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Jun 3, 2002
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Hi all,

After shrugging nonchalantly at not finding Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeon's on the AMCAS primary application, I finally went to their website today. Turns out that they have their own application, and their selection process is NOT rolling. But you guys probably already knew that.

The interesting thing I found out was that Columbia advertises their MSTP program to be 6 years. 2+3+1. Although it is possible that the graduate portion spills over into a fourth year, Columbia has condensed the 2 clinical years into "1 year" (13 months) - albeit I didn't stick around long enough to figure out whether this is for everyone or just MSTP.

So I am wondering -- what other schools have a shortened MSTP, which doesn't follow the traditional 2+3(4)+2 format?

Also, on their online application, under the MD/PhD tab, they ask for GRE scores. Are these required?



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Jun 12, 2002
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Columbia does not require GRE scores. If you didn't take the test, don't put anything down.

However, I don't know if other schools advertise a six year program. Anyone?


i think that 6 years is highly dependent on how long your phd takes obviously. 6 years seems way too fast - just like those 6 year ba/md programs. penn and duke could possibly advertise a 7 year or even 6 year program due to their condensed basic science years. ditto with yale cause they require a thesis (a phd more than covers that angle i imagine). i'm not getting a good feeling about columbia - you guys have any experience/thoughts on it? their traditional curric may not be my learning style - thuogh there are some excellent phd programs there in neuro and devo.

(hi jen):D
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Sep 20, 2001
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Columbia MSTP.....6 yrs???? :laugh:

Well I dunno what they're advertising but the biggest turnoff I had regarding the Columbia MSTP was that anyone I knew that was either going through the program or the ones I know who completed the program took a FREAKIN long time (i.e. there were two that took 11 yrs to finish).

I don't want to go into too much of the political details regarding the Columbia MSTP but let's just say that the timing there isn't known to be generally pleasant.

Nonetheless, they have some excellent basic research labs and my buddies that completed there, are some great scientists :D

Gradient Echo

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I'm also somewhat skeptical of a program who claims an AVERAGE of 6 years total for MSTP. Even with 1 year of clinical rotations instead of 2, spending 3 years to get a PhD seems rather unlikley to me unless one or both of two things is true:

#1) You went to Columbia as an undergrad, you know exactly who you want to do your thesis with and are already fully knowledgeable about their research;

#2) You use all of your lab rotations on one lab and decide to stay there for your thesis.

I know that it can be done, but thats completely different than claiming that the avg student finishes in 6 years.

I know that Pitt claimed some last year that 6 years was a definite reality. Seems like I remember WashU stating that there were a couple of people who finished in 6 years.

How tightly are the last 2 years of med school scheduled? Do you not have to do as many clinical rotations or they dont cover as many areas? I guess the alternative to that is that many schools dont schedule a lot of stuff during the 4th year of med school.


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I too would be skeptical. However, I don't think it is unreasonable to complete your thesis within three years. Yes, you have to work hard and be somewhat lucky. You also need good people who will support you on your thesis committee. Doing lab rotations during the summer before and after the first year, taking some graduate coursework during the med school years, having overlap of courses, and getting into a thesis lab early with a reasonable project can all combine to shorten the training period.

The nice thing is that many programs ARE now actively making attempts to reduce the time to graduation. For students who plan to do residency and postdoctoral fellowships, these efforts are imperative.
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