Exploring M.D. Dual Degree Programs
- Oct 03, 2023
- MCAT Blog, Med School Admissions
- Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
If you’re a premed student with a thirst for knowledge that spans beyond the boundaries of medicine, you’re in for an exciting journey. Maybe you want to be a doctor and a lawyer because one high-stress and high-expectations career simply isn’t enough.
In this article, we’re exploring the ins/outs of M.D. dual degree programs, as well as the perks, challenges, and everything else you need to know before you change your medical school admissions plans and decide to add another acronym to your name.
What are Dual Degrees and What do they Offer?
M.D. dual degree programs offer a unique chance to dive deep into two distinct fields of study simultaneously. Imagine combining your passion for medicine with another area of expertise, whether it’s engineering, business management, or the arts. The possibilities (and job prospects) are as diverse as your interests! For example, you might get involved in driving policy decisions or establishing new businesses in the healthcare sector.
It’s no surprise that more and more universities are opening their doors to M.D. dual degree programs. Employers are also on the lookout for professionals who bring a dynamic set of skills to the table. In fact, the AAMC reports about 10% of applicants plan to pursue an M.D. dual degree!
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Most Popular Dual Degree Programs
The medical field is multifaceted and dual degree programs offer students the option to add complementary knowledge to their core area of study. Here are some of the most popular dual degree programs to keep in mind:
This integrated program is designed to train future physician-scientists who not only provide patient care but also engage in cutting-edge research. The majority of students pursuing this degree earn their PhDs in various biomedical disciplines, such as biochemistry, biomedical engineering, biophysics, cell biology, genetics, immunology, microbiology, neuroscience, or pharmacology. Many become faculty at medical school or work for the National Institutes of Health, research institutes, industry, and federal agencies.
Each medical school has its own admissions requirements, but generally speaking, all M.D.-PhD prospective students need to identify themselves as M.D.-PhD candidates on the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). You will likely be required to submit additional essays, including one explaining your motivation for pursuing M.D.-PhD training. Admissions committees tend to look for substantial research experience, a deep understanding of the role of physician-scientists, intellectual curiosity, and perseverance.
According to the AAMC, the average MD-PhD program is typically seven to eight years.
Each school has a unique curriculum schedule, but you can expect a seamless integration of medical school and PhD coursework. Your first two to three years might be spent exclusively at the medical school and going through clinicals before jumping into the PhD side of your education for a few years and then returning to complete your final year of medical school.
The M.D.-PhD program equips graduates to embark on careers as physicians in the realm of public health and in medical education. Beyond clinical practice, MD-PhD degree holders can explore various career paths, including roles related to disease prevention, health education, research, implementation science, and policymaking.
Want to own your private practice one day? Then you might want to get a business degree while you’re in medical school! Aside from going into business for yourself, physicians often find themselves making crucial business decisions, such as selecting diagnostic tests and navigating insurance coverage for treatments. An MBA education empowers doctors to navigate the business aspects of the profession.
Students may express their interest in the M.D.-MBA dual degree when applying to medical school. Formal application to the business program, however, typically occurs during the second year of medical school. This means you’ll need to be accepted to both the medical school and business school separately. So, in addition to the MCAT, you might need to take the GRE or GMAT too.
M.D.-MBA programs are five years.
In most M.D.-MBA programs, you will go through your first two years of medical before you apply to the business school. If accepted, you’ll complete your third year of medical school and your MBA program will start in your fourth year of school. After you finish your MBA program, you will complete your final year of medical school.
In addition to owning your own medical practice, M.D.-MBA graduates are also well-equipped for a range of career paths, including leadership positions in hospital administration, healthcare policy research, roles within pharmaceutical or insurance companies, or medical device entrepreneurship within the biotech sector.
Say hello to the M.D.-MPH program, where medicine meets public health! It’s the perfect option for aspiring healthcare heroes. You not only become a traditional medical expert but also get to delve into the fascinating world of population and community health.
In this program, you’ll acquire a unique blend of clinical skills and a strong scientific foundation. You will be able to comprehensively understand total health and well-being from both the patient’s perspective and the larger community’s point of view.
The admission process varies depending on the specific program and institution. Some schools will allow you to apply for both programs when you’re first applying to medical school but most will open up applications after completing your second year of medical school.
The M.D.-MPH program typically spans five years.
Each medical school will structure its M.D,-MPH program differently. Some schools will integrate the program into your normal medical school education from the beginning to complete it all within four years. At other schools, your MPH program can be completed in the year between M3 and M4. Potential concentrations within the program are Child and Family Health, Environmental Health, Global Health Leadership, Health Education and Promotion, as well as Public Health Policy.
M.D.-MPH graduates are primed to function as physicians in a public health context, encompassing the diagnosis of health issues and risk factors in individuals and communities. Think of these as pillars for times of global pandemics or other widespread health situations. Their multidimensional perspective equips them to investigate public health concerns and implement evidence-based approaches for health enhancement. Beyond clinical practice, M.D.-MPH doctors can work in disease prevention, health education, research, implementation science, and policy formulation.
An M.D.-J.D. program, often seen as the ultimate career path for the ultimate academic weapon, is tailored for those ambitious medical students who want to add a dash of legal expertise to their already extensive medical education.
If you’re interested in a J.D. degree, you can apply to the law shool during M2 and will likely need to take the LSAT. But don’t worry—Blueprint MCAT will help you get the MCAT score you need to get into medical school and Blueprint LSAT will help you crush the LSAT!
The M.D.-J.D. program is usually six years.
Expect to start at the medical school first and if accepted to the J.D. program, you can start during the third and fourth years of school. However, every school has its own curriculum and may offer a different format.
Graduates holding an M.D.-J.D. degree have a range of career options at their disposal. They can explore avenues in academia, government, or the private sector, with potential careers in health policy, biotechnology, or bioethics.
Pros and Cons of Dual Degrees
While dual degrees are appealing for a variety of reasons, there are certain considerations you must keep in mind before committing yourself to this big endeavor.
- Broader Career Opportunities: One of the most significant advantages of a dual degree in medicine is expanded career prospects. While it is possible to branch out into other paths with just an M.D, combining medicine with another field of study can open doors to various career paths beyond clinical practice much faster.
- Enhanced Expertise: Dual degree programs often provide a deeper understanding of both fields. This can lead to more well-rounded and informed professionals capable of addressing complex issues from multiple angles, regardless of whether you’re primarily practicing medicine or not.
- Higher Earning Potential: Some dual-degree holders can command higher salaries due to their specialized skill set, particularly in fields where the combination of medical and non-medical expertise is in high demand.
- Extended Education: Dual-degree programs typically take longer to complete than a standalone MD, which means more years of education.
- Cost: The additional years of education and the cost associated with pursuing two degrees can be financially burdensome. This might not be a feasible option for everyone.
- Burnout: Becoming a doctor is already a stressful journey, from studying for the MCAT and applying to med school to navigating med school, residency, and more. Adding another layer of work to all of this can easily lead to burnout if you don’t proactively protect your mental health.
So Is an M.D. Dual Degree Right For You?
The decision to pursue a dual degree in medical school should align with your career goals, personal interests, and willingness to commit to the demands of the programs. It can be a rewarding path for those who are passionate about both medicine and another field, but it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully.
No matter what you decide, the starting point for any medical dual degree is the same: the MCAT! Blueprint MCAT students increase their MCAT scores by 15 points on average through our representative practice and comprehensive courses. Get started today for free by creating your own MCAT study plan, taking a diagnostic exam, and starting a free trial of our Self-Paced MCAT Course.
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