Admissions – Frequently Asked Questions


I am interested in the MD/PhD Program. How do I know if I am eligible to apply?
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 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 completed a 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 strengths including maturity, research experience and potential, scholarship, 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. Detailed knowledge of our program (as presented on the website, and also through contact with students currently in the program) is helpful.

Do I need to send in two sets of application?
Yes, you are applying concurrently to the MD Program and the MD/PhD Program. You are required to submit two sets of application – one for the MD Program, one for the MD/PhD Program. For purposes of the combined program, there is no need for applicants to put an application in to a 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 Program in August 2018 and I am interested in the MD/PhD Program. Can I still apply for the MD/PhD Program?
All students (with a BSc or equivalent) currently accepted into the MD Program in August 2018 are encouraged to apply for the MD/PhD Program.  At the same time, you should plan to identify the research question you want to address, select the discipline and affiliated graduate programs, as well as the research supervisor.   We accept applications from current Med I students, but not MD students in year 2 or above.  The whole idea of the MD/PhD Program is integration in their research and medical curriculum.

I am now enrolled in a graduate program at UBC. Can I still apply for the MD/PhD Program?
We accept applications from students in  their first or second year of a PhD program; i.e., they would begin the MD/PhD Program after completing only 1 or 2 years of their PhD program, but not more. Only those students who are transferring from a Masters to the PhD degree or equivalent (i.e. a second year PhD student who has gone straight into the PhD program without doing a masters) can apply to the MD/PhD Program. In order for the PhD students to really benefit from the integrated MD/PhD Program, they should ideally enter the program before they have completed more than 1-2 years of their PhD program. In most instances, students have just completed Masters level of training and just entering PhD studies when they begin MD/PhD studies.   Applicants should be aware that if they secure admission to the MD undergraduate program but not 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 MD admissions website “exception for MD/PhD applicants” at

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?
Not necessarily. Good quality research work is important and that is what we are looking for.

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 a 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. A final decision on the research supervisor is not required until the 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.

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 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) The MD/PhD Program will make arrangements for research supervisor(s) outside of UBC to become a member of the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.

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?
No, we do not have 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 complete list of all possibilities. Please contact (preferably by email) the professors whose research interests coincide with yours.

Can I have co-supervisors?
Upon approval from the MD/PhD Program Director, you can 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 the 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 the applications are still under 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. To ensure fairness, any current MD/PhD Admissions Committee member who agrees to be listed as a potential supervisor would not score that applicant during the admissions process. 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 during their interview. Accepted applicants do not actually need to make a final decision on their PhD research supervisor(s) until January of Year I.

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 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.


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 goes in press, please send us a copy of the paper. Interviews will be held in February. If you have the paper ready for the interview, we would certainly include it in your application for the Admissions Committee.


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 BSc degree. You can update your winter grades in early/mid January by emailing the MD/PhD Program office.


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 reference form. Your referees can upload the 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.

Financial Support

Are students accepted to the program receive support funding?
All MD/PhD students will receive a studentship award through the MD/PhD Program (annual stipend $21,000, renewable each year for a maximum of 6 years). Funding will start in spring of their first year in the Program.

Can I hold other awards in addition to the studentship award received through the MD/PhD Program?
CIHR awardee is permitted to hold additional awards provided that their total annual value does not exceed 50% of the CIHR stipend. We encourage applicants/students to apply for awards so that they can be funded 1) if the CIHR nomination is not approved, or 2) get extra funding on top of the CIHR award.

I have been awarded an NSERC PGS award for postgraduate studies. It is possible to use this award for funding my studies in the MD/PhD Program at UBC?
NSERC awards are not valid for the MD/PhD Program. Our students are funded through CIHR and other health sciences granting agencies.


I see the MD/PhD student names and email addresses are posted on your webpage. Do you mind if 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 if you have questions.

Where can I find information on graduate housing at UBC?
Please visit: