Medical Scientist Training Program

Female scientist working on laboratory glassware
Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy

About the Program

Case Western Reserve University created and launched the very first MD/PhD program in the country in 1956. When you pursue our Medical Scientist Training Program, you’ll be a part of that innovative legacy. 

MD/PhD programs are designed for students who want to become research physicians, also known as physician-scientists. Each side of our dual degree training informs the other—students are trained to recognize new ways that clinical care can benefit from research, and to see how research discoveries can be translated to the clinical level. 

Graduates of our program often go on to become faculty members at medical schools, universities and research institutes. Regardless of where you’ll eventually work, you’ll be prepared for careers in which you’ll spend most of your time doing research, in addition to caring for patients. 

What to Expect

You can complete our program in about seven to eight years—the PhD thesis is usually defended during the fifth or sixth year, while your MD will be awarded upon graduating. And, for the duration of your program, you’ll be supported with covered tuition, an annual stipend and health insurance. 

You’ll have research opportunities in a variety of different fields, and then can choose from the following PhD programs and tracks:

CWRU MSTP is a great community built on collaboration and friendship. We are part of a unique group with the ability to apply ourselves in multiple disciplines, yet CWRU MSTP makes these transitions seamless!

Beyond the Classroom

Our research is at the heart of a vibrant medical community, including top-ranked hospitals (Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth Medical Center and the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center) and more than 150 medical and bioscience companies. In fact, our Biomedical Engineering Alliance with Cleveland Clinic makes us one of the largest biomedical engineering enterprises in the nation—giving you unparalleled opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research.

And, at CWRU, we strive to develop innovative ways to support clinically relevant research—in collaboration with the Harrington Discovery Institute, MSTP students can now apply for a Harrington-MSTP Scholar Award, which provides funding and drug development support to help translate your promising scientific discoveries into medicines.

In your time here, you’ll be provided funds to travel and present research at national and international meetings. And, you’ll be able to ditch the lab each summer during our annual retreat in a state park. It’s not all play, though—the days are packed with talks and workshops, including an outside keynote speaker, faculty and student research presentations, and workshops on topics such as ethics and grant writing. We also have an annual winter retreat that features scientific presentations by students and an invited speaker. 

By the Numbers


of graduates pursue residencies/fellowship training


university in the country, U.S. News & World Report


medical school for research, U.S. News & World Report


of graduates become medical school faculty


years to complete the program

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the MSTP must meet all the academic criteria and requirements of the University Program of the CWRU School of Medicine. In addition, the CWRU MSTP requires one year of college calculus and strongly recommends a course in biochemistry. 

However, while your application will tell us many important details about you, one of the most important qualifications we look for in MSTP is substantive research experience. For most applicants, this happens during the summers and during the school year as an undergraduate, or during post-baccalaureate research time. Additionally, we ask our applicants to seriously consider and explain to us why they want to pursue both an MD and a PhD.

To apply to MSTP:

  • Complete the AMCAS application by Nov. 1 and apply to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Check boxes to indicate interest in MD/PhD study and provide relevant information.
  • Complete CWRU School of Medicine's online secondary application (iApply) by Nov. 30 (you will receive this via email). Check the box in the secondary application indicating that you’re applying to the MSTP (as well as the University Program or College Program, if desired).
  • Submit the application fee, as specified in the secondary application, as well as three to five letters of recommendation.

For full details on the application process, visit the MSTP website.

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