After completing rotations students select major advisors. This selection requires the mutual consent of the student and advisor and implies acceptance into the research program of the advisor.

The goal of this portion of the graduate training experience is to provide a variety of opportunities for training and preparation for teaching. This requirement is generally fulfilled during the first or second year of graduate study and is defined by students in consultation with major advisors and research advisory committees using the options defined in the Completion of Teaching Experience form. Find more information about this requirement through the Physiology PhD Program description.

Until the major advisor is selected for combined degree students, the graduate committee serves as the advisory committee. Once students select a laboratory to pursue thesis research, major advisors serve as the head of the committee. Find details about the advisory committee through the Physiology PhD Program description.

The Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology strongly encourages students to submit theses based on student published papers or papers submitted or accepted for publication in peer reviewed journals. Manuscripts should be formatted to conform to the Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations. In addition to these guidelines, students must prepare an introduction to the field and a summary highlighting the main conclusions of the research and a discussion of potential future studies. The following general sections should be included in the thesis: title page, acceptance page with original signatures, acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents, lists of tables, figures, appendices, and abbreviations.

Upon  ompletion of research, students prepare a written dissertation distributed to members of the research committee at least two weeks in advance of the oral defense seminar. In preparation for the public dissertation defense, students must notify the graduate school of the intended date of the defense. Students must submit the Thesis Defense Announcement form and a summary of the research at least four weeks prior to the public thesis examination. The dissertation defense is presented as part of the departmental seminar series. Immediately following the presentation, the research committee will conduct the thesis defense meeting. Defense meetings are open to all faculty members, but non-committee members are expected to inform the chairman of the research committee with intention to attend.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination consists of two parts. Qualifying Exam Part I occurs after the second year of course work and research experience. Students and advisory committees select recent publications related to the major research area and students prepare a written research proposal approved by advisory committees.

Qualifying Exam Part II occurs at the end of the third year in the program and consists of student oral presentations and defenses of written grant proposals to the department. The written proposal must be submitted at least one week in advance to advisory committees. Student research forms the basis of the grant proposal. The proposal is written using an NIH RO1 grant format.

In addition, students must complete the following forms at the end of the committee examination period and submit to Graduate Program Director, Johnathan Tune, PhD. Based on the advisory committee's evaluation on student performance on the qualifying examination, students either advance to candidacy, are recommended for a Master of Science degree upon submission of a thesis representing the research completed or dismissed from the program. At the discretion of advisory committees, students are allowed to retake all or part of the qualifying examination once within two months of the first examination.

Research Committee

Following the successful completion of the qualifying examination, students and major advisors select research committees and submit the Nomination to Candidacy form, abstracts and appropriate institutional approvals to Graduate Program Director, Johnathan Tune, PhD. The composition of research committees is the same as the advisory committee and in most cases the two committees are identical. Approval of research committee members is granted by the graduate school following submission of the Nomination of Research Committee form to the Graduate Program Director, Johnathan Tune, PhD.

Financial Aid

All PhD and MD/PhD students are supported by a living stipend as well as tuition, fees and health coverage. Financial support comes from a variety of sources including National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Grants to faculty, grants from foundations and companies to faculty as well as pre-doctoral fellowships from a variety of government and private organizations.