Frequently Asked Questions


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ADMISSIONS

1.Do I need to take the GRE and the MCAT to apply for the MD/PhD Program? 
No, the GRE isn't necessary. The MCAT is the only required score to apply for the MD/PhD program. 

2. What is the best undergraduate preparation for an MD/PhD Program?
There is no one right preparation for an MD/PhD. MD/PhD students with undergraduate majors from English to physics have been successful. However, students must have a solid background in science. Much of this is ensured by fulfillment of the requirements for admission to medical school. Students must also demonstrate aptitude and interest in research, generally through active participation in research starting as early as the summer after their freshman year. Research experience and the resulting letters of recommendation are a requirement for admission.

3. What are the “cut-offs” for the GPA and MCAT scores?
There are no "cut-offs" for either. Nevertheless, experience shows that students with GPAs below 3.3 and MCATs lower than 28 combined may have only limited success. Conversely, high GPAs are not always indicative of success in competing for MD/PhD positions. The committee is looking for well rounded students and considers course work, GPA, MCAT scores, as well as research experience, clinical shadowing and extracurricular activities.

4. Is there an early decision program?
Yes, we offer Georgia residents the option to be considered for the Early Decision Program. Applicants must file applications for admission with AMCAS between June 1, 2012 and Aug. 1, 2012. All applications and official transcripts must be received in the AMCAS office by Aug. 1 to be considered under the Early Decision Program. Early Decision Program applicants must have taken the MCAT by June 16, 2012.

5. Can I apply to the MD/PhD Program after starting medical school? 
Yes!! You can apply to the Flexible Program after completing one, two or even three years of medical school.

6. I submitted my AMCAS application but did not choose the Combined Medical Degree/PhD as my program choice. Can I still be considered?
Yes, but you must contact the MD/PhD program directly. If your application is approved for further consideration, then you must complete a supplemental application that includes the following:

  • Two (2) letters of recommendation from former research advisors
  • MD/PhD personal statement
  • A description of all substantial research experience(s)


7. How many students are accepted in the program each year?
The Traditional Program welcomes four (4) students per year and the Flexible Program accepts two (2) students per year.

8. Do I need to be a resident of Georgia to apply?
You do not have to be a resident of Georgia to be accepted into the program, but you must be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. 

9. Will I be considered for both the MD and MD/PhD Program?
Yes. MD/PhD Candidates will always be considered separately by both the medical school and the MD/PhD admissions committee but final decisions are made collaboratively. 

10. Is there a separate interview for the MD/PhD Program? 
Yes, a separate interview is scheduled with at least three of our committee members during the same time period as your medical school interviews.

 


PROGRAM STRUCTURE 

1. How long does it take to complete both degrees?
On average, it takes seven and a half years to complete the program but can be completed in as little as 6 years or as many as 8 years depending on your research studies.

2. What is the structure of the MD/PhD program?
Year 1-2: 
The first two years are devoted to pre-clinical medical school courses. In the summer after the first year, students perform a research rotation under an MD/PhD program research mentor.
Biomedical research can be undertaken in any eligible graduate lab at the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, or the University of Georgia. 
Research rotation opportunities are also available in the summer before the first year.

Year 3-6:
Following completion of the Part I Medical Boards in the summer after the second year, students begin graduate school full-time. In general, the graduate years last three to four years and the PhD dissertation is defended before the student returns to the wards for clinical clerkships.

Year 7-8:
The clinical clerkships are completed along the usual lines for third and fourth year medical students.

3. How do I know what type of research I want to pursue for my graduate studies?
MD/PhD students are assigned a PhD mentor who will help advise them on different research opportunities. Students will also spend the summer between their first and second years of clinical training rotating through different labs of their choosing to help determine what research they would like to pursue.

4. What are the Four Pillars of the MD/PhD Program?
This is the Augusta University's holistic style of education which provides students with access to outstanding academics in a cooperative setting with an emphasis on leadership and service.


FINANCIAL AID


1. How will I be supported during my training?
The program pays for the majority of tuition and fees and provides a $23,000 living stipend. We also pay for student health insurance. Students are responsible for paying $25 each semester for tuition as well as fees totaling approximately $405 in Fall, $268 in Spring, and $220 in Summer. During your graduate years, you can apply for fellowships and a successful award will result in additional funding for you!
 

THE MD/PHD ADVANTAGE


1. What are the advantages/disadvantages of the MD/PhD program versus research post-doctoral fellowships after medical school and residency?
This is probably the most commonly asked question, and the comparison can be simplified into a comparison of two different training environments. The MD/PhD program provides training in both medicine and basic sciences. The PhD degree provides complete training in research through course work and thesis activities. Thus, in general, dual-degree recipients tend to have a broader scientific knowledge base.

The dual degree is often attractive to residency programs looking for mature house staff with investigative interests. This has been especially true in Neurology, Psychiatry, Surgery, Therapeutic Radiology and Internal Medicine subspecialties. Furthermore, since the majority of residency and fellowship programs have strong research components (e.g. one - two years in general surgery), MD/PhD students have an opportunity to complete further training that launches their faculty research careers. 
However, there are also benefits to the post-doctoral fellowship tract. The most common is that research training is initiated after students have determined their areas of interest. On the other hand, the two-year duration of most post-doctoral fellowships (e.g. NIH NRSA fellowships) means that the fellow must remain incredibly focused to assure productivity. In addition, there is further pressure since the fellowship will be the only formal research training before faculty status.

The major point of evaluation for these two pathways is to look at success rates for dual MD/PhD programs and NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowships in creating academic physicians. A recent review from NIH looked at dual degree program graduates from 1975 to 1990. The statistics show that an amazing 85% of graduates are still practicing medicine in an academic setting. In contrast, NIH Postdoctoral Fellowships have had a much poorer track record, with most programs showing only a 15-20% success rate of physicians maintaining academic medical careers. 


2. After graduation, can I practice medicine and conduct research?
Yes. A major advantage of the MD/PhD program is that it provides complete training in both science and medicine. This gives graduates extensive flexibility to arrange their lives as they see fit. How one chooses to balance research and clinical medicine is up to the individual.


3. Do MD/PhD's make good physicians?
A brief perusal of the nation's top residency training programs demonstrates the large number of clinically excellent MD/PhD physicians. MD/PhD student success in obtaining residency positions also testifies to this fact. MD/PhD students returning to the wards often stand out because of their increased maturity and organization. Earning a PhD requires students to learn to justify their thought processes at every turn. More importantly, the thought process behind hypothesis-driven science, which is at the heart of research training, is identical to that for differential diagnosis as a physician. This means that MD/PhD students have a significant advantage in the intellectual skills required by excellent physicians.

4. Will I receive a real PhD as an MD/PhD student?
Absolutely. Students must complete all of the requirements of a regular PhD candidate including written and oral comprehensive qualifying exams and completion and defense of a PhD dissertation. You are able to complete the PhD degree in three to four years because many of the first and second year medical school courses, including biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, neurosciences, pharmacology and microbiology will count for graduate credit.


RESIDENCY


1. Do I need to do my PhD in the area in which I will be doing my residency?
No. The goal of the MD/PhD program is to provide a comprehensive research training experience that provides the tools needed to excel in your chosen career. A student with outstanding research productivity from a PhD program will always have an advantage in any residency program competition. 

2. If I decide against residency training, have I wasted my time?
Most dual-degree graduates do go on to residencies, and feel that this intensive clinical training solidifies their medical knowledge and influences their research careers. Nevertheless, some graduates do choose to forego residency training in lieu of strictly research postdoctoral fellowships. In general, these graduates feel that their MD training has been critical as it provided a broader background in areas such as pathophysiology, pharmacology and physiology. 

COMMUNITY

1. What is life like in Augusta and Athens?
AUGUSTA: The Augusta metropolitan area, with a population of more than 400,000, is the second-largest metropolitan area in Georgia. Augusta is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains with easy access to a number of outdoor activities, including hiking, sailing, and river rafting. Cultural life in Augusta includes a professional civic symphony, an opera company, and a ballet company. Both Atlanta and Savannah are 2 1/2-hour drives from Augusta. For more information, please visit the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.


ATHENS:The University of Georgia is located in Athens, which lies approximately halfway between Augusta and Atlanta. For more information, please visit the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Augusta University IMMERSION PROGRAM

1. Does Augusta University offer any programs to prepare me for medical school and graduate studies?

Yes, Augusta University offers several programs: 

To learn more or arrange a visit, email the University System of Georgia MD/PhD Program at mdphd@augusta.edu.