Pharmaceutical Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

A pharmaceutical degree provides advance study in the field of pharmaceutical design and development. Programs are available at both the graduate certificate and doctoral levels.

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Essential Information

The design and development of pharmaceutical products is a complex process requiring the collaborative work of scientists, regulatory agents, researchers and marketing representatives. For those interested in careers in pharmaceutical development, programs are available at the graduate certificate and Ph.D. levels. Graduate certificate programs are typically geared towards many types of professionals affiliated with the pharmaceutical industry, while doctoral programs tend to be more research-intensive, culminating in a dissertation.

A bachelor's degree, ideally in a scientific field, is typically required for admittance. Specializations within programs may include debug development and pharmacokinetics. Some online programs and courses can also be found.


Certificate in Pharmaceutical Development

A certificate program in pharmaceutical development provides students with a thorough exploration of pharmaceutical product development, including the regulations that govern the process. Coursework focuses on product research fundamentals, the challenges of clinical trials, compliance issues and life science management skills. Some programs allow students to choose a concentration or sub-specialty, like global biopharmaceuticals or drug development. Certificate programs in pharmaceutical development are intended for experienced science and business professionals interested in biopharmaceutical career opportunities.

Coursework consists of a series of required pharmaceutical courses along with elective classes that allow students to tailor their studies to their own interests. Listed below are some general course topics likely to be encountered:

  • Pharmaceutical product development
  • Product labeling and advertising
  • Quality control
  • Pharmacoeconomics
  • Ethics and research

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutics

Ph.D. programs in pharmaceutics are interdisciplinary research programs that prepare students for senior research positions, creating and designing new drugs, medicines and other pharmaceuticals. Students can choose a concentration for their research studies, selecting from fields like pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, product design and molecular pharmaceutics. A doctoral thesis, featuring original pharmaceutical research, is a universal degree requirement.

While admissions requirements vary from school to school, all programs require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree program in pharmacy or a related scientific field. Many programs require a formal interview with a faculty member as part of the admissions process.

While the majority of the coursework relates to a student's research concentration, there are also elective course requirements from related disciplines like engineering and economics. These electives emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the program and allow students to become familiar with the entire pharmaceutical development process, from a product's inception to its packaging and distribution. Common course topics include:

  • Ethical issues in clinical research
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Drug delivery and metabolism
  • Compliance and regulation
  • Product manufacturing

Popular Career Options for Pharmaceutical Graduate Certificate Program

Because this program is designed for working professionals, exact career options will depend on the work experience and career goals of each certificate candidate. Some general career options available to graduates are listed below:

  • Pharmaceutical executive
  • Clinical trial consultant
  • Biotechnology product salesperson

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of biochemists and biophysicists was expected to increase by 8% between the years of 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). This growth rate is faster than the average for all other industries, and job opportunities will be greatest for scientists who have postdoctoral experience and records of publications. The median annual salary for biochemists and biophysicists was $82,150 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

Graduate students pursuing pharmaceutical studies can find certificate and doctoral programs in the field. These programs go over many different aspects of drug development, training students for careers in various related fields such as biochemistry, biotechnology, pharmaceutics, and more.

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