As in the case of other doctorate programs, a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree is not yet available online. But the massive growth of online courses seems to put the possibility of earning a Doctorate in Medicine on the horizon. The healthcare industry is gradually catching up to the reality of online education with many similar tracks offered online including a paramedic, medical billing, dental hygiene, and nursing programs.

An M.D. degree typically involves close supervision in clinical and laboratory settings and a lot of lecture-based learning. The difficulty of shifting the traditional method of learning to an online format is often attributed to the stringent requirements set by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME). Recognized by the US Department of Education, the LCME also accredits medical education programs.

medical doctor icon

Today, the slow but steady growth of innovation in the sector is evident. It addresses the need for healthcare access and jobs, and in turn, creates a demand for healthcare education. In this regard, shifting to online education helps students progress at their rate because distance learning is often competency-based. This is a contrast to time-based education in campus settings. Online learning can accelerate students’ medical education.

For now, though, earning an M.D. is confined to campus-based learning. It is indeed interesting to watch how this trend will progress in the coming years.

Students who have a curious mind and the drive to know more can consider the path to practice Medicine. This doctorate may involve a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and unwavering commitment, but it is a profession that promises fulfillment. A Doctor in Medicine can look forward to a life devoted to service, care, research, and leadership.

Table of Contents

What is a Doctorate in Medicine (M.D.) degree program?

doctor of medicine degree programs

An area of science dealing with the treatment and prevention of diseases, the field of medicine requires specialized training. An M.D. will pave the path for students who want to build their careers as surgeons, physicians, nurses, dentists, and many more. Medical schools in the U.S. that offer the degree program are accredited to award a medical degree.

Most M.D. programs take four years to complete. It is usually made up of academic coursework and clinical training. Typically, the first two years in medical school are spent learning all about critical medical topics, such as medical laws and ethics, physiology, and anatomy.

The last two years, meanwhile, are devoted to medical practice. Medical students are trained through clinical rotations, usually supervised by doctors. This training period is an essential aspect of the course because this is when students are exposed to different areas of medical science, from surgery, pediatrics, and internal medicine to psychiatry, gynecology, and obstetrics.

Do I need to earn a Doctorate in Medicine to practice as a professional?

medical doctor

The short answer is yes. An M.D. is needed if one wants to be a medical doctor. Only those who hold a medical degree from an accredited school are allowed to practice Medicine. This degree is also the foundation of other specialized doctors, whether one wants to be surgeons, cardiologists, oncologists, or gastroenterologists, among many others.

Earning a medical degree is not easy. It pays to seriously consider the responsibilities of doctors. Doctors are required to undergo rigorous learning and training before they can obtain their license and practice medicine.

How do I complete an M.D. program?

md doctor of medicine

An M.D. requires various steps before admission. Firstly, aspiring medical students must complete a bachelor’s degree, usually in a science major. Some students take up biology and chemistry, although no specific major is required. It helps to take up science-related courses, however, as this can quickly form the students’ foundational knowledge before learning the rigors of the program.

Aside from excellent academic performance, those who apply for admission as a Doctor of Medicine student also need to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a multiple-choice exam that involves critical thinking, problem-solving, scientific principles, and writing.

Four years of medical school are spent in academic coursework, clinical training, and internships. After graduation, students are expected to complete a medical residency where they undergo on-the-job training while getting paid.

What does a Doctor of Medicine do?

medicine from doctor

Doctor of Medicine degree holders practice their years of learning and training in the real world by becoming physicians, surgeons, and medical specialization. Doctors are known to have strong medical skills, dexterity to perform procedures, stamina to make rounds, solve problems, attention to detail, and interpersonal skills.

They are responsible for diagnosing and treating diseases through the aid of medication, surgical procedures, and therapy. They usually diagnose the condition by analyzing signs and symptoms. Medical doctors create a care plan for their patients that can produce the best results and quickest recovery.

What salary range can I expect with my Doctorate in Medicine degree?

Medical doctors can expect a high income compared to other professions. For physicians and surgeons, the mean annual salary is around $197,000 as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Highly specialized doctors can earn more than $200,000 per year. Ultimately, the salary varies based on the field that one specializes in.

What schools offer online and traditional Doctor of Medicine programs?

doctor of medicine md medical doctor

So far, a Doctor of Medicine degree program is not yet available online. However, there is a myriad of universities in the U.S. that offer the program on-campus. Some of the best medical schools include Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California–San Francisco.

Becoming a doctor is a serious undertaking that requires perseverance, patience, and lots of hard work. It can take a decade or more of studying and training, from a four-year bachelor’s degree to another four years of medical school, clinical practice, residency, and licensure exam. It is vital for students who wish to become medical doctors to be prepared for the toughness of medical school and beyond.

The 5 Best Medical Schools

Harvard University

harvard university name

Program Standouts:

The MD program at Harvard Medical School has always been one of the top MD programs in the nation. Providing two curricular tracks, Pathways and Health Sciences & Technology, HMS tailors science experiences to each student. HMS also fosters active learning and an early clinical experience. Combined degrees at HMS include medicine and research (MD-PhD), business (MD-MBA), public health (MD-MPH), and public policy (MD-MPP) as well as others. Harvard University joins MIT and Harvard Medical School as well as hospitals and research centers to bring science, medicine, and engineering together.

Campus Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Accreditation: Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, 3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100, Burlington, MA 01803-4514

Admission Requirements:

Among other requirements Harvard Medical School requires the following for admission:

  • MCAT
  • Letters of Evaluation
  • Recommendations
  • Prerequisite Courses

Course Sample:

  • Homeostasis I
  • Principle Clinical Experience
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

Degree Outcomes: According to the Harvard Medical School website, their “goal is to prepare and empower…students to become the physician-scientist-humanist-leaders who will transform medicine.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MD PROGRAM AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Program Standouts:

Pursuing an MD at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine puts you among the top future physicians in the nation. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine consistently ranks high in the ‘U.S. News & World Report’ Best Graduate Schools rankings. In 2021 the Schools of Nursing and Public Health retained the No. 1 spot in the country with other individual programs ranking No. 1 or high on the list as well. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine looks for “seekers and dreamers” to enhance their medical department and to help them to become caregivers, discoverers, healers, and inventors.

Campus Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Accreditation: Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Admission Requirements:

The four steps in the application process for the Johns Hopkins Medical School are:

  • Admissions Prerequisites and Requirements
  • Complete the AMCAS application
  • Complete the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine secondary application
  • Submit Letters of Recommendation

Degree Outcomes: According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine website, “medical and graduate students, residents and fellows study with Nobel laureates, Laster Award winners and National Academy of Science members.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

Stanford University

stanford university

Program Standouts:

Stanford School of Medicine is not only one of the top medical schools in the nation but offers unique learning pathways and dual degree programs. Dual degree opportunities are available at the medical schools across Stanford University as well as a diversity of clinical and leadership opportunities within and outside of the university.

Campus Location: Stanford, California

Accreditation: Stanford University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501.

Admission Requirements:

  • MCAT Scores
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Stanford Supplemental Application
  • Interviews
  • Personal Essays and other Supplemental Items

Degree Outcomes: Graduates of the Stanford University Doctor of Medicine program will be educated to “inspire leaders in medicine and science…improve human health through discovery, innovation, scholarship, education, and the delivery of outstanding patient-centered care.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MD PROGRAM AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL

University of Pennsylvania

Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Program Standouts:

The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has some pretty impressive rankings. In 2021:

  • Perelman was ranked #3 among the “Best Medical Schools in Research” by ‘U.S. News and World Report.’
  • The University of Pennsylvania was ranked #4 among the “Top Stem Schools for Women” by Forbes.
  • The University of Pennsylvania was also ranked #4 among the “World’s Most Innovative Universities” by Reuters.

Campus Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Accreditation: The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Suite 2 West, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Core Principles Learning Structure:

  • Developmental and Molecular Biology, Cell Physiology and Metabolism
  • Human Body Structure and Function
  • Technology and Practice of Medicine
  • Professionalism and Humanism

Degree Outcomes:

o advance knowledge and improve health through research, patient care, and the education of trainees in an inclusive culture that embraces diversity, fosters innovation, stimulates critical thinking, supports lifelong learning, and sustains our legacy of excellence.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

University of California – San Francisco

University of California San Francisco Medical School

Program Standouts:

The University of California – San Francisco Medical School stands out among medical schools as a consistent leader. The ‘U.S. News and World Report’ rankings for 2022 placed the UCSF School of Medicine into the top five schools in both research and primary care. UCSF was ranked second in primary care and tied for fourth in research becoming the only medical school in the country to place in the top five for both categories. The diversity and broad range of the UCSF School of Medicine’s expertise were emphasized by its rankings in special education as well.

Campus Location: San Francisco, California

Accreditation: The University of California – San Francisco is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501.

Admission Requirements:

  • MCAT Scores
  • Pre-requisites
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • GPA above 3.2

MD Programs:

  • MD in Advanced Studies
  • MD with Distinction
  • UC Berkeley – UCSF Joint Medical Program (MD, MS)
  • MD of Public Health

Degree Outcomes: UCSF has a reputation for “turning outstanding students into exceptional physicians.” Graduates of the medical program become top physicians around the world. Unique outcomes of graduating from UCSF include garnering a pioneering spirit in research and compassion in clinical care.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MD PROGRAM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – SAN FRANCISCO MEDICAL SCHOOL