MD vs MD PhD

MD vs. MD PhD [Which Is Better For You?]

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Are you still contemplating: MD vs. MD PhD? Through this article, I’ll help you understand the difference between the two so you can decide which one suits you the most.

If you’re ready to proceed, let’s start diving deeper into the differences between an MD and PhD!

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What Is An MD?

People who aspire to become a physician can pursue a Doctor of Medicine or MD degree, and they are highly responsible for examining, diagnosing, and treating patients while following correct protocols. An MD undergoes practical training, chooses medical specialization, and gains experience in the field.

MD students attended allopathic medical school and had to pass the USMLE or the United States Medical Licensing Examination. A designed USMLE assesses a student’s medical competency and it consists of three levels.

There are numerous types of medical doctors, and their title varies depending on their area of specialization. Successful MD students are more likely to enter clinical environments.

MD vs PhD

What Is An MD PhD?

An MD PhD is a dual doctoral degree known as a Doctor of Medicine and Philosophy. They have a different curriculum than MDs, where they are more hands-on in researching and discovering new knowledge

A career with an MD PhD, a combination of physician-scientist, allows you to solve a patient’s medical issues through extensive research. The program’s approach highly influences the students’ path, making them more likely to enter academic environments.

MD vs. MD PhD: Education

MDs have to complete a 4-year curriculum before applying to medical schools

  • Often, the first two years are for pre-clinical focusing on core foundations.
  • It is followed by another year for training in similar specialties, such as Internal Medicine, OBGYN, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, and many more.
  • An internship would be the last hurdle.

To receive the degree, MD students must prove their knowledge through skills application during an internship and residency, allowing them to experience the job first-hand and learn from professional doctors. Other than that, a licensure exam is a must for this degree before they can practice independently.

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An MD PhD’s curriculum generally takes more years to finish than an MD’s. This program might take at least seven years, and it will supposedly be composed of the following:

  • It starts with classroom-based classes.
  • Then, the following is a few more years in graduate school for a PhD thesis. One should complete research and defend it from a panel. It can be about biomedical sciences, engineering, and other disciplines such as health policy, epidemiology, public health, chemistry, and so on.
  • Then they’re back for clinical rotations.
  • And finally, residency training is needed before getting a license.

As of 2022, the average yearly medical school tuition fees for MD students range from $37,000 to $62,000. In comparison, it’s easier for your budget to take MD PhD programs since several offered scholarships and stipends exist that you can use as financial support for the whole duration of your career training.

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MD vs. MD PhD: Career And Salary

MDs can pursue a research career, and an MD PhD can pursue a clinical career. However, one can’t deny that MDs are more suitable to pursue careers in the hands-on medical field, while PhDs would fit research-heavy careers more.

For both MD and MD PhD, depending on what interests you, you can work in clinical research, health services research, or laboratory science research, and you can also teach introductory courses, supervise student research, and teach physician assistants. 


If you pursue an MD degree you might end up in hospitals, clinics, medical centers, and private practices. Here are some of the job options and their respective average annual salary:


They are responsible for providing anesthesia to patients before the operation proceeds. They can earn an average salary of $331,937.


Cardiologists assess, diagnose, and treat patients with heart diseases, and they can earn an average salary of $351,827.

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Clinical Radiologist

They are trained professionals who can read and interpret medical images to assess possible diseases and diagnose patients. They can earn an average salary of $437,590.

General Practice Doctor

General Practice Doctors or General practitioners’, their role is to provide medical treatment to patients with typical medical conditions. They can earn an average salary of $219,090.

Hospital Doctors

Their work involves interacting with patients, specializing in various medical areas, and treating medical conditions, and they can earn an average salary of $260,000.

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They are trained professionals who diagnose and treat diseases that affect the brain and nervous system. They can earn an average salary of $270,900.


Specialize in eye care; they can handle treatment, surgery, and prescription for eye problems. They can earn an average salary of $311,471.


Pathologists partners up with different healthcare providers to diagnose a patient. They study body tissues and fluids and can earn an average salary of $200,890.


A psychiatrist specializing in assessing and treating mental health problems can earn an average salary of $224,247.


They are responsible for performing operations on patients, administering postoperative care,  and are considered surgical team leaders. They can earn an average salary of $415,692.

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Meanwhile, if you pursue an MD PhD degree, then the following are where you can end up:

Academic Medical Centers

You’ll mostly be doing research and can go to various departments in academic medicine, such as Internal medicine, Pediatrics, Pathology, Neurology, Surgery, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, and many more. You are also eligible to become a faculty member in academic schools.

Government and Private Research Institutes

In these institutes, you’ll again spend more time applying your knowledge concerning health and diseases to do independent or group research.

Private practices

Compared to MDs, MD PhDs earn less. The salary depends on the job and the institute one gets in, but you can expect an average annual salary ranging from $60,000 to $115,000.

MD vs PhD

MD vs. MD PhD: Which Is Better For You?

If you have a specific career you’ve set your mind on, it’ll be easier to know which degree you’ll take. But if you can’t think of a particular job that resonates with you, it’ll be harder to decide and would most likely waste more of your time and brain power.

Fortunately, several helpful pieces of advice can help in organizing your thoughts. For a better understanding, the following are a few tips you can try to know whether MD or MD PhD suits you:

  • You can start by assessing your primary interest. Having an initial fascination with something specific allows you to narrow down your considerations.
  • Know and understand where your interests lay, what motivates you, and what your passions are. Also, understand what matters more for you and what aligns with your ideal future. Are you interested in mainly diagnosing and treating patients? Or are you interested in researching and finding cures for a specific disease? Find out which one weighs more for you.

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  • Gain experience in the field you are eyeing. Prior experiences before deciding between the two degrees would help you understand whether that field is where you see yourself working more or if it fits you. Only when you experience something will you truly realize what sparks your interests and whether you can last long in that area of expertise.
  • Not everyone can afford medical school tuition fees; if you’re one of those also highly considering that, it’ll affect your decision-making, too. Carefully consider whether having tuition debt is alright or if you prefer those that offer tuition and stipend assistance.
  • Consider where and how you want to work, then do your research, and compare your wants and needs to how MD or an MD PhD careers work. The career’s work environment differs; for example, an MD allows you to associate with patients, have long shifts, and rarely have standard schedules, while an MD PhD might spend more time working independently on research.

MD vs PhD

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Here is a quick recall of the differences between MD vs. MD PhD:

Known As Doctor of Medicine Doctor of Medicine and Philosophy
Educational Years 4 Years 7 Years
Educational Tuition/Assistance The tuition ranges from $37,000 to $62,000 There are available tuition and stipend scholarships
Education Scope
  • Pre-clinical focusing on core foundations
  • Training in similar specialties, such as Internal Medicine, OBGYN, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, and many more
  • Internship
  • Classroom-based classes
  • Create and defend a thesis mostly about biomedical sciences, engineering, and other disciplines such as health policy, epidemiology, public health, chemistry, etc.
  • Clinical rotations
  • Residency training
Reasons To Choose You’re more into interacting, diagnosing, and treating patients directly You’re more interested in taking scientific discoveries, running your lab, or conducting research.
Work Environment Often ends up in a clinical environment Often ends up in an academic/research environment
Salary Range $200,000 to $400,000 $60,000 to $115,000
Industry Hospitals


Medical Centers

Private Practices

Academic Medical Centers

Research Institutes

Private Practices

Hopefully, you have found this article about MD vs. MD PhD helpful enough. Now, you can take your time deciphering all the pieces of information given in this article and adequately decide between the two.

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Until the next one my friend…

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