As a reflection of the organizing principle and paradigm of Clinical Translational Science (CTS), the MD-PhD program now offers virtually unlimited options for combining an MD curriculum with PhD dissertation work. In addition to traditional disciplines that advance the “bench to bedside” component of the CTS paradigm such as molecular and cell biology, genetics, physiology, pharmacology and neuroscience, applicants with an interest in medical anthropology, sociology of medicine, epidemiology, health and human services, bioethics, economics, and other social, population-based and/or computational sciences are encouraged to pursue their thesis work in these “non-traditional” disciplines that are critical to advancing the “bedside to community” component of the CTS paradigm.
Three to four years are usually required to undertake and complete a PhD program. Thus, MD-PhD students typically require seven to eight years to obtain their combined degree. We do not feel that onerous course requirements or administrative burdens are the best way to achieve this goal. The dissertation Supervisory Committee is selected by the student and mentor and plays a major role in setting the academic requirements for the PhD degree beyond those stipulated by the Graduate School. The Committee determines specific course requirements, administers the written and oral qualifying exam, and decides when the student graduates. Most importantly, the Committee provides research and career advice throughout the period of graduate education. At least one member of the MD-PhD Advisory Board must be a member of each student’s Dissertation Committee.