Why consider a combined degree? If you’re ready to take on the extra time and commitment, a combined degree can maximize your options and opportunities after you complete med school. The Association of American Medical Colleges offers a complete list of medical schools with combined degree programs. Here’s our overview of the most popular degrees to pursue while earning an MD: the MS, MPH, MBA, JD, and PhD.
Medical students with a specific research interest can often pursue a Master of Science degree. At many universities, MS degrees are offered through the school of medicine, so it can be fairly easy to apply for complete a master's in a health-science field.
Usually, students finish the first two years of medical school, then take a year of coursework towards their master's degree before returning to complete the final two years of their medical program. Depending on the school and the field, a combined MD/MS takes between five and six years of full-time study.
Public health degrees cover subjects from biostatistics and epidemiology to women's health, disease control and preventive medicine. Graduates of MD/MPH programs can combine their clinical expertise with knowledge of public-health issues, giving them the background for careers in research, policy, advocacy and consulting.
Most students apply for admission to the school of public health during their second year of medical school and begin coursework after the second or third year.
The MD/MBA attracts students who plan to serve on the executive team at a hospital or health-care facility, as a high-level executive in the healthcare industry or as a consultant. The MD/MBA can also be enormously useful to doctors with private practices, which call for management skills and business savvy.
If you're thinking of this route, you must complete prerequisite coursework for medical school and business school prior to matriculation at medical school. You must also take the GMAT as well as the MCAT. In addition, certain business schools have work requirements and recommendation preferences that differ from medical schools.
JD/MD programs are typically suited to students who intend to work in government and policy, to serve on the executive team of a hospital, to practice as lawyer focusing on medical issues, or to practice forensic medicine. If you're considering this course, you'd be well advised to prepare for and take the LSAT before you start medical school. Gaining admission to both the law and medical school is no small feat at a top-tier university.
Students who pursue the MD/JD generally apply to the law program at the university in their first or second year of medical school. Because special arrangements must be made for this joint degree, you should discuss your path with the admissions committees at both schools.
Students who are interested in a career in academic investigative medicine choose the MD/PhD path, garnering the clinical skills of medical school while becoming an expert in a specific research field. Typically, the MD/PhD takes about seven or eight years to complete and incorporates intensive, long-term research in the biomedical sciences. After graduation, the MD/PhD student usually works as a researcher or professor at a teaching hospital. These students may also earn substantial salaries working as medical scientists at private health-care companies.
A number of U.S. medical schools allow students to pursue a combined MD/PhD, of which the most well recognized are members of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Students who are admitted to these highly competitive programs receive full tuition coverage, living expenses and a stipend.