DPhil in Biomedical Sciences (NIH OxCam) | University of Oxford
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Biochemical research in the laboratory
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DPhil in Biomedical Sciences (NIH OxCam)

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.

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 the approximate number of places available this year is shown in the Key Facts section on this page. 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.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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.

Graduate destinations

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

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. In certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

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

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

All graduate courses offered by the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a related discipline.

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

A previous master's degree is not required.

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

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

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

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Publications are not required.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's standard level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. 

Detailed requirements - standard level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's standard level are:

IELTS Academic 7.0Minimum 6.5 per component
TOEFL iBT100

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced185Minimum 176 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency185Minimum 176 per component

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide

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

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.

Supervision

Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

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

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements: 

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found on our Tier 4 (General) Student visa page. For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.

Resources

You will have access to all the same facilities that are provided to other DPhil students 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 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,970
Overseas£26,405

Course 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 course fees). 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.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

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 course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) 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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

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. 

Step 1: Students must first apply to the NIH

Apply to NIH How to Apply to NIH

Step 2: Apply to the University of Oxford

Once accepted accepted on the programme, students must then apply to the University of Oxford using the standard graduate application procedure. Before proceeding, please read the application instructions provided by the department

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. 

Apply to Oxford Application Guide

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