Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most frequently asked questions about the UCSF PharmD/PhD combined degree program:

  1. How many students apply for admission to the UCSF PharmD/PhD combined degree program 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 combined degree program 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 student pharmacists applying to the combined degree program 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 combined degree program 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. Laboratory rotation courses will be eligible to receive credit as electives in the PharmD program's Pharmaceutical Sciences Pathway, and summer support might be available in some laboratories.

    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.

  4. When should I apply to the combined program?

    During the first three years of your PharmD program. Forms must be received by December 31. 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. Only then will you file an official application with the graduate division.

  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, combined degree program students will not be officially enrolled as PhD students until the PharmD is completed.

  7. How much time will I save with the combined degree program?

    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/PhD program may shorten the time required for the PhD to approximately four years.

    Several of the required and elective courses in the PhD program may be taken as electives in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Pathway curriculum within the PharmD program (i.e., advanced pharmacokinetics courses). Since course credit may be applied to only one degree program, any graduate level courses required for completion of the PharmD program would apply only towards completion of the PharmD degree. In this case, additional courses would need to be selected under the supervision of the PSPG graduate program director and would be taken during the PSPG graduate degree program in order to satisfy the unit requirements for the graduate degree. Graduate courses taken during the PharmD program that are not credited towards the program requirement for the PharmD degree would be allowed to be transferred to the PSPG graduate degree at the discretion of the program director. Importantly, research started in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Pathway of the PharmD program may be part of the PhD thesis, thus shortening research time by two to three quarters.

    If the degrees are taken separately, the time for both degrees would be approximately nine years; the combined degree program will take a minimum of eight 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 combined PharmD/PhD program?

    If you have already completed your PharmD, you are not eligible for the combined degree program, 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/PhD program?

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

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

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

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

    The combined UCSF PharmD/PhD degree 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 combined degree program graduates have, in general, gone on to careers in the academic setting and in the industrial setting.