1. Requirements & Deadlines

a. I already have a basic degree. Is that sufficient to apply to Duke-NUS?

To apply to our MD or MD/PhD programs, applicants will need:

  • An undergraduate basic degree or higher (in any discipline)
  • Results of the MCAT
  • Three to Five (3 – 5) recommendation letters. Applicants to the MD/PhD program should also include at least 1 recommendation from a research mentor or advisor.
  • To complete the online application
  • To have all information submitted no later than 1 December each year
  • A WES report- students who are applying to Duke-NUS from schools outside of Singapore or the US must submit their official transcript to WES for conversion. Via WES, our admissions department is able to compare student performance across a wide variety of international schools. For more information on the services and the fees involved go to the following link: http://www.wes.org/.

There are no specific course prerequisites. You are welcome to apply regardless of your undergraduate major. Applicants do need to demonstrate that they have a science background and can perform in a rigorous academic environment. Undergraduate MCAT and GPA scores do provide some evidence of a student's abilities. Please note that there is no application fee.

b. I already have a medical degree;can I enroll with Duke-NUS to do my postgraduate specialist training?

Although Duke-NUS is a graduate medical school (we only accept students with at least a Bachelor's Degree) our students will graduate with a MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree, a close equivalent of the MBBS. Thus, we do not accept students who already have an MBBS or MD degree into the Duke-NUS MD program.

Doctors (with an MBBS or MD) 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 .

Doctors (with an MBBS or MD) who wish to pursue postgraduate specialist training other than a PhD in Singapore may apply to the Division of Graduate Medical Studies (DGMS) at National University of Singapore. Complete information may be found here or you can e-mail gsmbox1@nus.edu.sg

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

We do not have any age limit restriction to apply to Duke-NUS. However, 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, the student must pursue further training to be licensed to practice medicine (similar to students graduating from the MBBS program at NUS or the MD program at Duke University in North Carolina). A minimum of 4-6 years post-MD can be expected to complete a postgraduate degree.

d. Does Duke-NUS accept any international students? Is there a specific quota for international students during each intake?

Duke-NUS welcomes qualified applicants of any nationality to apply for admission. There is no specific quota for international students during each intake. If you are studying in a US University, your Pre-Professional Health Advising Office may be able to assist you with your application. Please check with your Office for any application assistance deadlines if applicable.

e. Is it important to have an honors degree or a postgraduate degree to apply to Duke-NUS?

We are interested in candidates with strong academic records and demonstrated ability in critical thinking and creativity. An outstanding performance while obtaining an honors degree or postgraduate qualification would strongly support the scholarly abilities and research experiences of a candidate to Duke-NUS.

f. I do not have perfect transcripts. Would that badly affect my chances of getting into Duke-NUS?

We use various aspects of the student's application to assess their suitability to study at Duke-NUS, which includes their academic performance, MCAT scores, research experiences, extra-curricular experiences, and responses to the essay questions as well as their performance during the interviews. Each application is carefully reviewed by several administrative and faculty committees, examining all components of the student’s application.

g. What is the minimum GPA requirement in order to be eligible to apply to Duke-NUS?

Currently, we do not have a cut-off point for the applicant's GPA scores. However, clear evidence that the applicant can succeed in a rigorous academic environment is needed.

h. I am earning my bachelors degree outside of Singapore. Will you accept my transcript as evidence of my performance?

International students applying to Duke-NUS who are earning their bachelor’s degree outside of Singapore or the US must submit their official transcript to WES for conversion. Via WES our admissions department is able to compare student performance across a wide variety of international schools. For more information on the services and the fees involved, click here.

i. I don’t have a scientific research background. Can I still be admitted?

Not all successful candidates to our MD program have a research background before entering Duke-NUS. However, those with a passion toward a career as leaders in medicine often pursue internships, honors research projects or jobs in research to ensure there is a good fit before applying.

j. How many letters of recommendation are needed to support my MD or MD/PhD application?

You will need a minimum of 3 recommendation letters to support your MD application, of which at least one should be an academic reference. Your references should be carefully chosen to represent and further comment on various important aspects of your application.

If you are applying to our MD/PhD program, you must also have a recommendation from at least one research mentor or advisor.

Apart from your lecturers/tutors, you can also get letters from people who can testify to your character, scholarly abilities, research experiences and aptitude for medicine. Duke-NUS does not specify who should write recommendation letters for you.

Recommendation letters should be emailed or mailed directly to us by your referees. These should be originals and signed on official letterheads. Email recommendations should include a PDF of the recommendation, and the applicant’s name and program applying to in the subject line.

Email recommendations should be sent to: info@duke-nus.edu.sg.

Alternatively, your referees may mail their recommendation letters to:

Dr. Craig Stenberg, Associate Dean, Student Affairs & Admissions
C/O Ms Tammie Zhu, Assistant Manager
Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore
Office of Admissions – Program Name (eg: MD Program or MD/PhD Program)
8 College Road
Singapore 169857

Phone calls will only be made to the references if any clarification is needed.

k. What is the admission deadline for Duke-NUS?

Please be aware of our early acceptance option with a deadline of September 1, 2012. To understand more about our early acceptance requirements, click here. Our regular admissions deadline remains at December 1, 2012.

l. What exactly needs to be submitted to be considered for Early Acceptance?

Candidates must submit all of the following to be reviewed as an early acceptance candidate:

  • Complete the online application
  • Official transcripts from your Bachelor’s (and higher, if applicable) degree program. If you are still completing your degree, please send us a transcript to date. Applicants from universities outside Singapore and the US are required to submit a WES report as well
  • MCAT test results
  • 3 – 5 recommendation letters
  • TOEFL or IELTS results, if English was not the language of instruction during undergraduate or graduate studies
  • All information must be submitted no later than September 1.
  • A WES report-students who are applying to Duke-NUS from schools outside of Singapore or the US must submit their official transcript to WES for conversion. Via WES, our admissions department is able to compare student performance across a wide variety of international schools. For more information on the services and the fees involved go to the following link : http://www.wes.org/.

m. How many applicants will be accepted early?

The number of candidates accepted will be a function of the quality of the applicant pool. The only limit we face is the target size of our class.

n. What type of students will be accepted early?

Applicants with outstanding academic achievements, strong MCAT scores and research experience are more likely to be accepted early. While we do not maintain hard and fast academic criteria, applicants in the top 10% of their school or field will be considered most seriously.

o. What happens if I apply for early acceptance and am not awarded a spot in the class?

If you are not accepted early, we will immediately roll your application into the regular admissions pool, for consideration among the rest of our candidates. The fact that you applied early will be considered as a sign of your sincere interest in studying at Duke-NUS.

p. I am currently applying for an undergraduate degree program. Which degree course would give me a good start if I want to pursue my MD at Duke-NUS?

Duke-NUS is open to any student of outstanding caliber with any bachelor’s degree. Applicants should keep in mind that they need to score well on the MCAT, the medical school admissions test, to gain acceptance. The MCAT requires a proficiency in biological sciences that can be achieved via a degree program or self study. For more on the MCAT, click here.

q. What is the expected class size?

We are targeting to admit 56 students for the class starting in 2013. That number may fluctuate depending on the quality of the applicant pool and other considerations.

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

Unfortunately we are not able to offer any candidates deferred admission to Duke-NUS. If you are offered admission and choose not to accept, you will need to reapply to be considered for a future class.

s. If I am not accepted, may I apply again?

Yes. Unsuccessful candidates may re-apply, and should use that opportunity to highlight any new achievements that will strengthen their applications. Gaining relevant work or academic experience, submitting stronger MCAT scores, gaining clinical exposure and/or participating in scientific research are some of the ways applicants improve their applications. If appropriate, you may submit additional reference letter(s) to attest to any achievements you made since your original application.

2. MD Program

a. How is Duke-NUS different from other medical schools?

Duke-NUS offers an innovative and rigorous medical education program with a distinctive focus on research, aimed at building outstanding leaders in medical research, education, and patient care. As the first medical school in Southeast Asia to follow the American model of post-baccalaureate medical education - in which students begin their medical studies after earning a bachelor’s degree - Duke-NUS offers a unique opportunity for students with potential to excel in the field of medicine and biomedical sciences.

Our small class size means students have excellent exposure to an outstanding internationally renowned faculty and a curriculum that is very hands on. For more on our innovative curriculum, click here.

b. Can I pursue my Duke-NUS MD degree on a part time basis?

No. We do not offer a part time program at this time.

c. What degree will I receive at the end of the program?

Students who successfully complete the course of study and fulfill all requirements will be awarded a joint Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from Duke University and the National University of Singapore.

d. Can Duke-NUS students undergo the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) in Singapore?

The Clinical Skills (CS) section of the USMLE is not offered outside the US. However, our curriculum covers the information tested in the exam. Duke-NUS students will be allowed to take the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 of Clinical Knowledge (CK) as it is a computer-based exam.

Interested students may take the Step 2 CS exam through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). Details can be found here.

e. Is it possible to pursue the residency program in the US upon graduation?

Graduates from any medical school outside the US can apply for the US residency training through the ECFMG pathway. However, the top residency programs in the US may not take international medical students due to the differences in the educational programs and requirements followed in medical schools outside the US.

Duke-NUS graduates will be considered through the same criteria as other medical graduates from top US institutions as the Duke-NUS curriculum is based on the Duke curriculum and taught by US educators.

Duke-NUS students are expected to complete their residency training in Singapore. Under special circumstances, graduates may be able to apply for residencies in the US immediately after graduation and before completing the service obligation, pending approval by the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH). The MOH has indicated a willingness to consider requests on a case-by-case basis.

f. Where will med students do clerkships/rotations?

Our medical students will be trained primarily at medical facilities within Singapore Health Services (SingHealth), including Singapore General Hospital and KK Women's and Children's Hospital, both premier teaching hospitals in Singapore with outstanding patients and faculty. There could be opportunities for some students to be on student clerkships and rotations elsewhere.

g. Will graduates be able to practice in all 50 states of America?

Duke-NUS Medical School is considered an international medical school by the LCME, the accreditation body for medical schools in the US and Canada. The LCME currently does not accredit schools physically located outside the US and Canada. As with other international medical school graduates, Duke-NUS graduates are eligible to enter residency training in the United States subject to fulfilling requirements for international medical graduates.

All graduating students from Duke-NUS are required to complete a service commitment to Singapore. Most of our graduates will fulfill this service commitment while pursuing residency training in Singapore. Specific requests to defer the service commitment and pursue residency training in the United States directly after graduation must be approved by the Singapore Ministry of Health.

Because the Duke-NUS curriculum is well known by US residency program directors - unlike for many other international medical schools - we anticipate that our graduates will be competitive for the best training programs available. In the United States, the license to practice is determined on a state-by-state basis. Students successfully admitted to a US residency program are given a temporary license to practice in that state. After graduation from US residency training, they are generally eligible to apply for licensure in the other US states, but the exact requirements are determined by each state. Duke-NUS students who have graduated from residency training outside of the US may have additional training requirements to establish specialty board certification and license to practice. The specific requirements for physicians in this situation depend on the state and the type of practice that the physician intends to establish.

h. What is the difference between an MD and an MBBS?

An MBBS is a degree awarded to students who enter medical school after completing their secondary degree. After a 1 year Housemanship, most MBBS degree holders can be licensed in their respective country to practice family medicine. An MD degree is a Doctor of Medicine masters degree. It is awarded by US medical schools to students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in a field of their choice and then a masters program in medicine.

i. If the Duke-NUS program is not accredited by the SACS, is it a recognized authentic Duke MD program?

Graduates from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School receive a degree jointly conferred by Duke University and the National University of Singapore.  Duke-NUS is a Singapore based medical school which utilizes the Duke University curriculum for its students.  Medical degree graduates from Duke-NUS are eligible for post graduate training in Singapore and for subsequent licensure for practice by the Singapore Medical Council.
Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award undergraduate and graduate degrees. Duke-NUS is not accredited by the Commission on Colleges and the accreditation of Duke University does not extend to or include Duke-NUS or its students.

3. Service Commitment

a. Is the signing of the service commitment (bond) compulsory for all students?

Yes. As the published tuition fees have been heavily subsidized by the Government of Singapore to help defray the full cost of medical education, all graduates of the Duke-NUS MD or MD/PhD programs must serve the service commitment with the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH). Undertaking the service commitment requires all graduates to work for a certain number of years in Singapore in a public-sector setting, such as a hospital or research institution, upon their successful completion of the MD degree and their first year of residency training.

According to MOH guidelines for intakes from Academic Year 2007 onwards, the service commitment period is four years for Singapore citizens and five years for Singapore permanent residents and international students.

b. Where can the service commitment be served?

The service commitment must be fulfilled in public sector institutions in Singapore following medical registration (licensure). After graduation, students will spend their first year of residency, known as the internship year, in a public hospital to meet the requirements for full registration (licensure) to practice medicine in Singapore. Following licensure, Duke-NUS graduates will go on to complete their residencies and specialty training. The service commitment is fulfilled while graduates are completing their residency or other specialty training in Singapore after licensure.

Alternatively, following licensure, students interested in pursuing medical research may request a research position in an approved research setting in lieu of further residency training. The service commitment can be fulfilled while graduates are working in a MOH approved public sector research setting.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has established US style residencies in Singapore. Residency positions are assigned via a match. For more information on Singapore residency options, click here: http://www.physician.mohh.com.sg/residency/about_residency.html

c. I would like to go overseas for my postgraduate training. Will I be permitted to go for this training? How is this going to affect my service commitment period?

Duke-NUS graduates are expected to complete their residency training in Singapore. However, MOH will consider applications by students interested in pursuing postgraduate training overseas on a case by case basis. The period of postgraduate training overseas however, will not be counted toward fulfilling an existing service commitment.

d. Does my service commitment period start after I get my MD?

No, the service commitment period will only start upon satisfactory completion of your 1st year of residency when you are fully registered to practice medicine. You need to complete this year to obtain your license to practice medicine in Singapore.

e. What if I have to drop out of Duke-NUS for health or academic reasons? Do I still have to pay the liquidated damages even though the reasons for my dropping out are beyond my control?

MOH will give sympathetic consideration to students who are unable to complete their course due to circumstances beyond their control. In such cases, MOH is prepared to exercise flexibility with regard to the recovery of the liquidated damages.

f. Will the liquidated damages be pro-rated according to the remaining service commitment period not served?

Yes. The liquidated damages may be pro-rated as described by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in the service commitment agreement signed by all accepted students.

4. Tuition Fees & Financial Aid

a. How much are the annual tuition fees at Duke-NUS?

Duke-NUS reviews its tuition fees annually. For students admitted to the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program in Academic Year 2012-2013, the tuition fees are:

  • Singapore Citizen- S$150,000 for 4-year MD Program
  • Singapore PR- S$158,400 for 4-year MD Program
  • International Student- S$175,600 FOR 4-year MD Program

Students admitted to the Duke-NUS MD/PhD program will be offered full scholarships for the PhD component that includes tuition and a stipend. They will also receive support for the remaining tuition required to complete their MD training. Other scholarships and fellowships may be available for those wanting to do their PhDs at Duke University in the US or NUS in Singapore.

b. Does Duke-NUS provide financial aid to their students?

Yes. To assist students in financing their tuition and other fees, Duke-NUS offers a variety of scholarships, bursaries (grants) and loans. The amount of financial aid awarded depends upon the student's personal and familial financial circumstances. The amount awarded for recipients of most Duke-NUS merit scholarships varies depending upon the recipient's financial circumstances. These are detailed here.

The Tuition Fee Loan (TFL) scheme is available to all admitted students. Students may borrow up to 90% of what a candidate of Singaporean Citizenship would be paying in tuition fees each year (amount subject to change). Details on TFL are available at the NUS Registrar's Office website here.

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

Yes you can still apply to Duke-NUS. The Admissions Committee evaluates candidates based on merit, recommendations and interviews regardless of a candidate’s financial ability to support his/her studies at Duke-NUS during the selection process.

To ensure that financial difficulties or various other economic circumstances do not hinder students applying to Duke-NUS, various forms of financial support are available to our students. Through the auspices of the Government of Singapore and other philanthropic gifts, Duke-NUS offers generous scholarships, bursaries and other financial aid packages to our admitted students.

d. How much financial aid can I expect to receive?

Financial aid decisions are made by the Scholarships Selection Committee, and are dependent on each new student’s personal financial situation. Merit scholarships are offered regardless of financial need and are based on academic achievement. Bursaries are dependent on an individual applicant’s personal financial situation. Tuition fee loans are available to all students if they choose to take them, unless they have already been awarded scholarships which specifically cover tuition fee.


a. I’m interested in applying to Duke-NUS. When should I take the MCAT?

Due to limited seating, you are strongly advised to monitor the MCAT website regularly for notification of the opening of registration and to sit for the test early. When you register for the MCAT, you should indicate to AAMC to send your scores directly to Duke-NUS.

b. How do I prepare for the MCAT?

MCAT prep materials are available on-line at AAMC as well as in local libraries and bookstores. The Duke-NUS Admissions office also has some preparation materials available for borrowing.

All MCAT tests are computer-based tests and are conducted by Thomson Prometrix world-wide test centers. Students keen to know more about MCAT or apply for the test dates can visit the website.

c. What is the minimum MCAT score required to apply to Duke-NUS?

While we do not have any minimum cut-off point for the MCAT, a score of 30 or higher is viewed positively. Still, grades and scores are not the only criteria for acceptance. We look at a number of other factors to assess the motivation and suitability of a candidate for a career as a physician scientist or physician leader. In general, successful applicants with lower MCAT scores usually have a very impressive history of accomplishments and an academic background that convinces the Admissions Committee that the candidate has the necessary preparation and ability to do well in the rigorous curriculum at Duke-NUS. Applicants are allowed to submit the highest MCAT score attained if they have taken the MCAT more than once. For the 2013 intake we'll take MCAT scores from 2009 or later.

d. I have a good bachelor’s degree and experience in medical research. Do I still need to do MCAT?

The MCAT score is required for candidates who are applying to Duke-NUS and gives Duke-NUS a good indication of the applicant’s knowledge in Science areas as well as their ability to reason. It is a standardized test that demonstrates applicants’ understanding of verbal reasoning, physical sciences (chemistry and physics), biological sciences (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry) and writing skills.

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

No. At this time only MCAT results will be considered for admission to the Duke-NUS MD and MD/PhD programs.

6. MD/PhD Program

a. How can I apply to the MD/PhD program?

Applicants interested in the Duke-NUS MD/PhD program may apply directly into the combined program or may apply at selected times after being admitted and enrolling in the MD program. We anticipate that up to 20% of each Duke-NUS MD class may be offered places in the MD/PhD program each year.

Detailed information on the admission process to the MD/PhD program can be found on our website here.

Interested applicants already holding an MD or MBBS degree are not eligible for the Duke-NUS MD/PhD program. They may apply directly to the Duke-NUS PhD program in Integrated Biology and Medicine. More information on that program is available here.

b. How long is the program?

The total duration for the MD/PhD program is approximately 7 years, depending on the time taken to complete the PhD studies. Selected students will start the PhD program after the end of the 2nd year of the MD program. Upon finishing the PhD, the student will return to complete the final (4th) year of the MD program. The joint program generally shortens the time necessary to complete these programs independently by 1 year.

The Duke-NUS PhD component is offered in Integrated Biology and Medicine.

c. Are there any scholarships available for students in the MD/ PhD program? Will students be fully funded?

Students admitted to the Duke-NUS MD/PhD program will be offered full fellowships for the PhD component that includes tuition and a stipend. They will also receive support for the remaining tuition required to complete their MD training (in instances where students have been already awarded scholarships which cover the MD final year, additional support will not be given). Other scholarships and fellowships may be available for those wanting to do their PhDs at Duke University in the US or NUS in Singapore.

7. Application Status

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

Duke-NUS uses a 'rolling' admissions policy, which means we review completed applications as they come in. Thus, there is a slight advantage for those who can complete their application early.

A completed application includes the on-line application and its components, MCAT scores and all recommendations. Shortlisted candidates will then be invited for an interview.

Applicants will typically receive notification of their application status by April for the August intake, if not earlier. The notification will be sent to you by email as well as to your mailing address by post; hence applicants are advised to keep their mailing addresses updated on the online application.

Due to the Duke-NUS policy on admission, the admission office is not at liberty to reveal the statistics of our applications and interviews.

b. How will I know if I’m shortlisted for an interview?

We will review all applications and inform the short-listed candidates of the date and venue for interviews. The majority of our interviews take place on our campus, supplemented by selected dates in various locations in the US and elsewhere.

For gifts-in-kind (shares, planned gifts, IT and lab equipment etc) or other any enquiries, please contact Mr. Dickson Lim at 6516 6696 or dickson.lim@duke-nus.edu.sg to discuss your gift.