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How to Write Successful Md-PhD and Significant Research Experience Essays

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If you’re applying to an MD-PhD program(s) through the AMCAS application, you are required to provide admissions with the Personal Comments essay and two additional essays: the MD-PhD Essay and the Significant Research Experience Essay.

MD-PhD Essay

The MD-PhD Essay is a straightforward “Why essay” — in other words, admissions is hoping to learn why you’re pursuing the combined MD-PhD degree. This essay is limited to 3,000 characters, which comes out to about 500-600 words or one page single-spaced. 

In order to submit a winning MD-PhD essay, we recommend getting creative. Since these essays are so straightforward, it’s very easy for them to read as dry and impersonal. See if instead, you can tell admissions a story that will both answer the question, “Why are you pursuing a combined MD-PhD degree?” and reveal more information about yourself.

Maybe you want to open your essay with an anecdote from your dinner table in the late 90s, when you took your first stab at Operation (pun intended). Or perhaps your story starts at a cabin with your favorite relative, who encouraged you to find meaningful, rewarding work that serves your community. Regardless of where your story begins, try your best to frame it as just that: a story.  

Significant Research Essay

In addition to the MD-PhD Essay, you are required to write an essay that is frequently referred to as the Significant Research Experience Essay, which — you guessed it! — describes your noteworthy research experiences. In this essay, AMCAS asks applicants to specify their research supervisor’s name and affiliation, the duration of the study, the nature of the issue examined, and their specific contributions to the research effort. This essay is limited to 10,000 characters.

If your research resulted in a publication of which you were an author, you will also be asked to enter the full citation in the Work/Activities section of your application.

The Significant Research Experience essay is about as academic as they come, and for that reason, we advise you to stick to the facts. If you have notes, now is the time to reference them. If your research experience is lacking, use any extra space you have to focus on why the research experience was significant to you, and how you might continue to research this problem or event in the future.

Ultimately, like with all admissions essays, your goal for both of these assignments should be to give admissions a clear understanding of your background and the next steps you will take if you are accepted!

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