Frequently Asked Questions

Application Process

Q1:  How many applicants do you interview and how many are admitted every year?
A:  On average, six students out of the 30-40 interviewed are admitted to the program every year.

Q2:  Do I have to apply to a specific graduate program?
A:  Yes. 

Q3:  Can I tour the campus and meet current students?
A:  Yes. Please contact the DO-PhD Program Office at (517) 353-7785 to make arrangements.

Q4:  Can I enter the DO-PhD Program after I have already started medical school?
A:  Yes. After being admitted to a Ph.D. program, completing MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine preclinical coursework (years 1 and 2) and the COMLEX Level 1 board exam, candidates can enter the DO-PhD Program. Students wishing to do this should apply to a graduate program at the beginning of the second year of medical school. Students must be competitive with other DO-PhD applicants. It is also a good idea to contact the DO-PhD program office and make an appointment with the co-director to discuss your plan.

Q5:  Can I transfer from another college of osteopathic medicine to MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and enter the DO-PhD Program?
A:  No, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine does not take transfer students from other COMs.

Q6:  Can I complete one degree before beginning the other?
A:  No. Trainees are admitted to the DO-PhD Program only if they will be working on both a Ph.D. and a medical degree simultaneously. Trainees may complete both degrees one after the other, but they would not be considered part of the DO-PhD Program.

Offer of Admissions

Q7:  If not accepted to the combined DO-PhD Program, does that mean I will not be accepted to the medical school?
A:  No. Not being admitted to the DO-PhD Program will not affect your admission to medical school.

Q8:  When will I be contacted if I have been accepted to the DO-PhD Program?
A:  Admissions decisions are made in February or March. Students offered admission are contacted by email. Students must notify the DO-PhD Office by a specified date to accept the admission offer.

Q9:  When do I start the DO-PhD Program?
A:  DO-PhD trainees admitted to the program are expected to begin mid-May to mid-June. The summer semester begins with a laboratory rotation; students in arts and letters or social science PhD degree programs normally begin fall semester.

General Information

Q10:  Is the DO-PhD program an MSTP?
A:  No. The DO-PhD Physician-Scientist Training Program at Michigan State University is not an MSTP NIH-sponsored program. However, our DO-PhD Program offers similar training and benefits as those programs that have NIH MSTP funding.

Q11:  Can I get a Ph.D. in a clinical department?
A:  No. The PhD must be conferred by a degree-granting department or program, and no Michigan State University clinical department grants the Ph.D. However, most scientists in clinical departments either have joint appointments with basic science departments or are members of interdepartmental programs such as genetics, neuroscience, or cell and molecular biology.

Q12:  Are there teaching requirements?
A:  No. The DO-PhD Program has no teaching requirements.

Q13:  Will my training differ from regular PhD students?
A:  No. Ph.D. training for DO-PhD trainees is just as rigorous and intensive as it is for regular graduate students. However, DO-PhD trainees complete their preclinical medical school curriculum before starting full-time dissertation research.

Q14:  Will I be able to refresh my clinical skills during the three-year laboratory research period?
A:  Yes. The DO-PhD program has integrated a part of the clerkship curriculum during the research years to provide trainees an opportunity to translate what they see in clinic back to the laboratory, and also to ensure that their clinical skills do not diminish during the years they are completing the Ph.D.

Q15:  Can I begin my hospital-based clerkships while writing my dissertation?
A:  No. All students must complete the dissertation, defend it and deposit it to the graduate school before starting hospital-based clerkships.

Student Life

Q16:  Will I have special responsibilities as a DO-PhD student?
A:  Yes. Besides the obvious challenge of balancing graduate and medical training, we ask all DO-PhD trainees to play an integral role in recruitment, educational and social programs and evaluating incoming applicants.

Q17:  Are there special social events for DO-PhD students?
Yes. Trainees are expected to attend the three social gatherings held by the DO-PhD Program each year: A welcome picnic for new students, a graduation dinner to congratulate graduates and and an end of the semester gathering in December.

Q18:  Are there special educational programs for DO-PhD students?
A:  Yes. All trainees are required to attend an ongoing series of seminars held during the academic year:

  • A research retreat held annually, where individual trainees present their research and progress.
  • The Seminar Speaker Series, where invited clinical researchers discuss how they combine the practice of clinical medicine and research and reflect on their careers.
  • Three student-driven programs per semester: Medical Enigmas in Biomedical Research, Clinical Journal Club, and Translational Medicine.