A baccalaureate degree with a strong background in the natural sciences and/or health sciences is required for acceptance into the Pharmacology program. Results of the Graduate Record Examination (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) are required, and results of the advanced test in Biology or Chemistry are strongly recommended. Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL examination. See Apply Online for application procedures.
Becoming a Doctoral Candidate
In the first year, students complete the core academic curriculum; in their second year, they complete elective courses. More information about Pharmacology program courses is available at Courses.
In addition to coursework, students participate in bi-weekly, student-run Pharmacology Journal Clubs, the annual program retreat, and the annual Vincent du Vigneaud Research Day. Students are also required to attend all Pharmacology program seminars and must pass the Pharmacology Seminar Course throughout their tenure as graduate students.
Three laboratory rotations are required of each student. The rotations provide the opportunity to participate in the diverse research activities available within the program. This experience is designed to assist the student in selecting major and minor sponsors for his/her thesis research.
Each student typically selects a thesis lab and major sponsor (thesis advisor) by the end of the first quarter of the second year. After choosing a thesis lab, the student selects a Special Committee consisting of the major sponsor and two minor sponsors chosen from among members of the Graduate School faculty with expertise in the student's thesis research area.
The Special Committee meets at least once a year to discuss research progress and future research directions with the student. The Special Committee also serves as the core group of examiners for the student's Admission to Candidacy Exam (ACE) and, typically, their thesis defense examination.
The ACE consists of two parts: a uniform written exam and an oral exam which includes discussion of a written research proposal. A student typically takes this exam by March 1st of his/her second year. The ACE provides an opportunity for the student to demonstrate that he/she has attained the breadth of knowledge required to continue in the PhD program and is prepared to undertake full-time thesis research. When the student passes the ACE, he/she is considered a PhD candidate.
PhD Research and Degree
After completing the ACE, the student's annual (or more frequent) meetings with the Special Committee provide the forum to review progress and agree upon future research directions. The Special Committee also oversees development of the thesis.
Thesis research is typically completed by the sixth year of tenure in the program. While working full-time in the thesis laboratory and developing the thesis, the student continues to participate in Pharmacology program activities.
The culmination of the student's successful progression through the program is the final examination (the "defense") and certification by the Special Committee that the thesis represents an official piece of research that satisfies Graduate School requirements for a PhD degree.