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Clinical Pharmacology Training and Degree Program Information

Mar 31, 2021

Essential Information

Clinical pharmacology is the science of drug research. Practitioners examine how drugs work and look for ways to improve benefits and lessen side effects. Master's degrees in this field combine classes in human health, pharmacology, and mathematics with research experiences. Doctoral degrees expand upon this knowledge and expect students to conduct extensive research on a topic of their choosing.


Master's Degree in Clinical Pharmacology

Those who have completed a bachelor's degree in a related field may enter these 2-year programs that focus on research. Students gain a fundamental knowledge of data collection and analysis. Master's programs in clinical pharmacology typically prepare students for advanced graduate work in a Ph.D. program. Before applying to a master's program, students should know the school's GRE score requirements.

Master's programs in clinical pharmacology emphasize research, both in studying statistics and analyzing drug effects in patients. Academic focus is placed on monitoring pharmaceutical therapy and observing effects. In addition to the completion of a thesis project, coursework might include the following:

  • Fundamentals of biostatistics
  • Studies in public health
  • Overview of pharmacology
  • Drug research ethics and issues
  • Clinical trial practicum

Ph.D. in Clinical Pharmacology

A Ph.D. in Clinical Pharmacology generally takes 4 years of study beyond the master's level and involves implementation of clinical trials, lab work and seminar sessions. Strong analytical as well as effective communication skills are needed.

Admissions preference may be given to those who hold master's degrees related to pharmaceutical medicine. However, other master's degree students such as biochemistry, molecular biology and pharmaceutical sciences are considered. A dissertation is usually required and students can expect coursework focused on pharmaceutical studies in relation to human patients. Topics might include the following:

  • Analysis and theories of pharmacometrics
  • Clinical trials: Development and practice
  • Principles of biostatistics
  • Pharmacoepidemiology: Drug effects and outcomes
  • Contemporary issues related to drug therapy

Popular Career Options

A master's degree in clinical pharmacology could lead to an entry-level position in pharmacological research, such as employment as a clinical trials associate. However, to pursue a career as a clinical pharmacologist, a Ph.D. typically is needed. With a master's degree, graduates can apply directly to a Ph.D. in Clinical Pharmacology program, pursue a medical degree in conjunction with a Ph.D. in Clinical Pharmacology or apply for a fellowship leading to a Ph.D.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Clinical pharmacologists generally work as either academic, government or industry professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for medical scientists (which clinical pharmacologists are included in this category) are projected to rise 6% in the period 2019-2029. The mean annual salary for medical scientists was $98,770 in May 2019. Those working for the scientific research and development services earned the most at an average salary of $106,930 per year. Those employed by the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry bring home an average yearly salary of $115,900.

Continuing Education Information

Clinical pharmacologists must work alongside a licensed medical doctor in order to administer medication and perform procedures while conducting clinical trials. Some clinical pharmacologists decide to obtain their medical degree as well, giving them the independence to work without a medical doctor's assistance.

Both master's and doctoral programs in clinical pharmacology give students the opportunity to take study pharmaceuticals at a high level. They both incorporate advanced science and give students the opportunity to undertake independent research, but doctoral programs open up a wider range of career options.

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