Medical Scientist Training Program

The Medical Scientist Training Programs (MSTPs) are dual-degree training programs that streamline the education towards both clinical (typically MD) and research doctoral degrees. MSTPs are offered by some United States medical schools, who are awarded financial support from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of these training programs is to produce physician scientists who can translate laboratory discoveries into effective treatments for patients.

The NIH began awarding the MSTP designation in 1964. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Northwestern University, and New York University were the original three MSTP programs that were established. As of 2021, there were 51 NIH-funded MSTP programs in the US (50 MD-PhD, 1 DVM-PhD), supporting about 1000 students at all stages of the program.


The program has its origins in the non-NIH funded MD-PhD training offered at the nation's research-centric medical schools. An early dual-degree program began at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1956. Other prominent medical schools quickly followed this example and developed integrated MD-PhD training structures.

In 1964, the NIH created the Medical Scientist Training Program to begin funding this medical and research education. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Northwestern University, and New York University were the original three MSTP programs that were established.


Admission to MSTPs is the most competitive of all graduate medical education programs in the country.

In 2018, 672 of 1855 total applicants successfully matriculated into MD-PhD programs (36.2%), but only 513 of these slots were at MSTPs, making the matriculation rate for MSTPs nationally 27.7%.

In comparison, MD-only programs had 40,174 positions for a total of 95,797 applicants (a 41.9% matriculation rate). At each institution, these acceptance rates are varied and are often far more competitive than the national data. Applicants must have very strong MCAT scores and GPAs to be considered for positions in MSTP. Reflecting this fact, from 2018 to 2019 the average GPA and MCAT for matriculants to MSTPs were 3.79 and 515.6, respectively. MSTP applicants will often have very strong research experience as well, in addition to the typical qualifications required from MD-only applicants.[citation needed]

Interviews for admissions at MSTPs tend to focus on the applicant's career goals and past experiences in scientific research. These may include short research talks or presentations followed by rigorous questioning by an interviewer or interviewing committee. MSTP applicants are often required to demonstrate a deep understanding of their past research projects. Multiple interview sessions conducted by different interviewers that last for 2 days are very common. At some MSTPs, applicants may also be required (or be offered the chance) to interview with the MD-only program.[citation needed]

Financial support

MSTP matriculants receive substantial financial awards that make them financially competitive to their MD-only counterparts even with the longer training periods. These allowances cover all tuition expenses, provide travel and supply allowances, and accommodate living expenses through an annual stipend (ranging from $26,000 to $39,000). Overall grants typically range from $600,000 - $1,000,000. These monetary awards compare to approximately $250,000 of pre-tax income.[citation needed]

Since MSTP grants are a type of National Research Service Award, students must be nationals (citizens or noncitizens) of the United States or possess a I-151 or I-551 alien registration receipt. However many MSTPs offer non-MSTP grant funded positions, allowing for non-citizens and non-legalized nationals to be accepted into the MD-PhD program at that particular school. These programs are indistinguishable between the students besides the funding source. Furthermore, many non-MSTP medical schools have MD-PhD programs that are not supported by the NIH but offer similar training opportunities and grant money.[citation needed]

Allied-institution programs

Several MSTPs allow for the PhD portion of the MSTP to be completed outside the home university at an allied institution. These relationships provide additional and sometimes stronger research opportunities to students in these MSTPs.


Institution Year Founded Allied Institution(s)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine 1964
Baylor College of Medicine 1976 Rice University
Case Western Reserve University 1975 Cleveland Clinic
Columbia University 1969
Cornell University 1974 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and The Rockefeller University (Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program)
Duke University 1966
Emory University 1976 Georgia Institute of Technology
Harvard University 1974 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Indiana University 1993 Purdue University
Johns Hopkins University 1975
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science 1986
Medical College of Wisconsin 2010
Medical University of South Carolina 1999
Mount Sinai School of Medicine 1976
New York University 1964
Northwestern University 1964
Oregon Health & Science University 1982
Penn State University 2018[citation needed]
Stanford University 1968
Stony Brook University 1992 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory
Ohio State University 2011
Tufts University 1994
University of Alabama
at Birmingham
University of Arizona 1990
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine 1999
University of California, Los Angeles 1983 California Institute of Technology
University of California, San Diego 1975 Salk Institute, The Scripps Research Institute, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
University of California, San Francisco 1977 University of California, Berkeley
University of Chicago 1968
University of Cincinnati 2002 Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
University of Colorado Denver 1993 University of Colorado Boulder and National Jewish Health
University of Illinois at Chicago 2007
University of Iowa 1976
University of Maryland, Baltimore 2010 University of Maryland, College Park, NIH Intramural Research Program
University of Massachusetts 2013
University of Miami 2018
University of Michigan 1980
University of Minnesota 1988
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1999 North Carolina State University
University of Pennsylvania 1969 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
University of Pittsburgh 1987 Carnegie Mellon University
University of Rochester 1973
University of Texas Southwestern 1982
University of Virginia 1976
University of Washington 1970
University of Wisconsin-Madison 1968
Vanderbilt University 1976
Virginia Commonwealth University 2022
Washington University in St. Louis 1969
Yale University 1969


According to a 2010 report of students from the 1970s-2010s, 95% of MSTP graduates entered a residency program after graduation.

Applicants for NIH research grants that completed an MSTP program were three times more likely to be successfully funded than graduates with an MD/PhD that did not participate in an MSTP program.

Non-MSTP MD-PhD programs

A number of medical schools without funded NIH MSTP grant slots maintain their own non-MSTP MD-PhD combined degree programs, sometimes offering full or partial student financial support funded by the schools themselves. As of 2021, 75 institutions provide a means for non-MSTP MD-PhD education in the United States. Internationally, there are 34 non-US institutions that provide MD–PhD training.

See also


  1. ^ DVM-PhD, not to be confused UCD's non-MSTP MD-PhD program.

This page was last updated at 2024-02-10 15:10 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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