Int'ls applying MSTP: where to apply and some general advice

BasilFawlty

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Hi all

I was a successful international MSTP applicant this cycle, and now that the process is over for me, I thought it time to come out of lurker status and give some input to future international MSTP applicants out there :)

Here are a bunch of schools to target and avoid.

List #1: Schools to *definitely* apply to.

UPenn, WashU, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Emory, UT-Southwestern, UVA, AECOM and Baylor.
These schools are wayyyy rich and *regularly* matriculate international students with full funding.

Special mention #1: Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine
It's a 5-year "research MD" program. They provide full-tuition scholarships even to internationals, so you only have to pay for living expenses. I think it's a pretty good deal. Highly recommend it, since they frequently interview/accept int'ls.

Special mention #2: There are certain DO/PhD programs out there (e.g. Michigan State) that provide subsidized tuition for the DO part, and stipend support for all years in the program. Might be something to consider. [Thanks to MNIkid87 for providing this info]

List #2: Schools that take int'ls, but only very rarely.

Harvard – 1 spot for internationals, but don't expect too much unless you fancy yourself as good as a Rhodes scholar with great research.
Hopkins – may offer unfunded spot, or privately funded spot, but again very rare, and hasn't happened last few years.
Stanford – may offer unfunded spot, but also rare.
Columbia, Cornell Tri-I, Mt. Sinai: claim they admit int'ls w/ funding, but haven't matriculated them on a regular basis.
UChicago: claim they accept internationals with full-funding under "exceptional circumstances", so again unless you're insanely qualified, it may be a waste of your time.
UMinn, Penn State, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Upstate, UT Houston: they accept internationals with full-funding, but being state schools, their funding is a little restricted. Also, they have very small class sizes.
Mayo, Dartmouth, Brown, MCW, Wake Forest, UCincinatti: open door for internationals, but VERY small class size. Apply if your research is a particularly good fit.
Tufts: offers unfunded spots.

List #3: Don't take internationals as their policy. Waste of your time/money – Avoid

ALL state schools not in list 1 or 2 (except UMD takes Canadians)
Duke (although they plan to change their "no int'ls" policy soon)
Yale (they take Canadians though)
Case Western, NYU, U. Rochester, UPitt

The above lists should give you a decent selection of 10ish schools to apply to. If you're willing to consider MD-only, then of course that list can be inflated a little bit.
DISCLAIMER: I'm obviously missing a bunch of schools. It's either because I don't know those schools' policy, or I've just forgotten to add them. Please feel free to add or comment…

Anyway, I hope this was useful. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
 
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BasilFawlty

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yes, green card holders are eligible to obtain funding through the NIH mstp grant, so they are no different from US citizens in this regard. At certain schools, albeit a small number, even Canadians are considered no different from US citizens.

"international" = applicants with F-1 student visa with at least a Bachelor's degree in the US.
 
Feb 12, 2010
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Thanks BasilFawlty! Very useful thread :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

As a successful international MSTP applicant myself, I agree 100% with your list. Also, I'd like to add Baylor College of Medicine to the list of programs that accept international students.

And to reiterate your point in the previous post, almost all the MST programs that take international students require that the applicants have a bachelor's degree from a US institution, and that they complete all requirements (courses, MCAT, GPA, research, volunteer work etc).
 

BasilFawlty

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Congrats on your success, wuba!
Baylor was in my "List #2", but I guess your input merits its move to "List #1"? :)
I'll make the change...
 

MNIkid87

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I'd add Michigan State D.O. / PhD program to the list of the ones you can definitely apply to as an international student (please abstain from turning this into a DO vs MD thread, this has been discussed ad nauseam). Funding's decent and they routinely take international students (exhibit a = me this year)
 

Neuronix

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I'd add Michigan State D.O. / PhD program to the list of the ones you can definitely apply to as an international student (please abstain from turning this into a DO vs MD thread, this has been discussed ad nauseam). Funding's decent and they routinely take international students (exhibit a = me this year)
I'm also not interested in turning this into a DO vs MD thread, I'm just curious. Are they giving full-funding?
 

MNIkid87

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They decrease your tuition to ~10 - 11 k per year and give you a 22k per year stipend. Some new students in previous years have gotten additional scholarships on top of that (according to the student bios on the website), which probably decrease those 10-11 k per year to a minimum. So it's not quite full funding but still manageable :) (especially for out-of-staters / internationals whose tuition shrinks from 65k to 11k)
 
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Congrats on your success, wuba!
Baylor was in my "List #2", but I guess your input merits its move to "List #1"? :)
I'll make the change...
Thx, and congrats to you too BasilFawlty!

I'd say Baylor belongs to List #1. I'm revisiting next week and will find out more about the number of international students who apply/get accepted, and will post here if I hear otherwise.
 

BasilFawlty

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I'd add Michigan State D.O. / PhD program to the list of the ones you can definitely apply to as an international student (please abstain from turning this into a DO vs MD thread, this has been discussed ad nauseam). Funding's decent and they routinely take international students (exhibit a = me this year)
Thanks for your input, MNIkid. I will edit my original post to include this info.
 

yetanother

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Congrats once again BasilFawlty and Wuba. I am extremely happy to even come to know of one or two intl applications who made into the MD/PhD program.
This gives us lots of hope.

Great job with the posting, Basil. I shall make another post shortly with whatever info i have about intl acceptance policy.

It would be really very useful if the two of you ( and others too) who have got admn can please give some important information, that is if u dont mind.

1. your vital stats-- mcat + gpa + research exp
2. Schools applied, Schools Interviewed and Schools Accepted
3. Any other useful information that will help us in the battle!!



also it wud be great if you guys can invite other successful intl applicants to join the forum and share their experience. as is clear, such ppl are far and few! so we need as much support as can be pulled in..

thanks a tonnnee..thanks a million!!:):):)
 

tejaswigokou

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Hi,

I wanted to ask you -

Since you made a clause F-1 with Bachelors in - U.S in the above earlier post.

If I'm International student & F-1 visa holder.
I did my
Bachelors (engineering)- India.
Masters - U.S (University of Florida - currently).

Do u know if I would still be eligible?

thanks.
 

BasilFawlty

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Hi,

I wanted to ask you -

Since you made a clause F-1 with Bachelors in - U.S in the above earlier post.

If I'm International student & F-1 visa holder.
I did my
Bachelors (engineering)- India.
Masters - U.S (University of Florida - currently).

Do u know if I would still be eligible?

thanks.
I'm afraid policies vary from school to school. I would email/call the schools in List 1&2 from my earlier post (don't bother with List3), and ask them individually what their policy is. Some of them will take you with the Master's in the US, others will expect the Bachelor's degree in the US as well. The ones that don't probably find the evaluation of foreign GPAs and coursework/prerequisites quite tedious...

That being said, even the ones that will accept an application from you, will expect an MCAT score, some validation that all prerequisites have been completed, and research in the US (definitely mention any work you completed outside the US, but not sure it will hold as much weight)

Hope that helps, and good luck!
 

BasilFawlty

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Congrats once again BasilFawlty and Wuba. I am extremely happy to even come to know of one or two intl applications who made into the MD/PhD program.
This gives us lots of hope.

Great job with the posting, Basil. I shall make another post shortly with whatever info i have about intl acceptance policy.

It would be really very useful if the two of you ( and others too) who have got admn can please give some important information, that is if u dont mind.

1. your vital stats-- mcat + gpa + research exp
2. Schools applied, Schools Interviewed and Schools Accepted
3. Any other useful information that will help us in the battle!!



also it wud be great if you guys can invite other successful intl applicants to join the forum and share their experience. as is clear, such ppl are far and few! so we need as much support as can be pulled in..

thanks a tonnnee..thanks a million!!:):):)
No prb, yetanother. I hope you have success too in the coming year(s).

Here are some thoughts I had on the application process. Before going into the nitty-gritty, I'd like to add a little perspective to the process. Internationals out there, think of it from the medical school's point-of-view – they have to spend close to $500,000 *of their own money* to train you over 8 years (yes, taking into account medical tuition and annual stipend, it does actually cost around that much!). These are private, unallocated funds ie. money they could have spent on anything – upgrading facilities, constructing new buildings etc – but they are choosing to spend it on you. If an MD/PhD student drops out of an NIH-funded spot for some reason, there is almost always some MD student willing to fill it, and balance is restored. If an international student drops out, the money they have spent on you until that point in your training is gone and never coming back. So what I'm trying to say that given the risks involved, it is actually quite remarkable that a handful of schools are even willing to accept & fund us, and we should be thankful for that. Now, it's our duty to show that we are a good investment, by becoming great physician-scientists :)

Anyway, that being said, the above concern is in large part the reason why I think there are higher standards for international applicants. Yet, if you develop a solid set of credentials and apply as broadly as the constraints allow, getting accepted is not impossible. There are some very useful threads here describing what makes a strong applicant (Neuronix's is great for example), but I'd like to add few points, based on my own experience, targeted towards int'ls (although I hope it's useful to everyone else applying too!)

#1: Have your goals clearly defined, and know what you're getting into.

I know this may seem obvious, but sometimes ambition makes you forget what you really want. Ask yourself what your career goals are, and if you really need an MD/PhD to satisfy them. Believe me, if a MD or a PhD alone can do the trick, as an international you are taking a big risk and going through a lot of trouble for something that may ultimately not make that big a difference to where you end up in your career. Now of course there's the debate of what particular career goals justify the combined degree as opposed to either degree on its own. I don't want to go into that, but let me just say that while the decision requires a great deal of self-reflection, people tend to see you as you see yourself i.e. if you are convinced of your justification for pursuing the MD/PhD, then others will be too.

#2: Have good stats and minimum number of red flags

Again, this may seem even more obvious than the previous tip, but given the risks I described earlier in this post, med schools have enough reason not to take you as it is, so make sure you don't give them too many more. What are "good stats"? I would say 3.7+ and 35+ is solid. Of course, this isn't set in stone, but I wouldn't want to be too far left of that range. When I say "red flags", I mean small inconsistencies that may to a regular applicant be inconsequential, but significant to an international. For example, avoid bumps in your academic record - 3.2 one semester, 4.0 the next, then 3.4 again, then 3.9 again etc – try to be as consistent as you can. Also, avoid re-taking the MCAT, and make sure you have a decent verbal score (I think 9+ is fine).
DISCLAIMER #1: Of course these are just guidelines to maximize your chances and minimize agony and tension during the process. Of course, things may not be completely in your control, and you may have a 3.6 and have taken two MCATs ending up with a 34. If your research is solid, you will still have a shot. But believe me, if you are a future int'l applicant, I would err on the side of neurotic, and build as "flawless" a profile as you can.

#3: Build up the "MD" side of your application, and apply to a combination of MD-only and MD/PhD programs.

I know there has been considerable debate over whether to apply to such a combination, and that the general consensus is that it should be avoided, but I think for int'ls it is a good option (if MD-only is financially viable). There are quite a few great programs out there that take international students for MD, but not MSTP (e.g. Hopkins, Stanford, Duke, Yale etc.). So if you build up the MD-side of your profile, including clinical and non-clinical volunteering, leadership, shadowing, other ECs (i.e. things that are not particularly crucial to MD/PhD), you may get into a great MD-only program over an MSTP. If this happens, it may still be possible to fulfill your research goals (although not to the extent you may prefer). Again, this may sound almost too perfect to be possible, but I am not suggesting that you become a designer applicant – I'm just saying apart from good research, have a small amount of clinically-relevant stuff that can justify an MD-only application. Why? Medical schools don't have to worry about financial aid for internationals (recall int'ls don't get any), as they have to do for regular applicants, so for the schools I mentioned above and many more, it may be even an incentive to take a good int'l applicant over someone else. And you will have research opportunities through an MD-only program, if you're willing to sacrifice of course a little depth in the scope of your work and a lot of $$$. So, if the MD-only option is financially viable (and I know that's a BIG if for most ppl), it is something to think about at certain schools.

#4: Lean towards "traditional"

Again, this would usually not be a major concern, and may not even be in the applicant's control (you can't really control what you're interested in, right?), but it would be nice to be involved in research that is widely-applicable. Recall, as an int'l MSTP applicant, med schools have to really really be convinced of your fit, and if you are involved in a small research niche, then it is harder for them to find a place for you in their program. If you've done 4+ years of research and have multiple pubs in a field that only a handful of labs are interested in, then only a handful of schools may see you as a fit. Whereas, it you're involved in a "hot field" i.e. that is being heavily funded around the country in general, and you have been very successful in that area, schools have more incentive to consider you. So, if you're int'l, considering applying for MSTP a few years from now, and are involved in a small lab/narrow research niche, I encourage you to at least try some "mainstream" labs i.e. large groups with big funding. Who knows, you may end up liking it more and you will definitely have more schools to target.
DISCLAIMER #2: I am not asking all you int'l applicants to change your research interests, I'm just asking you to *explore* them before applying. In the end, if you still end up liking the non-mainstream lab, then continue with that. If you're good at it, and have other things in order, you'll probably get a few great recs, and one of those few schools who have your research may actually take you.

Finally, a little about me. I attended a top-20 undergrad, had good stats (3.8 gpa, 36 mcat), Master's with thesis, ~4 years research in biomed imaging, a couple of pubs & conferences, and fairly limited shadowing/volunteering/ECs. I applied to almost all schools in List #1, and a lot of schools from list #2 as well, and will be attending Northwestern MSTP in the fall.

I have to say I was very very lucky, and things could have easily gone the other way. A lot of the things I state in this post are based on what I learned from my own experience, and while my story has a happy ending, I feel there are a lot of things I could've done differently for more success and less stress during the process.

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but hope that helps! Good luck to all!
 

MNIkid87

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Congrats once again BasilFawlty and Wuba. I am extremely happy to even come to know of one or two intl applications who made into the MD/PhD program.
This gives us lots of hope.

Great job with the posting, Basil. I shall make another post shortly with whatever info i have about intl acceptance policy.

It would be really very useful if the two of you ( and others too) who have got admn can please give some important information, that is if u dont mind.

1. your vital stats-- mcat + gpa + research exp
2. Schools applied, Schools Interviewed and Schools Accepted
3. Any other useful information that will help us in the battle!!



also it wud be great if you guys can invite other successful intl applicants to join the forum and share their experience. as is clear, such ppl are far and few! so we need as much support as can be pulled in..

thanks a tonnnee..thanks a million!!:):):)
Stats: 3.86, 33Q, 4 years research, 1 of which full time, 2 pubs, 13 posters and presentations, some awards at conferences

Schools Applied: Penn, WUSTL, MUSC, MSU, Emory, SUNY Stony Brook, McGIll University, Indiana, UConn

Interviewed: MSU, Emory, McGill

Accepted: MSU

Waitlisted: McGill

Rejected: Emory


Other useful info: Apply early, be confident in the interview process, know that you may be fighting an uphill battle and don't take rejections personal
 

yetanother

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No prb, yetanother. I hope you have success too in the coming year(s).

Here are some thoughts I had on the application process.

Hey Basil, thank sooo much for the very thoroughly detailed tips and ideas.
I cannot even believe u put in so much time in one night to write this all up!!

I request the moderators to Mark this UP as a valuable post for all other intl apps.

Congrats again on getting into Northwestern...a great program indeed!

I can't agree more to your first point. Allowing Intl students into funded Md/Phd programs is a great privilege offered by the US Med Schools and we must indeed be very thankful to them all.

I also agree its a great uphill and must be fought with great tenacity!

personally, my stats are pretty bad and actually bad in two fronts!
i have a below avg gpa of 3.3 and my first mcat score was 29. I am retaking it on June 17th and am confident that i will bump it to 34+.
i have 4+ years of research though, with 2 pubs.
I am not sure if this profile is even worth trying but I am gonna try and hence the need for all the luck!
 

yetanother

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Thank you so much MNIKid for posting your stats and the schools that u applied and interviewed. it indeed seems like a huge battle.
congrats again and thanks for letting us know about the OD/PhD option at MSU--this is something I didnt know and i guess many might not have known either.
 

yetanother

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Hi,

I wanted to ask you -

Since you made a clause F-1 with Bachelors in - U.S in the above earlier post.

If I'm International student & F-1 visa holder.
I did my
Bachelors (engineering)- India.
Masters - U.S (University of Florida - currently).

Do u know if I would still be eligible?

thanks.
Hello Tejas,
I am also an intl applicant from India. from the several admission websites info that i have seen, many schools require that a 4-year US Bachelors degree is completed.
I am not sure if an MS from US will make do for that. However, it is very important for you to call them or email them, explaining your situation coz as Basilfawlty mentioned, many schools have their own policies on this and it may vary. Good luck!! and if u get a positive information, pls share it with us.
thanks!
 
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What a great post, BasilFawlty! This will be one useful thread for future internationals considering the MD-PhD route.

My stats:
3.96 UGPA (4.00 math and science) from a no-name private university, 3.77 graduate GPA from a top-5 program (this part no one really cared about - all they saw was my undergrad GPA).
33Q MCAT (9V 12P 12B), took it only once.
Plenty of research experience in various fields (pharmacology, molecular genetics, process chemistry). 2 summers and 2 full years of research. No first author papers.
Limited volunteering (student tutor), limited shadowing (~30 hours total when applied)

Applied: WashU, UPenn, Northwestern, Harvard, Baylor, Tri-Institutional program, Mayo, Stony Brook, Albert Einstein, UT-Southwestern

Interviewed: Baylor. Talk about an uphill battle; 10 programs applied and 1 interview.

Accepted: Baylor :)

Of these, I knew at the outset that I realistically had no chance at Harvard, Mayo and Tri-I. Some programs rejected me soon after applying, and some others have yet to officially reject me :rolleyes:

My thoughts: yes, being an international student is a huge disadvantage in this career path. But as BasilFawlty pointed out, I am grateful that there a handful of programs that would even consider me given the risk involved. My GPA was pretty good, but my MCAT was not what you would call solid. I asked around a lot, and was told that MCAT did not matter nearly as much as research experience as long as it was 32+. So I did not plan to re-take it, even though my AAMC practice tests 3-10 average was 36 (I even hit 40 towards the end). I decided that it was not worth my time to spend a few extra months getting my score up a couple of points, especially since I was only applying to MD-PhD programs. I instead spent that time getting some volunteer and shadowing experience under the belt.

One mistake I made - I applied late (mid-September). This was due to circumstances beyond my control, but it cost me dearly. Most programs had already made dozens of interview offers, and I was now at a huge disadvantage.

When I got the interview invite from Baylor, I spent a lot of time preparing for it. Since I was super focused on research throughout college (I was actually considering applying only to PhD programs for the longest time), I was confident about my research and could talk about it ad nauseum. So I focused my preparation on the MD-part of the application. I also looked up the research strengths of Baylor, and they served as valuable talking points during the interview.

--------Quick tip: Those of you who aren't 100% sure of your research work, make sure you practice talking about it to someone knowledgeable (preferably someone who can ask thoughtful questions based on what you tell them).-------

The interviews went pretty well. In particular, I really enjoyed the interview with the admissions committee member, but that one could have gone disastrously had I not been confident and well-prepared. The interviewer asked me to explain my research interests, and then pressed me to go into great detail about the research I will potentially be pursuing a decade from now! ("What model organism would you choose? Why that one? Why not this one? How will you identify novel genes that play a role in your disease state of interest, using your model organism? After you identify novel genes, what happens next?")

The two MD interviews went surprisingly well. The interviewers and I had a great rapport, and so there weren't any awkward moments. The usual questions were asked ("Why MD? Why not just PhD? What specialty? Why Baylor? What do you think of the H1N1 scare?").

I sent out emails thanking my interviewers, and emailed the program director expressing my happiness with the program, the students and the facilities. I truly meant all of this - I was blown away by Baylor - and I think the sincerity of my feelings was evident to them.

A couple of months passed by, and I hadn't heard back. I had a few significant things to add to my application, so I sent an update/letter of intent. This letter of intent, I think, definitely helped my chances. I got the call a few days later :D

In sum, make you app as strong as possible as explained in BasilFawlty's post, apply early, spend lots of time on your personal statements (this is really a big deal), prepare well for interviews, and do not lose heart when you get those ridiculous rejection letters in wafer thin envelopes... their loss!
 

BasilFawlty

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Some more details about my application...

Stats
3.9 UGrad GPA, 3.86 BCPM, top-20 school, applied math and psychology double major -- believe it or not I think this hurt me a little bit, cos I think many of the schools thought my research was also math-focussed, even though it wasn't quite...hence my assertion that it's better to be "traditional". In any case, for all the non-trads out there, make sure you take advanced biology coursework with labs (Biochemistry, Cell/Mol Biology, Genetics etc.)
3.39 Master's GPA, same school. Wrote a thesis which took up a LOT of my time, and affected my grades. Not sure how much that helped in the end, but it did get me a first-author pub.
MCAT #1: 11PS, 11BS, 8V = 30 --> not sure what happ. I was getting much higher scores on practice, but only retook the test to improve the verbal.
MCAT #2: 13PS, 11BS, 12V = 36 --> again, not sure how the verbal went up that much. Just plain random. I think I was unlucky the first time, and very lucky the second. I was better prepped for the sciences though, and that helped for the PS at least.

Research
~4 years, including 3 summers and 1 year full-time, in structural and functional Neuroimaging (MRI, fMRI, DTI). 2 pubs (1 first author, other 4th). Oral presentations at 3 conferences (2 national, one international, also published in all 3 conf proceedings).

Other stuff
ECs - a cappella, ping pong team, crew team (only for a year)
Volunteering - a lot in high school (which I talked about a lot in my essays), but nothing in college. I think this def hurt me in some schools.
Shadowing - ~80 hours with an interventional neuroradiologist

Applied: 21 schools - submitted primary in early July with only CCLCM added, and added the other schools in August after 2nd MCAT score came out. Almost all secondaries done by early-mid september, with a few pushing over to october.
Harvard, Hopkins, UPenn, WashU, Stanford, Columbia, UChicago, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Cornell Tri-I, Northwestern, UT Southwestern, Emory, Mt. Sinai, CCLCM (not really MSTP, 5 yr research-MD), Mayo, Dartmouth, UMinn, UT Houston, Med Coll of Wisconsin

Interviewed:
WashU, CCLCM, Mayo, Northwestern
Re: interviews. I prepped my research as best as I could, and the major questions that I thought would come up in all interviews, and they did ("Why MD/PhD? Why not PhD only?", "What was your most significant experience?", "Do you have any questions for me?" etc.). Wrote thank you notes after, and sent updates to all schools and LOI to Northwestern (it was my last interview). Comments: be confident, focus on big picture when it comes to research, and prep as much as you can (read sdn feedback, ask other students etc.)

Rejected:
WashU

Waitlisted:
Mayo, CCLCM

Accepted:
Northwestern!

My thoughts.
- Secondaries for 21 schools were a huge pain, but I didn't want to feel that I didn't try.
- Be prepared for a lot of surprises, both good and bad. I applied to Mayo and CCLCM on a whim; I thought Mayo's program was too tiny, and CCLCM would never interview me given my lack of volunteering. But they did end-up interviewing me. I was really hoping for Vandy and Emory, cos theyre good schools, take internationals regularly and were very strong in my research area, but they didn't come through. A few schools (Harvard, Hopkins, Stanford) were really a waste of my time and I wasn't hopeful at all, but again, didn't want to feel like I didn't try. Some schools openly told me that while usually they have funding for int'ls, this year they didn't (UMinn for e.g.). The rest I think were still worth applying to, but only because of int'l friendliness, cos they really didn't have my research.
- Conclusion: mostly what I posted earlier, but apply broadly and somewhat whimsically if you're willing to write secondaries, cos schools too change policies on a whim. And it seems like research fit is very important to them.

Wuba and MNIKid87 make some very good pts, and to re-iterate:
- apply early
- don't take rejections personally...as Wuba said, you have to believe it's their loss.
- don't question your motives once you've applied, like "Oh no, maybe I should not have applied and should've gone for PhD only" etc. What's done is done, and be confident, cos you need to ace the few (or maybe many?) interviews that you end up getting.

Good luck to all!
 
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Awesome 100% interview-acceptance conversion, Wuba! :thumbup::laugh:
Thanks! I think I've been very lucky. As you mentioned earlier, things could have gone wrong at any point. I'm glad it worked out for you too; Northwestern has an amazing program (even though they didn't interview me :mad:) :)
 

BasilFawlty

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MD/PhD Student
Thanks! I think I've been very lucky. As you mentioned earlier, things could have gone wrong at any point. I'm glad it worked out for you too; Northwestern has an amazing program (even though they didn't interview me :mad:) :)
Haha likewise for Baylor :mad: :)))...
not that I'm picky, but I like schools in big cities :laugh:
 

yetanother

10+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2008
27
1
241
Status
Pre-Medical
greatttt post, Wuba::
I think while Basilfawlty covered lot about the earlier preparations, you had covered a great deal about preparations for the interview!!
together, they both become excellent resources for us.

congratulations again, on getting into Baylor. U must have done a great job to get a 100% interview success!

From the info that u gave it seems like getting the interview is the toughest part coz out of the many institutions, only few seemed to call International students for interviews...correct if i am wrong on this.

Also I have another important question:

when you say that they look at your research work and see if it matches wit something in their school, does it really mean that they try to select you in based on your past field of experience?
i thought past experience is much desired so that the applicant has training in research but not necessarily in something specific.

I ask this becoz, I have 1.8 yrs exp in UCSF where i did work on 3 different scientific questions but using similar molbio techniques.
then i went to India and did 2 yrs research on cancer diagnosis in a biophysics laboratory.
so my works are not all coherent. they are bits n pieces from different fields.
I would say I have wider but shallow experience in any given field...now is that good or bad?

thank you!!
 

yetanother

10+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2008
27
1
241
Status
Pre-Medical
Thanks Basil, for the breakdown of your application portfolio!

to be honest, i was relieved to see that you had taken your mcat twice!
coz i have taken it once and got a 29. I thought it would be nearly impossible to (1) beat the adcoms impression of my first test (2) to even get a great second time score.
but i guess, with adequate preparations it is possible to get a great score, the second time around.
and if the difference bw the scores is significant, the adcoms are happy to consider the 2nd one. soo thats good news, indeed!
 
Feb 12, 2010
27
0
0
Status
MD/PhD Student
congratulations again, on getting into Baylor. U must have done a great job to get a 100% interview success!
Thanks! To be sure, luck has a part in all of it too. I mean, you can do everything right but could really need that tiny bit of luck to put you over the top. I have been very fortunate - I did the right things, met the right people, said the right words, and it happened to click - because it could have just as well gone the other way.

As for your research, my opinion is that you will totally be ok. They look for significant research experience, but not in so depth as would merit a first-author paper. As long as you have projects where you were at least partly involved in several stages of the scientific method (coming up with hypotheses, designing, performing and interpreting the experiments etc), you'll be fine. Of course, you'll need letters from your PIs stating the same!

Also, I don't think that the field of your past research experience plays a huge role in the admissions process. I think that programs would be slightly concerned about your past research only if every one your experiences was in a relatively obscure, specialized field. Unless this is true, the past work doesn't really play a big role in future considerations, IMO. Correct me if I'm wrong. On the other hand, if you do know what your general area of research interest is and what you want to be working on, the burden is on you to pick places that are strong in that field (several good labs, good publication record etc). If you're undecided, that is ok; most people are, even the ones that want to think otherwise :p

I was involved in several projects through college, and worked on most of them at a relatively superficial level (only went into as much depth as three months would allow). My senior honors thesis was in college was for a year, and actually in a super-obscure, very specialized field. The project I'm currently in, has a much broader appeal and relevance. I've been doing it for two years and know a lot more about it that any other work I've done.


As to your other point, I would agree that getting an interview is the toughest part (although at some of the programs listed in this thread, the post-interview cutoff is also pretty steep). And in addition to the things we discussed, excellent letters of recommendation - ones that include personalized, in-depth discussion of your abilities - can go a long way in getting that interview.
 

BasilFawlty

7+ Year Member
Mar 16, 2010
22
0
191
Status
MD/PhD Student
As for your research, my opinion is that you will totally be ok. They look for significant research experience, but not in so depth as would merit a first-author paper. As long as you have projects where you were at least partly involved in several stages of the scientific method (coming up with hypotheses, designing, performing and interpreting the experiments etc), you'll be fine. Of course, you'll need letters from your PIs stating the same!
Yes, I completely agree - pubs are not crucial, and PI letters make much more of a difference.

Also, I don't think that the field of your past research experience plays a huge role in the admissions process. I think that programs would be slightly concerned about your past research only if every one your experiences was in a relatively obscure, specialized field. Unless this is true, the past work doesn't really play a big role in future considerations, IMO. Correct me if I'm wrong. On the other hand, if you do know what your general area of research interest is and what you want to be working on, the burden is on you to pick places that are strong in that field (several good labs, good publication record etc). If you're undecided, that is ok; most people are, even the ones that want to think otherwise :p
Yes, as long as there is considerable broad scope for your work, you will be fine. yetanother, I think you don't have to worry in terms of research exp.

But, to other int'l applicants out there, there is one caveat I think; if a substantial major portion of your work is an area that the school you're applying to is *not* strong at, then it will be more difficult at that particular school. Yes, schools understand that you will change your research goals as you get further into the program, but their main gauge to evaluate your candidacy is what you can accomplish in *their* program as a physician-scientist based on what you have done already. And since international students cannot be too picky in terms of research fit (there are only a few schools to target as it is), it makes sense to work in a *general* area that most schools are strong at (molecular biology, genetics, biochem, immuno, pharmaco etc) rather than something only a few schools are strong at (bioinformatics & other computational bio applications, public health, etc.).

Just my two cents.
 

yetanother

10+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2008
27
1
241
Status
Pre-Medical
Great feedbacks! Thanks Wuba and Basifawlty!

So I summarize as follows:
1. Have good research experience in fields that might be available in most of the schools instead of the extremely specializes ones. But this option is only for those who are applying 2-3 years from now. For those who are applying this year, their field of research cannot be changed at this time.

2. So, it is important to have good reco letter from the PI stating your participation in several aspects of research.

3. Being Lucky helps!!! While I have not gone through any thing yet, I can already see that LUCK might play a major role all along the process.
as you both keep saying, it could go wrong at anyplace and so must be lucky that it doesnt.

well, well, i keep my fingers crossed!
thanks again for sharing your experiences.
 

tejaswigokou

7+ Year Member
Mar 16, 2010
7
0
1
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
Question:
________

How easy is it to get into Canadian medical schools than the U.S for a foreign student (foreign w.r.t both U.S & Canada). Lets say that this process includes getting a permanent resident status in canada/U.S as this exponentially increases the chance of getting into Med school.

About me:
________
I am pursuing my graduate research for the past one year at the MD Anderson Cancer center in the field of Tissue engineering.

Nationality: Indian
Undergraduate: Bachelors of Tech in Metallurgical & Materials Engg
Graduate degree: M.S in Materials science in Engineering (graduating in spring 2011)

Specialization: Tissue engineering and Regeneration.
Seeking Doctoral degree: Biomedical engineering in Tissue Engineering & regeneration.

Interests: pursuing M.D after Ph.D
Age: 23 (turning 23 in july)

Current Thoughts:
_______________
My previous evaluations about pursuing a M.D after Ph.D (previous post - http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?p=9394390) led to a conclusion that if there is any realistic chance of getting admitted to U.S schools, It is only after becoming a U.S permanent resident. Becoming a permanent resident in Canada is very easy compared to U.S - does this help in anyways if I consider applying for M.D in Canada after obtaining permanent residence? Also the fees seems to be multifold cheaper (7k$ - 15k$ p.a) in canada.

Is there a catch somewhere?

Of course I'm not aware of residency scenario of pursuing the degree in canada.

Some question people might ask me after reading my about me:
____________________________________________________
1. Why Ph.D if you want M.D? - I want a Ph.D too. I'm not satisfied with just an M.D.
2. Why not try for M.D-Ph.D program? - I am an International student. Realistically I should work for 5-6 yrs after graduating my M.S in this spring and get a green card and then I would be eligible. The choice of a good Ph.D topic is reduced cuz of the school you would have to choose if I decide to pursue a M.D-Ph.D (of course at the cost of getting a free M.D degree - you could kill for this). I want a Ph.D in Tissue engineering and a M.D degree seperated for this reason. I do realize the cost of my decision.
3. Why not M.D first and then a Ph.D? - I will take this route if I get a full time job in an industry to earn my green card first and most importantly MONEY to save it for my M.D degree. If not I will do it after my Ph.D. Either route is same for me. But canada might simplify things as it reduces number of years it takes to get a P.R status!

For example, I could pursue my Post doctoral fellowship in canada (& get a PR) after my Ph.D here in the U.S.

TJ
[Keep Grinning]
 
Jan 28, 2012
1
0
0
Status
Pharmacy Student
I am an MS/PHD in biomedical sciences from US at F-1 visa. I want to pursue MD rather MD/PHD so what are the hopes for me for admission with funding. I have read all earlier threads and really thankful for ya all for great posts and are very informative and help deciding a lot. But I am still not clear as I dont want to another PhD, but definately I want to do MD... Plz suggest how and where to apply...
 

SBR249

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2009
777
177
181
Status
MD/PhD Student
Apply to schools with a lot of merit money or that gives all students full/partial scholarships. Schools like Mayo, UChicago, Cleveland Clinic (only if you are into clinical research I think) all have lots of grants.

I'm not sure whether this applies for F1, but if you can establish a state residency, consider your in-state school. Many TX schools I know have low tuition rates.

Finally, maybe consider a newly established medical school. Look at the LCME website and look for schools with provisional or preliminary accreditation. New medical schools may be a riskier bet, but they generally give the first few classes free or drastically reduced tuition because of that. If you don't mind an uncertain future and no name recognition that is.
 
Jun 4, 2014
1
1
1
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I wanted to refresh this thread for future international MD/PhD applicants, since I found it pretty helpful when I applied. There are many other useful threads (one is attached in one of the above posts) and you can find all of them by searching "international" above. But let me reattach some of the links here:

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/international-students-applying-md-phd.61421/
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/prospective-international-applicant-seeking-advice.874520/
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/rejected-mstp-accepted-md-reapply-chances.1005877/
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/help-with-school-list-international-student.1009415/

Since many (including me) have found it helpful to know about other people's experiences, I'm also posting my application results for people's reference:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My stats:
Status: International (F1)
UGPA: 3.99 (4.00 math and science) from JHU
MCAT: 41 (11V 15P 15B), took it only once
Majors (4): Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Math, Applied Math + a Masters in Math
Gap Years: 3
Research experiences: 2 years of undergrad research. 1 year of research assistant during application year. No publications (all 3 years were in different BME labs).
Non med-related volunteering/services: 1 year of substitute military service in education + lots of volunteer tutoring
Med-related volunteering/shadowing: About 4 months

Applied (18): Harvard, Stanford (MD only), JHU, UPenn, Wash U, Columbia, U Chicago, Vanderbilt, Cornell Tri-I, UPitts, Baylor, Northwestern, Emory, UVA, Boston U, USC, U Minnesota, Stony Brook

Interview Invites (4.5 + 0.5): UVA, JHU, Boston U, Emory, Harvard (MD-only, HST), Wash U (MD-only, did not go to interview)

Rejected Post-Interview (3): JHU, Emory, Harvard
Waitlisted (1): Boston U
Accepted (1): UVA

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As you can see, I've had better luck with public schools, even when these public schools offer funding for international students and other private schools don't (e.g., my alma mater doesn't fund international students). In fact, UVA MSTP is matriculating 2 international applicants this year (out of 8 total matriculants). So it may not be true that private schools always have more internal funding as opposed to public schools.

Also, apparently a lot of international applicants gain only one or two acceptances, so be sure to feel lucky about any acceptance that you get. Good luck!
 
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Dec 11, 2013
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Pre-Medical
I think the policy for AECOM may change somewhat now that a whole fiasco is going on with the medical school changing hands from Yeshiva University to some other institution. Hopefully the MSTP is not affected but the MD/PhD was one of the first things to be affected when Dartmouth started trying to make cuts. Also Yeshiva University just "lost" $1.3 Billion I believe