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Frequently asked questions regarding the application process

Will interviews be virtual for the 2024 Cycle?

  • Yes. About 85% of MSTPs across they country are planning virtual interviews, and we are one of them. 

Does having a late interview date decrease my chances of getting an offer and matriculating?

  • Not at all.
  • In the 2023 cycle, of the 9 matriculants: 2 came from the first interview, 3 came from the second interview, 2 came from the third interview and 2 were from the final interview. (4 dates)

If I apply to the Iowa MSTP, do I have to apply separately to the Carver College of Medicine.

  • No. The MD/PhD application serves as your application for both programs.

If I apply for the Iowa MSTP, can I also apply MD-Only? 

  • Yes, there is an option in your application to select that you’d like to also be considered for an MD-Only spot. However, your application will first and foremost be in the MD/PhD process. When you choose to apply MD/PhD we view the dual degree program as your “top priority” through the entire process. If you prefer the MD-Only route be viewed as your top priority, we suggest applying to the MD program.

If I apply to the Iowa MSTP, will my chances of admission to the MD-Only program be compromised?

  • If you choose MD/PhD with an MD-Only option, this means if you are selected for an MSTP interview you will remain on the Iowa MSTP waitlist until all positions are filled in our program. Since we do a rolling admissions process, this could be until May or June. However, your application would then be moved to the College of Medicine’s “Final Pool” and reviewed in February for a medical school decision in March.

  • If you do not receive an MSTP interview, your name will be released from the MD/PhD process (usually around December) and provided to the College of Medicine for consideration for an interview in their process.

If I am on the MSTP waitlist with the MD-Only option and I receive an offer in the Carver College of Medicine Final Pool, can I accept it and still remain on the MSTP waitlist?

  • Yes! If this happens, it does not affect your status as an MSTP application and we could still make you an MD/PhD offer later in the process.

What are the typical GPAs and MCAT scores for your interviewed applicants?

  • Below is the applicant pool information for the past four years:


Years 2020 2021 (Virtual) 2022 (Virtual) 2023 (Virtual)
Total Applicant Pool 236 246 232 215
Undergrad GPA Mean 3.68 3.71 3.71 3.74
GPA Range 2.54-4.00 2.66-4.00 235-4.00 2.49-4.00
MCAT Mean (%) 512 513 513 513
MCAT Range No (%) 477-526 477-528 477-528 487-526
Applicants Interviewed 46 61 62 61
Undergrad GPA Mean 3.82 3.86 3.80 3.81
GPA Range 3.35-4.00 3.25-4.00 3.17-4.00 3.27-4.00
MCAT Mean (%) 516 515 516 516
MCAT Range (%) 505-523 505-528 501-527 501-524
Applicants with Offers 28 29 33 38
Undergrad GPA Mean 3.82 3.83 3.80 3.83
GPA Range 3.46-4.00 3.48-4.00 3.17-4.00 3.27-4.00
MCAT Mean (%) 516 517 516 516
MCAT Range (%) 507-523 510-525 505-527 501-527
Matriculated 7 8 9 9
Undergrad GPA Mean 3.84 3.78 3.80 3.75
GPA Range 3.46-4.00 3.48-3.98 3.59-4.00 3.27-3.98
MCAT Mean (%) 515 516 516 516
MCAT Range (%) 505-523 512-521 502-523 507-522

How much research experience do I need to be a competitive Iowa MSTP applicant?

  • In general, admission to MD/PhD training programs (MSTPs) requires that students have significant research experience and a motivation towards medicine. Usually students complete independent research projects and are able to discuss the "what" and importantly the "why" behind their investigations. Students should also have some exposure to medicine, including physician shadowing, and evidence of leadership and altruism.
  • What really distinguishes MD/PhD admissions from MD admissions is the research experience. So the more time spent in a lab, and the greater depth of the research accomplishments, the better.

Do I need to have a publication to be considered?

  • Absoultely not! 

How am I selected to be interviewed?

  • The administrative director conducts a pre-review and eliminates applications from candidates who fail to meet basic academic requirements or who lack research experience.
  • Each application is reviewed by two committee members, who each score the application based on:
    • the student’s academic credentials, including performance in rigorous coursework in the natural and physical sciences
    • the strength and depth of the research experience
    • personal statements that demonstrate a commitment to research and medicine
    • the letters of recommendation, with extra weight given to letters from research mentors
  • The directors meet with the Iowa MSTP admissions committee chair to review the outcome of the committee appraisals and decide which candidates to invite for an interview. This year we will have four interviews of 15 applicants each.

What happens after the interview?

  • After each of the groups of applicants have been interviewed, the admissions committee meets and discusses each candidate.
  • After discussion of each candidate, committee members vote and a final rank list is generated. The directors, in consultation with the admissions chair, consider the ranked list as well as other factors to select applicants for admission.
  • Before a formal offer can be extended, the MSTP candidates are reviewed by and discussed with the full Carver College of Medicine admissions committee.
  • Applicants who are extended an offer of admission are asked to return for our Revisit Weekend in April.
  • A few admission offers are made after each interview group is reviewed, and additional offers are made after all reviews are concluded in January.
  • Keeping in touch with candidates allows us to identify questions and provide materials that may assist in their decision-making process.

What can I expect on Revisit Weekend?

  • Accepted applicants have dinner with the directors, meet with faculty to discuss research projects, interact with Iowa MSTP students, and meet future classmates.
  • Time is scheduled for candidates to tour the research facilities and hospital, and get better acquainted with the Iowa City community. This is a great opportunity to check out housing.
  • The agenda for Revisit Weekend is applicant-driven, allowing prospective students the flexibility to address questions relevant to their training goals.
  • After the weekend, the MSTP communicates with prospective students regularly. The directors, MSTP students, and involved faculty members make individual contact.

If I am not selected for the Iowa MSTP but do matriculate into the Carver College of Medicine, is there a way to apply as an M1 or M2 to join the Iowa MSTP?

  • Only second-year medical students are eligible to apply. Information about the application process for advanced standing students is available on our Admissions page:  https://medicine.uiowa.edu/mstp/admissions/applicants.
  • If you are a first-year medical student and think you might want to apply next year, a good strategy would be to make your interest in joining the MSTP known to Linda Varvel. She can answer any questions regarding the MSTP or other research opportunities on campus that may be open to you. We can also give you the opportunity to participate in various MSTP activities and events.

If I already have a PhD in a biomedical field, would I be eligible to apply for the MD/PhD program? Would this shorten my MD course of training?

  • You would need to talk to the Carver College of Medicine admissions office for any questions regarding your PhD coursework as it relates to credit in the MD curriculum.
  • You are eligible to apply to the Iowa MSTP if your goal is to pursue a second PhD from scratch while attending medical school.

Do you accept transfers from other MD/PhD or MSTPs?

  • No. However, consideration may be made if your current PhD mentor is joining the University of Iowa as faculty.