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The NIH (National Institutes of Health) sponsors unique graduate grant programs through participating universities: MSTPs, in which the student earns dual degrees in clinical medicine (MD) and a doctoral degree in a related science (PhD). And the NIH foots the bill!

MSTP grants fund a stipend, tuition allowance, and some money for travel, equipment, and supplies. The university medical program may offer even more support money to qualifying students. Essentially, by choosing to pursue a dual MD/PhD degree program, the student's extended time med school is practically paid for.

The whole point of the MSTP program is to graduate students with strong skills in both clinical medicine (involving patients and medical practice) and research training. Of course, students may choose to get a PhD in biological, chemical or physical science. But beyond those obvious complimentary graduate degrees, the NIH program encourages development of research skills in other areas:

  • Computer science as it relates to medicine and research
  • Social science (the study of people and culture)
  • Behavioral science and mental health
  • Medical economics
  • Epidemiology (the study of disease populations)
  • Public health
  • Bioengineering (applying engineering principles to medical problems)
  • Biostatistics
  • Bioethics

MSTP grants are made directly to med school graduate programs. About 40 universities participate in the NIH funding, and an additional 75 medical schools offer dual MD/PhD degree programs. Competition is tight for this grant money but medical jobs for graduates offer starting salaries close to six figures—definitely worth the extra effort in grad school.

As you search for a med school to get your graduate degree in health and medicine, consider the dual MD and PhD degree track. It will take a couple of extra years to complete your studies, but you're already in grad school...so get the best degrees possible to build a high-paying career. And who knows—your research might lead to a cure for cancer!

 

For more information on NIH-funded Medical Science Training Programs, visit the National Institutes of Health website at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/InstPredoc/PredocOverview-MSTP.htm.

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