Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacognosy Graduate Studies


Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacognosy Graduate Studies

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Faculty in the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy have a broad range of expertise, which is echoed by the diversity of study of the graduate students.

Graduate students receive instruction in individual and small group settings and perform original research to foster their technical abilities, increase the breadth and depth of their knowledge, and sharpen their critical thinking skills.

Students can specialize their research into one of the four tracks below:

  • Synthetic Medicinal Chemistry – students receive training and perform original research regarding the design, synthesis, and structural optimization of biologically active molecules and potential drug candidates.
  • Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy – students are trained to perform the isolation, characterization, biological evaluation and derivatization of molecules from natural sources such as plants and microorganisms.
  • Biochemistry – students conduct the detailed pharmacological evaluation of drugs and drug candidates of interest to faculty members in the division, including exploration of the mechanism(s) of action of these candidates.
  • Computational Medicinal Chemistry – students investigate new approaches for computer-aided drug design, including the development of new computational methods.

Each student may take a slightly different path to complete the minimum core courses by the end of the second year. Electives necessary for research specialization may be taken during years two and three. Additional courses depend on research interests, and are taken during the second and/or third years as well.


A general examination is required for admission to candidacy for the PhD degree. It consists of written and an oral components. The written portion of the general exam must be taken following the completion of the student's core coursework program, usually before the end of the third year of the program. The responsibility for the written exam rests with the student’s advisory committee. The written exam consists of an independent research proposal developed by the student. The proposal should not be in the dissertation research area of the student.

Download Written Candidacy Exam Form  

The oral portion of the general exam must be taken within four weeks of the approval of the written proposal by the advisory committee. The oral exam will consist of defense of the research proposal, written by the student as part of the general exam, as well as answering questions concerning the student's course work and research.


Doctoral students are required to present three formal seminars in order to complete the PhD.

Seminar Policies Document – MedChem 


The doctoral dissertation defines the PhD and demonstrates the ability of the graduate student to perform independent research and scholarly activities. The dissertation details the research carried out, describes the results obtained, reports the relationship of the research to previous work in the field, and discusses the significance of the research in the further understanding the field.


Select opportunities are available.

Check out the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy Awards/Fellowships list to see available fellowships.