Application Guide


Here, you will find inside advice from current MD/MBA candidates, who were recently successful at the MD/MBA application process, on the MD/MBA application process as well as how to frame the narrative for the application, the timeline, GMATs, GPAs, essays, letters of recommendation, interviews & being waitlisted. So here goes:

The overwhelming majority of MD/MBA programs require separate admission to both schools, so the information on this site is specifically designed for applications to the MBA portion of MD/MBA programs.

If you would like more information on Medical School admissions, please visit the Student Doctor Network, Association of American Medical Colleges, StudentDoc.com, Princeton Review, and Kaplan websites


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From clinical medicine to consulting and finance, MD/MBAs recognize that through business they can magnify their impact and help thousands of patients at a time.
MD MBA Association

Application Overview

        Most MD/MBA programs require you to apply separately to the Business School, and generally these applications are exactly the same as the applications full-time MBA students complete. This means that if you are interested in pursuing an MD/MBA degree, you will likely have to submit a resume, take the GMAT, write essays, and go through the interview process.

        The one exception to all of this is that business school’s generally waive their full-time working requirements for MD/MBA applicants. Be sure to contact your business school to check their specific requirements and to make sure that this is the case. To view specific programs and links to their official websites with more information, please look at our Programs & Rankings page.


Timeline

        If you are thinking about pursuing a joint 5-year MD/MBA program, you will be required to apply either prior to matriculation, or in your 2nd or 3rd year of Medical School. Although historically most programs allowed medical students to wait until they were in their 2nd and 3rd years to apply, the trend has been towards requiring applicants to apply to both schools simultaneously before they matriculate. You should check with your specific program for details about their policies.

        If you are thinking about pursuing a 6-year MD/MBA program (including a 2-year leave of absence from Medical School to pursue a full-time MBA at either the same or a different institution), then you will need to apply the year preceding your intended start date, or earlier with the intention of deferring admission. You can take this 2 year leave of absence after either 2nd year or 3rd year, but our MD MBA Advisors advise the latter to ensure that you can gain experience applying your theoretical knowledge of medicine to patient care before pausing your clinical education.

Although historically most dual-degree programs allowed medical students to wait until they were in their 2nd and 3rd years to apply, the trend has been towards requiring applicants to apply to both schools simultaneously before they matriculate.
MD MBA Association
        Before you even think about applying, you should first contact the program you want to apply to and speak with the admissions officer in charge of MD/MBAs. This will give you more school specific information and demonstrate your strong interest in the school. Second, you should attend a Business School informational session or event. B-schools keep track of who comes to these events, and it will help you come admissions time! These generally occur in the spring, summer, and fall in the year preceding matriculation. More school-specific information about these sessions can be found by registering yourself on your business school’s website.

        Virtually all business schools have multiple rounds of admission, the deadlines for which are staggered between the fall and spring of the academic year preceding matriculation. However, due to the unique nature and limited spots available for MD/MBAs, schools generally encourage or require MD/MBA applicants to apply in the earlier rounds.

        For example, if I were applying to Harvard’s 5-year MD/MBA program, I would have to apply to the Medical School by November, 2012 and apply to the Business School in either Round 1 (September 4, 2012) or Round 2 (January 7, 2013). The program would start in August, 2013 and I would graduate in May, 2018.

        For links to specific MD/MBA programs, look at our Programs & Rankings page.


Tips & Advice

        Before getting into the specific parts of the application, we’d like to impress upon you the importance of thoroughly thinking your decision through. Think about why you want to pursue the dual-degree, and then craft a narrative (discussed in the next section). Once this narrative is ironed out, you’ll want to make sure that its themes are represented throughout all parts of your application, including your resume, essays, interviews, and letters of recommendation. Sound consistent, confident, and experienced, and you will be successful!


Crafting a Narrative

        This is probably the most important part of the entire application process. If you’re applying to medical school, you’ve probably got great grades and test-taking abilities. But business school’s don’t want to throw away a spot in their prestigious MBA programs to someone who isn’t sure why he or she wants an MBA and doesn’t have have a clear plan on how he or she plans to use it.

One of the most important steps is to craft a narrative that highlights your previous experiences and connects them to your future career goals
MD MBA Association
        To that extent, before you start applying you should sit down and really think about why you’re applying for an MD/MBA. Do you want to transition into healthcare management, finance, or consulting? Do you want to run your own practice? Do you want to be a healthcare entrepreneur? Whatever your reason is, you should be able to craft a narrative that highlights your previous experiences and summarizes your career goals. In other words, you should be able to clearly explain where you came from and where you’d like to be in 10 or 20 years professionally. Talk about what got you interested in pursuing an MD/MBA, and how you decided it was for you.

        Furthermore, although it might seem uncertain, you should try to present a clear anticipated career goal, with a title and hypothetical firm, to completely convince the MBA application committee that you are clear about your career goals. This may take the form of “CEO of a large physician practice,” “CMO of a pharmaceutical company,” or “Principal at a Healthcare Venture Capital firm.” One way to look at what future career options are is to look at our MD/MBA Profiles page, or to search google for physician executive job listings and take a look at their job descriptions.

        How do you know you’ve created a successful narrative? Ask yourself the following question, a question that will more than likely be the first question you are asked during your interview: Tell me about yourself. Your should be able to answer this question in less than 2 minutes, and your answer should summarize your accomplishments, career goals, and what drove you to pursue an MD/MBA in the first place.


Undergraduate GPA

If you’re applying to medical school, this will probably not be a rate-limiting factor for you. Business Schools look at undergraduate GPAs, but do not place anywhere close to as much emphasis on it as medical schools do. For example, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (Ranked #1) has an average GPA of 3.69, while NYU Stern MBA (Ranked #10) has 3.42 average, and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business (Ranked #25) has an average 3.31 GPA.

        Regardless of what your GPA is, be confident that business schools will recognize that if you are academically capable of handling the medical school science workload, you will likely be able to handle business school workload. If you have any concerns about your undergraduate GPA, you may consider highlighting your rigorous premedical coursework in either your essays or interviews, and/or highlight relevant classes (business, finance, etc..) that you did well in on your resume (i.e. “Relevant Coursework: Intro to Finance: A).


Resume

        Do not underestimate the importance of the resume in B-school applications. The resume is your chance to highlight your academic successes and your experiences that qualify you for a spot in the MD/MBA program. This resume should be very different from your medical school application (AMCAS) resume, because it is intended for a different audience and should highlight different experiences.

        Specifically, you should focus more on non-academic experiences and leadership. Additionally, your descriptions should include active verbs, emphasize your personal accomplishments over what the group accomplished, and demonstrate that you have not just focused on clinical medicine or biomedical research your entire life. Unlike medical school, B-school involves much more collaborative learning, where students’ prior professional experiences enrich the learning environment. So show that you are unique, experienced, and that you will bring a unique set of experiences and skills to the classroom.

Great guide on how to write a business-oriented resume.


GMAT

        Once again, if you’re applying to Medical School, you’re probably an experienced standardized test taker (SATs, MCATs, etc…), and the GMAT is no different. The GMAT focuses on Math and Reading sections, and has recently changed to incorporate “Integrated Reasoning.” Of note is that there is no finance, accounting, or other business topics included on the GMAT!

        To be competitive in MD/MBA programs, you should aim to score as high as possible, preferably in the 600s to high 600s. Breaking 700 is an added bonus. Unlike the SATs, however, GMAT scores are scaled lower, meaning that not a single B-School has an average GMAT score of over 730.

        How do you prepare for the test? Some students opt to take classes through Princeton Review, Kaplan, etc… Our MD MBA Advisors, however, recommend the following approach:

1. Read a comprehensive overview of the GMAT and schedule your test date
2. Download and complete the Offical GMAT Prep Software
3. Take both the Princeton Review and Kaplan Free Online GMAT Practice Tests
4. If necessary, purchase the following GMAT Prep books: GMAC Official GMAT Guide, Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT, & Kaplan GMAT Primer, keeping in mind that you should purchase the latest editions of these books because the GMAT has recently changed. Most of these books also include access to more online practice tests
5. If you are still not scoring as high as you would like, consider signing up for a GMAT Prep Class. However, for most MD/MBAs, your limited time would more wisely be spent pursuing healthcare-related business experiences or working on other parts of your application


Recommendation Letters

        Unlike the previously described portions of the MD/MBA application, letters of recommendation can get a bit tricky. In contrast to medical schools, which place a high value on recommendations from professors who know applicants in a classroom setting, business schools strongly prefer letters from managers and colleagues who know the applicant in professional environment. Selecting recommenders is a crucial part of MD/MBA application process, and should not be marginalized or undervalued. Contact your specific MD/MBA program to find out about their particular preferences, and keep in mind that when choosing recommenders, it may be more beneficial to chose a manager from a summer internship over a professor you’ve worked with for years.
        Furthermore, as with any letter of recommendation, you want to make sure your recommender understands your background and reasons for applying to the MD/MBA program, so he or she can infuse their evaluating of you with the themes you will be articulating in your narrative, resume experiences, essays, and interviews.


Essays

        You will likely have to complete a battery of MBA application essays for the application process. Although business schools will give you specific prompts and questions to answer, our MD MBA Advisors have come up with 3 questions that must be answered. Although these questions will probably not be asked overtly, your job is to infuse these answers in your essays. In other words, anyone reading your essays should be able to answer the following questions about you:

Anyone reading your essays should be able to answer the following questions about you: Why MD/MBA? How will you use your MBA? and Why now?
MD MBA Association
1. Why an MD/MBA? - Although MD/MBA programs have been growing in popularity, they are still quite rare (only about 1-2% of Medical Students pursue the dual-degree). Thus, the burden of proof for you is even higher than “regular” full-time MBA applicants to convince the admissions committee that you understand what the dual-degree is about, have experiences that have prepared you well for the course of study, and have demonstrated an interest in experiences relevant to the MD/MBA. In other words, you need to tell your audience that you are confident in your decision to pursue both degrees, and prove it by highlighting your experiences and aspirations at the intersection of medicine and business.

2. How will you specifically use your MBA? - Business schools have limited seats, and are understandably wary of students who are pursuing an MBA to add “three extra letters” to their titles or who will practice clinical medicine and never use their business skills. The key here is to emphasize that in the short term, you will be using the “softer” business skills (leadership, teamwork, etc..) every single day, including during your residency (if you plan to pursue one). Longer-term, you need to show that you have a specific professional goal, title, job, or company that you would like to work for, and that the MBA will be vital to you achieving that dream.

3. Why now? -Many physician’s pursue an MBA after practicing clinical medicine for years, so you will have to convince the admissions committee that now is the right time to pursue the MBA. There are a variety of advantages to pursuing both degrees at the same time, such as the synergies between learning both skills at the same time, and the advantages of being able to apply business expertise and leadership training to clinical practice immediately. Whatever your reasons, state them clearly and persuasively, and avoid mentioning reasons like you’d rather “get school over with in one go” or you “don’t want to go back to school when you’re 40,” as they risk making you look unmotivated and unsure of your decision.

        Also, please make sure you complete all essays, including the optional ones. As a unique, nontraditional candidate, the more information they can glean from your essays, the better!


Interview

        This is one of the most crucial parts of the entire application process. Many schools conduct interviews by invitation only, but a minority of schools allow you to schedule your own interview. Be sure to check your business school’s specific requirements, and apply as early as possible to schedule your own interview or allow ample time to be invited for an interview. And unlike a medical school interview, you will need to highlight your business experiences and clearly articulate your reasons for pursuing an MD/MBA.

Don’t expect your interviewer to know you’re applying for the MD/MBA program, and certainly don’t expect them to know anything specific about the program - you should prepare for a “normal” MBA interview
MD MBA Association
        Our MD/MBA Advisors have put together a few pointers of MD/MBA interviews:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice! Practice by yourself, recite answers while you're in the shower. Practice with friends and family while they ask you mock interview questions. And most importantly, practice with a video camera to observe yourself and make sure your eye contact, body language, poise, and hand movements are appropriate (you’d be surprised…)

2. Don’t expect your interviewer to know you’re applying for the MD/MBA program, and certainly don’t expect them to know anything specific about the program. Thus, you should prepare for a “normal” MBA interview, and use the plethora of of online resources available for MBA interviews, such as this interview preparation site and this interview preparation forum. Other general information can be obtained in our Further Reading section at the bottom of this page or by searching the internet

3. Be sure to be on time, dress appropriately in business formal attire, and present yourself with strong eye contact and a firm handshake.

4. Don’t let any of your answers last for more than 2 minutes, after interviewing dozens of candidates a day the interviewer’s attention spans can be quite short.

5. Your first question will very likely be some version of “Tell me about yourself” in which you should be able to convey your narrative discussed earlier. Make sure you have a coherent answer.

6. For informational questions, a good rule of thumb is to answer all of the information questions with the STAR technique:
S - Situation - the general experience, leadership position, or organization involved.
T - Task - the specific role you were given. This could be a crisis, difficult decision, adverse circumstances, etc...
A - Approach
- how you decided to deal with the specific issue.
R - Resolution
- what the outcome was, and more importantly what you learned from it. Excellent opportunity to tie the example back to the original question.

For example, applying the STAR technique to: “Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult decision?” would go something like this: “Situation: As President of the MD MBA Association, Task: I had to decide whether to design our site using either HTML or JAVA, a decision our team was split on. HTML would have been cheaper and easier to use, but would limit the capabilities of the website and limit future growth opportunities. Approach: I decided that I would ask three of my computer scientist colleagues for advice before proceeding, and based upon my sites needs all three agreed upon using HTML. Resolution: Therefore, I moved forward with using HTML to design www.mdmbas.com, and learned that difficult decisions can be solved by directly consulting industry experts in the field.”

7.Be sure to ask intelligent and inquisitive questions of the interviewer when afforded the opportunity. Some say that this is equally as important as answering questions, and demonstrates your interest and seriousness about a particular program. As an MD/MBA, you should have ample questions to ask the interviewer, but be sure to stay away from simple “What course requirements will you waive for MD/MBAs?” type questions and ask more substantive, open-ended questions, in the hopes of starting a dialogue and connecting with the interviewer.

8. Finally, be sure to send an e-mail thank you note to your interviewer after the interview (later that day or the next morning) thanking them for their time.


If You’re Waitlisted

        First, congratulations! If you’ve been waitlisted that means you are of the academic caliber and quality to be accepted to the program, they just don’t have enough spots. Seriously, if they had substantive doubts, they would have rejected you.

Congratulations…if they had substantive doubts about your application, they would have rejected you!
MD MBA Association
        Second, have you been admitted to the medical school yet? Most MBA programs will not admit you until the medical school makes a decision on your application, because for most of the time the medical school is the rate-limiting factor. If you have been accepted by the medical school, be sure to update the business school ASAP!

        Third, contact the Business School (preferably by walking into the admissions office if possible and asking to speak with an admissions officer), and ask them how you can improve upon your application. You’d be surprised at how open and honest MBA admissions are, and even if they don’t give you any important information you will have showed profound interest in the program by following-up.

        Fourth, you need to take a hard look at your application and diagnose your weaknesses, and then proactively counteract these weaknesses in the optional (read: MANDATORY) follow-up e-mail/essay most programs allow you to submit. If your essays were of low quality, make sure your optional essay reads like a Shakespeare play. If you weren’t able to clearly convey your reasons or goals for the MD/MBA, reiterate these motivations in a more clear and succinct fashion. If you did not have strong resume experiences, get an internship, job, or experience and update the admissions committee when you start. Finally, if either your GMAT scores or grades were not up to par, retake the GMAT or take classes at your local college or community college to show your dedication and work ethic. Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it, so be proactive and secure your spot!


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