FAQs

MD FAQs

A. Application Requirements and Deadlines for MD and MD-PhD

1. What is early acceptance?
2. What is considered a “complete” application?
3. When will I know the status of my application?
4. How will I know if I’ve been selected for an interview?
5. Can I submit my online application if I don't have an MCAT score or if some supporting documents have not yet been sent to the school?
6. Is there a word limit or a recommended essay length?
7. Can I apply to Duke-NUS if I already have a medical degree?
8. Can I apply to Duke-NUS if I already have started my 1st year of medical school?
9. Does Duke-NUS accept international students?
10. What is the incentive for an international candidate to pursue medical education at Duke-NUS?
11. I’m in my early thirties. Can I still apply to Duke-NUS?
12. I am applying for an undergraduate degree program. Which degree would give me a good start if I want to pursue an MD?
13. If I am offered admission, may I defer my acceptance for a year or two?
14. Can I apply to Duke-NUS if I have not fulfilled mandatory National/Military Service?
15. If I have a bachelor’s degree from a reputed university and strong research experience, do I still need to take the MCAT?
16. Can I use my GAMSAT or GRE results in lieu of MCAT exam results?
17. Where can I take the MCAT exam outside the United States?
18. Can I submit the application by the December deadline and take the January MCAT instead?

B. Re-Applicants

1. If not accepted, may I apply again?
2. Do I have to re-submit my application?
3. Will I need to re-submit my supporting documents?
4. Is there a limit to the number of times an applicant can re-apply?
5. Is there special consideration given to a re-applicant?

C. Tuition Fees & Financial Aid

1. What are annual tuition fees at Duke-NUS?
2. Does Duke-NUS provide financial aid to students? How much?
3. I do not have enough savings to support my studies at Duke-NUS. Can I still apply?
4. How do Duke-NUS graduates repay their debt during residency?

D. MD Program and MD-PhD Track

1. How is Duke-NUS different than other medical schools?
2. Is the Duke-NUS MD program recognized as a Duke MD program?
3. Do Duke-NUS students take the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)?
4. Can I pursue my degree on a part time basis?
5. Can I pursue a master's degree in the middle of my MD studies? Master of Public Health (MPH)? Others?
6. Will the research year be waived if I already have a PhD degree?

E. Post-graduate Service Commitment

1. When can the service commitment be fulfilled if one leaves Singapore for post-graduate training?
2. If I have to drop out of Duke-NUS due to unforeseen circumstances, am I still liable to pay liquidated damages?

F. Residency Training

1. What are training options after graduation from Duke-NUS?
2. Can I apply for residency training outside Singapore after graduation?
3. Will healthcare institutions outside Singapore including those in the US recognize my residency training in Singapore?
4. Can I use my overseas medical license to practice medicine in Singapore?

G. How to Prepare for Medical School

1. How can I determine if a medical career is for me?

H. Pre-Medical (Pre-Med) Programme

Please visit the Pre-Medical Programme Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for more information.

PhD FAQs

1. How much does the programme cost?
2. Is there a service commitment or bond associated with the fellowships?
3. Can I undertake research for my thesis with individuals at another institution?
4. How many specialty courses will I take?
5. Do I have to take the GRE?
6. What type of GRE score or GPA would be considered competitive for entry into the IBM Programme at Duke-NUS?
7. Will I be able to treat patients after I have completed my PhD?
8. I have an MBBS degree. Am I eligible to apply? If I have an MBBS, do I still have to take the GRE?
9. I already know I would like to undertake research for my thesis with a particular faculty member. Do I still have to undergo the two laboratory rotations?
10. What is the typical academic calendar like with regard to vacation and exams?

MD FAQs

A. Application Requirements and Deadlines for MD and MD-PhD

1. What is early acceptance?

If all components of your application are complete, you can submit by the early acceptance deadline. The early acceptance is non-binding. We have a rolling admissions process with a fixed number of slots each year. It may be to your advantage to apply as early as possible. Applicants with a track record of excellence in academic achievements, MCAT scores, reference letters, research experiences, and volunteer/leadership activities will be considered favorably. A select group of candidates will be invited for interviews starting in September, with notification of acceptances as early as October. Early acceptance applicants who have not been notified of an interview will be rolled into the regular admissions pool for review, and notified of their application status. There is no quota for the number of candidates admitted through early acceptance.

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2. What is considered a “complete” application?

An application will be considered complete once we have all of the following documents:

• Completed online application submitted by the deadline
• Transcripts & WES Report, if applicable
• 3-5 letters of recommendation
• MCAT - If you have registered for a future exam or are awaiting your scores, please indicate this on the application and inform the Admissions Office

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3. When will I know the status of my application?

Duke-NUS has a rolling admissions policy. Completed applications are reviewed upon receipt, and selected candidates are invited for interviews. Applicants will typically receive notification of their application status by April, if not earlier. The notification will be sent via email and mailing address on file. Please notify us of any address changes and update your online application as needed. You may check on the status of your application by logging on to your online application.

To check on the status of individual letters of reference or if you have specific queries, please email us at info@duke-nus.edu.sg.

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4. How will I know if I’ve been selected for an interview?

We invite candidates for interviews via email. A majority of our interviews take place on the Duke-NUS campus in Singapore. There will also be a few interviews held in the US during each admissions cycle. The main venue in the US is at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. If selected for an interview, the Admissions Office will contact you with details on the location and date.

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5. Can I submit my online application if I don't have an MCAT score or if some supporting documents have not yet been sent to the school?

Yes. Please note, however, that the online application itself should have all the components completed and submitted by the deadline. We will be reviewing your supporting documents such as reference letters, transcripts and WES reports (if applicable), as we receive them. If you are submitting an application without an MCAT score, please indicate on your application the date of exam taken or registered to be taken. There is a 2-week grace period after the admissions deadline to receive all supporting documents.

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6. Is there a word limit or a recommended essay length?

It is recommended that you limit the length to a maximum of 500 words per essay. Please note that we consider plagiarism an egregious breach of conduct and will not consider a plagiarized application for further review, regardless of other attributes or accomplishments. Essays should be written by you, but proofreading by others is encouraged if intended to help polish your work.

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7. Can I apply to Duke-NUS if I already have a medical degree?

Duke-NUS is a graduate medical school, and candidates are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree by the time of enrolment into medical school. Our students will graduate with a MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree. We do not accept students who already have an MBBS or an MD degree. Doctors with MBBS or MD degrees who wish to pursue a PhD may consider the Duke-NUS PhD program in Integrated Biology and Medicine. Information on that program is available here.

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8. Can I apply to Duke-NUS if I already have started my 1st year of medical school?

Given our unique curricular structure, we do not accept transfer students. You are welcome to apply to Duke-NUS as a first-year medical student, however, with a bachelor degree in any discipline.

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9. Does Duke-NUS accept international students?

Duke-NUS welcomes qualified applicants of any nationality to apply. Our student body represents well over 25 countries. If enrolled at a university with a Pre-Professional Health Advising Office, you may seek input from that resource to help with your application.

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10. What is the incentive for an international candidate to pursue medical education at Duke-NUS?

Candidates with the option of enrolling into a highly academic graduate entry medical school in their home countries or elsewhere should have valid reasons for attending Duke-NUS and/or living in Singapore. Singapore has a limited number of positions in its medical schools, each of which is valued and intended to educate physicians who plan to serve the country. We are fortunate to have many such qualified international students, as exemplified by our diverse student body representing over 25 countries.

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11. I’m in my early thirties. Can I still apply to Duke-NUS?

We do not have an age limit to apply to Duke-NUS. Prospective students should note that the MD program is an extremely demanding and rigorous course that takes 4 years to complete. After graduating from Duke-NUS, further training is required if one is to be licensed to practice medicine. A minimum of 5-6 years post-MD can be expected to complete one’s residency training. It may help to seek the perspectives of matriculated students on this issue.

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12. I am applying for an undergraduate degree program. Which degree would give me a good start if I want to pursue an MD?

Duke-NUS is open to students from diverse academic backgrounds, and the choice of a degree should be based on your interests and goals. Among medical students, literature demonstrates little or no difference in performance given different academic backgrounds. Despite some evidence that science graduates may score slightly higher on certain assessments, this effect diminishes with time during medical school. Regardless of the choice of academic background, doing well on the MCAT is important to the success of your application, be it through a solid foundation in the sciences, or by rigorous and disciplined self-study.

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13. If I am offered admission, may I defer my acceptance for a year or two?

We do not have a deferral policy. If you are offered admission and choose not to accept, you will have to re-apply for a future class.

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14. Can I apply to Duke-NUS if I have not fulfilled mandatory National/Military Service?

At present, Duke-NUS does not have a deferment policy for admitted students. As such, male Singapore Citizen and Singapore Permanent Resident applicants are expected to have fulfilled their National Service (NS) obligations before matriculation. For international applicants required to serve in their country’s military, a few points should be kept in mind. While “Leave of Absence” (LOA) is in place for a number of academic, research, and personal reasons, this is contingent on approval by the Student Promotions Committee. Generally, LOA is not granted for fulfillment of National/Military Service obligations. Additionally, to be eligible for medical registration, the Singapore Medical Council requires a doctor to begin year-one of residency training within 1 year of graduating from medical school. This makes the immediate post-graduation period an unsuitable time for serving the typical 2-year military commitment. Given these specifications, it is strongly recommended that full-time National/Military Service is completed, or is in the process of being completed, before applying to Duke-NUS.

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15. If I have a bachelor’s degree from a reputed university and strong research experience, do I still need to take the MCAT?

Taking the MCAT is required of all candidates applying to the MD programme or MD-PhD track at Duke-NUS. In order to cope with a challenging medical programme, it is important to have a solid foundation in the sciences and critical thinking skills; the MCAT is but one of many approaches to measuring such competencies.

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16. Can I use my GAMSAT or GRE results in lieu of MCAT exam results?

Only MCAT results will be considered for those applying to the MD program or MD-PhD track.

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17. Where can I take the MCAT exam outside the United States?

All MCAT tests are computer-based tests and conducted by Thomson Prometrix world-wide test centres. Please review the AAMC website for information on international test dates and sites. The number of seats in overseas locations are limited, and applicants have in the past missed a Duke-NUS admissions cycle because of lost opportunities to take the MCAT in time. It is highly advisable to plan ahead.

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18. Can I submit the application by the December deadline and take the January MCAT instead?

You can submit your application, keeping in mind the following caveats. Your online application should be submitted by the deadline of December 1st. There is a 2-week grace period after the admissions deadline to receive all supporting documents. Please indicate on your application the January exam date and the AAMC registration ID number. The Admissions Office can review your application only if there are slots available at the time. This varies from year to year.

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B. Re-Applicants

1. If not accepted, may I apply again?

Yes. Candidates may re-apply after reflecting on their previous attempt. Highlighting new achievements is very important. Some suggested approaches may include obtaining relevant work or academic experience, improving MCAT scores, gaining clinical exposure, and/or participating in research. We would like to reiterate that this is not about resume-building, but demonstrating a genuine commitment to pursuing medicine.

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2. Do I have to re-submit my application?

Candidates who are re-applying will have to submit a new application. At present, re-applicants are required to use a different email address than that previously used to register online.

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3. Will I need to re-submit my supporting documents?

Re-applicants who wish to highlight new achievements and experiences, are encouraged to submit additional documents. You may also consider submitting additional (and more recent) reference letters to add new perspectives (preferably positive ones!) to your application.

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4. Is there a limit to the number of times an applicant can re-apply?

There is no limit, but if re-applying, you are strongly encouraged to reflect on your application, including motivations for pursuing medicine and areas that may benefit from additional work. As members of the Admissions team, we cannot give individualized feedback on prior unsuccessful attempts. We do strive to provide updated information on our admissions processes, however, and are happy to clarify general questions.

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5. Is there special consideration given to a re-applicant?

Applicants for each admissions cycle are considered on an equal footing. As such, no special consideration is given to re-applicants, even if previously waitlisted or admitted.

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C. Tuition Fees & Financial Aid

1. What are annual tuition fees at Duke-NUS?

Tuition fees are reviewed by the Singapore Ministry of Education and subject to change annually. For each incoming class, tuition fees are fixed for the four years of study (i.e. the amount of annual tuition is the same as that on entry into medical school.) For students admitted to the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program, annual tuition fees for the Academic Year 2016-2017 are as follows:

• Singapore Citizens: SGD 44,050 (GST subsidy provided)
• Singapore Permanent Residents: SGD 49,950 (GST subsidy provided)
• International Students: SGD 61,300 (inclusive of GST)

MD-PhD students completing their PhD at Duke-NUS 1) will have tuition paid for during the PhD component of their studies; and 2) receive a stipend during the PhD program. MD-PhD students who successfully complete an approved PhD (subject to terms and conditions) at either Duke-NUS, Duke University (US) or NUS (Singapore) will receive a scholarship in their final MD year that is equivalent in value to their final MD year tuition fee.

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2. Does Duke-NUS provide financial aid to students? How much?

Yes. To assist students in financing tuition and other fees, Duke-NUS offers a variety of scholarships, bursaries, or loans. Financial aid for Singapore Citizen students has historically varied between approximately 18% and 93% of tuition fees payable (exclusive of miscellaneous fees), while for international students it has ranged between 14% and 75%. The amount of financial aid awarded varies depending on financial circumstances of a student, which may include that of self, immediate family, and/or spouse as applicable. As mentioned on our Fees and Financial Aid website, a medical education at Duke-NUS is a partnership involving the student, his/her family and the School.

A Tuition Fee Loan (TFL) scheme is available to admitted students through two of Singapore’s banks, regardless of citizenship. All students with a financial need are expected to apply for a Tuition Fee Loan, as any financial aid provided by the school will only assist with needs not met by a TFL. Students may borrow up to 90% of annual tuition fees of a Singaporean Citizen candidate (amount subject to change.) Details on TFL are available at the NUS Registrar's Office website.

Scholarships, granted to exceptional students (with different criteria depending on source), vary between SGD 10,000 and SGD 50,000 annually. Students may use the funds for tuition fees or personal expenses. Scholarships awarded by philanthropic organizations through Duke-NUS do not impose an additional service commitment (bond), but students are expected to maintain high academic standards and to keep the respective organizations abreast of their academic progress.

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3. I do not have enough savings to support my studies at Duke-NUS. Can I still apply?

Absolutely. The Admissions Committee evaluates candidates based on merit irrespective of financial ability. Upon matriculation, however, students are expected to be fully immersed in a rigorous program of medical education, and getting a job is not a viable option. For more information, please see Question 2 and visit Fees and Financial Aid

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4. How do Duke-NUS graduates repay their debt during residency?

Compensation during residency is managed through MOHH, with pay typically increasing after each year of post-graduate clinical training. For graduates who obtained a Tuition Fee Loan (interest-free during medical school), the banks administering the loan stipulate that:

• The loan can be repaid in equal monthly installments starting no later than two years from the date that interest is first chargeable on the loan, i.e. shortly after graduation. As such, repayment can be started as late as 24 months after graduation.
• The minimum amount of repayment is $100 per month and the maximum repayment period 20 years.

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D. MD Program and MD-PhD Track

1. How is Duke-NUS different than other medical schools?

Duke-NUS is the first medical school in Southeast Asia to follow a Graduate Entry Medicine model, whereby all students are at a minimum required to have a bachelor’s degree. The school’s mission is aimed at producing outstanding leaders in medical research, education, and patient care. Its innovative program with a distinctive focus on research is modeled after the curriculum at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and adapted to the local learning environment and learner needs. These learner-centered curricula are different than that those at most medical schools in the United States. For details on our curriculum, click here.

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2. Is the Duke-NUS MD program recognized as a Duke MD program?

Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges (COC), the recognized regional accreditation authority for select geographic regions. As Duke University is one awarding body for the Duke-NUS joint degree, part of its accreditation reporting addresses relevant program and process information about Duke-NUS. However, accreditation of Duke University itself cannot extend to Duke-NUS. Similarly, the Duke University School of Medicine is accredited by The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting authority for programs leading to the MD degree in the United States and Canada only. This accreditation cannot apply to Duke-NUS.

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3. Do Duke-NUS students take the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)?

Duke-NUS students are required to pass USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge.) Some students choose at their own expense to complete Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills) if they are in the United States. This test is not administered in Singapore, and neither is USMLE Step 3. To become eligible for full registration with the Singapore Medical Council, Duke-NUS graduates must successfully complete the Assessment for Medical Practice (AMP) Examination, which is similar in design to USMLE Step 3 (and jointly created for Singapore by the National Board of Medical Examiners of the United States and the Ministry of Health, Singapore.)

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4. Can I pursue my degree on a part time basis?

No. The programmes cannot be completed part-time.

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5. Can I pursue a master's degree in the middle of my MD studies? Master of Public Health (MPH)? Others?

There is a possibility for students to pursue a master’s degree (external to Duke-NUS) during their research year. The master’s degree in and of itself does not satisfy the Duke-NUS research requirements, however. The thesis that students write as part of the degree can count towards fulfilling research requirements at Duke-NUS, provided it satisfies all criteria (e.g. single authored, biomedical research, etc.) as stipulated by the Duke-NUS Research Curriculum Review Committee. Students will have to pay tuition to Duke-NUS if a master's degree is pursued during their research year, in addition to any tuition to the school they attend for the master’s degree.

If the master’s degree does not meet the research requirements at Duke-NUS, a student may apply for a Leave of Absence to start the degree. During this time, he/she is not liable to pay tuition to Duke-NUS. Upon finishing the master’s degree, the student is still expected to undertake and fulfill the requirements of the research year of the MD program. 

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6. Will the research year be waived if I already have a PhD degree?

Students who have completed a recent empirical, medically relevant PhD may apply for a waiver of our research year requirement, contingent upon approval from our Duke-NUS Research Curriculum Review Committee.  It should be kept in mind that although possible, fulfilling requirements towards graduation in a condensed time frame is quite challenging.

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E. Post-graduate Service Commitment

1. When can the service commitment be fulfilled if one leaves Singapore for post-graduate training?

In the rare instances of individuals pursuing post-graduate residency training outside of Singapore (subject to MOH approval on a case-by-case basis), the expectation is for them to return upon completion of training and to fulfill their service commitment obligations in the public sector.

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2. If I have to drop out of Duke-NUS due to unforeseen circumstances, am I still liable to pay liquidated damages?

MOH may give sympathetic consideration to students unable to complete their course of study due to circumstances beyond their control. Such cases are reviewed by the MOH on an individual basis.

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F. Residency Training

1. What are training options after graduation from Duke-NUS?

Singapore residency programmes created in consultation with the ACGME-I (Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education – International), were the first of their kind outside of the United States to be accredited by this organization. Duke-NUS graduates are expected to complete their residency training in Singapore.

For details on the wide range of training options and residency application processes, please visit the MOHH website, as well as the Clinician-Scientist track site.

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2. Can I apply for residency training outside Singapore after graduation?

We recommend (and hope) that candidates applying to Duke-NUS are committed to completing their residency training in Singapore. That said, students interested in pursuing postgraduate training overseas may ask the MOH to review their applications. MOH considers, on a case-by-case basis, if an opportunity is created that cannot otherwise be acquired in Singapore. This is contingent on appropriate justification of the overseas programme/specialty choice, complemented by an unequivocally stellar academic record. In these rare instances, permission is granted with the understanding that the individual will return to Singapore after training. Permission from the MOH to pursue overseas training does not, however, equate to matching into a US (or other) residency programme. The latter remains subject to requirements of each programme and specialty, in addition to those of international medical graduates (IMGs.) The period of postgraduate training overseas will not count towards fulfilling the service commitment.

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3. Will healthcare institutions outside Singapore including those in the US recognize my residency training in Singapore?

Historically speaking, Singapore physicians have had an outstanding track record of pursuing fellowships or advanced subspecialty training overseas. Given the young age of our school and the short history of ACGME-I accredited residency programs, it is premature to predict how such factors may specifically impact requirements for further training and practice elsewhere.

At present, trainees completing residency programs outside the Unites States are considered international medical graduates (IMGs), and typically required to have successfully completed the USMLE Steps, in addition to additional training in the US depending on specialty and location. A wealth of information related to these matters is housed on the ECFMG website.

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4. Can I use my overseas medical license to practice medicine in Singapore?

Medical licensure is typically not transferable from one country to another. Upon return to Singapore, eligibility to practice medicine (i.e. obtaining Medical Registration and a Practicing Certificate) will depend on one’s clinical experience (e.g. length of training/practice) and other requirements as directed by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC.) 

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G. How to Prepare for Medical School

1. How can I determine if a medical career is for me?

Consider gaining some volunteer or work experience in healthcare institutions, including hospitals, clinics, and hospices. Besides being able to serve and contribute to society, volunteering also provides an opportunity to learn and apply many useful skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management. Make the most of your volunteering experience by communicating with patients, nurses and doctors, offering your help, and reflecting on your own interests and aptitude thereafter. Here are some organizations that you can approach for volunteering opportunities. This is by no means an exhaustive list and we encourage you to seek out opportunities in your own area of interest for a unique experience.

Bright Vision Hospital: community@bvh.org.sg

Changi General Hospital: Friends_Of_CGH@cgh.com.sg

HCA Hospice: volunteer@hcahospicecare.org.sg

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital: ktph.hr@alexandrahealth.com.sg

Singapore General Hospital: http://www.sgh.com.sg/about-us/be-a-volunteer/pages/friend-sgh.aspx

Tan Tock Seng Hospital: http://www.ttsh.com.sg/volunteer/

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PhD FAQs

1. How much does the programme cost?

All students receive financial support which covers tuition and fees and which provides a stipend to cover living expenses.

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2. Is there a service commitment or bond associated with the fellowships?

Admitted students are offered a Duke-NUS scholarship that pays a minimum stipend of $3200/month that has no service obligation. However, students may be nominated for more prestigious and higher paying scholarship programs, which differ in their service requirements.

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3. Can I undertake research for my thesis with individuals at another institution?

To become a mentor in the IBM graduate programme, individuals must be a regular rank member of the Duke-NUS faculty and fulfill a distinct set of additional criteria. The current list of approved IBM faculty mentors can be found here.

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4. How many specialty courses will I take?

The number of specialty courses required differs between programmes. Most programmes require about 10 additional credits of coursework. The HSSR programme differs slightly, as it will have a heavier emphasis on coursework. Details of the individual programme requirements can be found at the following websites: HSSR, NBD, CVMD, EID, and CSCB.

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5. Do I have to take the GRE?

All students must have completed either the GRE or the MCAT (for those in the MD-PhD program).

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6. What type of GRE score or GPA would be considered competitive for entry into the IBM Programme at Duke-NUS?

The IBM programme is a competitive one aimed at attracting outstanding students interested in a research career. Our recent classes had average GRE scores in the 315+ range and graduated with second upper class honours and above. However, we look at a number of other aspects as well, including research experience, letters of recommendation, and individual essays when evaluating potential candidates. We do not have firm minimum scores, and excellence in other areas can offset slight deficiencies.

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7. Will I be able to treat patients after I have completed my PhD?

No, this is a research based degree, and does not provide clinical training. Students interested in practicing medicine may consider the MD programme offered by Duke-NUS.

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8. I have an MBBS degree. Am I eligible to apply? If I have an MBBS, do I still have to take the GRE?

Students with an MBBS degree are encouraged to apply to our PhD programme, which is well-suited to provide training in research to individuals with clinical experience.

All students must have completed the GRE.

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9. I already know I would like to undertake research for my thesis with a particular faculty member. Do I still have to undergo the two laboratory rotations?

Laboratory rotations are an integral part of the training programme, and are required.

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10. What is the typical academic calendar like with regard to vacation and exams?

The PhD programme is akin to a full-time job. Students get the same public holidays as other faculty and staff at Duke-NUS. Any additional vacation time is decided between the student and his or her thesis mentor, but 3 weeks per year is typical.

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