Admissions and Financial Aid
In addition to the standard medical school application, two letters of reference should be provided from individuals familiar with the student’s research potential.
Students who are currently pursuing the medical curriculum at the Keck School of Medicine may also apply to the MD-PhD program.
The second phase is the PhD interview that will be conducted over a span of two days. You will meet with faculty members from the University of Southern California (USC) and from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
During this interview, you will be asked to give a 10 minute “chalk talk” describing your most relevant research experience to the Program Directors (Dr. David Hinton, Dr. Mark Davis, and/or Dr. Mitchell Gross). These talks will be given without slides, though you may use a dry erase marker & board that will be provided.
We will reimburse your travel expenses (ie. flight, rental car, gas, etc.) and we will provide hotel accommodation for two nights for ONLY the second phase of the interview process.
Curriculum and Policies
Currently, the training program begins upon entrance into the first year of medical school. Within a few weeks after beginning medical school, the student meets with the MD-PhD Executive Committee; this committee outlines the integration of the graduate program with the medical school coursework and expectations of the MD-PhD student. In addition to the coursework of a first-year medical student, the MD-PhD student participates in two courses designed specifically for them, 1) Medicine at the Bench-top and Bedside and 2) Topics in Molecular Medicine. Students are expected to attend regularly scheduled MD-PhD seminar series, departmental and interdisciplinary research seminars, as well as interact with faculty at informal research presentation and discussion sessions in their area of research.
Students are encouraged to rotate in two or more laboratories and are given the opportunity to do so in the summer prior to entering the first year of medical school and between the first and second year of medical school. Students may also elect to rotate through a laboratory during the second year of medical school as part of the their required student project (RSP) or the summer prior to the start of their PhD studies. Generally by the spring semester of the second year of medical school, the student decides on an area of research interest and applies to the graduate program of choice. At the end of the second year, the graduate training effort is focused on the chosen area of research and specific departmental and programmatic educational activities.
After completing the second year of the medical curriculum and passing Part I of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), the student enters the selected program as a full-time graduate student. Three to six years are required to complete additional coursework in the discipline, the qualifying examination, and independent research leading to a dissertation and research publications. Prior to entering the PhD program of study and after taking the USMLE, Step 1, students have the option of taking their first clinical rotation.
During the PhD training, students are expected to fulfill the requirements of the individual graduate program which includes a course on ethics and accountability. Each program varies in requirements so student programs differ. To allow students to transition to the clinical years more easily and to sustain clinical skills while pursuing the PhD training, participation in the longitudinal clinical experience is required. The longitudinal clinical experience, which gives students a hands-on experience in general medicine and/or in specialty training, is arranged by either the student or the program administrator and is flexible to accommodate both the student and physician schedules. After completion of the dissertation, the student rejoins the medical class as a third-year medical student and completes the last two years of clinical training. The combined program involves, on average, a total of eight years.
Summer Prior to Year 1
Optional Laboratory Rotation
Years 1 – 2 Continuum
Medical School Curriculum Summer Laboratory Rotation (8 weeks) Research Seminars in Area of Interest Medicine at the Benchtop and Bedside Course Research in Molecular Medicine Journal Club USMLE, Part I Optional Clinical Rotation
Begin Thesis Research Take Graduate Courses as Dictated by Academic Program and Interest Take Ethics and Accountability Course Longitudinal Clinical Experience Complete Qualification Exam Write and Defend Research Thesis.
Years 3 – 4 Continuum
|Family Medicine||6 weeks|
|General Surgery||6 weeks|
|Medicine I||6 weeks|
|Medicine II||4 weeks|
|Obstetrics & Gynecology||6 weeks|
|Intercessions (one week each of selected topics)||2 weeks|
|Selective Clerkships||16 weeks|
|Elective Clerkships||16 weeks|
|USMLE, Step II|