As one of the most comprehensive scholarships available in the healthcare field, the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) can go a long way in helping pay for an advanced medical degree for current and future medical students.
If you are in the HPSP, your medical school experience will not be different from your civilian peers, but you will have unique military electives available to you. This includes specialized training that will prepare you to become an officer in the U.S. Military.
In addition, you will take the same classes as your peers, you will not need to wear a uniform to class and you will not be pulled away from school or studies for deployments.
The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) offers two-, three- and four-year military scholarships that can help cover civilian medical school tuition, pay for fee, and provide a monthly living stipend. The length of these scholarships can vary by Service branch. Compensation also includes a signing bonus under certain conditions.
This scholarship is offered by the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the benefits are the same across all three Services. For those who hope to apply to HPSP, selection boards tend to look at all aspects of a person's application — leadership, extracurricular activities, fitness, grades and scores — so they can determine who will succeed in both medical school and the Military.
Tuition + Pay
As part of the HPSP, the Military will pay your tuition, provide a living stipend and reimburse you for required books, equipment and supplies. Once you are accepted for the HPSP, your Service branch will contact your medical school and start paying your tuition. Upon your benefit start date, you will begin accruing your stipend, which is paid via direct deposit on the first and 15th of each month. As you purchase items for school, keep good records so you can submit expense reports.
During your 45-day annual training period, you receive the same active-duty pay and benefits as a second lieutenant in the Army and Air Force, or an ensign in the Navy.
Specialized Officer Training
The main difference between you and your peers is that you will need to attend officer training for your specific Service, and you should participate in one annual training period per year of scholarship that you receive. As part of these 45-day periods, you may participate in research rotations or perform clinical rotations at military hospitals. During your officer training and annual training periods, you will wear a uniform.
If you are training in a military medical facility or at Commissioned Officer Training (COT), the administrative staff for the scholarship program will stay in touch with you and keep you informed about impending deadlines and requirements.
- Determine if you are eligible to apply.
- Begin gathering transcripts, letters of recommendation and test scores.
- Start applying at the same time you apply to medical schools. You could wait to apply, but you may wind up competing with more people for fewer slots, and each Service branch takes only about 300 students per year. Keep in mind that the acceptance process generally takes about three months.
- Contact a recruiter for each Service that interests you. You can apply solely to the Services that interest you, or you can apply to all three — Army, Navy or Air Force. Learn more about the different Military Services.
- Your recruiter will schedule a preliminary interview.
- Fill out a separate application for each Service that interests you.
- Your recruiter will schedule a physical examination for you at a Military Entrance Processing Station.
- Once you are accepted to an accredited allopathic or osteopathic medical school, your recruiter or recruiters will complete your application.
- A selection board will evaluate your application packet.
- If you are accepted by more than one Service, you can decide which you prefer.
Note: If you are an active-duty commissioned service member or in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) or a Service academy, your application process will be the same as for civilians, except you will need to request a contingent release from active duty to apply to the HPSP from your Service branch. ROTC also requires an education delay form. If you are an active-duty enlisted service member or officer, you will also need a Letter of Approval from your commander. Finally, if you are in the Reserve, you will need to request permission from your commanding officer.
Interview Process + Tips
It is important that applicants consider, and can clearly articulate, their genuine motivation to embark on a career in military medicine. Applicants should also understand what it means to not only be a physician but also a commissioned officer in the Military. Be aware and able to communicate core strengths, weaknesses, and willingness to work in teams. Dress professionally even if the call is a virtual/video one, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your interviewer — you also want to learn about their experiences in the Military as well as talk about your future career as a military physician.
In some instances, after at least one year of post-graduate training and obtaining your medical license, rather than going directly into a residency, you can fulfill your service commitment as a general medical officer (GMO). This is similar to being a general medical practitioner, except you are attached to a specific unit, air wing, ship or submarine.
See Our Medical School Timeline
Understanding the Role of a GMO