Apr 10, 2010
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Chicago, IL
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Other Health Professions Student
Hey guys,

I am a first time poster, but long time stalker of SDN...bare with me please!

I am currently an MPH student that is very interested in applying for a DO/Phd program (specifically MSUCOM, PhD in Epi... but advice on any DO/Phd is my main concern and is greatly appreciated). It seems to me that this forum is filled with MD/Phd information but due to the different nature and training of Osteopathic medicine, I was wondering for those who have done a dual degree, been accepted, or also wanting to apply:

1) What are the academic and extracurricular expectations (either formal requirements or un-written requirements/expectations) for a DO/Phd program? Are they the same as a MD/Phd?

2) What things did you do/are you doing to make yourself a marketable candidate? (ie. gpa, volunteering, research)

3)Are there any keys to success for applying to DO/Phd program?

4) How does having a Masters or Post-bacc increase/decrease your chances?

P.S Ive got a little time, I plan to apply for the 2011-2012 cycle.

Thanks...I Heart SDN!
 
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MNIkid87

10+ Year Member
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Jul 25, 2007
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MD/PhD Student
I'll bite. I am starting in Michigan State's DO/PhD program in about 2 months, and I applied to both MD/PhD programs as well as MSU's DO/PhD. At the end of the day, I think that what makes you attractive to an MD PhD program is what makes you attractive to DO PhD programs as well, i.e. good gpa, good mcat, tons of research experience. Only difference in the admissions process imho is that the application is not as nicely integrated as in the allopathic programs. It's extremely separated into MSUCOM and grad school admissions. Also, it seems to me that the nature and training are not that different anymore with regards to DO vs MD .... at the end of the day it's the same classes (except for OMM), and the whole patient-centered philosophy thing has also been stressed a lot when I interviewed at MD schools.

To give you a bit more detail about MSU's application process, since you said that's the program you are interested inn:
1) You submit the primary and secondary apps for MSUCOM
2) You fill out a short form that queries a) your gpa, b) your mcat, c) your gre (optional if you have a good mcat), and d) your research experience and send it to the program director (Dr. MCCormick). He'll screen the initial applicants, and if you are a strong enough applicant he'll do a first phone interview
3) you fill out an app for the grad program you are interested in
4) you fill out the MD PhD program application, most of which is about your research experience
5) grad program invites you for interviews (if good enough). In addition to the interviews with the grad program (in my case neuro), you have interviews with the program director of the DO-PhD program.
6) the grad program has to admit you separately
7) from the candidates admitted to both MSUCOM and the grad program, the DO/PhD program picks 2-4 they want to admit.

Now specific answers to your questions:

1) as previosuly said, good gpa, good mcat, as much relevant research experience as possible. GPA and MCAT can be somewhat below what you need for an MD/PhD program, but then again that might depend on the program in question. Hard to say which one of these points is more important, but I guess research is a big one.

2) Same as one. I guess for MSU it's about having the gpa and MCAT that is high enough to get you into MSUCOM and the research experience necessary to get you into the grad program and the DO/PhD program. DO research that is at least somewhat related to the grad department you are applying to. Some of my research was a little too far away (well, arterial stiffness -> atherosclerosis -> strokes -> neuro, so I guess over a few corners it was semi-relevant), so when describing what I did occasionally got me a few puzzled faces. Make sure there is actually research here that interests you, figure out why you are a fit for the program, that's something that the grad program's decision is based on I think.

3) Same as previously mentioned. Good gpa, mcat, and research experience. One med school and one grad school app means you have to make yourself a competitive candidate for two different programs. Before going for interviews make sure you can explain your research and what you wanna do to people - practice that with your mom or grandma. Oh, and be well-behaved at the interviews, and at the interview with the program director show that the MSTP thing is well thought out for you and that you know what you're getting into. Maybe work with a clinician-scientist (MD-PhD or DO-PhD). Did that full-time for a year and gave me some credibility regarding my claim that I have an idea of what this career choice means


4) Bumping up your gpa = making you more competitive with regards to COM admissions. Masters can also help you by getting you research experience, especially if relevant to your chosen graduate program.


Hope this helps in some way or another. If you have any more questions feel free to ask and I ll try to answer them if I can (e.g. program structure etc.).
 
Last edited:
Apr 10, 2010
28
0
0
Chicago, IL
Status
Other Health Professions Student
Wow thanks a million MNIkid87 for the advice and insight

Question:
Do you know about how many kids applied for a DO/phd during your application cycle? Just trying to get a sense of the odds

Also, Are there funding opportunities available for the Phd side?

Finally, How early should you apply for the phd? I'd wanna apply for DO as early as possible like as soon as the aacomas open in May 2011...
 

MNIkid87

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2007
135
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Status
MD/PhD Student
No problem.

With regards to your first question - that's hard to gauge particularly because pre-selection is conducted by Dr. McCormick, the program director. I.e., before they let you apply for the DO PhD route they typically check the short form with your credentials and then tell you to go ahead or not. All I know is they typically accept 3 or 4 new DO/PhDs or so. Sorry I cant be of more help. For what it's worth, at the neuroscience interview weekend there were 2 other DO/PhD candidates interviewed aside from me. But that doesn't help you really because that doesn't tell you anything about how many were interviewed in the other grad programs (remember, interview days are by the grad program, e.g. neuroscience, pharm-tox, epi, etc.). Chances are that, if you are invited there for an interview, and you are doing well at the interview, you have a good shot. For neuroscience typically the saying is that, if you get into COM and the neuroscience grad program, you are typically in the DO/PhD unless you do something that's worth a red flag... but again, that's just what I was told back then by another student, so take it with a grain of salt.


For your second question, funding is the following:
No matter where you are from, you are getting a scholarship / graduate assistantship. That means you have in-state tuition (22k), of which the assistantship covers half. SO you are left with ~11k in tuition. On top, you get ~22k per year as a stipend (plus health insurance and stuff). Further, depending on your academic track record you might get additional merit scholarships, such as a Dell Fellowship. How much that one is depends on the availability of funds, the applicant, etc. My knowledge with regards to the Dell scholarship is restricted to an N=1, so again take it with a grain of salt, but in the case I know it takes care of a bit more than half of the remainder of tuition fees.
The support is for the entire length of the program. Further, you can of course always apply for extramural funding as well.


Apply for the PhD when Dr. McCormick gives you the OK to apply to the DO/PhD combined program. Not before, because otherwise you are wasting the grad application fee. Usually, the way it should work is
1) DO App + OK from Dr. McCormick
2) DO admission (if you are a strong enough applicant for DO/PhD that's usually not an issue) + PhD application
3) interview for grad program + DO/PhD
4) admission into grad program
5) admission into joint degree

Applying early sounds like a good plan. I made the mistake of applying late (a few days AFTER the aacomas deadline actually, which lead to major extra work for all parties involved), at the point where COM was pretty much just waitlisting people (at least according to the admissions office). I then got invited to the neuroscience interview weekend, then got admitted to COM, then filled out and submitted the neuroscience grad school application, then attended the interview weekend, and then got into grad and DO/PhD. So doing stuff last minute leads to an unnecessary hassle for everybody that you'd want to avoid :)