General questions

Application questions

General questions

Will the University of Toronto continue to admit students to the MD/PhD Program after the CIHR cuts?

Absolutely. On June 18, 2015, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced it was ceasing funding to MD/PhD programs in Canada after the current (2015-16) academic year. The University of Toronto remains committed to this important program, which has trained generations of leaders in the field of medical research.

Will you continue to admit the same number of students?

The number of students admitted to the MD/PhD Program has always varied depending on the quality of applicants. However, we do not foresee the withdrawal of financial support by CIHR as an impediment to admitting qualified students into this program.

How might the MD/PhD Program change as a result of CIHR’s decision?

Not at all. The University of Toronto has always determined the design and delivery of this program. While the funding provided by CIHR supported students financially, the CIHR has had no role in curriculum.

How will the University of Toronto make up for the loss of funding?

We are exploring a number of options to continue to finance this program. You can support continued funding for the MD/PhD programs by CIHR by signing the CITAC petition.


Applications questions

How do I apply to the MD/PhD Program?

Please see admissions requirements. An application to the graduate unit of your choice is not required until after admission to the MD/PhD Program.

When can I apply to the MD/PhD Program?

To apply to the MD/PhD Program, you must be in your final year of undergraduate studies, the final year of a Master's degree, or currently enrolled in the U of T MD Program.

Can the same letters of reference be used for both the MD and MD/PhD applications?

This is entirely up to you. Applicants often choose different referees than those requested for their MD application, or ask the same individuals to write a modified letter to better highlight research potential.

For graduate applicants, it is common that your supervisor will need to submit three different reference letters: two for the MD Program, and one for the MD/PHD Program.

Is there a specific form for my referee to complete?

No. Reference letters should be written on the individual’s letterhead. However it is suggested to your referees that they comment on the following candidate attributes, with specific examples, when composing their letters:

  • potential for success as a physician scientist
  • capacity to succeed in both an undergraduate medical and a PhD curriculum
  • self-starting behaviour
  • contribution to the research in which the candidate was involved, including publications, if any
  • capacity to learn from others

How does the admissions process work?

There are separate and parallel admissions processes for Undergraduate Medicine, and the MD/PhD Program.

The MD/PhD Program office consults frequently with the Undergraduate Medicine admissions office to facilitate the review process. Generally, your MD and MD/PhD interviews will be arranged for the same weekend.

If I am already in a Master's program, can I 'transfer' into the MD/PhD Program?

No. If you are applying to the MD/PhD Program (and thus the MD Program) as a graduate student, you will be assessed for the MD Program in the graduate applicant pool. If offered a position in the MD Program, it will be conditional on showing proof of completion of the Master's degree. Therefore you must complete the Masters degree, if you want to be accepted to Medicine, and the MD/PhD Program.

Do I have to enrol as a Master's student first, and then transfer to the PhD?

This will depend upon the graduate unit in which you ultimately enrol. Many graduate units now encourage direct entry into the PhD Program. Others still insist on first registering in a Master's program and then within 12 to 18 months, completing a transfer exam and then moving into a PhD Program.

Will I receive financial support as an MD/PhD student?

Yes, all MD/PhD students receive financial support, starting mid-way through first-year and continuing until graduation. The current level of support is $32,000 CAD per year, from which students must pay tuition and living expenses. International students receive the same stipend, but will pay international fees.

What is the cost of MD/PhD tuition?

Annual tuition for MD/PhD students is set in your first year, and remains the same for all years that you are in the program. The annual tuition is calculated by adding four years of the current MD tuition to four years of current SGS PhD tuition fees, and dividing the sum by eight. In 2015, the domestic tuition for the MD/PhD Program was $14,620 CAD per year, plus incidental fees. Student accounts lists the MD/PhD tuition fees (PDF).

What is the difference between the sequential and integrated routes?

The sequential route is the preferred choice for most students entering the MD/PhD Program. In this case, students begin the combined program by taking the first full year of medicine, spending the summer working in the lab of a potential graduate supervisor, and then entering the School of Graduate Studies. The length of graduate training is variable, depending upon the departmental requirements and time required to complete the thesis, usually in approximately four to five years. Students then return to medicine for the final three years.

The integrated option is available for students whose research plan would benefit from a period of 'lead-in' during which, for example, patient-based protocols and patient recruitment is established. During this time, research time can be integrated with undergraduate medical education time. After this 'lead-in' period, a dedicated experience lasting two to four years is required to complete the PhD.

Every effort is made to accommodate individual requirements, so variations on the above may be considered.

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