The MD+

Many students choose to do a little more at Vanderbilt than just earn an MD degree. Often they take time off to do research (one avenue is through the Medical Scholars Program). Others choose to pursue a dual degree. The list of possibilities is quite extensive (MD/PhD, MD/MBA, MD/JD, MD/MDiv, MD/MTS, MD/MEd, MD/MPH, MD/MS in BME, CS, ME, or BMI), so we’ll just focus on the most common ones here. Lastly, a few choose a military scholarship and continue their medical training post-graduation with the armed services.

Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)

Director: Dr. Terence S. Dermody

Assistant Director: Dr. Michelle M. Grundy

Program Coordinator: Lindsay C. Meyers

Light Hall 340, (615) 343-1908

The federally funded Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is designed to foster the development of independent scientific careers by providing a strong core education in medicine and an intensive training in scientific inquiry. Each year, about 10% of the incoming first year class is part of the MSTP. The typical training for MSTP students begins with the completion of the first two years of medical school (M1 and M2), followed by several years of graduate studies, and then a return to medical school to complete the final two years of clinical training (M3 and M4). While most students entering the program begin at the first year of medical school, students can join MSTP at any point during their training. The program is very flexible in allowing students to decide which path is best.

Each department requires 24 graduate school hours of didactic classes. Classes students will take during the first two years of medical school usually count for 10-13 of these hours; however, the policies vary among departments. Check with the department’s Directors of Graduate Studies for specifics. Students can also take graduate school courses in place of medical school electives; however, the combined course load can be difficult.

MSTP students receive their elective credit by participating in the mandatory weekly MSTP seminars, a student-driven course reviewing current biomedical research. The primary focus is on cutting edge, hypothesis-driven science. Students from the first two years of medical school and the first year of graduate training are responsible for presentations. The format alternates between a large group presentation and small group presentations/discussions. Attendance is mandatory. Students are graded on their participation and presentation.

Each student is assigned to one of four MSTP advising colleges and is paired with an M2 mentor and faculty advisor in that college. Students should meet and discuss progress or difficulties each year with their faculty advisors.


By combining coursework from both the Owen Graduate School of Management and the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, students can earn both an MBA and an MD degree in five years. MD/MBA applicants must apply separately to the School of Medicine and Owen and be granted admission by both. Although rejection by either school does not negate acceptance by the other school, this acceptance is to the regular degree program, not the joint degree program. Students are encouraged to apply for joint status before enrolling in either program, but Vanderbilt medical students can apply for admission to Owen at any time during their first three years of medical school. Owen students who apply to the School of Medicine during their first year in the MBA program are also considered for the joint degree.

Vanderbilt MD/MBA students spend their first three years in the School of Medicine. They then enroll in Owen for year four and take courses in both schools during year five, thus completing both degrees in five years. As with other joint professional and graduate degrees, the number of hours required to earn the MBA credential is reduced from 61 to 49 hours because Owen will give credit for 12 hours of course work from the School of Medicine. Because Vanderbilt MD/MBA students complete additional course work and rotations in the summer semesters, students should contact the School of Medicine for curriculum guidelines.

Medical Scholars Program

Director: Tina Hartert, MD, MPH


The Medical Scholars Program is a one-year in-depth research experience available to Vanderbilt medical students. Many students choose to join the Medical Scholars Program to extend their Emphasis project into a year-long endeavor. The goal of the program is to foster an interest in research among medical students that may eventually lead to the pursuit of a career in academic medicine.

Specifically, the Medical Scholars Program seeks to identify students who are interested in biomedical research (clinical, basic, health services, public health, outcomes, etc.), place them in an appropriate research environment, allow them access to a group of peers and scientists who share common research interests, and support them with a stipend.

The duration of the program for each student is 12 consecutive months, thus adding an additional year to the traditional medical school curriculum. This can occur after the first, second, third or fourth year. Selection of applicants for the program is based on the following criteria: the medical student is in good standing at the medical school; the applicant has a recognized commitment to pursue research; the applicant has identified an appropriate research project; and the applicant has identified a mentor who will foster and support the applicant’s research project. No prior research experience is required.

Military Scholarships

The three branches of the armed services offer three- and four-year full scholarships for medical students. Advertisements for the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) will periodically show up in your Light Hall mailbox. While the details behind the scholarships may vary, the basic principle is the same: the more they pay for, the more time you’ll owe them. There are many opportunities for physicians within the military, so many students think this is a great way to go to med school without having to worry about loans. The contact person for the Military Medical Student Association is Stephanie Couch.