Admissions – Frequently Asked Questions


Application

I am interested in the MD/PhD Program. How do I know if I am eligible to apply?
Admission to the MD/PhD Program is limited to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada. To be eligible for admission, you must have a BSc degree with first class standing (or equivalent), and have fulfilled all the requirements of acceptance into the four-year Medical Undergraduate Program of the Faculty of Medicine, and the doctoral program requirements of the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies. You are required to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), but the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is optional. Students who will have completed an MSc degree will fulfill the doctoral requirements of the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.

What courses should I take in my undergraduate program in order to make myself eligible for admission to the MD/PhD Program?
The MD/PhD Program considers students from a variety of backgrounds; no preference is given to any particular degree program.  Students planning to apply for the MD/PhD Program should select a course of study to conform to the requirements of a bachelor’s degree of their choice. No particular degree program is considered ideal as preparation for the study of medicine. A variety of undergraduate backgrounds are considered desirable. However, you must complete 6 credits of English coursework by April 30 of the year of entry into medical school.

By what criteria are students chosen?
Besides the academic standard, other areas of strength including research experience and potential, scholarships, personal qualities, research field of interest, and the proposed research supervisor and laboratory are also assessed. Publications, as well as presentations at meetings, help your application but are not required; expectations for scientific output are considered in the context of the amount of time the applicant has been able to spend in research. Detailed knowledge of our program (as presented on the website, and also through contact with students currently in the program) can be helpful.

Do I need to send in two distinct applications?
Yes, you are applying concurrently to the MD Undergraduate Program and the MD/PhD Program, which have parallel but distinct admission processes. You are required to submit two sets of application – one for the MD Undergraduate Program, one for the MD/PhD Program. For purpose of the combined program, there is no need for applicants to put an application in to a specific department’s PhD program, unless they wish to do that as a back-up in case they are unsuccessful in the MD application.

I have been accepted into the MD Undergraduate Program in August 2019 and I am interested in the MD/PhD Program. Can I still apply for the MD/PhD Program?
Yes. All students (with a BSc or equivalent) currently accepted into the MD Undergraduate Program in August 2019 are encouraged to apply for the MD/PhD Program during their MD Year 1. At the time of application, you should plan to identify the research question you want to address, select the discipline and affiliated graduate program, as well as the research supervisor. We accept applications from current MD Year 1 students, but not MD students in Year 2 or above (who are encouraged to finish their MD and then pursue, for example, the Clinician Investigator Program route).

I am now enrolled in a graduate program at UBC. Can I still apply for the MD/PhD Program?
In order for the students to really benefit from the integrated MD/PhD Program, they should enter the program before they have completed more than 1-2 years of their PhD program. In most instances, graduate students accepted into the MD/PhD Program will have just completed Masters level of training when they begin their first (Med 1) year of MD/PhD studies. If a student transfers from a master’s program to a doctoral program without completing the master’s degree, the start date of their doctoral program will be considered as the date of first registration in the master’s program. In general, students whose PhD program is well underway are recommended to finish their PhD, and then apply to medicine, as this will be their most efficient route to achieving both degrees.

Are there any restrictions for current UBC graduate students when applying for the MD Undergraduate Program and MD/PhD Programs?
The MD Undergraduate Program has specific rules that apply to graduate student applicants who have not completed all their degree requirements by July 30 prior to entering medicine. Applicants should be aware that if they achieve admission to the MD Undergraduate Program but are not among the few selected for admission to the combined MD/PhD Program, their offer to enter the MD program would be withdrawn and the student would have to reapply for entry in a year when all graduate requirements would be completed by July 30. Please refer to the MD admissions website on “exception for MD/PhD applicants”.

I have already finished one year of my PhD program at UBC. If I get accepted into the MD/PhD Program, would I be able to finish the program in less than seven years?
Possibly, but not necessarily. Good quality research work is important and that is what we are looking for. Approval to proceed to an oral thesis defense “early” will rest with the PhD supervisor and thesis committee.


Interview

Do I need to go through two sets of interviews?
Yes, applicants are required to attend two sets of interviews. (1) The MD/PhD interview is approximately for one hour. Each applicant will be interviewed by the panel committee which consists of the Program Director and/or Associate Program Director, two MD/PhD Admissions/Advisory Committee members and our student representative. (2)The MD Undergraduate Admissions follow the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) format. We do highly recommend our applicants to familiarize themselves with the MMI format for their MD interview, and take opportunities to practice for such an interview style if possible.


Research Supervisor

Do I have to identify a proposed research supervisor in my MD/PhD application?
Applicants currently residing in British Columbia are expected to identify at least one potential research supervisor and to present a brief research proposal with their application. Applicants from other provinces are expected to have confirmed, by internet-based investigation, that researchers working in their area of interest are present at the University of British Columbia, and their application is enhanced if they are able to initiate contact with prospective supervisor(s) concurrent with the interview process. We actively encourage our applicants to approach potential supervisors, and to strongly consider trying to set up a face-to-face meetings during their visit to Vancouver for admissions interviews. Nevertheless, a final decision on the research supervisor and project is not required until the end of Year I.

Does the proposed research supervisor have to work in a department within the Faculty of Medicine?
The research supervisor must be a full member of the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, and is usually from a Department, Interdisciplinary Program or Institute within the Faculty of Medicine. The research supervisor must hold a current CIHR research operating grant or a grant from an equivalent peer-reviewed, federal or provincial granting agency. UBC’s MD Undergraduate Program offers our students the opportunity to train with supervisors based at any one of four geographically distinct sites in British Columbia: UBC’s Vancouver campus in Vancouver (Vancouver-Fraser Medical Program), UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna (Southern Medical Program), the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island (Island Medical Program), or the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George (Northern Medical Program) .

What factors should be considered when choosing a research supervisor and laboratory?
Some issues to consider in choosing a laboratory, beyond obviously the research area and potential projects (and whether these mesh with your interests) are the supervisor’s: availability to provide guidance/mentorship; experience with trainees, and whether there are other grad students and postdocs available in the laboratory and training environment to provide opportunities for interaction and sharing of technical and specialty knowledge; publication record (what journals, how many papers, and are trainees on the papers?); and status of lab resources and funding.

I have not yet spoken directly with any professor at UBC in my proposed field of research. Do you have a list of potential supervisors?
Our program does not maintain a list of potential research supervisors. To assist in internet searches, we have identified a list of graduate programs and departments at UBC which can host MD/PhD students, although this is not intended to represent a definitive list of all possibilities. Please feel free to proactively contact the professors whose research interests coincide with yours.

Can I have co-supervisors?
Upon approval from the MD/PhD Program Director, you can certainly have co-supervisors. Students who have chosen a research supervisor outside the Faculty of Medicine are required to have a co-supervisor within the Faculty. MD/PhD applicants are welcome to contact the Program to find out if the proposed research supervisor meets this program requirement.

Can I propose a member of the MD/PhD admissions committee as a potential research supervisor?
To avoid conflict of interest during the admissions process, applicants are discouraged from contacting either members of the Admissions Committee or the Program Directors as potential research supervisors while their applications are still under active consideration. Applicants accepted to the program are free to choose any UBC faculty member to act as their supervisor, including members of the Admissions committee and the Program Directors. There are many excellent potential supervisors across Faculty of Medicine affiliated departments at the four program sites whom applicants could contact to act as potential supervisors. Applicants accepted to the program are not committed to work with any particular supervisor mentioned in their written application or their interview. Accepted applicants do not actually need to make a final decision on their PhD research supervisor(s) until end of Year I.

Can I send in my application and then notify you when I have found a proposed research supervisor?
Yes. You can email us the information and we will include it in your application file. It is also understood that an applicant’s plans in this regard may change between the time they submit their paper application and the time of their interview.


Research Area and Experience

Is there any particular research area that would make my application stronger than others?
No particular research area would make your application stronger than others. We suggest finding a research area of particular interest to you. The laboratory and supervisor chosen by the MD/PhD applicant (not their subject area per se) is one of the criteria we use to rank applicants for admission. This factor plays an important role in the applicant’s successful completion of the program.

What should I write in the autobiographical essay of research interest for the MD/PhD Program?
The essay for the MD/PhD Program is focused on the research area that you would like to pursue and the reasons why you have chosen the Clinician Scientist path as a career in medicine, your perception of the discipline, and the medical field that best matches the area of your research interest.

What constitutes “Professional Employment Experience” in the application?
Simply list your work experience. You can include jobs in research labs, health institutes, self-employed jobs etc.


Publications

I am currently preparing a manuscript for submission, may I attach the abstract of the paper to the application?
You may attach the abstract of your paper to your application. As soon as the paper gains its final acceptance and goes in press, please send us a copy of the paper and/or acceptance letter. Interviews will be held in February. If you have a paper that is accepted between submission of the written application and the interview, we will consider it in your application if you can inform us of its change in status.


Transcripts

The transcript which I submit with my application does not include my fourth year winter grades. Do you need my winter grades?
Your transcript should show courses registered in the final year of your undergraduate degree. You can update your winter grades in early/mid January by emailing the MD/PhD Program office.

I have credentials from universities outside of Canada. How do I find out the minimum academic requirement?
You can refer to the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral webpage for information.


References

Do you have a reference form for my MD/PhD referees to fill out?
After you have submitted your on-line application, your referees will receive an email notification to submit a reference on you via the Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies online application website. We do not have a specific reference form. Your referees can upload their letter of reference via the online application website. The letter of reference must be on letterhead and signed.

What should be included in the reference letter?
The referees should be able to give appraisals on your academic standing and qualifications, research experience, abilities, and clinical potential relevant to your application for the MD/PhD Program. They can also comment on your originality, industriousness and persistence, intellectual capacity, and interpersonal communication skills.


Financial Support

Do students accepted to the program receive support funding?
In addition to reduced medical tuition, all MD/PhD students receive a graduate studentship award, with the MD/PhD Program able to support up to six years for each student. Funding will start in spring of their first year in the program.

Am I eligible for other awards while I am enrolled in the MD/PhD Program?
Yes, MD/PhD students are strongly encouraged to apply for external studentships and scholarships. Our students have an excellent track record of successfully obtaining prestigious awards such as the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.


Contacts

I see the MD/PhD student names and email addresses are posted on your website. Can I email them for more information on the program?
You are welcome to contact our students by email. You are also welcome to email the Program office at md.phd@ubc.ca if you have questions.

Where can I find information on graduate accommodation at UBC?
Please visit the graduate student accommodation webpage for information.