DPhil in Biomedical Sciences: NIH-OU | University of Oxford
Lab
Biochemical research in the laboratory
(Image Credit: Greta Pintacuda / Graduate Photography Competition)

DPhil in Biomedical Sciences: NIH-OU

About the course

The National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Programme (NIH OxCam) is a four-year doctoral programme. You undertake a collaborative project in biomedical research involving two supervisors - one at the NIH in Bethesda, MD and one at either Oxford or Cambridge.

Applicants are strongly advised to visit the Medical Sciences Graduate School website to help them identify the most suitable course and supervisors.

The NIH OxCam doctoral programme was first established in 2001 and is primarily aimed at graduate students from the USA. You must first apply to the NIH by early December, following which interviews for admission in the following Michaelmas term (October) are held in February in Bethesda by NIH, Oxford and Cambridge University staff. The programme is highly competitive and approximately 12 students are given places each year. You can also apply to the NIH MD/PhD programme.

The selected students are supported financially by the NIH but are full students of the University of Oxford and normally spend half their time in the UK. At the time of selection to the programme, you will not necessarily have decided on your supervisor.

The Oxford programme is directed by Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones, and for administrative purposes all NIH-Oxford students are admitted to the Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM). However, you can select supervisors and projects in any department at Oxford. You should explore all departmental websites to discover the full range of opportunities.

Graduate destinations

Students follow a wide variety of career paths, including all branches of biomedical research, clinical medicine, teaching, health administration and commerce.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a related discipline.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

A previous master's degree is not required.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Interviews are held in February each year, at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.  Candidates attend the interviews in person and arrangements are made by the NIH. 

Publications

Publications are not required.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the standard level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Nuffield Department of Medicine and/or closely-related departments to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Medicine and/or closely-related departments and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Nuffield Department of Medicine and/or closely-related departments.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

You will have access to all the same facilities that are provided to other DPhil students in in your Oxford host department. You should check departmental websites for details.

You will have access to the department’s IT support, University Library services, and experimental facilities are available as appropriate to the research topic. The provision of other resources specific to your project should be agreed with your Oxford supervisor as a part of the planning stages of the agreed NIH-Oxford collaboration. There are a number of workshops that are announced via email and posters throughout the year.

You will have access to the seminars that departments, research groups, or groups with common areas of interest organise. Medical Grand Rounds are also held in the postgraduate centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Workspace will be allocated according to you individual circumstances. If undertaking experimental work, you will be provided with bench space in a laboratory. If undertaking theoretical research, you will have shared office space.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

Full funding opportunities are available for all Medical Sciences Graduate School programmes, whatever your nationality. The Medical Sciences Graduate School website provides further details of these, as well as information about external funding opportunities.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£19,335£3,021£22,356

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this programme that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You are encouraged to contact individual supervisors before you apply. Email addresses for academic staff can be found on the departmental profile pages. 

Students must first apply via the NIH.

1: Apply via NIH

Once accepted on the programme, students must then apply via the standard graduate application procedure to the University of Oxford. 

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to two pages

A personal statement is required and must be in English. You can re-use the statement provided in your NIH application.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work; reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

References should usually be academic, though professional references are acceptable where they relate to work within a research setting.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and the ability to work in a group.

On rare occasions, written work may be requested from some applicants. You will be notified by the department and given more details of the assignment if it is required. 

2: Apply via Oxford Application Guide