UCSF

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most frequently asked questions about the PharmD to PhD career path:

  1. How many students apply for admission to the PharmD to PhD career path each year, and how many of those are accepted?

    The number of applications varies from year to year, but we generally receive one to two applications per year. All applicants to the PharmD to PhD career path are already enrolled in the UCSF PharmD program, which is highly competitive. However, the admission process for entry into the PhD program is also competitive, and there are a limited number of graduate students who are admitted to the program annually.

    PharmD students applying to the PharmD to PhD career path enter the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD program applicant pool with all other applicants. Only those who are in good standing (maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA in their PharmD program), meet all application requirements, and who are in the top tier of the pool are admitted.

  2. Are students in the PharmD to PhD career path permitted to delay starting the PhD program following receipt of the PharmD?

    Yes. Students may request a deferment for up to one year following acceptance into the program, however students must submit an updated application to the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD program.

  3. When can I start my research?

    At any time, and the sooner the better. The Extended Discovery Project in the PharmD curriculum will count as one rotation. A second research rotation can be taken instead of a seventh APPE experience. The final rotation can take place once the PharmD curriculum requirements are met.

    Because the PhD is a research degree, you want to make sure that research is a good fit for you as soon as possible. You also want to make an informed decision about who you will select as your research adviser, so it is important that you get as much and as varied research experience as possible before making a decision. Ideally, you will start in your dissertation laboratory when you enter the PhD program.

  4. When should I apply to the PharmD to PhD career path?

    During the first two years of your PharmD program. Applications must be received by December 1. If you are accepted into the PhD program, you will receive a letter of intent to admit you to the PhD program as soon as you have finished the PharmD and providing that you maintain the minimum 3.0 GPA.

  5. If I apply, can I change my mind later?

    Of course. The letter of intent will be binding on our part but not yours. If you decide not to pursue the PhD, you will not be penalized in any way. We ask only that you notify us when you make your decision.

  6. Will I actually be enrolled simultaneously as a PharmD professional and PhD graduate student?

    No. At UCSF, you may be enrolled in only one academic program at a time. As a result, PharmD to PhD career path students will not be officially enrolled as PhD students until the PharmD is completed.

  7. How much time will I save with the PharmD to PhD career path?

    Unlike the PharmD component with its fixed curriculum, the PhD is a research degree, so it is impossible to put a firm timetable on the duration of the program.

    Typically, PhD students require five to six years to complete the requirements for the degree. However, the efficiencies built into the PharmD to PhD career path may shorten the time required for the PhD to approximately four years.

    At least one core course and several elective courses in the PhD program may be taken during the Extended Discovery Project in the PharmD program. Since course credit may be applied to only one degree program, your grades and credit for these courses will not appear on your transcript until enrolled in the graduate program. Importantly, research started in the Extended Discovery Project of the PharmD program may be part of the PhD thesis, potentially shortening research time.

    If the degrees are taken separately, the time for both degrees would be approximately eight years; the PharmD to PhD career path will take a minimum of seven years for both degrees.

  8. What degrees are ultimately conferred?

    A Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree is conferred upon completion of the PharmD program requirements and prior to entry into the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD program.

    A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics is conferred upon completion of the requirements for the PhD program.

  9. I am a PharmD, am I eligible for the PharmD to PhD career path?

    If you have already completed your PharmD, you are not eligible for the PharmD to PhD career path, but you might want to pursue one of our PhD programs.

  10. I am not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. May I apply to the PharmD to PhD career path?

    International applicants may apply for admission to the PharmD program and subsequently apply to the PharmD to PhD career path. Since admission to the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD program is competitive, admission to the PharmD to PhD career path is not guaranteed. Details:

  11. What are some of the postdoctoral opportunities afforded to your most recent PharmD to PhD career path graduates?

    Recent UCSF PharmD to PhD career path graduates have taken positions in academic institutions, biotechnology companies as well as with the United States Food and Drug Administration. We anticipate that our PharmD to PhD career path graduates will be highly competitive for most postdoctoral positions.

  12. What are some of the career opportunities afforded to your most recent UCSF PharmD to PhD career path graduates?

    The PharmD to PhD career path will make you uniquely qualified to translate basic research into clinical applications. For example, your laboratory in a pharmaceutical company might study the genetic variability in drug transporters at the molecular level and then follow up with the relevant clinical studies to determine the impact of this variability on appropriate drug selection and patient care.

    In an academic career, you would greatly expand your potential research topics and be able to clearly show students the relevance of the basic sciences to professional practice.

    Our most recent PharmD to PhD career path graduates have, in general, gone on to careers in the academic setting and in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.