Opportunities for Combined Degrees
- General Information - MD plus Master's Degree or Ph.D.
- Degree of Doctor of Medicine with Distinction
Medical students may work toward combined degrees in medicine and one of the basic medical sciences, public health, or an area of the social sciences or humanities. Under the combined degree arrangement qualified students may earn two degrees at either the masters or the doctoral level in a manner which maximizes the educational value of each degree. In some cases work may be credited towards both degrees. Students in combined degree programs may receive up to 15 hours of elective credit towards the M.D. degree for medically relevant, graduate school courses. Students pursuing the M.D./Ph.D. degree may receive additional credit towards the M.D. degree for relevant graduate school courses. Students enrolled in a graduate program must obtain advance approval for graduate courses to receive medical school credit. Prior arrangement with the respective advisors and the Electives Committees of the medical school is required.
UNC medical students wishing to consider a combined degree opportunity must be accepted into the graduate program of their choice by making a formal application using forms obtained from that program. Admissions procedures vary with each department; however, application should generally be made at least six months before students intend to enroll in the graduate program (see section below for more details on the admissions procedures for the M.D./Ph.D. Program). Acceptance into a graduate program must be documented by the School of Medicine.
The Executive Associate Dean for Medical Education oversees all recognized combined degree programs. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs can assist students with planning their academic program for combined degrees. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs is located in 1060 Bondurant Hall (919) 962-8334.
Students enrolled in the School of Medicine may pursue a second professional or graduate degree in a department or program of the School of Public Health (e.g., epidemiology, maternal & child health, health policy & administration, health behavior & education, or health care & prevention), or in another department of the Graduate School that offers a medically related program in the social sciences or humanities (e.g., medical anthropology, medical sociology, health economics, political science, medical ethics, medical history). Medical students must enroll in a graduate program of the School of Public Health, or in another Graduate School department for a minimum of one semester or one academic year depending on the requirements of the graduate department.
The Electives Committee has approved the entire catalogue of the School of Public Health for medical school elective credit, with the provision that medical students wishing to enroll in a School of Public Health course for elective credit receive advance approval from the medical school advisor for combined degrees in public health.
Medical students enrolled in a graduate program in a medically related area of the social sciences or humanities must also obtain advance approval for graduate courses in order to receive medical school credit.
After acceptance and matriculation in the School of Medicine, interested students should take the following steps:
- Consult with the medical school advisor for the combined degree program (see below). Graduate departments and the School of Medicine have academic counselors and advisors to assist students in making plans for combined degrees.
- Request an informal interview with a representative of the graduate program desired.
- Apply for admission to the graduate program through the Graduate School.
- Since the university does not permit dual enrollment, medical students must take a leave of absence from medical school while enrolled in the graduate program. Obtain a leave of absence from the School of Medicine through the Registrar in room 1060 Bondurant Hall.
- Register and matriculate in the graduate program for the length of time required by the graduate department.
- Complete all requirements for the graduate degree as specified by the graduate department.
- Complete all requirements for the M.D. degree as specified by the School of Medicine.
The advisors for combined degrees in public health are Dr. Russell Harris and Dr. Linda Kinsinger. Interested students should contact Drs. Harris or Kinsinger, through the Program on Prevention, CB 7508 Room 383, Wing D, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7508, (919) 966-4065.
The advisor for combined degrees in social medicine is Dr. Donald Madison. Interested students should contact him through the Department of Social Medicine, CB 7240 Wing D, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240, (919) 962-1136.
The School of Medicine and the Graduate School offer a combined M.D./Ph.D. Program designed for selected students who aspire to a career in biomedical research and/or academic medicine. The M.D./Ph.D. Program offers students the opportunity to combine the clinical studies that accompany the medical degree with graduate education and doctoral research in any of a wide variety of academic disciplines. It is anticipated that the requirements for both the Ph.D. and the M.D. degrees can be completed in seven years, although the interval required for the doctoral research program is not always fully predictable.
The Ph.D. degree in the combined program can be earned in almost any discipline within the Graduate School, provided that it can be shown to lead in a logical fashion to a future career in biomedical research and/or academic medicine. Examples of these Ph.D. programs include, but are not limited to: cell biology and anatomy, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, microbiology and immunology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, biomedical engineering, genetics, neurobiology, toxicology, epidemiology, and parasitology.
All applicants to the M.D./Ph.D. Program are required to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Once information has been received from the MCAT, an application for the M.D./Ph.D. Program can be requested from the M.D./Ph.D. Program Office. Applicants to the M.D./Ph.D. Program are not required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). In addition, it is not necessary for applicants to designate a specific program within the Graduate School at the time the application is made to the M.D./Ph.D. Program. Instead, students have the opportunity to select their graduate programs at any time during the first two years of medical school.
The M.D./Ph.D. Program at UNC-Chapel Hill begins with the first two years (-01 and -02) of medical school, during which time most students are also able to fulfill a significant portion of their Graduate School requirements. The summer prior to enrollment in medical school, as well as the summer between years -01 and -02, are specifically designed to provide M.D./Ph.D. students with exposure to a number of potential research areas. Years -03 through -05 are set aside for students to complete Graduate School course work and the Ph.D. dissertation. Students then complete the M.D./Ph.D. Program with two years (-06 and -07) of clinical medicine. Within this basic structure, the M.D./Ph.D. Program at UNC-Chapel Hill is sufficiently flexible to accommodate students with a wide variety of individual needs and/or prior experiences.
A competitive stipend as well as tuition, fees, and health insurance are provided for all four years of medical school. In addition, the M.D./Ph.D. Program assures that each student receives a comparable stipend during the years in Graduate School.
Descriptions of the graduate courses in the various departments and curricula can be found in the Record of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: The Graduate School, published by the Graduate School, CB 4010, Room 200 Bynum Hall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4010, (919) 966-2611.
For more information about the M.D.-Ph.D. Program, please contact Alison Regan ( or 843-6507) or Dr. Eugene P. Orringer, M.D./Ph.D. Program Director, 4060 Bondurant Hall, CB# 7000, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7000. Phone: (919) 843-6507; FAX: (919) 966-7564; e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be eligible for an MD degree with distinction a student must receive honors for all four years of medical school.