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phd in pharmaceutical sciences in california

Last Updated on June 25, 2021 by

PhD Program

The Pharmaceutical & Translational Sciences (PHTS) Program brings together – under one umbrella – the School’s three laboratory-based PhD programs, allowing a more cohesive interdisciplinary experience advancing education and innovative research.

This doctoral training program prepares students for careers in the pharmaceutical industry, academia and advanced scientific research in a broad range of settings. The training encompasses a unique scientific framework from drug discovery, delivery and development to application of genetics and genomics to experimental and clinical translational research.

PhD umbrella program-PHTS figure

The umbrella structure allows students to attend courses and seminars together, and rotate through laboratories across programs during their first year. This fosters interdisciplinary crosstalk among students and faculty, helping students find an ideal laboratory and faculty mentor as well as a specialized track of study they want to pursue. Upon successful completion of training, students will be conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in one of the following areas of study:

Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology Track (MPTX)

The MPTX track provides training in molecular mechanisms of disease as well as disease and drug interaction. Coursework emphasizes cell biology and molecular pharmacology. Research areas are laboratory based and include molecular and neuro-pharmacology, receptor pharmacology, cancer biology and pharmacology, metabolism and biochemistry, and oxidant toxicology.

Pharmaceutical Sciences Track (PSCI)

The PSCI track provides training that emphasizes basic as well as applied research through advanced coursework in contemporary pharmaceutical sciences. Independent laboratory research areas include drug design, development, targeting, and delivery, medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry, pharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, immunology, and molecular and cell biology.

Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics Track (CXPT)

The CXPT track provides cross-training between clinical and basic sciences—focusing on the investigation of disease processes, drug development and the efficacy and toxicity of therapeutic regimens. Course requirements and research opportunities offer both experimental (basic) and disease-focused experiences. The emphasis in this track is clinical translational, using molecular and translational science techniques to address clinically-relevant research questions.

Pharmaceutical Science PhD Program Information

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 6% from 2019-2029. 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 $91,510 as of May 2020.

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.Next: View Schools

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