Pharmacology programs aren't offered at the associate's degree level. It is possible to earn a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology, but these programs are typically offered in an on-campus format. Master of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology programs are available online. These online programs are available in a fully online format without any on-campus requirements.
Students who are looking for a fully online associate's degree program may consider an Associate in Science in Natural Sciences and Mathematics degree program. While rare, these programs can provide the educational foundation needed to transfer to bachelor's degree programs in the biological sciences, which may serve as preparation for graduate-level studies in pharmacology.
Bachelor of Science - Pharmacology
Pharmacology involves the study of how chemicals and drugs work with biological systems. Programs in the field are science-intensive and encompass pharmacology at the molecular and cellular levels. Classes are a mix of biology, chemistry, math and genetics. Some programs may focus on therapeutic principles more than others, but all students can expect a research-based curriculum. Chemical properties and biological effects of drugs are introduced at the bachelor's degree level. Candidates must generally have a high school background in chemistry, biology and physics, as well as an interest in a graduate education in pharmacology.
Requirements and Information
The 4-year program involves hands-on experience through laboratory work and requires on-campus attendance. Lab portions use molecular modeling software or animal remains to analyze the effects of drugs on biological systems, covering isolating receptors and binding sites. Cell culture techniques are learned in advanced pharmacology labs. In order to prepare students for graduate programs in pharmacology, teaching and writing components are also included.
Internships are frequently available through Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology programs through off-campus laboratories or agencies. Students gain research experience in the pharmacological industry by working under field supervisors.
Common Bachelor's-Level Pharmacology Courses
Prior to taking pharmacology courses, students often need to complete general education requirements in chemistry and math. Courses involve a combination of lectures and laboratory work.
Individuals study the history of pharmacology as a basic science. An overview of pharmacology's relation to other fields, including biochemistry and physiology, is provided.
Students learn about the inner workings of drug action, including distribution, absorption and elimination. Instructors introduce the drug receptor theory, as well as mechanisms for receptor signaling.
Pharmacology Lab Introduction
Students witness a demonstration on drug-receptor interaction and learn about pharmacokinetics. The curriculum encourages an in-tandem lecture component.
Master of Science - Pharmacology and Toxicology
Although rare, some graduate programs leading to a master's degree in pharmacology and toxicology are available online. Students learn about organ, cellular and molecular pharmacology. Individuals with bachelor's degrees in chemistry, biology or a related background are welcome to apply. An online master's program in pharmacology and toxicology may not have a thesis component, unlike many on-campus programs. Master's degree programs in pharmacology help pave the way to a doctoral degree in the subject, which is necessary to become a pharmacologist.
Requirements and Information
Classes for a master's degree in pharmacology and toxicology may be taken entirely online. Students satisfy the 30-31 credits by completing and submitting homework through the Internet. Online bulletin boards and web pages make course assignments and materials available. Some courses may require real-time group discussions, and students can access instructors and classmates via discussion forums, e-mail, telephone and online chat. Professors distribute exams and grades online.
Some schools have their own course management system through which to communicate and provide information. A reliable Internet connection and an e-mail account are necessary for all online programs, but a few courses may require additional hardware or software.
Common Master's-Level Pharmacology and Toxicology Courses
Reading is a major component of online courses. Hard copy textbooks are often required, and online and library research plays a considerable role.
Drug Addiction Pharmacology
Students examine drugs that are frequently abused and the mechanics of those specific drugs. Some of the drugs discussed in the course are cocaine, alcohol and opiates. The class explores pharmacodynamics and neurophysiology, in addition to pharmacokinetics and neuroanatomy.
Pharmacology of the Cardiovascular System
Individuals learn about the influence of drugs on cardiac and vascular cells. The course covers the biochemical and physiological processes for both deceased and normal cells.
The focus of this class is on drugs that are clinically useful for the central nervous system. The course explains the side effects, clinical use and action of the drugs. Antidepressants, hypnotics and antipsychotics are some of the types of drugs covered.
Career Information for Pharmacology Graduates
A bachelor's degree program in the field provides a solid foundation from which to pursue a graduate education in pharmacology. Graduates of a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology program are also prepared for professional and technical careers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Drug research and development jobs may be found through state, federal and private agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 5%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, for biological technicians from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).
Individuals holding a master's degree in pharmacology can find jobs in such fields as research and clinical pharmacology in a supportive capacity; however, employers tend to prefer hiring candidates with doctoral degrees. Research pharmacology jobs are typically in laboratories, companies and institutions and involve the development of new drugs or improvement of production methods and quality control. Individuals in clinical pharmacology often work in clinics, hospitals and pharmacies.
Continuing Education Information
In order to be a pharmacologist, one must have a Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacology. Pharmacologists are scientists who study drugs in order to prevent, treat and cure disease, and many pharmacology specializations involve testing drugs on people and laboratory animals. Individuals may specialize in an area of pharmacology, such as kinetics or toxicology. Additionally, some pharmacologists earn a Doctor of Medicine in order to pursue careers as physicians in clinical pharmacology. These degree programs are not available online.
Although students won't be able to find online associate's degree programs in pharmacology, distance learners may study the subject at the master's degree level, or they can earn an associate's degree in a related field. Another educational option is a bachelor's degree in pharmacology, but because these programs include a considerable amount of lab training, they can only be completed on campus.