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University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, TX)
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Last updated October 28, 2017

University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, TX)

Social Science/Humanities PhD Field Supported:

Medical Humanities

Description of Program:

The Institute for the Medical Humanities offers the nation's only MD-PhD training in medical humanities. A distinguished faculty represents the disciplines of history, ethics, religious studies, literature, and law as these bear on issues of health, medical care, biomedical research, and policy. The goal of this program is to train MD-PhD students in the areas of medical humanities and medical ethics so that, combined with their experiences and training as physicians, they will become leaders and scholars in furthering these critical areas of medicine. Students complete an individually tailored course of study covering a core curriculum and specific areas of interest.

Structure of Program:

Typically medical humanities MD-PhD students complete their first two years of medical school and either one semester of third year clerkships, or a full year. They then begin their Ph.D. program in medical humanities. The medical humanities Ph.D. involves an interdisciplinary program in which students will take a group of core classes as well as courses in one or more major and one or more minor areas of specialization.

Areas of specialization include:

  • Health Care Ethics
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Literature and Narrative Studies in Health Care
  • Religion and Health
  • Social Medicine

After completion of the Ph.D., students return to medical school to finish their remaining clerkships. The program takes an average of 7-8 years.

MD-PhD Program:

Size of incoming joint MD-PhD class:


Number of students in the social sciences or humanities:

approximately 1/every 3 years

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


Current number of students in the MD-PhD Medical Humanities Program:


Application Process:

Applicants for UTMB’s MD-PhD Combined Degree Program must submit an application via the American Medical College Application Service. A separate Graduate School application is not required.

Applications will be reviewed by the MD-PhD Combined Degree Program Admissions Committee. Selected applicants will be invited for MD-PhD Program interviews. Criteria for selection include factors such as prior academic performance, performance on MCAT, prior research experience, and commitment to a career in biomedical research.

Failure to be admitted to the MD-PhD Program does not jeopardize admission to the School of Medicine or the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UTMB. Applicants must apply separately to the School of Medicine via the TMDSAS application to be considered for medical school-only:


Specific to Applying in Medical Humanities:

Additionally, applicants to this program must submit a writing sample reflecting the applicant's ability to develop and sustain an analysis or argument. The sample should be a minimum of 5 pages in length. Creative writing samples (poems, plays, stories, etc.), journalism, and other nonacademic, non-scholarly writings are discouraged. Writing samples should be sent directly to:

Claiborne Fant
Program Manager, MD-PhD Combined Degree Program
The University of Texas Medical Branch
301 University Boulevard
Galveston, TX 77555-1041
Phone: 409-772-8145


Medical humanities MD-PhD students receive an annual stipend, full support for both medical school and graduate school tuition, and health insurance.

Contact information:

MD-PhD Combined Degree Program
Claiborne Fant, Program Manager
The University of Texas Medical Branch
301 University Boulevard
Galveston, TX 77555-1041
Phone: 409-772-8145

The Institute for the Medical Humanities
Christina Retzer, Graduate Program Coordinator
University of Texas Medical Branch
301 University Blvd.
Galveston, Texas, USA 77555-1311
Phone: (409) 772-9396
Fax: (409) 772-5640