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The program consists of course work which presents the basic principles of medical biology, pharmacology and toxicology, and training in research and the scientific method. It is important to us that each student has the opportunity to reach their individual potential pursuing the research that is important to them. The current time to degree for our Ph.D. students is 5 years. 

Most students undertake their doctoral dissertation research in the laboratory of a faculty member within the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. However, students have the option to conduct their research in any active laboratory on campus which significantly expands the opportunities of the student for in-depth study in the discipline of pharmacology and toxicology.

A Dual Degree program with the Colleges of Human Medicine (MD/PhD), Osteopathic Medicine (DO/PhD) or Veterinary Medicine (DVM/PhD) is also available.

Program Requirements

Students typically complete all requirements for graduation from the Pharmacology & Toxicology Doctoral Program within 5 years, but must complete all requirements including defense of their dissertation within 8 years. A brief overview of course and research requirements is linked to below. More detailed information regarding program requirements is available in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Handbook.


Laboratory Rotations

During their first year, students participate in research rotations through the BMS Gateway. Student are required to complete three research rotations in which each student works in the laboratory of a potential faculty dissertation advisor. During the period of research rotations, emphasis is placed on active participation in laboratory work, intellectual engagement in the research project and field of study and demonstration of potential for a research career in pharmacology and/or toxicology.

Seminar Requirements

Graduate students in the Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Program present seminars during progressive stages of their graduate training. These include presentation of their research conducted at the end of their first year research rotations (presented in early Fall of the student’s second year of study), presentation of their dissertation research proposal during their third year, and dissertation defense seminars.

Dissertation Research

At the end of the second semester of graduate study, students select one faculty member to serve as the major advisor for their dissertation research. A guidance committee oversees the student's course work, provides advice concerning dissertation research, and conducts the oral defense of the dissertation. At all times during a student's course of study and research, members of the Guidance Committee are available for consultation.

Students conduct an original dissertation project based on the approved dissertation proposal. Students present a public seminar based on their dissertation, which precedes the defense with the student's Guidance Committee. PhD candidates have many resources available while conducting their research and authoring their dissertation. Resources range from considerable support from faculty advisors to workshops on research ethics and dissertation writing.

Other Requirements

Teaching Requirements

After their second year of training, graduate students participate in the teaching of undergraduate pharmacology and toxicology courses. Students gain experience in the creation and delivery of lecture material, and development and grading of examinations. Students also proctor examinations in professional and medical school courses given by the department, and may elect to act as tutors for Pharmacology & Toxicology-based undergraduate, medical, and graduate students.

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Exam consists of 1) a written proposal, 2) a public presentation of the thesis proposal, and 3) a private oral defense of the thesis proposal. During the oral defense, the student will be assessed on their mastery of 10 basic tenets of pharmacology and toxicology. The tenets are selected randomly from a master list of tenets that is provided as a study guide. The comprehensive exam shall take place no later than the end of the student's 7th semester in Graduate School.