MD/PhD Landing Hero With Page Title

Akua Sarfo, a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Penn State College of Medicine, is seen in a College laboratory in April 2017. Sarfo is pictured looking at the camera, standing in front of a microscope while wearing a white lab coat. She is surrounded by other laboratory equipment.

MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training Program

Navigation Menu

MD/PhD Program Details H2

MD/PhD Program Details

MD/PhD Program Details Page Intro with CTA

In the Penn State College of Medicine Medical Scientist Training Program, you’ll explore the ways in which medicine and basic research can be combined through translational research.

Integration of the medical and graduate curricula is emphasized from the beginning, and this is sustained even during your predominantly medical or graduate years of training.

Students typically complete the program in eight years.

MD/PhD Program Details Basic Article

Program of Study

Summer Before Matriculation

The program of study begins with a laboratory rotation (at least four weeks in duration) during the summer prior to matriculation. You can arrange for the rotation by contacting a faculty member directly or contacting the MD/PhD office at

You’ll then start the program, doing your first two years of medical school while taking a limited number of graduate courses. See the MD program curriculum.

First Two Years

During your first year (M1), faculty members in the program present their research to students at a weekly luncheon. You’ll then select two faculty members to do rotations with during the summer between your M1 and M2 years. Students typically choose a lab for their thesis research after these rotations. You may choose advisors/labs from either the Hershey or University Park Campus.

While you’re in medical school, you’ll take Biological Basis of Human Health and Disease (BMS 506A/B). This course is typically taken during M2 and is organized and run by the dual-degree program specifically for MD/PhD students.

At the end of M2, you’ll take Step 1 of the USMLE licensing examination.

Graduate Studies

Beginning in the third year (M3), you’ll focus on graduate studies and begin your thesis project. Students typically finish their thesis research in four to five years.

During the graduate years, you’ll also get to experience the life of a physician-scientist through the clinical exposure program, through which you choose a clinical mentor and work with that mentor in his or her clinic.

Upon completion of your PhD dissertation, you’ll return to medical school (M3 and M4 years) to complete your clinical rotations and choose a residency program.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the MD/PhD curriculum, please contact us at 717-531-1188 or