Pharmaceutical Science PhD Program Information

Learn about the prerequisites for enrolling in a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science program. Find out about courses and potential research areas in this degree program.

Essential Information

The Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science is a research-oriented program that prepares graduates for careers in teaching and private industry. This Ph.D. program takes at least four years of full-time study to complete - additional time may be needed to complete the dissertation. Programs generally draw from areas in engineering, chemistry, biology and economics. Some Ph.D. programs in pharmaceutical science allow students to specialize in a concentration area that corresponds to a stage in the drug development process, such as discovery, optimization, assessment and outcomes. Other concentration areas may include pharmaceutical policy, molecular pharmaceutics, medicinal chemistry and pharmacotherapy.

Education Prerequisites

A Bachelor of Science is the minimum requirement for admission into a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science program. Many pharmaceutical science departments do not require that the undergraduate degree be in a specific discipline; however, departments encourage applicants to apply if their undergraduate degree is in biology, chemistry, pharmacy, chemical engineering or a related area. Applicants are also required to submit scores from the Graduate Records Examination (GRE), and may be required to sit for an interview.

Program Coursework

The first two years of a pharmaceutical science Ph.D. program introduces students to advanced topics in pharmaceutical science. The second half of study is devoted to research, completing a dissertation and presenting its defense. Courses may include:

  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Forensic toxicology
  • Protein chemistry
  • Introduction to pharmaceutical sciences
  • Drug development
  • Biotechnology
  • Drug delivery concepts
  • Formulation of proteins
  • Research and development statistics

Popular Career Options

Graduates with a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science have a wide range of job opportunities on the research and development side of the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Medicinal chemist
  • Pharmaceutical chemist
  • University professor
  • Pharmacotherapist

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth of employment for medical scientists is expected to be 36% from 2010-2020. This rate is much faster than average for all other occupations in the United States. Growth for jobs in the pharmaceutical sciences has slowed since the 1980s primarily because of fewer biotechnology companies being founded, and a reduced number of research grants being awarded. BLS reports that medical scientists earned a median annual salary of $76,980 as of May 2012.

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