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Applying to MSCI

Candidates should submit an application that includes biographical information, references, career goals, and a specific proposal for a clinical and translational research project. The research proposal must identify the candidate’s mentor. Applications will be judged on the quality of the science proposed, on the mentor’s commitment to the candidate’s career development, and on the overall impact of the training program on the applicant’s career development.

Typically scholars enter the program at the start of the fall term. Under exceptional circumstances, students may enter the program in the spring or summer terms with the program director’s approval.

The priority application deadline is February 28. Applicants who apply for the MSCI program after the February 28 priority deadline will receive consideration for admission if space permits. A completed application and required supporting documents must be received at least 45 business days before the start date of the term in which the student matriculates into the program.


Eligible candidates for the MSCI Program include:

  • Board-eligible physicians enrolled in a fellowship program at Vanderbilt or Meharry Medical College,
  • Vanderbilt or Meharry residents with protected time for research,
  • Vanderbilt medical students with protected time for research after the third year of medical education,
  • Vanderbilt faculty members with the consent of their Department Chair,
  • Post-Doctoral PhDs anticipating a career in clinical and translational research,
  • PhD candidates in the School of Nursing anticipating a career in clinical and translational research,
  • Scholars external to Vanderbilt/Meharry will be considered based on the availability of a suitable mentor within Vanderbilt and the related professional background of the candidate, and
  • Professionals with three or more years of experience in clinical or translational research who do not possess an MD or MD-equivalent will be considered based on the availability of a suitable mentor within Vanderbilt.

Candidates must be in good standing with their home department at all stages during admission and remain in good standing with the home department and the MSCI program throughout matriculation.

Required Application Materials

1. Electronic Application

Area of Study: Medicine-Non MD

Program: Clinical Investigation

Financial Awards: Financial awards include scholarships and tuition support from VU, VUMC, and other sources.  Priority for financial awards is given to applications received by the February 28 deadline.

2. Letter from mentor documenting commitment to the candidate’s career development, and, if part-time applicant, mentor’s commitment to part-time attendance and completion of the degree. Please include a copy of the mentor’s curriculum vitae.

3. Three letters of recommendation (may include mentor).

4. Letter from the Division Director or Department Chair assuring 50 to 80% protected time for research.

5. Research Plan: The three to five-page proposal must describe Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Experimental Methods, Procedures, and Long-Term Objectives. Research plans exceeding the five-page limit will be returned; the page limit does not include references. Applicants must provide a title for the project.

6. Curriculum Vitae of the applicant.

7. Statement how this proposed research plan fits your career objectives.

  • Upload your Research Plan, Curriculum Vitae, and Career Statement in the application section labeled Statement of Purpose.

8. Letter from responsible person or department on official letterhead, stating confirmation of tuition payment throughout the matriculation and, if applicable, support for part-time attendance.

9. Documentation of prior degrees

Degrees from domestic institutions
Official transcripts for prior undergraduate and graduate work are required. Students enrolled in a course of study at the time of application are required to provide an unofficial transcript as part of the online application and then provide the final, official transcript as soon as it is available. All official transcripts must come directly from the issuing institution, not the candidate. Official transcripts are submitted as instructed at External Degree Verification.

Degrees from international institutions
Applicants who have completed a degree at an international institution must submit a certified course-by-course evaluation of prior degree(s) performed by an agency approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. The list of NACES-approved agencies is available at Graduate and Professional Students with Degrees from International Institutions. Evaluating agencies include:

Students may select an agency not listed above as long as the evaluation agency is approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. International students with questions about the prior degree verification process may contact the Vanderbilt External Education team at Prior Degree Review.

Documentation of proficiency in the English language: Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language are required to demonstrate proficiency in both written and spoken English by submitting results from one of the English language proficiency exams below. An official test score must be requested by the applicant and received by Vanderbilt University directly from the testing service. The Vanderbilt institutional code for TOEFL and IELTS is 1871. This requirement is waived for applicants who have received an academic degree from an institution where English was the language of instruction.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT: Successful applicants typically score at least 100 on the iBT (internet-based test only).
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Successful applicants typically score at least 7.0.

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Proposals must outline clinical and translational research that is hypothesis-driven and mechanistic.
  • Performance of the project must be feasible within two years.
  • Project mentors must have extramural research grant funding that is assured for the project duration.
  • Sponsoring departments will be expected to guarantee that 50 to 80% of the candidate’s professional time will be devoted to the goals and objectives of the MSCI program.


The MSCI Program is typically a full-time, two-year (5 academic terms) program. Tuition is usually funded through the candidate’s mentor, NIH training grant mechanisms, corporate/foundation grants, or institutional resources. In addition, partial scholarships are available for qualified applicants (pending funding availability). Tuition not covered by a mentor, sponsor, department, and/or grant is the financial responsibility of the enrolled student. Learn more about potential resources for funding MSCI.

Current students may access their e-bill through the Office of Student Accounts or YES (Your Enrollment Services).

Tuition, 2024-2025

Tuition and student fee amounts for the upcoming academic year are determined every April by the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, and they are published by the Office of Student Accounts.