Yale University
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Yale University

Social Science/Humanities PhD Field Supported:

Economics, Sociology, History of Medicine, History, Anthropology, Psychology

Description of Program:

Yale's MSTP accepts applications from students interested in pursuing a PhD in the social sciences or certain humanities subjects. While there is no explicit departmental restriction on the applications accepted by the MD/PhD Faculty Committee, it would behoove an applicant to recognize that it is an exceedingly rare occurrence for a social science/humanities applicant to be accepted into the program.

Structure of Program:

Yale's program is a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Typically these MD/PhD students complete their first two years of medical school and complete 6 months or up to a year of the core clinical clerkships. They then begin their PhD program in social sciences or humanities. Most departments will require one to two years of coursework, another semester to a year of requirements to advance to candidacy. Research and writing takes at least a year. This means on the social science/humanities track, a 3.5-4 year PhD is minimum, but on average it takes at least 5 years. After completion of the PhD, students return to finish their clerkships and rotations.

Size of incoming joint MD/PhD class:


Number of students in the social sciences or humanities:

less than 1 per year

Number of graduates from the SSH joint MD/PhD program:

3-5 (estimate)

Total number of students in social sciences or humanities:

2 (out of a total of about 90 MD/PhD students)

Application Process:

General MSTP Application:

  1. Complete application with the required transcripts and MCAT scores to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) indicating you are applying to the Yale School of Medicine and The Medical Scientist Training Program.

    • MSTP application materials will be sent only to applicants who pass the initial screening and are invited to submit a secondary application to the Medical School.

    • If you apply to the MSTP, you will be asked to submit a brief supplemental essay describing your past research experiences, your interests, and your future career goals.

    • You will also need to submit confidential letters of reference on your behalf directly to the Medical School Admissions office. The MSTP is especially interested in hearing from your past research advisors and others who can comment on your aptitude for research. Do not send any letters of recommendation to the MSTP office.

  2. Your secondary application will be reviewed independently by the Medical School and the MSTP. If chosen for an MSTP interview, you will be invited to visit New Haven for one day of regular medical school interviews and orientation, followed by a second day of interviews for the MSTP. Our MSTP interview process includes individual meetings with two faculty from the social science department of interest and with two other graduate faculty.
    Important points:

    • MSTP applicants are not required to have completed their GRE's (we accept MCATs)

    • MSTP applicants are not required to have a Masters degree when applying.

    • MSTP applicants do not complete the Graduate Application form.

Additional Notes on Applying in Medical Anthropology

A good way to think about applying for MSTP in social sciences or humanities is that your application must be geared toward both (1) the general MSTP admission committee, and (2) the department of your choice.

  1. Criteria for MSTP admission include prior academic performance, documented experience in research, and commitment to a career in research. The overall MSTP program interviews approximately 80 applicants and enroll 8-10 new MSTP trainees each year. Successful applicants are typically notified in April. The admissions process finishes on May 15th, and Yale requires newly accepted students to withdraw from all other institutions by this date.

  2. Although there is no clear rule, Yale rarely accepts social science or humanities students. The decision about which MSTP interviewees to admit is made primarily by the MSTP Faculty Committee, none of whom are trained in social sciences or humanities (http://medicine.yale.edu/mdphd/people/index.aspx).

Students who apply to the MSTP but are not offered a position nevertheless receive full consideration for admission to the regular medical class if they request this on their application.


Medical anthropology MSTP trainees receive the NIH MSTP training grant (around $21,000/year) plus a supplement from the school of medicine during their medical school years (around $6,000). During the first two years of graduate work, they receive only the NIH MSTP training grant (around $21,000/year). During the final years of graduate training, they receive no funding from NIH or the department of medicine. Instead, they must seek outside grants and funding for fieldwork and research. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does appoint MD/PhD students to Teaching Fellowships. This has traditionally been the primary means for MD/PhD students in the social sciences or humanities to support themselves. In addition the Graduate School will award one Dissertation Writing Fellowship, which provides for one fully funded academic year while the student is writing their dissertation.

MSTP applicants should be aware that if you decide to join a social sciences or humanities program, you will be provided support solely by MSTP for the first 2 years of the Ph.D. program.

Contact information:

Yale MD/PhD Program Office
ESH 316
367 Cedar St
New Haven, Ct 06510
Phone: (203) 785-4403
Fax: (203) 785-5422
Email: susan.sansone@yale.edu
Web: http://medicine.yale.edu/mdphd/index.aspx

Various Departmental webpages
Yale History of Med : www.med.yale.edu/histmed
Yale Econ: http://www.econ.yale.edu/
Yale Sociology: www.yale.edu/sociology
Yale Anthropology: www.yale.edu/anthro
Yale History: www.yale.edu/history