Admissions FAQ

What are the requirements for applicants?

Applicants to the program must have completed a minimum of 90 credit hours at approved institutions of higher learning. They should have one year courses (or equivalent AP credit) in biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry (a course in biochemistry can substitute for a semster of organic) physics, and calculus through differential equations (a course in statistics can substitute for a semester of calculus). In addition they must sit for the MCAT. The GRE is not required. The equivalent of two semesters of research experience is required.

What are the minimum standards for a successful applicant?

Competitive applicants will have a strong record of academic achievement. There are no minimum GPA or MCAT requirements. Over the past 5 years, program matriculants have had an average GPA of 3.85 and an average MCAT of 36R. Please remember that these are averages: the range for GPA over that period has been 3.1 to 4.0; the MCAT range has been 28 to 41. We rarely interview candidates with MCATs below 28.  Please see the Statistics page under the Admissions tab for a histogram of GPA and MCAT for last year's WUStL MSTP applicant pool. 

The most important criterion for admission is the potential to become an independent researcher. Successful applicants demonstrate excellence in substantial, independent research projects. Typically, they have engaged in research projects beginning in their sophomore year, or earlier. Long-term research projects (i.e., a minimum of one year) are preferred over multiple short-term experiences. Publication of work in scientific journals is not required; fewer than 15% of applicants have a publication.

Are non-US citizens eligible for support?

WUStL's MSTP is interested in recruiting the best physician-scientist trainees in the world, and welcomes applications from international students. Currently, 16 students are citizens of foreign countries. It should be noted that these students completed bachelor's degrees at institutions in the United States or Canada. Individuals who completed undergraduate degrees at foreign institutions outside must also have at least two full years of study at a college or university in the United States or Canada . All students receive the same financial package of a stipend, full tuition remission and health coverage, regardless of their citizenship status.

Do applicants from certain schools have an advantage?

No. Washington University's MSTP has drawn students from over 120 undergraduate institutions: from Agnes Scott to Yale, Stanford to South Dakota State, and everything in between. What matters is individual's potential to go places in the future, not where they were in the past. Individuals from schools that are less research-intensive often engage in summer research experiences at other institutions or do post-baccalaureate research to strengthen their research credentials.

What are my chances of getting into the program?

Each year, ~500 individuals apply for admission, of which 100 or so are interviewed. The quality of interviewed candidates is quite high, and 99% of them are accepted by at least one MD-PhD program. Our goal is 25 new matriculants every year. This is a flexible target, however, and offers are made to all individuals thought to be appropriate for the program. As a result, the size of the MSTP entering class has varied between 18 and 32 over the past decade.

How do I apply?

Applying to the MSTP at Washington University consists of three simple steps:

1) You must apply to AMCAS. When you select Washington University on the list of schools you wish to apply to, you should indicate "M.D./Ph.D. Program". Doing so, will give you access to the MD/PhD essay questions that are part of the AMCAS application. You need not wait to be "invited" to apply. If you do not complete the AMCAS MD-PhD essays, we will not be able to consider you for our program.

2) You must submit the Washington University School of Medicine secondary application. Under the degree objective field on the secondary application, you must indicate either "MSTP Only" or "MD or MSTP".

We expect letters of recommendation from all research mentors with whom you have had significant research experiences. These letters should be submitted to the AMCAS letter service. Individuals who are carrying out research in a new lab the summer they apply must have a letter of recommendation from that mentor. Occasionally, an applicant will have difficulty in obtaining letters of recommendation from all their significant research mentors. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact the MSTP office at 1-800-852-4625 or mstp.wustl.edu for guidance.

3) Apply early. The application period runs nearly six months; waiting until the October 31 deadline significantly diminishes the likelihood of an interview for even the most outstanding applicant . Interview are offered on a rolling basis, with the first invitations being issued in early August.

Does the outcome of my MSTP application affect my medical school application?

In most cases, the answer is no. On the WUSOM secondary application you will be asked to indicate your program interest. If you state an interest in BOTH the MD and MD/PhD pathways then the outcome of your MSTP application has no bearing on the decision made by the Medical School Admissions Committee. (It is not unusual for someone not accepted by the MSTP to receive an offer of admission by the MD program.) If you state that you are interested in ONLY MD/PhD, then the Medical School Admissions Committee will not consider you for the MD program if the MSTP declines to offer you a position.

How are admissions decisions made and what is the application deadline?

Pre-interview decisions are made by the MSTP Committee and are communicated promptly to applicants by email. Applicants who are invited to interview will have successfully traversed a 3-stage review process. Because the evaluators are faculty with active research programs and, in some cases, clinical responsibilities, and because the decision to interview must be by consensus, the process is both rigorous and time-consuming. Therefore, the time to complete the entire 3-stage review process can take several weeks.

A small number of applicants may be placed on an interview wait list for a period of time to allow the MSTP Committee to efficiently manage our limited number of interview slots. The application deadline is October 31. We encourage early application, however, as applicants are interviewed as early as September 19. By the October 31 deadline, it is common for fewer than 15 interview slots to be unfilled.

Not infrequently, the Medical School Admissions Committee will complete its review of an application before the MSTP and offer an MD interview to an applicant. This is not the same as the MSTP interview; the MSTP Executive Director, Mr. Brian Sullivan is the only person authorized to make MSTP interview offers. Most individuals in this situation decide to wait for the MSTP Committee's decision, and will only schedule an MD interview with the Medical School if they are not invited to interview with the MSTP. Individuals who receive an interview invitation from the Medical School might wish to contact the MSTP to determine the status of their application.

For interviewed candidates, the MSTP Committee consults with the Washington University School of Medicine Committee on Admissions (WUSOMCOA), to make a decision on admission. The decision is based on a review of the candidate's credentials and an evaluation of the interview reports. The MSTP will issue acceptances on a periodic basis through February. In order to better regulate the size of the entering class, the MSTP Committee will place a limited number of interviewees on a wait list. In the past, some waitlisted candidates have subsequently been offered admission.​

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