Acceptance to graduate or medical school is a competitive process that entails a careful and selective review of applicant qualities including GPA, scores on standardized admissions tests (GRE or MCAT) letters of reference and personal statement. Training for a PhD takes commitment and effort by both the trainer and the trainee. Evidence of such a commitment as well as ability is a must for any PhD candidate to be competitive in the eyes of the Admissions Committee of the Endocrinology & Reproductive Physiology Program. Some candidates choose instead to apply for an MS but it has been our general experience that applicants seeking an MS degree as a terminal degree are often difficult to place. One reason is many faculty feel the 1-2 years spent in training cannot be justified if the candidate then leaves in the end of the second year. Another reason is that some funding to the program can only be used for PhD candidates and the training goals of the ERP Program T32 from NICHD can also only support PhD candidates. Thus we would recommend that applicants to ERP consider carefully the prospect of a PhD vs MS in their application.
In the past we have had great success in graduating candidates and placing them in Medical School but we would again point out these candidates were fully committed to graduate study towards and completion of their PhD. We have found those who are simply aiming to take the fastest route to Medical School and are not focused on Degree completion fare less favorably in the application review process. Again from the committee’s standpoint there are two issues. First the training of candidates is a major commitment by the advisor and failing to complete the studies makes this less attractive. Secondly, there are others who are seeking that same placement that are committed to completion of their studies and graduate degree.
Applicants who are looking for a way to simply enhance their academic credentials as quickly as possible for medical school admission are advised there are other options which they may not be aware of. First, the University of Wisconsin offers non-degree seeking students the ability to apply for Special and Guest student status through the Office of Continuing Studies. This option allows non-degree students access to the undergraduate and graduate school course enrollment system and the ability to take courses for credit that will appear on an official transcript. The selection of courses is self-directed by the individual student and the student is strongly advised to identify a Pre-Med advisor on campus to plan a course of study. If you are an applicant who has already applied to the School of Medicine and Public Health MD program and was not accepted, please contact the MD Admissions Office; a counselor can review your application and advise you on whether these steps may help address any concerns they have with your application.
A second option for applicants who need to enhance academic credentials is to enroll in a structured post baccalaureate program that specializes in academic preparation. The American Association of Medical Colleges provides a searchable data base of programs within the USA specifically geared towards credential preparation. The benefit of a structured post baccalaureate program is students have ready access to advisors, a structured learning environment and support system to help submit the best application you can to medical school. Length of study in these programs varies from 9 months to 2 years depending on the curriculum. Quality, selectiveness, location and cost are important factors to fully consider.
The pursuit of a graduate or advanced degree is not a decision to be made lightly; there is a considerable amount of time and money involved for all parties. We are more than willing to put our time and effort into your training but we also want the graduate students of the ERP Program to enter with a clear focus and desire to participate in the biomedical research field. While several of our graduates have gone on to Medical School, it has been with a view to undertake translational research in the biomedical community.
Office of Continuing Studies Adult and Student Services – UW Madison
School of Medicine and Public Health – MD Admissions Information
American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Post baccalaureate Programs – Search for Academic Enhancement Programs