Admissions FAQ

**All interviews will be conducted virtually for the 2020-2021 Application Year**

FAQ's -- UCLA-Caltech Admissions

The MSTP Admissions Committee seeks applicants with experiences that foreshadow their future success as physician-scientists. Applicants who are selected for the program have demonstrated the desire and capability to pursue rigorous and stimulating MD and PhD training, and already have a strong foundation in scientific research. Review criteria for the program include:

    • An exceptional undergraduate academic record well-grounded in the sciences,
    • Meaningful, sustained research experience, and
    • Evidence of a strong motivation for research and medicine.

The UCLA-Caltech MSTP is highly competitive, and a limited number of offers are made for the 12-15 fully funded positions available each year.  Two of these students have the option of performing their PhD research at Caltech. All students in the UCLA-Caltech MSTP are fully funded throughout their MD-PhD training, with tuition, fees, stipend, and health insurance provided by the National Institutes of Health and other sources.

Yes. We do not give California residents priority over other applicants.

Permanent residents are eligible for admission, but due to federal funding restrictions, we do not accept applications from international students at this time.

The deadline for the AMCAS primary (including all transcripts) applications is October 15. The deadline for the School of Medicine and MSTP Supplemental Application (secondary) is due as specified on the applicant’s secondary invitation email. Extensions will not be granted.

A preliminary screening of primary applications designated for the UCLA MSTP is conducted to identify applicants who will receive a secondary application. Some applicants may not receive secondary invitations.

We do not have a rolling admissions policy and we generally do not accept applicants prior to January. However, we retain the right to admit a limited number of candidates prior to the end of our interview process.

The UCLA-Caltech MSTP is committed to the principles of equal opportunity and welcomes applications from individuals from all diverse populations that are under-represented in the sciences or academia, as defined by the National Institutes of Health, including but not limited to students with disadvantaged backgrounds, and individuals with physical disabilities. The ethnic and economic diversity of the city of Los Angeles and of UCLA make the UCLA-Caltech MSTP ideal for the training of students from under-represented groups or disadvantaged backgrounds. Evaluation of all applicants includes consideration of life experiences.

Our MSTP encourages applications from students with disabilities and is committed to providing accommodations for disabled students. We are also committed to enhancing Diversity in our trainees through our efforts to recruit and retain students with disabilities. Applicants are encouraged to contact the MSTP leadership with questions regarding this. Please reference the Program tab for more information.

The UCLA-Caltech MSTP does not participate in the following NIH Partnership Programs: Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program, Graduate Partnership Program (Tracks 1-3).

All applicants to the MSTP are also separately evaluated by the DGSOM. If you are not extended an interview invitation or an offer of admission from the MSTP, your application will be evaluated for “MD only” admission by the DGSOM Admissions Committee, but only if you have indicated in your secondary application you wish to also be considered for MD only admission if not accepted to the MSTP.

Yes, but you must not have completed more than two years of graduate work if enrolled in a PhD program.  Students who have completed a Master’s degree are eligible to apply.

No. Students who are admitted to the UCLA-Caltech MSTP are usually registered jointly with the School of Medicine and the Graduate Division. After the second year of medical school, the student will apply directly to the departmental or interdepartmental graduate program in which the student will pursue a PhD degree. Historically, no MSTP student has ever been denied admission to the graduate program of his or her choice. Trainees admitted to the Caltech component of the MSTP who choose to perform their PhD research at Caltech will be admitted to a graduate program with which their Caltech research mentor is affiliated after the second year of medical school.

No. Although many students are interested in a particular research area before they begin the program, MSTP students complete the first two years of medical school before entering a graduate program. During those two years, students must complete at least two laboratory rotations before selecting both the graduate department and the mentor.

The final decisions of the MSTP Admissions Committee are made by the end of January. Accepted students and students placed on the waiting list will be contacted immediately by email. Applicants who cannot be accepted will be notified by email. Applicants can request information regarding the status of their application by sending an email message to the MSTP Office no earlier than February 15.

Yes, first- and second-year UCLA medical students can apply or reapply to the MSTP.  Students who were not accepted by either the MSTP or the School of Medicine are welcome to reapply. We encourage these students to draw attention to parts of their application that have been strengthened in the interim.

In general, deferrals are not permitted. However, in a small number of circumstances, such as obtaining a major scholarship or fellowship (e.g. Rhodes, Marshall, Gates or Fulbright scholarship), a deferral of admission may be appropriate. If an applicant is aware that deferral may be necessary, the applicant must inform the MSTP Office of this possibility before accepting an interview invitation.  If the applicant becomes aware of the possible need for deferral after the interview has been scheduled, the applicant must inform the MSTP Office as soon as possible. Deferral requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.   

Applicants who interviewed but were not offered admission can appeal the decision by emailing an appeal letter to the MSTP mailbox explaining the reason why the applicant feels the decision should be reconsidered.  Members of the MSTP Admissions Committee may then consider the appeal. Please be advised that because of the small number of available MSTP training positions, it is generally not possible to add additional students to the acceptance and waiting lists. For applicants who did not receive an interview invitation, the MSTP Admissions Committee, unfortunately, cannot consider appeals of final admissions decisions (post-screening). It is important to emphasize, however, that only a subset of applicants with stellar academic and research records can be invited for interviews because of the exceptionally high quality of the applicant pool and the limited number of interview slots.  NOTE: Post-rejection counseling is not offered by the program.

Applicants who are not granted an interview for the UCLA-Caltech MSTP and indicated in the AMCAS application they would like to be considered for the MD-only program at the DGSOM may then be re-screened by the School of Medicine Admissions Committee on a case-by-case basis. From that point on, the School of Medicine Admissions Office will handle those applications.

FAQ's -- GPA, MCAT, and other admissions criteria

Although average science GPA and MCAT scores of successful applicants are consistently high, we take many other factors into consideration when evaluating each application, including the quality of their research experience, letters of recommendation, and interviews. For reference, over the last 3 years, our accepted students had a mean GPA=3.85 and a mean MCAT score of 519. However, occasional students have been accepted with GPAs of 3.5 or MCAT scores of 505 (65th percentile), but this is rare.

It is recommended that all applicants take the MCAT in the spring, and no later than September of the year preceding admission to the MSTP.

GRE scores are not required for consideration and cannot be submitted in place of MCAT scores.  Students who ultimately join the UCLA-Caltech MSTP are permitted to use their MCAT scores to enter a graduate program for the PhD component of their training.

We do not have a specific point system for each component of the application. The committee examines each application as a whole and considers the applicant based on the interviews, as well as the applicant’s documentation. GPA and MCAT scores may reflect certain aspects of the applicant’s performance, aptitude, and abilities, but we also look at the individual’s life experiences, commitment to research interests, and the inclination and capacity to pursue a rigorous program of study required to complete the dual degrees. We look for students with substantial research experience, reflected in a certain level of autonomy, understanding of the process of research, and depth of knowledge.

Three letters of recommendation are required, with at least one letter from a research mentor who can address the student’s research experience and abilities. A maximum of five letters of recommendation may be submitted. Letters must be submitted electronically via AMCAS. Committee letters or composite letters are acceptable, but the names of the applicant’s three/five referees must be listed on the supplemental application.

In general, prerequisites must be completed prior to matriculation, but not prior to submitting an application. The first 6-week summer session for UCLA undergraduates usually begins in late June and ends just before School of Medicine orientation (1st week of August). Therefore, students who need to complete one prerequisite course can often take the course during this summer session. Waiver requests for a single prerequisite course will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The possibility of a waiver request should be brought to the attention of the MSTP Office as early as possible during the application process. (Recommendation of demonstrated competencies)

Application updates can be uploaded by the applicant directly to the application file via the AMP portal. The AMP portal is accessible to those who have received a secondary application.

Transcripts are not required by the MSTP unless you have accepted an admissions offer and intend to matriculate to UCLA.

FAQ's -- Interviewing at UCLA-Caltech

Typically, about 75 applicants are invited to interview at the UCLA campus.  Approximately 20 of these applicants interview at Caltech the day after their UCLA interview.

No, the MSTP office will coordinate the medical school interview so that it occurs in conjunction with your MSTP interviews.

Most applicants are interviewed individually by 4 or 5 UCLA professors, including one of the MSTP Directors and/or Associate Directors, at least one other member of the MSTP Admissions Committee, and other faculty whose research is relevant to the applicant’s interests.  All interviewers receive the applicant’s complete application file (incl. primary/secondary applications) prior to the interview. However, some faculty prefer to conduct the interview before reviewing the file, so that their initial opinion of the applicant is not biased by the academic record.

The UCLA MSTP does not cover the cost of incurred travel expenses for the initial interview. However, the program does provide accommodations for interviewing applicants who are traveling more than 50 miles one-way for the interview. If the applicant is accepted and invited for a second visit, the program will pay all reasonable travel expenses incurred by the applicant for an invited second visit.

FAQ's -- Funding

No. All UCLA-Caltech MSTP students are fully funded.  However, a student who enrolls in the School of Medicine can choose to pursue a PhD degree on his or her own, by taking a leave of absence after the second year of medical school for PhD training. Most PhD programs at UCLA and elsewhere provide full tuition and stipend support. Therefore, students who choose to obtain both MD and PhD degrees independently of the MSTP would generally obtain full support for their PhD training, but no support for their medical education.

The 2020-2021 stipend for MSTP students is $34,000. Tuition, registration fees, and health insurance are also covered by the program. Students also receive a nominal travel allowance.

Should you have any questions regarding the MD only program, please send an email to the School of Medicine Office of Admissions: somadmiss@mednet.ucla.edu