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PhD in Medical Science: Degree Program Information

Read about doctoral degree programs for aspiring medical science specialists. Explore the course requirements of such programs as well as the continuing education options for graduates. Review the employment outlook statistics for medical scientists.

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Essential Information

In many cases, a Ph.D. in Medical Science degree can be earned along with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) as part of a joint degree program; however, terminal doctorate degrees in this field are also available. Focused on research, doctoral programs in medical science are interdisciplinary and integrated with a number of fields of medicine, such as pain management, molecular medicine or cancer biology.

A Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Science program is designed for students who wish to conduct research in biomedicine. At the doctoral level, students are often able to tailor their programs according to their interests and needs. Some Ph.D. programs require students to teach a given number of units, based on the idea that this is important for professional growth. Both independent research and a dissertation are required to earn a Ph.D. in Medical Science. Some programs also require an internship.

Education Prerequisites

The minimum educational prerequisite for a doctoral program in medical science is a bachelor's degree, but many schools require applicants to hold a master's degree in a biomedical, medical or health science field. A minimum 3.0 GPA is also required. Those schools that require a bachelor's degree typically also have a list of prerequisite courses, such as general biology and general chemistry. Other required courses depend upon the program, but may include quantitative analysis, organic chemistry, general physics and math, with calculus recommended.

Program Coursework

Required courses for a Ph.D. in Medical Science vary a great deal by school. The specialty field the student has chosen generally determines the nature of the coursework. Required courses for all programs usually are:

  • Biomedical science basics
  • Research methods
  • Research ethics

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated that the number jobs for medical scientists will grow about 36% between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than the national average for all jobs. The BLS anticipated that individuals with both a Ph.D. and M.D. would have the best employment opportunities. In 2012, the median annual salary for medical scientists was $76,980 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education

Those who have graduated with a Ph.D. in Medical Science and want to focus on research may wish to pursue a M.D. program. A medical degree provides more direct access to patients, which can help facilitate research. Individuals who wish to play a more managerial role may take business courses or pursue a business degree.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
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    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
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      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
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    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
        • Environmental Health
        • Medical Scientist
        • Public Health Medicine, Treatment
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
        • Community Health and Preventive Medicine
        • Public Health Medicine, Treatment
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Optometric and Ophthalmic Services
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
        • Health Physics
        • Medical Scientist
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences

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