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Survival Guide for Pharmacology Graduate Students

Requirements in Brief
Poster session at the annual Department of Pharmacology retreat.

Requirements for the Ph.D. in Pharmacology are as follows:

Students must pass a total of 5 courses and maintain a High Pass average.

These must include the two semesters of graduate seminar course (PHAR 502 a/b or equivalent). The other courses will be selected based on each student's interest and must include one of the following: PHAR 504 Molecular Mechanisms of Drug Actions, PHAR 528 Principles of Signal Transduction or PHAR 529 Structural Biology and Drug Discovery. The graduate school ( requires a grade of Honors from a minimum of two courses. In addition, students are required to do three research rotations and to pass the qualifying examination. A thesis prospectus must be submitted and accepted by the department. This dissertation must be defended orally before Pharmacology faculty and a thesis committee.

The program of study will emphasize an integrated view of pharmacology and disease built upon a rigorous foundation of basic sciences. Each student's curriculum will be designed according to an individual's interests and background. It is expected that students will complete the program with ample training in physiology, grounding in cell and molecular biology, genetics, immunology, and pathology. First- and second-year graduate students will choose from a variety of basic science and clinically-related course offerings. Students will also perform at least 3 laboratory rotations during the first year with faculty members of their choosing. In addition to allowing students to receive hands-on experience in different laboratories, the rotations will assist in selection of a thesis advisor, typically by the end of the second semester. At that time, students (in consultation with their advisors) will select the department from which they will ultimately receive their degrees. All educational activities, seminars, retreats, and other functions will be closely coordinated among programs to facilitate opportunities for interactions among students and faculty throughout the BBS. Time required for completion of the Ph.D. degree averages 5 years. A qualifying examination is administered in the second year.

The goal of the program is for each student to have an excellent career in science. To this end, each student needs to be a first-author on one manuscript in journals deemed to be of significant impact by the Pharmacology faculty. The Pharmacology faculty recognizes that some thesis-related work takes a longer time and may not yield anticipated results. As long as the student has made significant progress in parallel experiments, the faculty can exempt a student from one first author paper requirement.