Pharmaceutics Graduate Studies


Pharmaceutics Graduate Studies

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A PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences with an emphasis in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry is available for students interested in study and research in topics at the forefront of drug delivery and drug disposition.

The program of study includes graduate level courses in advanced pharmacy topics, biological sciences, chemistry and statistics. Students may also take elective courses that relate to the chosen area of research.

After approximately two years of coursework and research, students complete a written and oral doctoral candidacy exam. After successful completion of the candidacy exam, students perform thesis-based research for the remainder of their tenure, followed by completion of a written thesis and oral defense. Details of the program may be found in the college's Graduate Handbook. Flexibility in the program allows students to prepare for a variety of careers as illustrated by the outstanding achievements of our alumni. 


While there are no specific required course prerequisites for admission to the Program, admitted applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s degree program, and typically this will have been within a scientific discipline (e.g. pharmacy, pharmaceutics, pharmacology, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, engineering, etc.). A majority of admitted applicants also have Master’s degrees in a scientific discipline.


Required of all students:

  •  Fundamentals of Drug Disposition (PHR 8005, new course offered autumn semester each year, 3 credits)
  • Theoretical and Experimental Pharmacology (PHR 8700, spring semester every year, 2 credits)
  • Biostatistics (e.g. STAT 5301, MOLGEN 5650 or similar, 2 credits minimum)
  • Student Seminar (either 8880.01 or 8880.02). Enrollment in Pharmacy 8880.01 (student presentation, 0.5 credits) is required one semester per academic year throughout the program of study beginning in year 2; enrollment in Pharmacy 8880.02 (student participation, 0.5 credits) is required for all other semesters except summer term
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences Research and Communication (PHR 8008, 1 credit), new course offered every autumn semester, is required for first-year students in the program. This course will focus on experimental design and philosophy, how to read and critique manuscripts, and how to write manuscripts
  • Research Ethics (PHR 8520; 1 credit)

A minimum of three graduate level courses, at least two of these from the College of Pharmacy, are required as electives for each student. Any graduate level course relevant to the student’s research focus area may be acceptable as an elective. However, the student must obtain the advisor’s approval for all elective courses that are taken to ensure both the student and advisor are in agreement about the coursework relevant to the student’s training.

Students should confer with their advisors to evaluate prior coursework relative to the student’s focus area of research and determine if there are any gaps in basic knowledge that could be filled with courses inside or outside the College of Pharmacy. A list of suggested elective courses can be found in the Graduate Handbook. 


Prior to passing the candidacy exam, full‐time students supported as Graduate Teaching Associates and Graduate Research Associates are required by the college to enroll for a minimum of eight and no more than 18 credits per semester; Graduate Fellows are required to enroll for a minimum of 12 and no more than 18 credits per semester (please note these totals do include research credits, PHR 8993 and PHR 8999).

Prior to passing the candidacy exam, students typically enroll for 12 to 18 total credits per autumn and spring semesters using the variable unit Pre-Candidacy Research credit (PHR 8993) to make up the difference between credits obtained for required/elective courses and the remainder of the course credits. After passing the candidacy exam, all full‐time students should enroll in three credits per semester, and this will typically be done using the Post-candidacy Research credit (PHR 8999).


The purpose of the candidacy examination is to determine whether graduate students have achieved the competency level and capacity to carry out pharmaceutical research at the doctoral level. The exam tests for a broad knowledge base in the area of pharmaceutics and the capability for critical thinking about pharmaceutical problems. This includes the ability of the student to analyze experimental data, to form hypotheses and design experiments to test them, and to critically review the pharmaceutical literature. The candidacy exam generally does not test recall of specific information presented in course work, although students are presumed to have mastered knowledge and concepts presented in courses.

The candidacy examination must be completed by the end of the second year of full‐time study. The candidacy examination is composed of a written part and an oral part. The written part must be passed before the oral part can be taken. Both parts of the candidacy examination will be conducted by the student's Candidacy Examination Committee. Students failing to complete the candidacy exam by the end of their second year will receive an unsatisfactory (“U”) grade for their research credit in the last semester of their second year (typically this will be the summer semester). 

  1. Students are expected to schedule the candidacy examination prior to the end of their second year within the program. The candidacy examination should be completed by the end of the second year of study.
  2. Students are expected to make progress on their dissertation research. Evidence of such progress includes publication of papers and abstracts, written research reports, and presentations at local, regional and national scientific meetings. Students are required to publish at least one first-author research (non-review) publication prior to graduation.
  3. Students are expected to complete all requirements for the PhD degree within 15 semesters.
  4. Students not making normal progress, determined during the annual review process, will be considered by division faculty at a faculty meeting for reassessment of status in the graduate program. Possible changes in status include enrollment in the MS degree program and conclusion of graduate studies with a MS with or without Thesis Curriculum and/or discontinuation of enrollment. If the student is supported by division funds (GTA or Fellowship), determination will be made of whether support will be continued.