Medical Scientist Training Programs are highly selective combined M.D. and Ph.D. graduate degree programs offered by a number of U.S. medical schools with grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The vast majority (over 80%) of MD/PhD program graduates eventually go on to work in positions in academic medicine, government, or industry where medical research is a central component of their duties. According to a FASEB study, graduates of NIH-funded MSTPs make up just 2.5% of medical school graduates each year, but after graduation account for about one third of all NIH research grants awarded to physicians. Many MD/PhD graduates also practice clinical medicine in their field of expertise.
Developed by the NIH to stimulate training of talented physician-scientists for future careers in biomedical research, MSTPs offer full tuition support for both the medical and graduate phases of education, in addition to a stipend ranging from $19,000 to $28,000 per year. Typically, students complete the program in six to ten years, depending upon the time spent in Ph.D. research. These programs vary greatly in size, ranging from two trainees per academic class (e.g. University of Connecticut) to over twenty (e.g. Washington University in St. Louis). Additionally, several medical schools allow for the PhD portion of the MSTP to be completed at an allied institution, where research in specific fields may be stronger than at the home institution. Such alliances exist between Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine and the California Institute of Technology, among others.
At most programs trainees follow established MD and PhD curricula offered at their schools; others such as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine MSTP have created MSTP-specific courses that fulfill medical or graduate school requirements and streamline the training schedule.
A number of medical schools without funded NIH MSTP grant slots maintain their own non-MSTP MD/PhD combined degree programs, sometimes offering full or partial student financial support funded by the schools themselves. A few of the more popular non-MSTP MD/PhD programs include those at Boston University, Dartmouth College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Wayne State University, University of Southern California, Ohio State University, and the University of Oklahoma.