PhD Pharmaceutical Science Vs. PharmD

Jun 04, 2019

Although a PhD in Pharmaceutical Science and a PharmD may include similar coursework, each program leads to different career outcomes. Here we discuss some of the graduation and admission requirements for each program, as well as common careers.

Students interested in the field of pharmaceutical science should consider their career goals when deciding between a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree program. The PhD tends to lead to more research-oriented careers in the field, while the PharmD program usually prepares graduates for a career as a pharmacist. Explore some of the other similarities and differences between the programs here.

Comparing a PhD in Pharmaceutical Science to a PharmD

Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmaceutical Science

PhD in Pharmaceutical Science degree programs are usually research-based programs that provide a wide range of research areas or tracks within the field, such as drug discovery, cancer biology, translational therapeutics, pharmacometrics, and pharmaceutical outcomes and policy. Students must complete comprehensive exams and a dissertation, and some programs may have additional requirements, such as seminars, journal clubs, and/or laboratory rotations. These programs may require a minimum of 44 credits, but take at least 4 years or more to complete, based on the time needed for dissertation work. Coursework is usually customizable to meet students' interests and needs, and may include topics in drug development, ethics, biostatistics, pharmacological methods, cellular regulations, toxicology, and drug delivery. Graduates may work as pharmaceutical scientists and researchers in government agencies, academia, the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, biotechnology companies, and more.

Doctor of Pharmacy

PharmD degree programs are full-time, professional programs that prepare students for their pharmacy licensing exam. Students can complete these programs in 4 years and may be able to choose from additional areas of concentration, like education, research, pharmacy entrepreneurship, public and international health, pharmaceutical industry, or health systems and care management. These programs may require as much as 148 credits and usually include hands-on learning through rotations during the last year or so of the program in a variety of settings, such as hospitals and pharmacies. Students may also be required to complete a capstone course, and other coursework may discuss topics in dosage, pharmacotherapy, drug delivery, pharmaceutical calculations, medicinal chemistry, biological systems, and pharmacogenetics. Graduates with their PharmD typically work as registered pharmacists, but can also pursue various careers as educators, advocates, scientists, and more.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to both a PhD in Pharmaceutical Science and a PharmD program need to hold at least a bachelor's degree, but some programs may prefer applicants with a degree in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmaceutical science, or other related areas, and/or a master's degree. Many of these degree programs also require students to meet a minimum GPA requirement. Some differences arise as PhD programs typically require the GRE exam, while PharmD programs may require the PCAT and/or the completion of pre-pharmacy coursework, such as chemistry, calculus, statistics, microbiology, physiology, and biochemistry, prior to admission. Both programs commonly require applicants to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, essay responses, and/or resume with their application. Some programs may also require an interview process.

A PhD in Pharmaceutical Science may take more than 4 years to complete and requires a dissertation, while a PharmD is a 4-year program and includes experiential learning. Both programs may offer additional areas of concentration to meet students' interests.

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