Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Medical Scientist Training Program

PhD Programs

For the research-phase of their training, Northwestern University Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) students select their PhD thesis advisors and thesis committee members from over 300 graduate faculty members in 14 departments of four schools of Northwestern University.

There are several umbrella PhD Programs that include faculty from multiple departments:

Interdepartmental Biological Sciences (IBiS) Program and Driskill Graduate Program (DGP) in the Life Sciences

These programs are based primarily in Evanston (IBiS) and Chicago (DGP) and include faculty working in all areas life sciences research, from fundamental mechanisms of biological macromolecular structure and function; molecular biology and genetics; cell and developmental biology; biochemistry; physiology; biotechnology; nanotechnology; and engineering. Many faculty members study these fundamental processes as they pertain to a variety of human diseases, including cancer, heart disease, neurologic disease, reproductive disease, and infectious disease.

Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience PhD Program (NUIN)

This university-wide program is devoted to normal and abnormal function of the nervous system at all the levels described for IBiS and IGP.

Biomedical Engineering Program (BME)

This university-wide program is devoted to the exciting and fast-moving field of biomedical engineering with its ever-changing boundaries. General areas of concentration include Neural Engineering and Rehabilitation, Cardiopulmonary and Vascular Engineering, Materials, Cells, and Tissues and Imaging and Biophotonics.

There are additional department-based PhD programs, the most commonly chosen by MSTP students listed below:


Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)

Chemical and Biological Engineering (ChBE)

Each laboratory is associated with one or more umbrella or departmental PhD programs. The student chooses the laboratory first and the PhD program next, based on preferred course offerings and other training opportunities. Significant course credit is given to MSTP students so that the course requirements are minimal – 3+ courses for IBiS, DGP and NUIN, 4+ courses for Chemistry, and 8+ courses for BME, MSE and ChBE.

In addition to these PhD programs, there are numerous Interdepartmental Training Programs, Centers, and Institutes that afford additional training activities such as symposia, seminar series, special conferences, and retreats.

Applicants interested in pursuing a PhD in a program offered by Northwestern, but not listed here, are welcome to apply to the MSTP. Applicants interested in these alternative PhD programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require coordination with the PhD program of interest for consideration. Please contact the MSTP ( with questions on coordinating with these PhD programs during the application process.