Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP)

Updated: March 23, 2021
In this Article

    The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is an exciting graduate scholarship program. If you you’ve earned a relevant undergraduate degree like pre-med and qualify, you can apply for the HPSP program through the Army, Navy, and Air Force. This program pays for a medical education if you want to be a doctor, nurse, dentist, or pharmacist.

    Through the HPSP program, you get to attend any medical school you choose (you have to get accepted first). Your tuition is paid for by the U.S. Government, and you get a monthly stipend (income)! Medical training is the same as your civilian peers, but as an HPSP recipient, you have to go to a modified form of basic officer training. During your third and fourth year clinical years, you get the chance to rotate at military hospitals if you choose.

    What Is My Commitment For Taking An HPSP Scholarship?

    Since the U.S. military is paying for your med school, it’s only fair you have to pay it back—so to speak. You will pay it back through a 1 to 1 payback in military service. If you completed med school in four years, you are bound to be a military doctor for at least four years.

    What Will Med School Be Like?

    As an HPSP scholar, med school is not much different than your civilian peers. You take the same classes and don’t have to wear your uniform to class. You will have to attend officer training and take part in one 45-day training session each year you get scholarship funds. During training, you can still study for exams at your med school, do research, or perform clinical rotations at military treatment facilities. You will wear your uniform during training periods.

    What Kind Of Military Training Do I Have To Go Through?

    During your first or second year, you will complete a 2 to 14-week officer orientation program (depending on the military service). During training, you’ll learn about the customs and traditions of military life as you transition to the military. You attend this training if you have had no prior commissioned officer experience.

    What Does The Scholarship Cover?

    Once you are accepted for the HPSP, the government will pay your tuition, provide a monthly living stipend ($2,400 per month) and reimburse you for required books, equipment, and supplies. Your stipend will be paid to you through direct deposit twice a month. As you buy needed items for school, keep track so you can submit expense reports. You will spend 45 days per year of med school training with the military. During those periods, you’ll get the same pay and benefits as an active-duty Second Lieutenant in the Army and Air Force or an Ensign in the Navy. You also get a $20,000 signing bonus for joining the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

    What Will My Pay Be After Graduation?

    Once you graduate, you will begin your career as an O-3. Your base pay, housing allowance, and food allowance will be around $100,000 (based on the 2020 pay chart).

    What Does It Take To Get An HSPS Scholarship?

    General Requirements

    You must be at least 18 years old at the time of enrollment but no older than 36 as of June 30th of your enrollment year. You must be a U.S. citizen and meet the physical, medical, and security requirements for becoming a commissioned officer in the military. If you are already in the military, you must have approval from your military department as part of your application. This also applies if you are in one of the service academies, ROTC, or a member of one of the Reserve Components.

    Test Requirements

    You must take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and have a score that is not more than three years old. Your MCATs are just one of the gauges the admissions office uses to assess your applications, but a good score is important. The average MCAT for those accepted is 509. MCAT scores below 496 are not competitive.

    Academic Requirements

    You must have been awarded a baccalaureate degree from an accredited academic institution in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or Canada by June 1st of the year you want to start.

    How Do I Apply For An HPSP Scholarship?

    • Be eligible to join the military as outlined above.
    • Gather all required documents (transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores)
    • Start applying at the same time you apply to medical schools. Each service typically takes only 300 students per year, and the acceptance process takes about three months.
    • Get in touch with a recruiter for each service you want to join. You can apply to just one or to all three — Army, Navy, and Air Force.
    • Recruiters will schedule an initial interview with you.
    • Fill out an application for each service you are interested in.
    • You will take a physical examination at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
    • Once you are accepted to an accredited medical degree program, your recruiter will complete your application.
    • A selection board will evaluate your application.
    • If more than one service accepts you, you can choose that one you want to join.

    Contact a Recruiter

    If you have more questions or need info, the best place to start is a recruiter. It is smart to talk to recruiters from several services so you know all of your options. They can answer all of your questions and guide you through the application process.

    Service Website Phone Contact
    Army 1-888-710-ARMY (1-888-710-2769) Contact
    Navy 1-800-USA-NAVY (1-800-818-6289) Contact
    Air Force 1-800-423-USAF (1-800-423-8723) Contact
    Army National Guard 800-GO-GUARD (1-800-464-8273) Contact
    Army Reserve 1-888-710-ARMY (1-888-710-2769) Contact
    Navy Reserve 1-800-USA-NAVY (1-800-818-6289) Contact
    Air National Guard 1-800-958-3923 Email
    Air Force Reserve 1-800-257-1212 Contact
    Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences 301-295-3101 Email

    Are There Other Ways To Become A Military Doctor?

    Yes. You can apply for med school through the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). At USUHS, you will attend med school in Annapolis, Maryland, and be commissioned as an officer in the Armed Forces from the beginning. You will wear your uniform to class and be immersed in military life during your time at USUHS.

    HPSP vs. USUHS

    Here is a side-by-side comparison between the two paths to becoming a military doctor.

    Application Process Apply through AMCAS using School Code 821. Choose branch of service if accepted to USU. Apply through service-specific recruiter.
    Medical School Attend USUHS. Attend any med school accepted to.
    Tuition Tuition-free until graduation or disenrollment. Full tuition is paid for a maximum of 4 years.
    Books/instruments They are offered free to students. Reimbursed for school-required fees and expenses; rental fees for microscopes.
    Computers Computer resources available at school. Students may buy their own laptop. Computer resources available at school. Students may buy their own laptop.
    Pay Full O-1 pay, BAH and BAS. For 2020 is $5,841.78 per month without dependents. Over $2,300 stipend per month for 10½ months; 45 days active duty pay as an O-1 + BAH and BAS. One-time signing bonus of $20,000.
    Service Obligation 7 years Active Duty after graduation. Students will pay it back through a 1 to 1 payback in military service for every year of scholarship, up to 4 years.
    Benefits Active Duty benefits for self and dependents; free health care available on campus; commissary and base exchange privileges. Active Duty benefits only when on 45 days of active duty during training; limited base exchange and commissary privileges when not on active duty (with I.D. card); not eligible for health benefits for self and family when not in training.
    Military Training Attend officer training before enrollment. Attend officer training during first or second year.
    Contacts [email protected] (301)295-3101 (800)772-1743 Contact a local recruiter.

    Source: Uniformed Services University “What You Need to Know”

    If you’re still not sure if being a military doctor is right for you, we’ll leave you with the “Top 7 Reasons for Applying for an HPSP Scholarship!”

    • You get full tuition at any fully accredited U.S. medical school or osteopathic school
    • You get a monthly stipend of over $2,300; plus serve on active duty for 45 days per year
    • You get to serve your country
    • You earn a four-year M.D. degree
    • You have unlimited career potential
    • You will be an officer in the Air Force, Army, or Navy
    • You can choose and apply for military or civilian residencies (based on the needs of the service)


    HPSP is a great way to both become a doctor and serve your country as a member of the Armed Forces. If you want to find out more, contact your local military recruiter.

    About The AuthorJim spent 22 years on active duty, climbing the ranks from Airman Basic to a decorated Air Force Major. Stationed all over the world, he held many high-level posts, including Chief of Foreign Military Sales at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jim earned his Ph.D. through the Montgomery Era GI Bill and spent 13 years teaching African Studies in Pennsylvania. Jim is also an award-winning travel writer.

    Written by Team