The CHM-VAIGS MD/PhD Program is a joint effort between MSU CHM and the Van Andel Institute. Students admitted to this program will pursue an MD degree through CHM while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in molecular and cellular biology through the Van Andel Institute Graduate School.

Students enrolled in the combined CHM-VAIGS program receive their medical degree education and training through CHM and their biomedical research education, including coursework, laboratory research, and dissertation research, through VAIGS. They are considered students of both institutions for the duration of their participation in the program. Students receive priority placement at the CHM Grand Rapids campus for the Early, Middle, and Late Clinical Experiences, to allow maximum opportunity for engagement with VAI programming.

Students spend years one and two completing their initial CHM coursework and taking the USMLE Step 1 Exam. Beginning in year three, students will attend VAIGS to complete the PhD portion of their degree. Students will be able to apply their PhD research as two CHM research electives towards their clerkship requirements during the fourth year, decreasing the duration of medical school by eight weeks. 

VAIGS will award the PhD degree when the student completes all of the degree requirements. The student will then return to CHM to complete the final two years of clinical training necessary for the MD degree.


Financial Support

During the preclinical and clinical medical school years, students will pay regular MSU MD program tuition. They may apply for competitive fellowships and scholarships both internal and external to CHM.

During the graduate school years, students will receive a package of financial assistance administered through VAIGS. This support, typically directed through a graduate fellowship, will provide a stipend, health, dental, vision, and life insurance; a full waiver of tuition to VAIGS; and $2000 per year for travel to scientific conferences. Students will be expected to apply for external predoctoral fellowships, which will be submitted and administered through VAIGS and relevant Van Andel Institute (VAI) offices. During the graduate school years, no tuition will be directed or be paid to MSU.

External training grants to support physician-scientist training programs are or may become available from federal, state, or private sources. Applications for such training grants will be administered through MSU CHM. VAIGS will be a cooperating institution on such training grants. Funds supporting students (stipends, benefits, tuition relief, etc.) during their medical school years will be directed to MSU, and funds supporting students during their graduate school years will be directed to VAIGS.

Application Process

An applicant must apply for admission to CHM through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) as a Combined Medical Degree/PhD applicant.

Interested applicants should:

    • Apply to the College of Human Medicine through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) as a Combined Medical Degree/PhD type applicant.
    • Take (or retake, if necessary) the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) by 9/09/2023.
    • For optimal consideration, application materials including the AMCAS application, MCAT, CASPer exam, letters of evaluation, and CHM Secondary Applicationshould be completed early. The deadline for these items is as follows: 
      • AMCAS Application 10/01/2023
      • Secondary Application 11/01/2023 

    Please note: Interested applicants should take the CASPer test no later than 9/12/2023 or the AAMC PREview test no later than 9/14/2023 for the 2023-2024 application cycle. Applicants who do not take CASPer or PREview by this date will not be considered.

    • To be competitive for the limited number of MD/PhD fellowships, application materials including MCAT scores, letters of evaluation, graduate program preference, Secondary Application, and Graduate School application should be submitted early. Review of applications begins in July.

Letters of Evaluation

All applicants to the CHM-VAIGS MD/PhD program are expected to submit a minimum of four letters to CHM through the AMCAS Letters service. Applicants should request three letters of recommendation for the MD/PhD program component, from individuals who can attest to the applicant's qualifications for the MD/PhD Program, as well as their motivation and ability to conduct research. To address the MD component more specifically, applicants should submit at least one letter that reflects their medical/clinical interest and experience and can address personal characteristics consistent with an excellent physician.


The goal of the CHM-VAIGS MD/PhD program is to interview all applicants by the end of October. Applicants are interviewed separately for each program by members of the respective interview panels. The CHM Office of Admissions schedules the MD interview, which for the 2023 cycle will be virtual. VAIGS interviews are scheduled through the VAIGS admissions office.

During the VAIGS interview, the applicant will be interviewed by a research faculty, take a tour of the research facilities, and be given the opportunity to meet with appropriate faculty and current MD/PhD students during their visit.

The applicant will also have an opportunity to meet with the Director of the MD/PhD Program as well as current students virtually and during campus visits.


Questions about the CHM-VAIGS MD/PhD program may be directed to:
Cindy Grove Arvidson, PhD
MSU CHM MD/PhD Program Director
A112J Clinical Center
East Lansing, MI 48824

Professor, Department of Neurodegenerative Science
Van Andel Institute
333 Bostwick Ave, NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 234-5305