harder to get into any phd programs than med school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by scrubswannabe, May 8, 2008.

  1. scrubswannabe

    scrubswannabe Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    What do you think? It must be harder to get into certain phd programs like maybe phd in neuroscience or phd in math? or maybe just as hard as it is to get into med school?

    anyone know?- i was always curious
     
  2. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. TheRealMD

    TheRealMD "The Mac Guy"

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,769
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Doubtful. You can tell which is more competitive where you see the less free money. Med schools definitely spend less on their students than graduate schools do.

    Imagine a med school paying for your travel expenses when interviewing. Some grad schools do that, you know? A big pipe-dream in med school land. :rolleyes:
     
  4. paranoid_eyes

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2006
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    yes, i imagine it harder to land a graduate position in computer science at Cal tech than it is to get a spot in A med school. this is probably because med school applicants (for the most part) are average. people applying for exceptionally prestigious grad schools like those at MIT and Harvard are more qualified, thus it is more difficult.

    then again, the whole grad school process can get more complex because if you have contacts at a school (or your undergraduate PI is best friends with a faculty member at your target school) it gets easier. the application process for both focus on different things (you get few brownie points for volunteer when applying for grad school).

    however, in general, getting a grad school position SOMEWHERE is easier than getting into med school SOMEWHERE
     
  5. HumidBeing

    HumidBeing In Memory of Riley Jane
    Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2007
    Messages:
    18,700
    Likes Received:
    7
    It would depend on the school as well as the general program. What can be more difficult is completing the program to the point where you actually receive the PhD. Sometimes they get a Masters as a consolation, but not always.
     
  6. Raryn

    Raryn Infernal Internist / Enigmatic Endocrinologist
    Physician

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Messages:
    6,432
    Likes Received:
    4,423
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    There are some programs that are as competitive as med schools (or more competitive). When you have 600 applicants for 10 spots (like some PhD programs), its more competitive than when you have 6000 applicants for 120 spots.

    The total lack of spots is the reason that a lot of PhD programs are competitive though... Its also the reason why its harder to become a veterinarian than a doctor (there are practically no vet schools).
     
  7. 172858

    172858 America = The New Texas

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Messages:
    654
    Likes Received:
    3
    my PI told me, as a general rule of thumb:

    grad school = easier to get in, but easier to get weeded out and not complete your candidacy as well
    med school = harder to get i, but almost impossible to fail out and not complete your degree
     
  8. Mister Pie

    Mister Pie Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2005
    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Medical Student
    In my opinion, it is more difficult to be truly "qualified" for the top PhD programs. I would guess that the majority of the people here (and in the general population) are not qualified to get a PhD in theoretical physics. That said, whereas one can probably get into a good grad school simply by being brilliant (and probably by doing research), there are considerably more hoops to jump through for the medical school application process.
     
  9. ymnCheetos

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Messages:
    2,530
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Medical Student
    There is a tried and true method for getting into medical school. Do these EC's, get this GPA, score this on the MCAT and you are competitive. It may be very tough, but at least you know what you have to do. PhD programs are more ambiguous, but not necessarily more difficult to gain acceptance to.
     
  10. mimivirus

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
    totally agree with this...

     
  11. Wylde

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    it's not "what" PhD but "where"

    The people competing for PhD programs at top labs (MIT, Caltech, some Ivies and top state schools) are probably more intelligent than 95% (just a guess, no evidence) of the people applying to medical school. They also have a lot of research and a real passion for the work.

    I would say the top PhD programs are probably more competitive than the top Medical school programs. PhD programs look more at the potential to produce great work then they do GPAs (once you reach a 3.7 or so, it doesn't really matter anymore).
     
  12. TheRealMD

    TheRealMD "The Mac Guy"

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    Messages:
    4,769
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Well, he said ANY PhD program, not "top" programs. The "top" of anything is hard to get into, that's why by definition, it is the top. ;)
     
  13. Wylde

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Fair enough, I guess I didn't address the exact question :(

    On that note, I'd have to say it is probably much easier to get into any PhD program than any allopathic school.

    I assume a lot of the people that would make mid-tier PhD programs competitive, probably apply to law/med/business school instead. These schools have better financial futures for the people that are on the fence. This probably alleviates the competition in non-top PhD programs, making them easier than MD schools.
     
  14. mimivirus

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
    id like to add this observation...mainly because my sig. other is a phD candidate in chemistry at the top program in the country (consistently ranked) and i like to think that im smarter (haha) --

    there are people from his program (who have attained the phD) and applied to medical school and not gotten into the 'top' programs. in fact im a little shocked...for the cases that come to mind...we all went to the same undergrad, they went to this top chem grad school, got their phDs and applied to med school and got into pretty good but not 'top' med schools...or what someone concerned with rankings or prestige would consider equivalent for the field...

    ultimately this really just goes to show that intellect aside, these programs (med v. phD in chem) are looking for totally diff experiences, qualifications, types of people....and a person who can get into a 'top' med program may not get into the equivalent phD prog and vice versa...

    but in my mind...the med student is ALWAYS FAR superior ;)



     
  15. Chuckwalla

    Chuckwalla Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Messages:
    872
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Depends on the program. I know psychology PhD programs are so competitive they make med school applicants look like shoo-ins. Meanwhile, other programs cannot even fill their spots.
     
  16. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  17. LindsayRein1

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Clinical psychology is one of the hardest PhD programs to get into. Granted, a psychology major may be less difficult than taking your pre-requisites for medical school, it is still extrodinarily competative. A 4.0 is literally a dime a dozen and if you don't have a publication coming out of undergrad, you're looking at doing a ton of post-bac research to get into a Clinical Psych PhD program.

    How many people going into medical school have a 4.0 and publications? Several, I am sure... but not the majority.
     
  18. 146233

    146233 Phthirius pubis

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    Messages:
    6,531
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Medical Student
    This also depends on the program.
     
  19. LindsayRein1

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    I think all PhD programs in Clinical Psychology, at top, or even middle/bottom ranked schools have the same technical standards. I was a psychology advisor during undergrad so I had to know all of these stats. You might be thinking of the level of difficulty of other clinical psychology doctoral programs, like the PsyD, which is an entirely different story :)
     
  20. james1988

    Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    entrance to a PhD program in Philosophy is much harder than getting into med school. This is well known.
     
  21. Chuckwalla

    Chuckwalla Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Messages:
    872
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    You are right, it is difficult to get into any psychology PhD program. It is the same idea that it is difficult to get into any allo med school. I am pretty sure it is even difficult to get into a PsyD programs. If I recall correctly, psychology is one of, if not the, most popular college major. It is pretty useless alone, hence the stiff competition for grad programs.
     
  22. Chuckwalla

    Chuckwalla Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Messages:
    872
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    They teach you over a thousand eloquent ways to say, "Do you want fries with that?"
     
  23. LindsayRein1

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    You're right : ) Good call
     
  24. ryandote

    ryandote Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,170
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Medical Student
    .
     
    #22 ryandote, May 9, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  25. 1956Goldtop

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,036
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Certain Ph.D. programs have pretty ridiculous requirements and averages for getting in. Clinical Psychology and Engineering come to mind.
     
  26. hra87

    hra87 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    0
    From 1994 (I know, I know, I don't subscribe to US News and I found this from MIT's website using google) for electrical engineering at MIT (top program):

    Applied 1747 Admitted 217

    For Harvard MD (2008):

    Applied 6642 Admitted (I don't know, it's something like 217)


    Someone could find better data, but the difference here is so huge it's pretty obvious.


    Edit: When you get into smaller and smaller fields, a PhD is going to be harder to get into. Like a specific program that is only offered at 1 school with 2 total people accepted. Stuff like that. But in a large field, I think MD would be the hardest. Not sure though (don't know about clinical psychology as everyone is mentioning).
     
  27. james1988

    Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    what is wrong with you?
    a PhD in philosophy is one of the most admirable academic feats one can strive to achieve. You represent all that I hate about most pre-meds; to you, if a guy isn't carrying around a shiny stethoscope at the end of his formal education, or doesn't wear a crisp white lab coat to work, he is inferior and has not achieved anything worth half a kudos. Such an attitude, in an ideal world, would preclude you from being a doctor. People like you make me absolutely sick.
     
  28. hra87

    hra87 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    0
    Lower the font buddy...the kid was making a joke (plus there ARE a lot of out of work philosophy PhD's...my philosophy professors made similair jokes every 5 minutes during class).

    I'd like to see data showing why it's harder, btw.
     
  29. bioteach

    bioteach MSIV

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student

    This is a good point. Alot of people get in to grad school, but the failure/career change rate is higher than med school.
     
  30. james1988

    Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    i love how any disparaging comment that rouses anger can be seamlessly dispelled as "merely a joke"

    we live in a society of jokers, and pointing something out as a joke cannot and should not ameliorate the injustice uttered thereby
     
  31. ryandote

    ryandote Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,170
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Medical Student
    .
     
    #29 ryandote, May 9, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  32. Begaster

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    775
    Likes Received:
    2

    Not really, because these are self-selected groupings. The 6000 applicants could be, on average, more accomplished students.
     
  33. Cataract

    Cataract Pentavarit Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    1
    Seriously? Grad programs are no where near as difficult to get into as med school. I applied to grad and med school and got into all 7 BME grad programs I applied to, including a couple ivies.

    All you need to get into most PhD programs is a GPA over 3.5 and a decent GRE score. For science grads, some research would help. You don't need to shadow a PhD. You don't need to volunteer in the community. You don't need to prove you're a kind and caring person.
     
  34. Wylde

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    What is your point? I'm going to gouge my eyes out if I see one more person who uses this stupid argument.

    # of applicants : # of seats does NOT determine how competitive programs are.

    The quality (GPA, MCAT/PCAT/DAT, ECs) of the applicants determine how hard a program is.

    Hypothetical Situations (using extremes to prove my point):

    1) 110 applicants for 100 spots in program 1. 100 of the 110 applicants are physics/engineering majors from MIT with 4.0, top 99.9% test scores, research, international volunteering, forming community service organizations, and great LORs.

    2) 1,000 applicants for 100 spots in program 2. Almost every applicant is from a CC with a 2.0 GPA and no ECs.

    Which program is more competitive/hard to get into to?

    Obviously program 1, even though program 2 has 10 times the applicants for the same amount of spots.
     
  35. Dendrite

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Messages:
    770
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    This reminded me of Mr. Wilson from Home Improvement. He was an incredibly smart guy who could quote philosophers of the ages like no other. But, in the end of the day, he was the next door neighbor of a cable television host, instead of living the life of luxury. It has nothing to do with PhD's in Philosophy being difficult (which I'm sure it is), but rather society's need for philosophers. That's probably why that guy said that comment about philosophers and french fries.

    Aren't you a premed yourself? I think it's best to lighten up a little bit in this instance.

    PS: I know some brilliant students who were philosophy majors, so I can understand how tough it is.
     
  36. dArroway

    dArroway Gettin' my hood on

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Period. Show or ban.
     
  37. Cegar

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,053
    Likes Received:
    2
    It's not so much the career as the base of knowledge.

    Philosophy used to be a pretty admirable field of study. It was the general pursuit of knowledge - be it math, science, or human. It has now changed into something entirely different. It seems now to be the study of archaic quotations in order to bring them up at inappropriate times to make oneself appear learned.

    Yeah, that's a bit of a pithy summation, but it's taken from my anecdotal experiences with Ph.D's and students. It's hard to take a department seriously when they've not produced any societally significant work in the past few centuries.

    The study of thinking is nice, but it's not like a chemistry major couldn't come up with the same damn ideas by using their equally capable brain. And then the chemistry major would know a bit about how the universe works, too.

    You know?
     
  38. hra87

    hra87 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2006
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    0

    Except the fact that we, you know, have the ability to extrapolate that this won't be a great discrepency between top programs in two seperate fields. It's far more likely to be an effect within a single field. If you have other data (GPA of engineering majors accepted into top 10 med programs over the last 10 years vs. average GPA of engineers in top 10 engineering programs in particular would be useful) to show why this is wrong, please feel free to post it. Until then, without a specific explanation for why this is a bad metric (for instance, that people tend to be more selective when applying for PhD programs or that people who want to be engineers are smarter and harder wroking, neither of which I think is true), I will run with it.
     
  39. slouch

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    MD/PhD Student
    It depends on the program and the school.

    Some lower-tiered schools can't even fill their spots and recruit a great majority of their students from India.

    Top schools are as difficult if not more so than medical schools to get into. A top cancer biology program that I know of only accepted less than ten students two years ago, out of a couple hundred applicants.

    These top programs pay you to be there to do research, so you'd better be qualified for the job.
     
  40. Classic17

    Classic17 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2007
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Sometimes when you go to such extremes your argument can lose some of its potency. I think we all see your point, but solid, tangible data would more effectively support your argument and possibly keep us all from gouging our eyes out.
     
  41. Didmybest

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    PhD programs are harder at top schools because most MD applicants are morons, so the huge numbers of applicants schools get are probably weeded through fairly quickly to a manageable size.
     
  42. ryandote

    ryandote Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,170
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Medical Student
    .
     
    #40 ryandote, May 9, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  43. Didmybest

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    I did, and I'm not trying to be a jerk about this (my original post was not that nice actually ;\ sorry) but the fact of the matter is, I see way too many people applying to top schools with numbers several standard deviations below the average, and it makes no sense to do that.

    I guess I should of replaced the word moron with unrealistic expectations :(
     
  44. beachblonde

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    1,256
    Likes Received:
    4
    Status:
    Medical Student
    By saying "grad programs," well yes, you're correct, but at the same rate, there are certainly some programs that make getting into medical school look like a joke. The problem with trying to saying one is easier than the other is that there is this underlying assumption that the programs are looking for the same things, and that all of the programs are equal. US medical schools are highly standardized, and you can trust that a guy with an MD has a good education, regardless of what the school name on his degree is. As for a PhD, you can go to a range of schools where there is a huge variance in the quality of teaching and research.

    Also, medical schools and PhD programs just require different things from their applicants. I don't entirely agree with you, Cataract, regarding just GPA and GRE to get into grad school; having seen the struggles my friends have had to get into PhD programs in a variety of disciplines, I would say that there is a lot more being considered than those two numbers. And no, a PhD in immunology doesn't require you to shadow a PhD or volunteer, because it's not looking for somebody who wants to be medical doctor. They're looking for somebody who has the intellectual capacity to do solid research and teach. I just don't think it's valid to compare grad schools versus medical schools (versus anything else, fwiw) because they aren't the same. People aren't picking one or the other because it's easier to get into (at least, they shouldn't be....of course some do, but that's not the best decision).
     
  45. BigRedder

    BigRedder Passing Gas

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2008
    Messages:
    728
    Likes Received:
    4
    Status:
    Medical Student
    While it isn't a PhD, I think it may be harder to get into a good MBA program than a good medical school. Real world experience is a requirement, and it is almost impossible to be accepted straight out of college. The huge tuition is another indicator.

    A word about Philosophy PhDs. One could argue that they are in fact admirable because they represent the pursuit of knowledge with no assurance of personal gain. The trouble is that there is little market for the degree outside of academia, a field with very little turnover and heavy competition.
     
  46. GreenShirt

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Messages:
    1,464
    Likes Received:
    3
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Generally: MD/PhD>MD>PhD

    PhD programs are easy to get into simply because not a lot of people apply to them. The PhD route is a lot of work for a very small pay off, so most of the science talent gets routed to med school. PhD programs "wine and dine" their candidates in addition to taking them out to Broadway plays, wine tasting trips open bars and so on when they come to interview in an attempt to recruit them into their programs (oh and did I mention the candidates are flown out by the school?). You definitely don't get this kind of treatment when applying to med school.
     
  47. Cegar

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,053
    Likes Received:
    2
    "Knowledge."
     
  48. BigRedder

    BigRedder Passing Gas

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2008
    Messages:
    728
    Likes Received:
    4
    Status:
    Medical Student
    While this may be true about Biology graduate programs, it is not necessarily true in other fields unrelated to medicine.
     
  49. ryandote

    ryandote Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,170
    Likes Received:
    5
    Status:
    Medical Student
    .
     
    #47 ryandote, May 9, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  50. mimivirus

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
    its really difficult to gauge 'competitiveness' between these two programs--unfortunately the financial incentives and the competitiveness of funding for (for instance) scientific research often dissuade some of the best and brightest from entering this line of study. coming from a top-tier ivy my bf said that a grand total of 3 people from the chem dept chose to pursue chem grad school whereas i would say the majority of people who we graduated with went onto pre-professional progs (law/med) or ibanking/consulting (regardless of their concentrations). i think in general unless the individual is truly passionate about their line of graduate study, its a long road (i have heard it described as a dark tunnel, where you know there is an end, but you have no idea when or where it is), phD, most fields (in science) will require a post-doc, and in the current atmosphere of funding the average age to get your first RO1 in biological sciences these days (NIH sponsored funding for investigators...im not sure the specifics but i hear people discuss this all the time, and i guess it could be equivalent to getting a secure position is at age 42)

    because of this phd progs and med progs attract diff people with diff goals so its REALLY hard to compare. sadly many passionate researchers fall off the pHD path because the reward for their work i think is the most disparate that exists in any field/profession (they dont get compensation representative of their hard work, breadth of knowledge, intelligence, training etc). in the lab i work in alone since i have been here one grad student (who had a first author nature AND cell paper) went into patent law (she had a law degree prior to her phD); another post-doc left to work for mckinsey (consulting), and another just disappeared...and many postdocs are nearing their fifth year in postdoctoral training and are finding the job opps bleak rite now.

    anyways i have the utmost respect for phDs....they work their butts off and arent fairly compensated for what they are worth...nevertheless like i said in an earlier post, people i know from my sig others 'top' phD program dint fare as well in the meschool app process...

    anyways for those more curious on phd life...tho i am not one, i observe them a lot (haha) and phDcomics.com i think portrays the experience quite accurately =)


    edit...i guess i just repeated what a bunch of people already stated...ah well check out phdcomics!!!
     
  51. smeagol

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    0
    1. It might "seem" that way to you but you must understand that the "history" of philosophy is actually just a small part of studying philosophy. There is actually research that extends beyond examining in detail past works. Sometime during your education you might have come across the word, 'ethics' or 'morals.'

    2. Societally significant? What does that mean and in comparison to who? What societally significant works have English doctorates produced, and what were they for? This is weird.

    3. You mean either:

    (A) Student majoring in chemistry could have come up with equally good ideas if he/she had chosen philosophy as a major.

    or

    (B) Student majoring in chemistry can comment at a level equivalent to a student majoring in philosophy on various philosophical topics.


    (A) is uninteresting and probably not what you meant.

    (B) requires some further clarification. If the chemistry student has had no prior exposure to philosophy, I can't see how he/she could possibly be considered equally as competent as a student of philosophy who is of comparable competence in comparison to the chemistry student in their respective departments.

    Or perhaps you meant

    (B1): that the student majoring in chemistry would be equally as competent (or very close) to a student of philosophy given some minor exposure, i.e. has taken a few undergraduate courses that discussed various topics.

    I take B1 to be false as well. It would be like comparing a doctoral graduate in philosophy who had taken some undergraduate courses in chemistry. He/she would have some knowledge of the particular field but it wouldn't be quite as impressive.
     
  52. Wylde

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    I think this was his point (kind of) and I think you're wrong:

    A PhD in chemistry would be able to compete significantly better in philosophy against a PhD in philosophy, than a the Philosophy PhD would be able to compete in chemistry.
     

Share This Page