Process and Criteria
Now is an exciting time to pursue your passion for medicine and science. An MD-PhD degree will provide you with the training you need to become a leader in the areas of research and medicine and the insight required to build a bridge between the disciplines.
The UNC MD-PhD Program welcomes applications from any students interested in a career in medicine and biomedical research. Our program supports students who are pursuing graduate degrees in traditional biomedical fields as well as graduate departments that are usually considered “non-traditional” for MD-PhD programs. (Please note: for some “non-traditional” PhD programs, an applicant to the MD-PhD program must apply separately to the UNC department from which he or she aims to earn a PhD. For more information please contact the MD-PhD Program Office).
You can find a list of graduate programs with which we currently work with here.
Please note: We have made changes to our admissions process in order to comply with a mandate from the North Carolina General Administration. From this point forward, all applicants applying to the UNC School of Medicine must complete a supplemental application in addition to a military survey. The Committee on Admissions will continue to pre-screen the AMCAS applications to select candidates for interviews. It is important that you take into consideration the admissions policies, guidelines, and criteria we have indicated on our website to ensure that your academic credentials meet our criteria. Keep in mind that the process for receiving a supplemental is automated, and you need to make sure that your academic metrics are within the parameters we require.
* The MD-PhD Program has the same prerequisite academic and technical standards requirements as the MD Program. Please find more information about these requirements by visiting the Educational Prerequisites and MCATs page or the Technical Standards page on the Medical School’s Admissions website.
How to Apply to the UNC MD-PhD Program
To apply to the UNC MD-PhD Program, you must submit an application through the American College Medical School Application Service (AMCAS).
MD-PhD Combined Degree Designation: In the application, you have to choose MD only or combined MD-PhD only, when asked to indicate the program to which you are applying. If you choose MD-PhD, your application will not be considered by the MD Program, however, you will still be required to interview with the MD program as part of the Multiple Mini Interview if invited.
The UNC MD-PhD deadline for submission of the AMCAS application is October 1st, 2023.
Once we receive your AMCAS application, the staff of the UNC MD-PhD Program reviews it. All applicants who submit an AMCAS application to the UNC MD-PhD Program will receive an email invitation to submit a Supplemental Application. We encourage your submission within 2 weeks of that invitation. If you would like to be considered for an interview we strongly suggest you to complete the process as soon as possible.
*Note: Please make sure you are checking your Spam/Junk folders for correspondences from UNC that may have been pushed there.
The final deadline for submitting your Supplemental Application is Friday, October 6th.
Please note: for some “non-traditional” PhD programs, an applicant to the MD-PhD program must apply separately to the UNC department from which he or she aims to earn a PhD. For more information please contact the MD-PhD Program Office.
Our MD-PhD Program does not interview on a rolling basis. However, we review all applications as they are completed September – November. Your application is not considered complete until you have paid the Supplemental Application fee and we receive your verified AMCAS, including your latest MCAT score and all letters of recommendation.
Invitations for interviews for local applicants may be issued as early as September. All interview invitations will be issued by early December. Applicants who are selected for interviews will visit UNC on one of three interview weekends in December or January.
For 2024, our interview weekend dates are:
- December 3-5*
- January 7-9
- January 21-23
Transportation, lodging, and food for interviewing applicants are provided by the Program. On interview weekends, applicants arrive in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon and spend the weekend interacting with current students and faculty members in a relaxed social environment. Then, on Monday, the formal interviews are held in conjunction with both the Medical School and the Graduate School. MD-PhD applicants participate in Multiple Mini Interviews, Experience UNC, for half the day. The rest of the day is spent interviewing with research faculty on campus.
You can find a full admissions timeline on our Deadlines and Key Dates page.
*Local Interview Day
Applicants to the UNC MD-PhD Program should possess:
- An excellent academic record
- A strong motivation to pursue a career as a physician-scientist
- Research experience outside of the required laboratory courses
- Leadership skills and the drive to be a leader in your field
We evaluate each application in its entirety, taking into consideration engagement in research, academic achievement, MCAT scores, personal essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews. There is no age limit for applicants to our program.
A complete and competitive application should showcase these qualities, while also meeting the following requirements:
Information About the New MCAT: The Admissions Committee will use the MCAT scores from the current exam in the same way they have used previous scores – in conjunction with other academic information presented on the AMCAS application and the letters of recommendation. Because these scores are new to Admissions Committee members, they will use the percentile ranks for the new scores to determine how individual applicants compare to others who took the new exam.
Students should plan to take the MCAT no later than September prior to the year they are planning to matriculate. MCAT scores cannot be more than three years old at the time the AMCAS application is submitted.
The latest exam scores we will accept for the 2024 application cycle will be from the September 19th, 2023 test administration.
If you submitted your AMCAS application prior to taking the MCAT, please note that your application will not be reviewed until the scores have been reported by AMCAS. For all applicants, MCAT scores below 508 (new MCAT) are typically not considered competitive. If your initial MCAT score does not meet our criteria and you plan to retake the exam, make sure you indicate your next MCAT exam date on your AMCAS application and we will review your application after we receive the new scores. There is no need to call us to give us your new scores, because AMCAS will automatically upload them to your application as soon as they are available.
Undergraduate GPA Requirements
Your GPA should reflect strong academic ability, especially in the natural sciences. Applicants whose cumulative GPA is 3.3 or higher will meet our minimum requirements for consideration.
Our ideal candidate has not just taken the hardest classes and made good grades, they have also sought out experiences that enrich their education and give them opportunities for real-life application of the concepts learned in the classroom. They are self-starters who are internally motivated to challenge themselves.
Research Experience Requirements
Successful applicants to the UNC MD-PhD Program have pursued research experiences outside of their required laboratory coursework. Please make sure that your AMCAS application clearly defines the type of research experiences you have had and the amount of time you spent doing each activity. Please put these experiences in both the “Experiences” section of the AMCAS application and the “Research Description” essay that is a required component of our Supplemental Application.
Competitive applicants have a minimum of 12 cumulative months of full-time research experience at the time of their application.
Letters of Recommendation
As you consider who to ask for a letter of recommendation, keep in mind that the purpose of these letters is to shed light on the character and ability of the applicant. Choose someone who knows your character and ability well and can help reviewers gain a deeper understanding of you.
The MD-PhD Program requires a minimum of three letters of recommendation and will accept up to six letters. We request that at least one letter be written by a research mentor from the experience you designate as most meaningful in your AMCAS application. If your undergraduate institution has a Pre-Health Committee, it would be preferable to have letters from this committee and the compilation would meet our requirement.
You should begin requesting your letters of recommendation well in advance of the deadline to give your professors, advisors, and mentors enough time to compose and submit their letters. Our deadline for the submission of all letters of recommendation to AMCAS is October 1st.
All letters are to be submitted through the AMCAS Letter Service. Please remember that it is your responsibility to make sure that you designate the UNC School of Medicine as one of the schools to receive your letters (within AMCAS). If you have questions about how to do this, please contact AMCAS directly or refer to the online instruction manual.
Updates to AMCAS and or Supplemental Applications
We do not accept updates to your AMCAS or Supplemental application post-submission (e.g. publications, new experience, etc.). The only exception is if an official from the Office of Admissions has requested that you do so. If you are offered an interview and you have a significant change or an added activity, you may share that information with your interviewer at the time of your interview.
Notification of Withdrawal from Consideration or Declination of Acceptance
Pre-interview: If you decide to withdraw your application from consideration before you interview with UNC, please notify us using the Withdrawal/Declination Form.
Post-interview: If you decide to withdraw your application from consideration after you have interviewed with UNC, please contact the MD-PhD Program directly.
For a breakdown of key dates in the application process, head over to the Deadlines and Key Dates page.
Commitment to Diversity
The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is strongly committed to recruiting and retaining outstanding trainees from a variety of diverse backgrounds. This includes individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds; individuals from minority groups that are under-represented in science and medicine; first generation college graduates; students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds; women; and individuals with disabilities of all forms (learning, mental impairment, and physical). We recognize the specific challenges that students from these backgrounds and with any form of disability face on a daily basis as well as the special needs that they have. It is our goal as a program to create, foster and sustain an inclusive environment that provides equal opportunities for all members of our community.
Specific to applicants with disabilities: To ensure your access to this class and to the medical school program, students with disabilities may contact the ARS (firstname.lastname@example.org). There you can engage in a confidential conversation about the process for requesting reasonable accommodations in the classroom and clinical settings. Accommodations are not provided retroactively. Students are encouraged to register with ARS as soon as they begin the program. More information can be found online at http://accessibility.unc.edu or by calling 919-962-8300.
Resources for Applicants with Disabilities
The UNC MD-PhD Program recognizes that our training environment is positively enriched by trainees with diverse backgrounds and needs, and welcomes students with disabilities. We strive to create, foster and sustain an inclusive environment that incorporates Universal Design and that provides equal opportunities for all members of our community. Students from all backgrounds who are US citizens or permanent residents are encouraged to apply. Our program gives full consideration to all applicants and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, veteran status, disability, national origin, creed, marital status, age, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation. We make every effort to ensure that qualified applicants can take full advantage of the programs available at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Applicants under consideration for admission to the MD-PhD Program may disclose a disability and request accommodation during the admission process. Disclosure is not required. Applicants who choose to disclose a disability during the admission process should write, call, or visit the MD-PhD Program Office (email@example.com) to make arrangements.
Our policies and guidelines apply to students who self-identify a documented disability before or after formal acceptance as well as those who become disabled after enrollment. The School of Medicine and the MD-PhD Program encourages students with disabilities to identify themselves as easily as possible so that reasonable accommodations for which they may be eligible can be determined and provided through the Accessibility Resources and Service (ARS) office. Please keep in mind that the disclosure of a disability is completely voluntary and will be kept confidential. All enrolled students must possess the intellectual, physical and emotional capabilities described in the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine Technical Standards for the Doctor of Medicine Degree (http://www.med.unc.edu/admit/requirements/requirements). Accommodations and assistive technologies will facilitate, but not eliminate, the need to meet these standards.
The UNC MD-PhD Program is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals who are disabled in compliance with Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, as well as applicable state regulations and federal and state privacy laws.
If you believe you may need and qualify for reasonable accommodations, please visit https://accessibility.unc.edu/ for detailed information and procedures. The knowledgeable staff in the Accessiblity Resources and Service (ARS) office serve UNC’s undergraduate, graduate and professional students, trainees, employees, and faculty as well as the public, in support of The University of North Carolina efforts to ensure an accessible, hospitable working and learning environment for people with disabilities. Through ARS, UNC ensures consistent processes for requesting accommodations, evaluating needs, and determining appropriate response, and the ARS serves as a clearinghouse for disability-related information, procedures and services available at UNC, in Chapel Hill and in North Carolina.