MD/PhD Program

Letter from the Director

Jeff WeissThe enormous strides made in many areas of medicine in the past decades fuel our constant search for new explorers of the biomedical sciences. To encourage and train future investigators, who look forward to a career in research, practice and teaching in an academic environment, SUNY Downstate offers a highly successful MD/PhD program. The program graduated its first MD/PhD in 1967. The program combines complete training in the pre-clinical and clinical aspects of medicine, culminating in the MD degree, with intensive research experience in the basic medical sciences leading to the PhD degree. Graduates of the program are able to relate the knowledge insight and techniques they have gained from their research training to problems in clinical medicine and are prepared to function as independent researchers. As the number of physician-scientists has declined over the past two decades the MD/PhD track has become an important mode for replacing physicians who took up scientific endeavors after they finished medical school.

SUNY Downstate has a tradition of excellence and initiative in training leaders in academic medicine. SUNY Downstate is one of the leading medical schools in the United States in terms of the number of its graduates going on to full-time careers in academic medicine.

Jeffrey P. Weiss, MD, PhD, FACS
Professor and Chair
Department of Urology
Director, MD-PhD Program
School of Graduate Studies

Application Process

The selection process for the MD/PhD program is highly competitive, usually admitting 2-4 per year. Applicants are admitted with a full tuition waiver and a stipend for the duration of their training , both of which begin as they enter the School of Graduate Studies after 2nd year.

Apply Now

In addition, a Graduate Assistantship at the base rate (currently $32, 627 per year) will be provided by the School of Graduate Studies for up to an 8-week period in the summer between 1st and 2nd year in the College of Medicine in order to complete a rotation.  While the MD/PhD student is in the School of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Assistantship will be at the standard rate, currently $39,028 per year, until return to the College of Medicine, and then return to the base rate.

Out-of-state tuition rates will only be provided for the first year of a student’s PhD portion of the program.  After the first year, tuition will only be provided at in-state rates for all semesters in the School of Graduate Studies and for the four remaining semesters in the College of Medicine.

Information about how to apply for New York State residency is here:

Continuation in the program is conditional upon the student's academic progress, fulfillment of the requirements of the graduate school and progress to completion of their thesis.

MD/PhD Program Course of Study

In the usual course of study, students in the Foundation of Medicine years of the program are following the standard curriculum of the College of Medicine when they MD/PhD Application. Once accepted, MD/PhD students are expected to work in research laboratories during the first two summers of their medical school. They then spend approximately three to four years in the School of Graduate Studies taking advanced courses and pursuing research leading to a PhD thesis. Upon completion of these requirements, students return to the College of Medicine to complete their clinical training. The program is flexible and other options may be developed by the student in consultation with his or her advisor and the MD/PhD committee.

The expected timeline to degree is as follows:

Time period


1st year of College of Medicine

MD/PhD Application due by January 1

Spring semester of COM

Application assessment and interviews if selected

Summer between 1st and 2nd year

Hiring as a Graduate Assistant at base rate and 1st rotation for 8 weeks

2nd year of College of Medicine

Leave from payroll while attending COM including “Transition to Clerkships”

Spring/Summer after COM 2nd year

2nd Rotation if thesis lab is not yet selected, or begin thesis lab project. Return to payroll at standard rate.

Fall after COM 2nd year 

Initial enrollment in School of Graduate Studies with full tuition scholarship

3-4 years of enrollment

Progress towards PhD degree culminating in thesis defense

July after defense

Return to COM with full tuition scholarship (in-state rate, limited to 4 semesters), and base Graduate Assistantship

3rd and 4th years, COM

Completion of MD degree, and commencement awarding the combined MD/PhD

Students may complete their PhD work in:

Students rotate through two laboratories (the first during the summer between 1st and 2nd year in the College of Medicine) before making a final decision about their thesis sponsor. The MD/PhD Program Director, members of the MD/PhD committee as well as individual faculty members are available to discuss these options and offer constructive advice to help students select a sponsor.