Pharmaceutical scientists explore the development of drugs and research the effects, both positive and negative, to determine performance and effectiveness. Students interested in pharmaceutical science graduate programs can pursue a master's degree in pharmacology, toxicology or pharmaceutics and drug delivery systems. All three of these programs have significant research and lab requirements, and they often culminate in a final thesis. Common admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and an acceptable GRE score.
Master's programs typically take two years to complete. A thesis or research project is generally required by all programs.
Master's Degree in Pharmacology
A master's degree in straight pharmacology deals with the principals and mechanisms of drugs on biological systems. The degree program focuses on the interactions that occur in biochemical functions. Coursework, seminars and conferences make up the curriculum of the program. Students gain exposure to many schools of thought, which have led to, and continue leading to, the development of theories of drug interaction.
Prospective students of master's programs in pharmacology must meet the standards of the schools to which they apply. This often includes having undergone undergraduate study in biology, chemistry, pharmacy or chemical engineering. A minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score are often required at the graduate level as well.
Pharmacology coursework consists of three parts. The first is a pharmaceutical science core, the second a pharmacology specialization core and the third a general elective core. Students may also be required to take on a research project or thesis in order to graduate. Coursework may include the following:
- Drug design
- Research skills
- Ethics in biological research
- Human physiology
Master's Degree in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery Systems
The goal of a master's degree program in pharmaceutics and drug delivery systems is to help candidates better understand how chemical and physical properties of drugs and dosage affect performance in both healthy and diseased systems. This subject is important in that many new chemical entities are either too hydrophobic or hydrophilic. Programs concentrate in biopharmaceutics, polymeric dosage and drug metabolism.
As with most pharmaceutical science programs, the prerequisites include the GRE score, bachelor's degree in a related field and a minimum undergraduate GPA as required by the specific school to which the student is applying. More competitive pharmaceutical science programs may require applicants to write personal essays and even partake in face-to-face interviews.
Coursework focuses on pharmaceutical science and a drug delivery specialization. Coursework includes topics such as drug design, research skills, biomedical chemical analysis and the following:
- Physical pharmacy
- Drug metabolism
Master's Degree in Toxicology
Toxicology is the study of injurious chemicals on organisms. Toxicologists determine the hazards to human beings and animals from exposure to chemicals. They are responsible for setting limits of safety, identifying and measuring toxic chemicals by analysis, and recommending the safe use of chemicals.
Coursework focuses on cell biology, design and chemical exposure. Some courses include the following:
- Molecular cell biology
- Organ systems toxicology
- Biochemical toxicology
- Environmental toxicology
Popular Career Options
Careers in drug delivery systems are grounded in drug evaluation and university research; graduates may also work in pharmaceutical laboratories. Some common job titles for graduates of master's degree programs in pharmaceutics and drug delivery systems include the following:
- Drug evaluation expert
- Assistant professor
- Research assistant
Students of toxicology programs may build careers in several outfits. Specifically, they might become researchers or lab technicians. Some potential areas of employment include the following:
- Federal government
- State government
- Pharmaceutical industry
- Chemical industry
- Environmental consulting
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, pharmacists may expect 3% job growth from 2014-2024. These workers made the mean annual wage of $119,270 in 2015.
There are three different types of pharmaceutical science master's degree and each focus on different areas of the pharmaceutical field. The programs require students to do research and lab work in order to graduate and complete the final thesis.