PhD in Medical Science: Degree Program Information

In many cases, a Ph.D. in Medical Science degree can be earned along with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) as part of a joint degree program although terminal doctorate degrees in this field are also available. Doctoral programs in medical science are interdisciplinary in nature and research intensive.

Essential Information

Some Ph.D. programs require students to teach a given number of undergraduate courses. Both independent research and a dissertation are required to earn a Ph.D. in Medical Science. Some programs also require an internship. The minimum educational prerequisite for a doctoral program in medical science is a bachelor's degree, but many schools require applicants to hold a master's degree in a biomedical, medical or health science field. A minimum 3.0 GPA is also required. Those schools that require a bachelor's degree typically also have a list of prerequisite courses, such as general biology and general chemistry. Other required courses depend upon the program, but may include quantitative analysis, organic chemistry, general physics and math, with calculus recommended.

  • Program Levels: Ph.D. Program, M.D. Program
  • Prerequisites: Master's degree in a health science or medical field, 3.0 minimum GPA, individual programs may have required courses
  • Program Specializations: Specializations vary by program
  • Other Requirements: Independent research, dissertation and an internship

Ph.D. Degree Programs in Medical Science

A Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Science program is designed for students who wish to conduct research in biomedicine. Doctoral students are often able to tailor their programs according to their interests and needs. The interdisciplinary programs integrate a number of fields of medicine, such as pain management, molecular medicine or cancer biology. Required courses for a Ph.D. in Medical Science vary a great deal by school. The specialty field the student has chosen generally determines the nature of the coursework. Required courses for all programs usually are:

  • Biomedical science basics
  • Research methods
  • Research ethics

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated that the number jobs for medical scientists will grow about 13% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the national average for all jobs. The BLS anticipated that individuals with both a Ph.D. and M.D. would have the best employment opportunities. In May 2014, the median annual salary for medical scientists was $79,930 (

Continuing Education

Those who have graduated with a Ph.D. in Medical Science and want to focus on research may wish to pursue a M.D. program. A medical degree provides more direct access to patients, which can help facilitate research. Individuals who wish to play a more managerial role may take business courses or pursue a business degree.

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