Pharmacology Graduate Studies


Pharmacology Graduate Studies

Main Content

A PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences with an emphasis in Pharmacology immerses a student in discovering the mechanisms of drug action, using drugs as tools to explore the workings of the body, and studying disease models to find new drug targets.

The program of study includes graduate level courses in pharmacology, physiology, biochemistry, and statistics.

Students may also take elective courses that relate to the chosen area of research. Specific research training occurs through an intensive laboratory-based experience that is ultimately documented in a dissertation.

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.

Career options include positions in the pharmaceutical industry, academia, and government regulatory agencies, as illustrated by our alumni.

A minimum of 80 semester hour credits is required for the PhD degree. These credits will be obtained through successful completion of required courses, electives and research credit. In the course of the graduate program training, students will build a strong foundation in principles and  mechanisms of drug action as they relate to biochemical, molecular, cellular and physiological processes.


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.). Biochemistry or equivalent coursework is normally a prerequisite for admission.


Required of all students:

  • PHARMACY 8730, Contemporary Pharmacology (Autumn and Spring throughout the program), 1 semester hour
  • PHARMACY 8008 Pharmaceutical Sciences Research and Communication (Autumn), 1 semester hour
  • PHARMACY 8005, Fundamentals of Drug Disposition (Autumn), 3 semester hours
  • BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY and PHARMACOLOGY 5600, Introduction to General Pharmacology, (Autumn), 3 semester hours
  • STATISTICS, such as PUBHBIO 6210, Design and Analysis of Studies in the Health Sciences I (Autumn or Spring), or an equivalent course, 3 semester hours
  • PHARMACY 8520, Research Ethics (Summer), 1 semester hour
  • PHARMACY 8700, Fundamentals of Drug Action (Theoretical and Experimental Pharmacology), (Spring) 2 semester hours
  • PHARMACY 8750, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology I (Autumn), 2 semester hours
  • PHARMACY 8760, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology II (Spring), 2 semester hours
  • PHARMACY 8885.01 or .02, Seminar in Pharmacology, Participation or Presentation, (Autumn, Spring, Summer), 0.5-1 semester hour


Electives may be included during the student’s graduate studies.

Examples of Electives:

  • Fundamentals of Oncology (PATHOL 6640; 4 semester hours)
  • Neurobiology of Addiction (PHR 7140; 2 semester hours)
  • Drug Discovery and Drug Design (PHR 7350; 2 semester hours)
  • CNS Drug Discovery (PHR 7180; 1 semester hour)
  • Principles of Safety Pharmacology (PHR 7580; 3 semester hours)
  • Organ System Toxicology (PHR 7582; 3 semester hours)
  • Chemotherapy of Infectious Diseases (PHR 8370; 2 semester hours)
  • Grant Writing (BSGP 7070; 2 semester hours)
  • Pharmacometrics (PHR 8025; 3 semester hours)
  • Advanced Drug Delivery Systems (PHR 8070; 2 semester hours)
  • Biomedicinal Chemistry for Graduate Students (PHR 8320)

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 16 credits each Autumn and Spring semester and four credits each Summer semester.

Graduate Fellows are required to enroll for a minimum of 12 and no more than 16 credits each Autumn and Spring semester and four credits Summer semester. Prior to passing the candidacy exam, students typically enroll for 10-14 credits in Autumn and Spring, and four credits in Summer, combining required courses, variable credits of Individual Study in the Pharmaceutical Sciences (PHR 8993) or Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences (PHR 8999), and approved elective courses.

After passing the candidacy exam, full‐time students enroll for three credits each Autumn, Spring and Summer semester, using credits from Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences (PHR8999), Contemporary Pharmacology (PHR 8730) and Seminar (PHR 8885 and 8880) as required.