Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Wake Forest University

Graduate School Home » Prospective Students » Programs of Study » MD/PhD Dual Degree Program

MD/PhD Dual Degree Program

Eric Hudgins, MD, PhD

Message from the Program Director

Dr. Christopher Whitlow
Chris Whitlow, MD, PhD
Program Director & Alumni
Associate Professor, Radiology
The MD/PhD program is a combined effort of the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Wake Forest University. In this integrated program, neither the MD nor the PhD degree is compromised. It has long been true that the clinician-scientist has provided an invaluable perspective for research related to human health and disease. The clinician approaches biomedical problems with a different viewpoint than that of most researchers trained in classical PhD programs.

The special value of this perspective is borne out in the fact that nearly 2/3 of recent Nobel prizes in Medicine and Physiology were awarded to MD or MD/PhD researchers. However, MDs trained in even the most prestigious institution rarely have the depth of research training provided in the standard PhD academic program.

In recent years, the increasing pace of research, the need for increasing knowledge of specific techniques, and the increasing competition for research funds have made it progressively more difficult for MD clinicians to succeed in a research-intensive career.

In this comprehensive program, the student gains the full perspective for identification and analysis of problems related to human health and also gains rigorous training in a basic discipline, which provides the depth of knowledge of scientific logic and techniques to provide for an effective, exciting and successful career in medical research.

The program seeks outstanding students who have experience in research and who have already shown aptitude and enthusiasm for research beyond the typical college curriculum. 

The Application Process

This is a highly competitive, limited program. In addition to outstanding grades and MCAT scores, the applicant should provide evidence of enthusiasm and aptitude for research, with prior research experience beyond that of college courses. This is an important factor in evaluation of the application.

Application to the MD/PhD Dual Degree Program is made initially through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). When the School of Medicine receives AMCAS applications, students are sent supplemental forms for application to the School of Medicine. The applicant should indicate interest in the combined MD/PhD program on the supplemental application. The School of Medicine supplemental packet requests an evaluation by the applicant’s premedical advisory committee. For the MD/PhD program, the applicant should also include letters of evaluation specifically addressing his or her research experience and abilities.

The Review Process and Interviews

After the supplemental application packet -- MCAT scores, and letter(s) of evaluation -- are received the application is routed to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for processing and review. Once the application is processed it is forwarded to the designated PhD program for review. If deemed competitive, applicants may then be invited to interview. Applicants interviewed for the dual degree program are no longer eligible for consideration to the MD program.

If the applicant accepts an invitation to interview, the interview dates are coordinated so the applicant interviews with both the school of medicine and graduate school during the same visit. Interviews are normally made during the months of November through January. Decisions and offers are made during February and March.

Participating Graduate Programs

Track 3 - Biology
Track 4 - Molecular and Cellular Biosciences - comprising of the following programs of study ...
    ° Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    ° Cancer Biology
    ° Microbiology and Immunology
    ° Molecular Medicine and Translational Science
    ° Molecular Genetics and Genomics
Track 5 - Integrated Physiology and Pharmacology
Track 6 - Neuroscience
Track 7 - Biomedical Engineering

Summer Prior to Entry into the Medical School Curriculum
8 Weeks First lab/research rotation
First Year of Medical School Curriculum
10 Months Complete first year of medical school coursework, which introduces core biochemical knowledge and basic cellular functions
Between Year I & Year II
3 Months Complete a second lab/research rotation
Second Year of Medical School Curriculum
9 Months Includes coursework in systems pathophysiology.  Complete Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam.  Student should choose a graduate advisor by the end of Year II.
Summer Following Year II & Prior to Entry into Graduate Program Curriculum
3 Months Complete first clinical rotation of 3rd year medical school.
Third – Fifth Year: Graduate Studies
   Complete advanced basic science coursework and conduct research. Dissertation research typically will be completed in years 3 – 5 and, if needed, a portion of year 6. The PhD dissertation will be completed and defended prior to returning to clinical studies. Throughout graduate school participate in the MD/PhD clinical continuity training experience.  This requires attending 2 afternoons each month in an outpatient clinic.
Sixth – Seventh Year: Third and Fourth Year Clinical Rotations of Medical School Curriculum
  Completing 3 months of clinical work prior to graduate school allows for greater flexibility for the date of return to medical school.  Typically enter in the spring.

Chris Whitlow, MD, PhD

Program Director
Assistant Professor, Radiology

Beth Whitsett

Admissions Coordinator
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences