Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)

The program in Physiology prepares students for a career in original research, teaching, and applied physiology.

The program emphasizes both extensive training in molecular, cellular, and systems physiology and intensive training in current topics in physiological research. Students can pursue research in the following areas: neurobiology, cardiovascular, cellular, exercise, environmental, pulmonary, and renal physiology. Students also have the opportunity to pursue collaborative research in other related departments or areas of the university.

Graduate students typically come directly from a four-year college program and usually have majored in biology or chemistry, although some matriculate after having worked in industry, served in the Peace Corps, or had other non-academic experiences. Most enter the program to train for a career in research and teaching at a college, university, or professional school, but graduates also find employment in government or industrial laboratories.

MSTP Program with an M.D and PH.D in Physiology

Program Requirements


Medical School Requirements:

MSTP students enter and complete the M.D. 1st and 2nd year curriculum, then enter and complete a departmental Ph.D. program.

Departmental Course Requirements:

Elective Courses with permission of the Director of Graduate Studies


In order to develop communication and teaching skills, it is expected that during the period of supervised teaching (PGY 599), the student will prepare and deliver a block of at least six lectures, will prepare appropriate examination questions, and will assist in the evaluation and counseling of students. A minimum of three credit hours in supervised teaching is required.

Grading and Promotion Standards

The department requires a grade of at least “B” in all required course work in Physiology. Failure to meet this requirement in a single course results in a probationary period; multiple failures may lead to dismissal from the program. A grade of “C” in courses outside the Department is acceptable provided that it represents passing performance in the view of the department concerned. The Graduate School also requires that the student's overall average be maintained at least at the “B” level. The Department does not accept the grade of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory and discourages the use of "Incomplete" for graduate courses.

Preliminary Examination

Successful passing of the Preliminary Examination is required before a student is formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D.

Eligibility for the Preliminary Examination requires the successful completion of all courses included in the first two years of the Curriculum, a commitment from a member of the faculty willing to serve as Major Professor and Director of Thesis Research, and approval by the Graduate Affairs Committee. The Preliminary Examination is conducted by a Preliminary Examination Committee appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies and comprised of five or six members of the Graduate Faculty. The chairperson of the Examination Committee is designated by the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Preliminary Examination consists of a written research proposal on a topic selected by the student in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The topic will not be the topic that will become the student's thesis research area, but it can be related. The written proposal will be evaluated by the Preliminary Examination Committee. If the proposal is found to be acceptable, the proposal is then presented to the Preliminary Examination Committee in a seminar followed by an oral defense.

Thesis Research, Thesis Preparation, Thesis Reviews

When the student successfully passes the Preliminary Examination, the student and his/her Major Professor recommend a minimum of two members of the Department's Graduate Faculty and a third member from outside the Department for the Thesis Advisory Committee. The committee is to be appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies and chaired by the Major Professor.

The thesis research is conducted by the graduate student under the tutelage of his/her Major Professor and Thesis Committee.

Thesis preparation is critically monitored and supervised by the Major Professor and the Thesis Committee, both of whom must approve the thesis prior to the oral defense.

The oral defense of thesis is scheduled after the candidate's Thesis Committee and the Department have approved the thesis. The thesis is presented to the University Graduate Faculty in a seminar followed by an oral defense.

Re-entry into the Medical Curriculum

Following completion of Departmental Ph.D. requirements, students re-enter the Medical School curriculum and complete the 3rd and 4th years of that Program.