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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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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