10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 19, 2004
Atlanta, GA
Medical Student
In the chance that I get waitlisted for a year, I'm looking to do something productive. A few students that I know are applying to MD/PhD programs. Should I consider applying now to a PhD program in case I'm waitlisted? I really don't want to do both, but if I'm going to sit around a year, then I'd be willing to spend some time with it. I'm guessing it'll also look like I'm taking classes that might make medical school an easier transition. My ultimate goal is to be a clinical practitioner and to do research on the side. I know I won't "have to" have a PhD to do medical research part-time.

Is it worth the applications process? If I apply to MD/PhD programs will they consider me for either position seperately? If I do a PhD program, I'm looking at microbiology/genetics or neuroscience. Any suggestions?


7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Sep 30, 2003
San Jose, CA
Ok, from what I gather you are asking if you should apply concurrently to PhD programs as well as MD/PhD? I'm not sure what you mean by "waitlisted for a year". If you mean should you apply now for the 2004 PhD fall entering class, then you are too late at most, if not all places. There may be some that are accepting apps this late for this fall, but most have an April 15 deadline for acceptances.

I applied concurrently this year. I turned in my amcas app in June, filled out secondaries through July and August, and applied to all MD/PhD programs. I also applied in the winter to one PhD program that was friendly with using my MCAT score and MD/PhD app to consider my candidacy.

Some tips if you are considering this route:

Some MD/PhD programs will consider you for the PhD or MD if not accepted MD/PhD (Einstein is one of these), though they usually make you choose one or the other. You are often at a disadvantage to MD only applicants since your MD-only app is considered after MD/PhD review.

As has been said numerous times on this forum, be SURE that you want to do research (or at least can spin it that way) if you are applying MD/PhD or PhD. If you "really don't want to do both", then you probably should not apply MD/PhD, as the adcoms will put your motivations under fine scrutiny.

Last, and I should stress this, the PhD is NOT just something to do for a year. It will make your applying again the next year difficult, thanks to the drain on your time, and will look suspicious on an MD app (from what I have heard) in that you started something and bailed out. If you want something to do for a year, there are post-bacc programs as well as the option to simply conduct research outside of a PhD program, although many labs want more than a 1 year commitment.

Not sure if I have answered all of your questions. If you would like, pm me and I can be more specific.

Gut Shot

15+ Year Member
Sep 7, 2003
Attending Physician
I am in medical school after obtaining a PhD, and I am in complete agreement with Trashino. If you are considering a doctorate as a way to kill time while reapplying, you are being disingenuous with everyone involved, including yourself. Despite the fact that graduate school admissions are, overall, less competitive than med school admissions, graduate school is not a trivial experience. In fact, in many ways it is more difficult than getting an MD (and usually takes significantly longer).

A colleague and good friend of mine used to participate in admissions to his graduate program. They would frequently receive applications from individuals who were obviously only applying as a backup to medical school. Sometimes the LOR's would talk about how the person would be a fine physician. Other times, and this was always unbelievable to me, people would use their AMCAS personal statement. Those applications would always be promptly thrown in the trash, no matter how good the person otherwise may have looked. After all, why would a program want to invest effort and money training someone who obviously doesn't really want to be there?

If worst comes to worst and you don't get in this time around, Trash is right. Check out a postbacc program or work for awhile. Only commit to a PhD if you really want it.
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