Pharmaceutical Science PhD Program Information

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Science is a research-oriented degree program. These programs generally draw from the areas of engineering, chemistry, biology, and economics to give students advanced training in drug development, policy, and treatment.

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Essential Information

A Ph.D. program takes at least four years of full-time study to complete, and additional time may be needed to complete the dissertation. Graduates are prepared for careers in teaching and private industry. Some Ph.D. programs in pharmaceutical science allow students to specialize in a concentration area that corresponds to a stage in the drug development process, such as discovery, optimization, assessment, or outcomes. Other concentration areas may include pharmaceutical policy, molecular pharmaceutics, medicinal chemistry, and pharmacotherapy.

Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmaceutical Science

A Bachelor of Science is the minimum requirement for admission into a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science program. Many pharmaceutical science departments do not require that the undergraduate degree be in a specific discipline; however, departments encourage applications from people with undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry, pharmacy, chemical engineering, and related areas. Applicants are also required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and they may be required to sit for an interview. The first two years of a pharmaceutical science Ph.D. program introduce students to advanced topics in pharmaceutical science. The second half of study is devoted to conducting research, completing a dissertation, and presenting the dissertation's defense. Courses may include:

  • Medicinal and protein chemistry
  • Forensic toxicology
  • Drug development and drug delivery concepts
  • Biotechnology
  • Formulation of proteins
  • Research and development statistics

Popular Career Options

Graduates with a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science have a wide range of job opportunities on the research and development side of the pharmaceutical industry, such as:

  • Medicinal chemist
  • Pharmaceutical chemist
  • University professor
  • Pharmacotherapist

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projected growth of employment for medical scientists is expected to be 8% from 2014-2024. Job growth in the pharmaceutical sciences has slowed since the 1980s primarily because of a smaller number of biotechnology companies and a reduced number of research grants. The BLS reports that medical scientists earned a median annual salary of $82,240 as of May 2015.

Students interested in a career in the medical sciences should look into Ph.D. programs in pharmaceutical science. These research-oriented degrees will provide students with a comprehensive foundation in different aspects of drug discovery, development and assessment.

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