Pharmacology PhD Programs: Degree Overviews

Oct 26, 2019

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in pharmacology cover principles and methods of the specialty, along with other related sciences. Get program details, see common coursework and explore employment options.

Essential Information

Pharmacology Ph.D. programs focus on scientific methods, principles and research in pharmacology, and how to apply these skills to forming hypotheses, research and development. Schools might offer specific tracks emphasizing biological or chemical science, and programs are typically 4-5 years in length and may require students to teach and/or pass a qualifying exam to graduate.

Some schools offer advanced standing admittance options requiring a formal review of previous coursework in specific subject areas like math, chemistry and biological sciences. In general, applicants will need a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field, letters of reference and GRE scores. Programs may also require a formal interview, a statement of goals and a resume.

Ph.D. in Pharmacology

Pharmacology Ph.D. programs typically include interdepartmental science training and research, commonly in a Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (PSTP). Drug interaction, design, toxicity, pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics and structure are also heavily emphasized. The programs include laboratory research and scientific presentations. Ph.D. level coursework in pharmacology often centers around related science and math studies; specific skills in pharmacological science are also featured. Advanced standing status includes a possible waiver of a limited amount of required credits. Some classes include:

  • Cellular biology and pharmacology
  • Biomedical science and bioregulation
  • Integrative physiology
  • Molecular research
  • Experimental and autonomic pharmacology
  • Statistics in pharmacology

Employment Outlook

Medical scientists, including pharmacologists, earned a median annual wage of $84,810 in May of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At that time, the BLS found that some of the industries providing the highest levels of employment for medical scientists included scientific research and development services, colleges, universities, professional schools, hospitals, and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing (

Continuing Education

The BLS states that medical scientists who hold both a medical degree (M.D.) and a Ph.D. will have the best opportunity. An M.D. is particularly applicable for clinical work. Some schools may offer the opportunity to earn them together. A specific discipline such as biology, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, pharmacy or chemistry may be required. Time spent working in a lab under the direction of a senior researcher is another post-doctoral trend for medical scientists, according to the BLS.

Students interested in research and development in the field of pharmacology can earn a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. Graduates can work as medical scientists, researchers and more, but may need to hold a medical degree in addition to their Ph.D.

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