MD/PhD

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: How can I find out about your MD/PhD program?
Question 2: If I want to talk to someone about possibly doing a combined MD/PhD, who should I contact?
Question 3: How long does the program take to complete?
Question 4: How do I apply for the MD/PhD program?
Question 5: How many students are accepted each year? What are my chances of acceptance?
Question 6: What financial support is available to me if I choose to pursue an MD/PhD at the University of Alberta?
Question 7: If I decide to enter the MD/PhD program, when should I apply?


Question 1: How can I find out about your MD/PhD program?

You can visit the MD/PhD webpage for information about the program. The site offers a brief overview of the MD/PhD program, and shows a flow chart of possible pathways for you to enter and move through the combined medical and research training.

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Question 2: If I want to talk to someone about possibly doing a combined MD/PhD, who should I contact?

For general information about the program, contact:

Jen Freund
Research Office
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Tel: 780-492-9721
Email: jen.freund@ualberta.ca

If would like to discuss how you might fit in the program and if it’s the right choice for you, please email Dr. Alan Underhill, Chair of the MD/PhD Program, at alan.underhill@ualberta.ca to set up an appointment.

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Question 3: How long does the program take to complete?

The PhD typically takes four years. Depending on your supervisor and project, it may take up to six years. This is in addition to the four years required to complete the MD degree.

The format of the program is for students to complete the first two years of the MD program then transfer into a PhD program. When the PhD is completed, they return to finish the final two years of the MD program.

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Question 4: How do I apply for the MD/PhD program?

Learn more about application procedures.

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Question 5: How many students are accepted each year? What are my chances of acceptance?

Over the past few years two to three students per year have entered the program. Your choice of training environment, supervisor and project will influence your application. Students who can devote the time required and are dedicated to in-depth research training have a good chance of acceptance. You must be accepted into the MD program to get into the MD/PhD program.

It is up to the MD program and the Undergraduate Medical Education Office to decide on your acceptance into the MD program. You should contact them directly with this question at 780-492-6350.

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Question 6: What financial support is available to me if I choose to pursue an MD/PhD at the University of Alberta?

You will need to obtain a competitive studentship from Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AI-HS) or a national agency such as CIHR to pay for the PhD component of your studies. These types of studentship applications are made in consultation with your chosen PhD supervisor. The student and the supervisor must complete their own applicable sections of the application form. The chair of the MD/PhD program must write a cover letter for any MD/PhD applications going to AI – HS or other national agencies.

If you obtain an AI – HS MD/PhD studentship, you can receive up to six years total funding. You can, for example, use four years toward your PhD and the final two years toward the MD program. Alternatively, you can have your supervisor or home department pay a stipend during your PhD.

Except for certain highly competitive national awards from CIHR, (for example, the Jessie Boyd & Charles Scriver MD/PhD Studentship Award), there is no way to fund the first two years of your MD program. This is the case whether you come into the first two MD years directly from an undergraduate program, or you come into the first two MD years from midstream in your PhD (see flow chart).

The MD/PhD program commits to give all accepted students a “top-up” to their regular student stipend, if needed, so that enrolled students receive at least $24,000 per year for six years. For example, if AI – HS or your supervisor is paying you $20,000, we would add an additional $4,000/year. We do not, however, pay the “base stipend.” This must be obtained from your supervisor, your department, AI – HS or another outside funding agency.

Tuition scholarships from the university (such as the Walter H John's award) count towards your total annual stipend. If your stipend is over the $24,000 mark, you will not receive any further “top-up” from the MD/PhD program.

For all students, any stipends or “top-ups” paid in the final two years of the MD program are contingent upon the student actually completing the PhD requirements prior to returning to Year 3 of the MD program.

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Question 7: If I decide to enter the MD/PhD program, when should I apply?

If you entered the MD Program straight out of an undergraduate program, you should apply as soon as possible after the first year of MD is completed. This should be done no later than July 31 between first and second year. You should meet with the MD/PhD program director in your first year, if possible, so he/she is aware of your plans and can advise you.

Alternately, if you are entering the MD program from the middle of a PhD (or MSc, which has been upgraded to a PhD), you should apply as soon as you know that you are accepted to the MD program. This should be done no later than July 31 of your first year of the MD program. You should meet with the MD/PhD program chair as soon as you have been accepted into the MD program, so he/she is aware of your plans and can advise you.

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