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Pharmacology & Toxicology

Preparation for Graduate Study

Applicants should have a baccalaureate degree in a discipline such as pharmacy, chemistry, biochemistry or a biological science. This training should include coursework in organic chemistry, calculus, physiology and some biological science (for example microbiology).

Degree Requirements

The programs of study are individualized to meet the needs of each student. All students take "core" courses in pharmacology, toxicology, methods in pharmacology/toxicolgy, statistics, molecular biology, communication skills, and grant writing. Additional courses are available in specific areas of study. Skills in communicating scientific data orally are developed through students participating in a weekly seminar program.

A student's acceptance into Ph.D. candidacy is dependent on the successful oral defense of a student-prepared research proposal, oral exams and intensive laboratory projects. The oral candidacy exam is not required for the Master's degree. The student will choose an adviser after completing one semester in the graduate program. The student and the adviser will select a "master's level" research project. By the end of the first calendar year in the program, the student will submit a preproposal to a selected research committee on the topic of his/her research to be conducted during the second year. The student must complete the research project and submit a manuscript reporting the data to his/her research committee by the end of the spring semester of the student's second year.

During the summer of the second year, the student will prepare a detailed NIH style grant proposal on the anticipated dissertation research topic. This proposal will be submitted to a faculty selected examining committee by the last day of the summer session. A comprehensive oral exam must be scheduled within one month. This exam, which involves both a defense of the written proposal and the demonstration of an adequate knowledge base of basic science, will be administered by the student's examining committee.

Satisfactory completion of these requirements, along with earning a letter grade of B or better in all required graduate courses, allows the student to enter Ph.D. candidacy.

All students are required to prepare and defend a dissertation (Ph.D.) or thesis (Master's) based upon original research. This constitutes the major effort of the graduate program which can be completed in two years (Master's) or four years (Ph.D.).

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities in pharmacology and toxicology are excellent. Medical centers, pharmacy schools, and private facilities employ pharmacologists and toxicologists to conduct research and to teach medical, dental, pharmacy and nursing courses to graduate students. The pharmaceutical and chemical industries hire pharmacologists and toxicologists to test new drugs and chemicals for their utility and safety. Government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and the Public Health Service, also utilize pharmacologists and toxicologists in basic research and in formulating drug laws and chemical regulations.

Further information such as average salaries and job markets can be found by visiting the student sections for the corresponding professional society web pages - American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics or Society of Toxicology.

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Last Reviewed: October 2, 2008

Division Information

Mailing Address:
Pharmacology & Toxicology
College of Pharmacy
The University of Texas
at Austin
107 W. Dean Keeton
Stop C0875
Austin, TX, USA

Email Address: pharmtox

Phone: 512-471-5158

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