Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Degree Program

Position title: Derek Zimmerman, Graduate Program Manager


Website: Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Degree Program's website

Phone: (608) 262-6116

1232 Rennebohm Hall
777 Highland Ave
Madison, WI 53705


The Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the School of Pharmacy offers the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in pharmaceutical sciences. The program provides a rigorous background in a range of scientific disciplines that are critical to the success of the next generation of pharmaceutical scientists. The program’s interdisciplinary training combines pharmaceutically relevant aspects of classical disciplines such as chemistry, biology, and engineering. Students earn a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences, concentrating in one of three research cores: Drug Discovery, Drug Action, or Drug Delivery. Extensive communication and collaboration occur between these cores, mirroring the importance of interdisciplinary research teams in the pharmaceutical field. See this program overview flyer for more detailed information regarding current faculty research directions.

Research in Drug Discovery focuses on areas related to medicinal chemistry, such as small molecule development, natural products isolation and characterization, organic synthesis, chemical biology, and rational drug design.

Drug Action focuses on areas related to pharmacology, toxicology, cellular differentiation, development, and disease. Interests include the impact of drugs and toxins on biological systems, mechanisms of normal biology, and mechanisms of disease. These are studied at the cellular, genetic, molecular, and biochemical levels using diverse model systems.

Drug Delivery (pharmaceutics) emphasizes principles in physical chemistry and drug transport, aiming for advances in formulation, drug targeting, and multi-modal therapy. Delivery research includes the solid-state chemistry of drugs, nano-pharmacy, biocompatibility, molecular recognition, computational chemistry, pharmacokinetics, and molecular imaging.


Financial support is provided to all graduate students in Pharmaceutical Sciences through a combined mechanism of fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and project assistantships.  Financial support typically extends for the full duration of a student’s graduate study.   Funding packages for first-year students in the PhD program are provided by the School of Pharmacy and consist of a mixture of fellowships and/or teaching assistant support. In addition, first-year students typically are provided $2000 in flexible funds to aid in the transition to Madison. After the first academic year, students are supported by their thesis advisor through research or teaching assistantship appointments (some students earn funding via federally supported predoctoral fellowships or campus training grants). All students receive a stipend, full tuition remission (waiver), and most of the cost of reasonably priced, comprehensive health insurance for the duration of their PhD studies, if they retain good academic standing and a faculty advisor.


Accepted students commonly have strong scientific backgrounds, a passion for research, and significant laboratory experience. Students with undergraduate degrees in the physical or biological sciences, engineering, pharmacy, and related fields are encouraged to apply.  Students who have earned masters degrees are also welcomed to apply, but a master’s degree is not a requirement.  One may apply directly to the Pharmaceutical Sciences Ph.D. program with a bachelor’s degree background (as long as a bachelor’s degree would be completed by the time one would begin graduate studies). The GRE is not required.