Admission Overview

Information Sessions

We hold monthly information sessions open to anyone interested in joining our MD/PhD program (dates are listed on our homepage). These sessions are set up as a small group meeting, designed to answer a wide range of questions. They take place on a Wednesday at 11am and consist of an hour with the program coordinator and director to talk about the program, career path, admission, and get all your questions answered. After the discussion everyone is invited to attend the student led MD/PhD journal club that day.  We schedule these as people ask, email MD/PhD Program Coordinator to reserve a spot or ask about the next one.

We are also available by email or phone (503-494-1888) to answer individual questions, or we can set up personal appointments.

Please email the MD/PhD Program coordinator if you any questions about our MD/PhD program.

Application Process

There are several stages to the MD/PhD admission process. We have many resources to help you at each step along the way.

Stage 1: The application

The MD/PhD program receives its applications through the OHSU MD Admission process. We abide by all MD program requirements.  Their web page describes the process before we receive applications. We receive them after both AMCAS application and secondary application have been received.  

We screen all completed MD/PhD applications and decide who to invite for an interview. We recommend getting applications in early.   If we decide not to interview a candidate, the application is screened as normal by the MD program. 

Stage 2: The interview

The interview "Day" is really a day and a half long. It consists of the MD interview MMI, 3 MD/PhD interviews, 1-3 faculty researcher interviews, plus various interview activities to interact with current students and program leadership.  We usually have 6-7 of these between October 1 and February 1. Each interview day has no more than 10 MD/PhD candidates invited.

The faculty research interviewer is selected by the program coordinator based on faculty availability and the MD/PhD secondary application. 

We recommend wearing comfortable shoes, interviewees typically find they walk a lot during their interview, and there will be times when you'll need to move very quickly to get to the next location on time.

Stage 3: Waiting

After interviews, candidates are discussed, ranked and then everyone waits until the end of the interview process and selections can be made. Occasionally 2 or 3 exceptional candidates will be offered admission before the last interview day. Candidates can (and should) send occasional emails to let the program coordinator know they're still interested and about any new publications. Some candidates may receive an MD offer before the MD/PhD program can make final decisions.

Stage 4: Acceptance

Finally in early March offers will be made to our top 5 candidates. (We do not make more offers than we have positions.) Depending on the outcomes of those offers, we will make additional offers. Our goal is to make offers as quickly as we can. The MD program will continue making offers as well.

Stage 5: Matriculation

We have support for some applicants who wish to join a lab early and do some research starting in July. Otherwise matriculation is August with the MD program. There is an MD/PhD program BBQ the Sunday before MD Orientation.

And throughout these stages, contacting the MD/PhD program coordinator with questions is a good option.


Transfer Admission Options

Current OHSU MD and School of Medicine PhD students can apply to transfer into the MD/PhD program. 

OHSU MD students are eligible to apply for transfer in the first year of medical school. Applications are accepted September 15 through December 1. It's an abbreviated application and interview process. You will need a letter of recommendation from an OHSU researcher. Please contact the MD/PhD program coordinator if you are considering this option to request application forms.

OHSU PhD students may apply to the MD/PhD program in their first two years of graduate school. They will need to complete the full MD/PhD application. They will also need to apply for a waiver from the Graduate Studies program to change programs. If you are interested in this option, please contact the MD/PhD program coordinator prior to application. 

MD/PhD Coordinator:  or (503)494-1888 

What We Look For

Every program has a slightly different list of what they're looking for in candidates. Here is what we look for, and what we use in evaluating whether an applicant has that. 

  • Passion and skills at research (think like a scientist)
    • publications (grants, abstracts, posters)—need to produce something from your research
    • letters of recommendation from mentors who are willing to say, "this person solved problems in my lab, and thought like a scientist"
    • independent research projects (not just being a technician)
    • understanding of all aspects of your research and how it fits into the big picture.
  • Drive for clinical care
    • sustained meaningful clinical experience or other strong personal interactions with diverse populations
    • work in clinics, hospitals, shelters
    • writing about patient interactions
  • Integrity, spark, courage, resiliency, maturity, leadership
    • essays, experience, harder to quantify, but we read the essays carefully
    • specific in the why OHSU secondary application essay
    • participation in a range of groups at various levels as leader and team member
  • Academic skills so you will be successful.
    • good GPA, writing, academic awards (MCAT matters a little but less).
    • other than required science classes, we don't look for particular classes, but we look that you did well in your science courses, and took a range of courses and challenged yourself

Measuring the amount of research is hard to do. We look at quality—was there output, was there ownership of the project, independent contributions. Usually it's hard for anyone to do that in less than 3 years. Most of our successful candidates did research throughout undergraduate and frequently spent 1-2 years working in a lab afterwards.