M.D./Ph.D. Program

Handbook, Tips and FAQs (frequently asked questions) 

A list of Helpful Tips for Students is provided below.  This list was created to guide current students through the program, and to offer prospective students a glimpse of the life of an M.D./Ph.D. student.  

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the M.D./Ph.D. program or any topic related to the program from current and prospective students are available in this online resource. If you have a specific question that you would like answered, please feel free to contact us. 

The content of this page includes:
Helpful Tips for Students, FAQs from prospective students and FAQs from current students.

The M.D./Ph.D. Program Student Handbook is also a useful resource of detailed information about the program.


Helpful Tips for Students  

1. Undergraduate years

  • Gain research experience, and consider gaining clinical experience (shadowing a physician).
  • Complete MCAT.  Old exams can be helpful, practice following the time constraints
  • Apply to M.D./Ph.D. programs.  Scholarships are available!

2. Medical School years 1 & 2

  • Laboratory rotations are completed during the summer between years 1 & 2.
  • Complete USMLE I after year 2.  "First Aid" & the 30-day plan are helpful.

3. College of Graduate Studies years (4 years average)

  • Choose an advisor.  Field, funding, personality, and lab space are important considerations.
  • Benchwork!  Experiments!  Real true science!  Don't forget to fill out a Plan of Study.
  • Read, read, read.  Essential to know your area, and good to stay abreast of other topics too.
  • Choose a committee.  Consider an M.D.(/Ph.D.) committee member.
  • Complete qualifying examination.  This entails a written grant proposal and oral presentation.
  • Publish your results.  It's gratifying to type your name into Pubmed, and get a hit!
  • Defend your dissertation.  Present your work to committee, faculty, students, and friends.

4. Medical School years 3 & 4

  • Enter clinical rotations.  Learn about hospitals and marvel at how much information you've forgotten!
  • Schedule specialties of interest for late in year 3.  Schedule electives at other institutions too.
  • Apply for residency, take USMLE II, consider reviving lab work during year.

FAQs from Prospective Students 

1. Do I have to do a laboratory rotation before my first year of medical school?

  • No. Students have the option to do laboratory rotations in the College of Graduate Studies in the summer prior to their first year of medical school, but this is only an option. 
  • Students who opt to complete a laboratory rotation during the summer prior to their first year of medical school will gain added insight into ongoing research on the Health Science Campus, fulfill one or two of their required laboratory rotations. Student stipends is not available for lab work done prior to M1 year.

2. When applying to the M.D./Ph.D. combined degree program, what do I do if I am not sure which Ph.D. program I would like to join? 

3. I am an incoming M.D./Ph.D. student. How do I set up a laboratory rotation in the summer before my first year of medical school?

  • The COMLS graduate office will help connect you to potential faculty looking to take on a PhD student. You can also reach out to the department or track director.  The COMLS Graduate Office will provide you with the necessary information on registering to do your laboratory rotations.  
  • Next, you should find a lab that has ongoing research in your area of interest. The easiest way to do this is to go to the website of your particular Ph.D. track (Bioinformatics and Proteomics/GenomicsCell and Cancer BiologyMolecular MedicineMedical Microbiology and ImmunologyNeurosciences and Neurological Disorders) to find out what type of research is being conducted at the University of Toledo.  When you find a lab of interest, contact the principal investigator by email or phone to set up a summer term lab rotation.
  • If you run into trouble, contact the COMLS Graduate Office(see the "Contact Us" page of our website) or a current M.D./Ph.D. student in your program (see the "People" page of our website) for help. We are all here to help you. 

FAQs from Current Students 

1. What should I be doing (if anything) in my first & second year of medical school with regard to the M.D./Ph.D. program?

  • You should be actively looking for research labs and potential graduate research advisors so that you can complete your required lab rotations and find an advisor for your thesis studies.
  • You should try to attend some of the functions associated with your Ph.D. program, including seminars and the Graduate Student Research Forum. Attending the Graduate Student Research Forum in spring would be a great way to find out what kind of research projects are ongoing here. This may help you pick a lab to do your thesis studies in the future.

2. What extra classes (in addition to my first & second year medical school classes) do I have to take?

  • The complete answer to this question depends on which Ph.D. program you have joined (Bioinformatics and Proteomics/GenomicsCell and Cancer BiologyMolecular MedicineMedical Microbiology and ImmunologyNeurosciences and Neurological Disorders).  Remember, all M.D./Ph.D. students must meet the requirements of both the MD degree and PhD Degree. 
  • To earn the Ph.D. degree, all students (Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D.) are required to take 90 course credits. Of this, at least 25 credits need to be didactic coursework (letter grade) and at least 30 credits must be dissertation research (which can only be taken after completion of the Ph.D. qualifying exam). The remainder of the 90 credits can be filled with electives and "Research in Your Track" courses.
  • M.D./Ph.D. students will be allowed to apply up to 26 credits from their medical school courses toward their Ph.D. degree, of which only 20 credits may be applied toward the minimum requirement of 25 didactic (carrying a letter grade) graduate course credits. M.D./Ph.D. students typically do not have to take the first year BMSP core courses. (See the handbook for more information)
  • INDI 745: while in the Ph.D. years M.D/Ph.D. students are take INDI 745 the MD/PhD Clinical elective in which they spend 8 hours per month in a clinical setting. M.D./Ph.D. students take Bridge to Clerkship course twice; once before entering graduate school and again before returning to medical school. 
Last Updated: 6/21/22