Admissions questions

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, general chemistry or inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry (a course in biochemistry can substitute for a semester 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 five years, program matriculants have had an average GPA of 3.85 and an average MCAT of 521. 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 within the 68th and 99th percentile. Please see the statistics page for a histogram of GPA and MCAT for last year’s WashU 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-U.S. citizens eligible for support?

WashU’s MSTP is interested in recruiting the best physician-scientist trainees in the world and welcomes applications from international students. Currently, 17% of our 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 of the U.S. 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 an 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, approximately 600 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 two 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 “MD/PhD Program.” Doing so will give you access to the MD/PhD essay questions that are part of the AMCAS application. 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, 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 obtaining letters of recommendation from all their significant research mentors. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact the MSTP office at for guidance.

We strongly encourage you to apply early. The application period runs nearly six months, and approximately 50 percent of applications are received by Sept. 1. This means that waiting until the Oct. 31 deadline significantly diminishes the likelihood of an interview for even the most outstanding applicant. Interviews are offered on a rolling basis, with the first invitations 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 WUSM 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. In fact, 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 three-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 three-stage review process can take several weeks.

A small number of applicants may be placed on an interview waitlist for a period of time to allow the MSTP Committee to efficiently manage our limited number of interview slots. The application deadline is Oct. 31. We encourage early application, however, as applicants are interviewed as early as Oct. 5. By the Oct. 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. Most individuals in this situation decide to wait for the MSTP Committee’s decision, and will only schedule an MD interview 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 waitlist. In the past, some waitlisted candidates have subsequently been offered admission.​

Program questions

How long does it take to complete both degrees?

The program can be completed in as little as seven years; however, eight years is more typical.

Can I do a PhD in clinical research?

No, MSTP students may do either a PhD in Biomedical Engineering or a PhD in one of the programs of the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (see Doctoral Programs page). Special arrangements can be made to do doctoral work in other disciplines, such as Anthropology, Chemistry or Physics.

How are MD/PhD students supported?

The MSTP uses a combination of resources to support students. The program holds the largest NIH Medical Scientist Training Program grant in the nation. In addition, the program receives substantial support from an endowment established by the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Foundation. Finally, many students are supported by mentor and other institutional funds. MSTP students are guaranteed continuous support from enrollment through graduation.

What is the current support package for students?

Effective July 1, 2023, all students will receive a stipend of $37,000. Due to the moderate cost of living in St. Louis, our program boasts the best stipend to cost-of-living ratio of any MSTP in the nation. In addition, students receive full tuition remission, free health and disability coverage for both medical and graduate phases of the program, and up to $1,000 in professional development funds. Medical coverage for spouses, domestic partners and dependents is available. A child daycare subsidy is also offered ($3,550 per semester for one eligible child; $4,550 per semester for two eligible children; and $5,550 per semester for three or more eligible children).

What do I tell Aunt Minnie when she asks why I want to do this program instead of being a fulltime MD?

Well, just tell her that you really love creating new things and discovering how stuff works. The MD/PhD training will not only allow you to touch the lives of your patients, but also to potentially affect the lives of people around the world. In addition, you can tell her that the great fund of knowledge that you will learn in medical school exists only because thousands of women and men have devoted their lives to carrying out clinical and basic science research. You are doing the MSTP because you want to do your part to advance knowledge for future generations.

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