Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The discipline of pharmacology explores the mechanisms by which drugs cause biological effects.  In the broadest sense, pharmacology is the study of how chemical agents, both natural and synthetic (i.e., drugs) affect biological systems. Research of the member of the Pharmacology track (currently 40 investigators) focuses in the areas of Neuropharmacology, Aging and Neurodegeneration, Autonomic and Endocrine Homeostasis, Pain Disorders, and Cancer Biology.  All these areas are explored with an orientation towards drug development.  A wide array of state-of-the-art methodologies including molecular, electrophysiological, neurochemical, genetics, imaging and behavioral techniques are employed.  Pharmacology is often described as a bridge science because it incorporates knowledge and skills from a number of basic science disciplines, including physiology, biochemistry and cell and molecular biology.  The interdisciplinary nature of the field offers pharmacologists a variety of research opportunities not found in other fields of scientific inquiry.  It is this flexibility as well as the potential for the practical application of research (“translational research”) that attracts people into becoming pharmacologists. 

Pharmacology Admissions Requirements

Applicants are required to have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0.  Applicants should have received credit for courses taken in:

  • Biology1 2 yrs. as required for science majors
  • Chemistry1 1 yr. general chemistry and organic chemistry
  • Physics 1 yr.
  • Mathematics minimum of 1 semester of calculus
1

courses should include laboratory experience


All applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The GRE must be taken within the last 5 years and the TOEFL within the last 2 years. There is no minimum score required for the GRE.

In addition to the GRE, international applicants are also required to take one of two English proficiency tests: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS: Academic module only). The minimum required scores for the TOEFL are 560 for the paper test and 68 for the internet test. The minimum score on the academic IELTS is 6.5.

Three letters of recommendation are required. The applicant must submit 3 essays stating the reasons for your interest in the program, a description of your professional goals and an outline of your undergraduate, industrial or summer research. On campus recruitment interviews are conducted during February and March. Phone interviews for international application occur in January and February.

The admission committee makes its decision based on the candidate’s research experience, grade point average, personal statement, GRE score, interviews, letters of recommendations, and how the candidate matches up against other interested applicants.

Pharmacology Degree Requirements

A minimum of 72 credit hours and a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 is required for the Ph.D. degree. In addition, all doctoral candidates must register for the PHAR 7099 Dissertation for at least two semesters in order to graduate; only one of the terms may be a summer session. The student is required to demonstrate intellectual command of the subject area of the graduate program and capability to carry out independent and original investigation in the area. The student must successfully defend a dissertation and be recommended by their program COGS for approval of their degree to the Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Sample 5-year plan of study for Ph.D. (Neuroscience Track)1

First Year
FallCredit Hours
IBMS 5000Fundamentals Of Biomedical Sciences (Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences) 8
IBMS 5008Lab Rotations (Lab Rotations) 2
Spring
INTD 5040
  & PHYL 5041
Fundamentals Of Neuroscience1: Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Neuroscience 3
Second Track course elective (Principles of Pharmacology, Cell Signaling, Aging, Genetics, etc.)  3
INTD 6002Ethics In Research 0.5
IBMS 6090Seminar (Seminar) 1.5
Summer
PHAR 5020Basics Of Research Design (Elective) 2
PHAR 5092Special Problems In Pharmacology: Research Practicum 1-9
INTD 6097Research 0.5-9
Second Year
Fall
INTD 5043Fundamentals Of Neuroscience 2: Systems Neuroscience 3
INTD 5047Neuroanatomy 2
CSBL 5095Experimental Design And Data Analysis 3
IBMS 6090Seminar (Seminar) 1.5
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Spring
Electives  5
IBMS 6090Seminar (Seminar) 1.5
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Summer
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Qualifying Exam  
Third Year
Fall
IBMS 6090Seminar (Seminar) 1.5
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Spring
IBMS 6090Seminar (Seminar) 1.5
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Summer
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Fourth Year
Fall
IBMS 6090Seminar (Seminar) 1.5
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Spring
IBMS 6090Seminar (Seminar) 1.5
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Summer
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Fifth Year
Fall
IBMS 6090Seminar 1.5
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Spring
IBMS 6090Seminar 1.5
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Summer
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
 Total Credit Hours: 123.5
1

The student's last two semesters they should register for PHAR 7099 Dissertation in place of PHAR 6097 Research

Sample 5-year plan of study for Ph.D. (Pharmacology Track)1

First Year
FallCredit Hours
IBMS 5000Fundamentals Of Biomedical Sciences (Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences) 8
IBMS 5008Lab Rotations (Lab Rotations) 2
Spring
PHAR 5014Integrative Physiology & Therapeutics 4.5
PHAR 5013Principles Of Pharmacology & Physiology 1 (Principles Of Pharmacology & Physiology 1) 3
IBMS 6090Seminar (Seminar) 1.5
IBMS 5008Lab Rotations (Lab Rotations) 2
Summer
PHAR 5020Basics Of Research Design 2
PHAR 5092Special Problems In Pharmacology: Research Practicum 1-9
INTD 6097Research 0.5-9
Second Year
Fall
CSBL 5095Experimental Design And Data Analysis 3
PHAR 5090Seminar 1-9
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
PHAR Electives 2 
Spring
INTD 6002Ethics In Research 0.5
PHAR 5090Seminar 1-9
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
PHAR ---- Electives 2 
Qualifying Exam  
Summer
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Third Year
Fall
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
PHAR 5090Seminar 1-9
Spring
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
PHAR 5090Seminar 1-9
Summer
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Fourth Year
Fall
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
PHAR 5090Seminar 1-9
Spring
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
PHAR 5090Seminar 1-9
Summer
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
Fifth Year
Fall
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
PHAR 5090Seminar 1-9
Spring
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
PHAR 5090Seminar 1-9
Summer
PHAR 6097Research 0.5-9
 Total Credit Hours: 112.0-129.0
1

The student's last two semesters they should register for PHAR 7099 Dissertation in place of PHAR 6097 Research

2

 A total of 4 credit hours of Electives/Micro-electives are required.  These credits should be obtained by the end of the second year.  Please see department.

Pharmacology Objectives/Program Outcomes

  • The student will demonstrate proficiency in core coursework.
  • The student will be able to conduct independent research.
  • The student will be able to critically evaluate current scientific literature.
  • The student will be able to communicate effectively in writing.
  • The student will be able to communicate effectively in an oral format.