Program FAQ

Find out more about the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program financial support, programs and more.

How long does it take to complete the Program (both degrees)?

Generally, it takes students 8 years to finish the Program. If you earned each degree separately it would take you about 9-10 years to finish (4 years for medical school and 5-6 years for the PhD).

How is the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program structured?

Students complete two full years of medical school, followed by 3.5-4.5 years of graduate school. Students receive their PhD and go on to complete the final 1.5 years of medical school.

 Please see our Program At-A-Glance for more details.

Why does the PhD portion of the MD-PhD Program take only 3.5 years instead of 5?

MD-PhD students receive graduate level credit for the courses they've taken during their first two years of medical school. In addition, MD-PhD students take special courses designed specifically for them during their pre-clinical years.


What makes your MD-PhD Program different from all of the others?

The Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program is one of the oldest and largest programs in the country. In addition, it is the only program in the country where three institutions combine to form one MD-PhD Program.

All students receive their MD training at the Weill Cornell Medical College. Their PhD research may be conducted at the Weill Cornell Graduate School, The Rockefeller University, or Gerstner Sloan Kettering. All of the institutions are located across the street from one another on the Upper East Side of New York City (Manhattan - NOT Ithaca). Having access to all three institutions means the students have access to over 280 laboratories and large network of hospitals and specialty care centers, including NewYork Presbyterian, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the Hospital for Special Surgery.


Do you have a mentoring program for women?

Yes. We are one of the few programs in the country that has a fully developed mentoring program for women. FACES - Female Association for Clinicians, Educators and Scientists started in 2003 and holds monthly meetings. The topics vary from career advice, including how to manage conflicting demands on ones professional and family life, to investment strategies. Guest speakers are routinely brought in to meet with our students.


What is the financial support package for MD-PhD students?

All MD-PhD students receive a stipend (as of July 1, 2024, $46,440 - $52,500 depending on the year in the Program), a full tuition waiver for every year in the program, up to a $1,500 lab supplement, and health and dental insurance.

In addition, any student who writes and is awarded his/her own fellowship may be eligible for a $5,000 stipend supplement.


How many students from underrepresented groups in science and medicine are in the MD-PhD Program?

The Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program values diversity in science and medicine and actively recruits students from underrepresented groups, for instance through our Gateways to the Laboratory Program. The percent of underrepresented minority students in our Program is almost twice the national average.

Currently, about 30% of our students come from underrepresented groups. We are committed to training a diverse group of physician-scientists. 


Do you have a summer program?

Yes. Initiated in 1993, the Gateways to the Laboratory Program was a pioneer. It was the first summer program in the country devoted to recruiting and training underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students to successfully apply and complete a MD-PhD Program. Applications openned in November and are submitted via the Leadership Alliance. The deadline is February 1.

The Gateways to the Laboratory Program is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are from racial or ethnic backgrounds shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research, individuals from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, and/or individuals with disabilities.

What percentage of MD-PhD students are women?

Currently approximately 48% of the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD students are women. 

Can I do my PhD in a lab at Cornell University in Ithaca?

No, you cannot.

The Tri-Institutional Campus, which houses the labs in which our students do the research for their PhDs, consists of Weill Cornell Medicine, The Rockefeller University, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. However, it does not include the labs at Cornell University in Ithaca.

You can see some of our faculty arranged by research area here and access the full list of faculty at all three institutions here.

How does the MD-PhD Program support students when returning to clinic after the PhD?

There are many transitions along the physician-scientist pathway, and this is just one! We strive to support our students at each.

We start to prepare students for their transition back to clinic in terms of timing/logistics well in advance of their return (>1 year). All returning students meet with our Clinical Associate Director to discuss their intended specialty—or if not known, how best to plan their clerkships to help them make that decision. The current graduating students host a workshop in the spring for the students about to return to clinic (as well as those entering Match that year). And finally, there is a 2-day Clinical Refresher specifically designed for MD-PhD students.

Students are also encouraged to remain active clinically while in the PhD phase. This can take the form of participation in Case Discussion Rounds, shadowing, working in the Weill Cornell Community Clinic, or other clinical activities.