Medical Scientist Program (MSP)
Combined Degree, PhD/MD

The Medical Scientist Program (MSP) at Loma Linda University is designed to attract those students who are energized by doing biomedical research and wish to contribute substantially to this enterprise. The expectation is that graduates of this program will pursue a career in academic medicine and medical research. The program integrates graduate and medical education in a Christian environment and is designed to allow completion of both the PhD and MD degrees.

The program is designed to develop a student's independence and competence as an investigative scientist and clinician by providing students with a broad educational base for the practice of medicine and medically related research. The program is administered by the School of Medicine in cooperation with the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Students typically begin the combined degree program through completing two years of medical school, culminated by successful completion of Step 1 of the USMLE examination. Students will then transition to the PhD part of the curriculum, where they will take and pass required classes, successfully pass written and oral qualifying examinations, and complete and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation. Students will then transition back to the MD program, where they will complete the last two years of training, completing all of the standard clinical rotations, and take and pass Step 2 of the USMLE. In most cases, the sequence should take approximately eight years to complete.

Students interested in beginning the sequence with PhD training, or who have other special requests, are encouraged to communicate with the program coordinator, as some customization may be possible.

Admittance into the MSP is competitive and requires evidence that students are likely to develop into successful medical scientists. Students must submit separate applications to the School of Medicine for both the PhD and the MD programs and meet the stated admissions requirements for each of these programs. The application package for the PhD program requires scores for the general test of the Graduate Record Exam. Students who are accepted by both programs are then considered for admission into the Medical Scientist Program. Students accepted into the MSP program who subsequently determine that the combined degree is no longer their desired goal may elect to complete either program independently; however, loss of certain benefits may result. Students entering the PhD program who desire a career in academic medicine may choose to apply for admission to the MSP program some time after their entry into the PhD program; however, the standard medical school application process will be required at that point. Likewise, students who enter the MD program may subsequently choose to apply for admission to the PhD, and then the MSP program.

Candidates accepted into the MSP are offered a package of financial support that covers tuition for the medical and graduate programs and a stipend while the student is involved in the graduate program. Tuition support for the medical program comes in the form of a loan that can be forgiven upon completion of the PhD degree. If a student has received acceptances into both the MD and the PhD programs, but is not accepted into the MSP, he or she may elect to complete one or both degrees; however, tuition support for the medical program will not be available to these individuals.

 Application to the PhD program is done online at, and application to the MD program is done through AMCAS. Students should indicate on the AMCAS application that they are applying for the combined program. The preferred deadline for application to the PhD program is January 1.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Penelope Duerksen-Hughes, Medical Scientist Coordinator (909) 558-8740

The Office of Admissions for the School of Medicine (909) 558-4467 can provide information on the MD portion of the application process.