Online graduate certificate programs in pharmaceutical science are rare; master's degree programs are somewhat more common. Applying to these programs typically requires a bachelor's degree in chemistry or a related science. Certificate programs take less than a year, while a master's degree program can take two years or more. Certificate programs may be available completely online with online simulated labs; however, hybrid programs are also available. Master's degree programs typically follow a hybrid format and may include a residency requirement, final project or thesis.
Graduate Certificate in Pharmaceutical Science
There are only a few online graduate certificate programs in pharmaceutical science available online, but those that are offered are largely composed of classes in medicine and science. Students in this program study pharmaceutical concepts, including device manufacturing and new drug creation. They acquire skills in drug analysis, and they learn how to use medicinal chemistry to test the purity and composition of chemical substances.
A bachelor's degree in a field of science, such as chemistry or biochemistry, is usually required for admission to these programs. Students are generally expected to have completed undergraduate semesters of advanced chemistry, organic chemistry and related labs.
Information and Requirements
This pharmaceutical sciences program usually takes less than a year to complete. Some programs are available entirely online -- using Internet-based learning programs that simulate labs -- and have no on-campus requirements. Others may require that students complete certain chemistry-based labs at a college or university nearby.
Students must have a working computer, printer and Internet access to complete an online program. Software programs such as RealPlayer, Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash and a word processing program are also required. When students log onto a school's Web-based application, they can follow video-based or real-time satellite lectures. There, they can also interact with classmates and professors and complete assignments, though exams must be proctored.
Common Pharmaceutical Science Courses
Many graduate certificate courses can be completed asynchronously -- meaning, at the student's own pace and on his or her own schedule. General education classes are usually not part of the curriculum for this program.
Basics of Medicinal Chemistry
Students taking this course discover the common actions and reactions between different drugs. They learn factors that contribute to these reactions and study how certain drugs affect the body.
In this course, students examine the basic synthesis of chemical structures and study the relationship between pharmacology and metabolism. They analyze topics about such drug categories as muscle relaxants, antidepressants, hypnotics and vitamins.
This course provides students with the opportunity to analyze common pharmaceutical compounds. It also familiarizes students with current issues and topics in drug analysis.
Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Science
The online pharmaceutical sciences master's degree program is intensive to the sciences and combines information in drug chemistry, medicine and science. Students study concepts in drug chemistry and metabolism so they know how different drugs and drug combinations can affect the human body. They acquire skills in analyzing drugs and become familiar with laws regarding drug testing and drug regulations.
To be eligible for this degree program, students must have at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in chemistry or a related field. There are only a few online master's degree programs available in pharmaceutical sciences.
Program Information and Requirements
This master's degree program takes about two years to complete. Although the majority of the program is available online, students must also complete a residency, in which they take the program's final. Students complete the online portion of the program by logging onto the school's Web-based application. There, they can interact with other students and professors, watch video lectures and complete assignments.
Students must have reliable Internet access and a working computer. They also may need to have such software programs as Java Runtime Environment, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and Windows Media Player.
Common Pharmaceutical Science Courses
Pharmaceutical science master's degree courses are offered asynchronously, so they have no teacher-assigned class times or due dates. As a result, work can be completed at a student's own pace.
Students taking this course study a variety of chemical reactions and ways they can produce more efficient cellular energy. The curriculum covers how each reaction affects biological, chemical and physical processes.
This course covers the side effects of drugs used on human and non-human species. Concepts discussed include drug actions and reactions and how drugs can be beneficial and reduce disease.
Dietary and Herbal Supplements
Students who complete this course become familiar with commonly used herbal and dietary supplements. They discuss their history and traditional uses, the proper dosage and adverse side effects.
Through this course, students learn to set up scientific data by using certain scientific control standards. They learn to set up a quality lab system and the key principles for testing products and chemical reactions while meeting federal guidelines.
With a graduate certificate in pharmaceutical science, students can pursue careers as chemists, biochemists, technicians or medical scientists. According to May 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chemical technicians made a median hourly salary of $21.47. For biological technicians, this figure was $20.02. The BLS projected job growth of 2% (slower than the average of all occupations) for chemical technicians and 5% (also about as fast as average) for biological technicians from 2014-2024.
With a master's degree in pharmaceutical science, students could work for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, creating and approving or disapproving new drugs. They could also find careers researching and developing drugs or in manufacturing and supplying products. Students can pursue careers as chemists, biochemists or medical scientists, working with drugs and developing new medicines.
According to the BLS, biochemists (together with biophysicists) made a median hourly wage of $39.50 as of May 2015, and chemists made $34.26 per hour. Medical scientists made a median wage of $39.54 per hour. The BLS projected slower-than-average job growth of 3% for chemists, average growth of 8% for biochemists and biophysicists and average growth of 8% for medical scientists from 2014-2024.
Continuing Education Information
Students who complete a graduate certificate can often transfer courses and credits to a full master's degree program. A master's degree in the field can lead to more career opportunities.
Students with a master's degree may wish to pursue in-depth study in pharmaceutical sciences with a doctoral degree in the field. These programs are usually offered on campus. To become a pharmacist, students must complete a doctoral degree program in pharmacy and become licensed. Some doctoral programs in pharmacy are available online or via distance learning.
Pharmaceutical programs can be found online as graduate certificate or master's degree programs. They can be completed fully online or as hybrid programs, and prepare students for a wide variety of fields. Graduates can expect to find work as chemists, medical scientists, biological technicians and more.