Pharmacology, PhD

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Field of Study: Pharmacology

Program Overview

Students seeking a PhD degree in Pharmacology are admitted into the Department of Pharmacology through the administrative structure of Biomedical Sciences Training Program which provides an introduction to many related training areas within the biomedical field during the first year.  PhD applicants may indicate Pharmacology as their "primary program of interest" (PPI) during the application process. Alternatively, admission may be through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).

The PhD program is divided into three phases.  The first phase allows students to follow an integrated first-year sequence of course work that involves a core curriculum in cell and molecular biology.  In addition, the first year includes three research rotations that allow the students to sample areas of research and become familiar with faculty members and their laboratories.  Selection of a specific training program and thesis advisor is made before the end of the first year.  The second phase involves a two-part core course in the fundamentals of pharmacology, oral presentations, and laboratory experience, which is concluded with a comprehensive written exam designed to challenge students to apply key concepts in new contexts.  Successful completion of this phase leads to admission to PhD candidacy.

After advancing to PhD candidacy, students enter one of four Research Interest Groups according to the interest of the student, the mentor, and the anticipated nature of the thesis project.  The four interest Groups are:  Cancer Therapeutics, Membrane & Structural Biology and Pharmacology, Molecular Pharmacology and Cellular Regulation, and Translational Therapeutics.

Upon completion of coursework requirements (54 total credits, see below), the PhD degree is awarded to students who also complete and defend a research project leading to two original and meritorious scientific contributions that are submitted for publication to leading journals in the field of study; at least one manuscript must be accepted for publication before scheduling the PhD thesis defense. 


Students are admitted to this PhD program through the Biomedical Sciences Training Program (BSTP) or the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).

Biomedical Sciences Training Program (BSTP)

The BSTP offers a common entry point to most of the School of Medicine's biomedical PhD programs. BSTP students can choose among research mentors in many different PhD programs in the School of Medicine.

Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

Students in the MSTP earn the dual MD/PhD degree. MSTP students also have the choice of mentors in many different PhD programs. The admission requirements of those programs can be viewed on their pages in the Bulletin. Program requirements for the dual can be found on the Medical Scientist Training Program, PhD/Medicine, MD program page.

PhD Policies

For PhD policies and procedures, please review the School of Graduate Studies section of the General Bulletin.