Li Lab grad student Min Ma works on an experiment

Admissions

Welcome to the admissions area for the Pharmaceutical Sciences research (PhD) doctoral program!  We are pleased that you are interested in our program.

Please carefully review all of the information in the admissions area prior to applying to ensure that your application process goes smoothly.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQs, please reach out to us at gradprograms@pharmacy.wisc.edu

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Monday, February 26, 2024
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The Application Deadline for Fall 2024 has passed.

The application portal for Fall 2025 admissions will open in early September 2024, and applications are due December 16, 2024.

The Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program only accepts applications to begin studies in the fall semester; the December deadline is intended for those who wish to begin study in the subsequent fall semester.

GRE scores are not accepted and will not be used in assessing applications

  1. Complete the Graduate School’s online application form (includes a $75 application fee payable by credit card, check or money order; international applicants have an added $6 fee for additional processing, for a total of $81). The $75 fee may be covered for applicants who meet certain eligibility requirements – please see our FAQ area for details.
  2. Additionally, provide the following materials electronically as part of the online application:
    • Statement of Purpose for Graduate Study:
      The statement should include information on:

      • Why you would like to pursue graduate study
      • How you have prepared for graduate school including past and current research experiences
      • Why you are applying to our program specifically including what your potential thesis research interest(s) are
      • Anything else you think would be useful for the admissions committee to know to evaluate your application
    • Resume or CV: Include a synopsis of research projects and information on awards and honors.
  3. Three separate online letters of recommendation: Three recommendations are required, two of which must be from academic sources. Please follow the Graduate School’s Letter of Recommendation process to submit. Please note that the admissions committee highly values letters from research mentors and other faculty that can specifically speak to the applicant’s likely success in graduate school. Applicants should also ensure that their recommenders can submit their letters by the application deadline.
  4. English Proficiency: With some exceptions, applicants whose native language is not English need to submit English Proficiency tests (TOEFL or IELTS). To determine if you are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores see the English Proficiency section. When required, TOEFL or IELTS scores should be sent to the University of Wisconsin–Madison (institution code 1846).
  5. Transcripts: Please upload unofficial transcripts as PDFs for each university or college attended. (Institutions attended as part of a study abroad program do not need to be included if the coursework is reflected on your current institution’s transcripts). Unofficial transcripts, accessible through student accounts via a college or university website, are acceptable. If you request a printed official transcript from an institution you attend/attended, please re-create an electronic version before you add it to the supplemental application. This will remove the formatting that causes the transcript to be encrypted and unable to be viewed by the faculty.
  6. The Graduate School will email you a unique URL and campus ID number to track the progress of your application, receipt of fee and test scores, and demographic information.
  7. Completed applications will be reviewed by the Graduate Admissions Committee to select applicants for virtual interviews, which usually occur in late January. Admission offers are extended following the completion of virtual interviews and admitted applicants residing in the United States are provided information about our optional in-person recruitment weekend which in 2024 will occur the evening of March 21 through the morning of March 23.

We follow the graduate school’s policies on minimum admission requirements. Please see their admissions page for information on minimum GPA (grade) requirements and information about English Proficiency testing, if required. Our program does not accept GRE scores.

Sustained involvement in quality laboratory research is highly valued by the Admissions Committee. Beyond an applicant’s research experience the admissions committee takes a holistic approach to reviewing each application so there are multiple factors considered for admission. These include academic achievement and rigor of coursework, letters of recommendation, the statement of purpose, communication skills, leadership ability, and other factors.

Q: What kind of background is suitable for admission to the PhD program in Pharmaceutical Sciences at UW–Madison?

A: To sustain an innovative research environment, the Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD Program is committed to admitting students from diverse scientific and personal backgrounds.  The range of faculty expertise is extremely broad across the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division—representing the biological, chemical, and engineering sciences. Therefore, prospective students with undergraduate or master’s degrees in the physical (including chemistry) sciences, biological sciences, engineering, and related fields are encouraged to apply. Although this list is not all-inclusive, undergraduate majors of our students have included a wide range of disciplines such as Animal Science and Zoology, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedical Science, Biomedical Engineering, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Genetics, Materials Science, Medicinal Chemistry, Microbiology, Nanoscience, Neuroscience, Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Pharmacy, and PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy). Pharmaceutical Sciences is a highly inter-disciplinary field, allowing our students to acquire a breadth of knowledge across disciplines.


Q: Are application fee waivers available?
The UW Graduate School does offer some fee grants to eligible applicants. See their webpage (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/fee-grant/) for eligibility requirements and the application process. The Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD program may also have application fee grants available; please check this page again in mid-October for updated information.


Q: What prerequisites are required? Do I need a master’s degree before I can apply?

A:  There are no specific prerequisites for admission to the Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD program, but a bachelor’s degree is required. The answer to the question above (“What kind of background is suitable…?”) is a comprehensive comment on what type of background and qualities are desired in a competitive applicant.


Q: Do I need to identify/contact a potential thesis advisor prior to applying?

A:  As a general rule, we do not direct admit applicants into faculty laboratories, but instead admit them into the program and then they do rotations before picking a thesis laboratory. So, you are not required to identify a potential advisor or contact any of our faculty prior to applying.


Q: How do you place students into thesis laboratories?

A: Our students perform three rotations of approximately 4 weeks in duration during their first semester. Most students will join a thesis laboratory after those rotations end in mid-December. Please see our handbook for more information: https://students.pharmacy.wisc.edu/pharmsci-handbook/e-lab-rotations/.


Q: How do I apply?

A:  The full process is outlined on the Admissions tab.


Q: What are the typical performance measures (GPA, GRE) of students who are offered admission to the Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD Program?

A:  The mean undergraduate GPA for students (both domestic and internationals) offered admission in the 2019 application cycle was approximately a 3.61 on a 4.0 scale. As of fall 2022, GRE scores are no longer accepted and will not be used in assessing applications.


Q: How many applicants are accepted annually?

A:  The number of accepted students varies year-to-year and depends upon the applicant pool quality and how many students the division can place into research opportunities. On average, approximately 30 students are offered admission each year.


Q: Do you admit for spring or summer semester?

A: We only admit for fall semester. Applications for fall 2025 admission will open in September 2024 and are due December 16, 2024. For students who matriculate in our program, a rotation may be possible the summer prior to entry, but would require finding a faculty member willing to host the student and provide them summer stipend support.


Q: What factors do the admissions committee consider when reviewing applications?

A: Please refer to the section on Selection Criteria.


Q: Can you provide me information on my chances of being admitted?

A: We are sorry, but we are unable to provide preliminary evaluations of applications. Our Admissions Committee reviews all aspects of the application carefully while also considering all of the applications in the applicant pool each year.

You can find our application and acceptance numbers from past years at the following website by selecting “Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD” under the “Select Academic Plan” tab: https://grad.wisc.edu/data/graduate-admissions-enrollment-data/


Q: What is the program’s curriculum?

A:  A detailed description can be found in the Curriculum section of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Student Handbook. In general, the program’s curriculum is built upon a core of classes that expose students to foundational principles in drug action, delivery and discovery. Beyond the core requirements, students work with their thesis advisor and committee members to determine course selections best suited to one’s research direction and desired research expertise. Didactic course work is normally completed in 1.5-2 years (3-4 semesters). Research then is the student’s focus, involving another 3-4 years.  Although not required, some students choose to complete additional coursework leading to a PhD minor or Graduate Certificate.


Q: What is the cost of study? What financial support is available?

A:  Students in our PhD program receive a stipend and benefits. Tuition is also covered. For details, see our page on Financial Support.


Q: Do international applicants have to demonstrate having a certain amount of money saved upon admission?

A: No. Because we provide funding, this is not required of our students. Admitted international students joining our program will instead submit to the graduate school their offer letter which includes funding information.


Q: As a graduate student, what are my housing options?

A:  The Pharmaceutical Sciences Division is located within Rennebohm Hall, which houses the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy (SoP) and is adjacent to the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics  on the west side of the 900-acre UW campus. Some graduate students reside in facilities of the University Apartments community, but most live in off-campus housing. Many graduate students do live in the immediate area and commute via walking, bicycling or riding the bus (see the Associate Students of Madison website for information about student bus passes which are no cost to students). By nature of their appointments as RAs, TAs, or fellows, Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD students are considered employees for the purposes of applying for on-campus parking permits. However, please keep in mind that despite the substantial cost of on-campus parking permits, there is often high demand for permits for the lots immediately adjacent to Rennebohm Hall, so permits for those lots may not always be available. Please see the Transportation Services website for more information about on-campus parking, the permit application processes, park and ride lot options, and who qualifies for reduced rates for parking.

Many other non-university owned apartments are available within walking distance of the school as well. Most graduate students live in the immediate area and commute via walking, bicycling or riding the bus (see the Associate Students of Madison website for information about student bus passes which are no cost to students). By nature of their appointments as RAs, TAs, or fellows, Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD students are considered employees for the purposes of applying for on-campus parking permits. However, please keep in mind that despite the substantial cost of on-campus parking permits, there is often high demand for permits for the lots immediately adjacent to Rennebohm hall, so permits for those lots may not always be available. Please see the Transportation Services website for more information about on-campus parking, the permit application processes, park and ride lot options, and who qualifies for reduced rates for parking.

Please also see our Housing & Transportation area for further information on these topics.


Q: What if I’m not a United States resident?

A:  We strongly encourage talented international students to apply. We are committed to maintaining diversity in our student body. All applicants (foreign and domestic) must meet the Admission Requirements of the UW Graduate School. An excellent resource is the International Students Guide on the Graduate School website.

UW–Madison is a vibrant international community with students from across the world.  There are multiple ways our students can expand their UW–Madison experiences socially, culturally, and intellectually beyond the bounds of academia. We encourage you to check out our Student Experience page for some examples.

With some exceptions, applicants whose native language is not English need to submit English Proficiency tests (TOEFL or IELTS). To determine if you are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores see the English Proficiency section.


Q: Where do students go after graduation?

A:  Our students have excellent career outcomes following graduation with slightly more than half pursuing their first employment in industry, slightly less than half pursuing their first employment in academia (usually post-doctoral fellows, although a few do go straight into faculty positions), and some pursuing other careers like science writing or patent law. A small number of graduates pursue additional advanced degrees. For alumni from 2006-present, the top five job titles of our graduates are Principal Scientist, Senior Scientist, Associate Director, Associate Professor, and Director; while the top five employers are AbbVie, Corteva Agriscience, Genentech, Merck, and GSK.


Q: How does the PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences differ from other School of Pharmacy degrees such as the PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy)?

A:  A PhD student is a graduate student; a PharmD student is considered a professional student (at Wisconsin, professional students include student pharmacists (PharmDs), medical students, law students, nursing students, and students in the School of Veterinary Medicine). The PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences is intended for someone pursuing a career in pharmaceutical research; the PharmD degree allows one to pursue a career as a licensed pharmacist. The PhD degree is considered a research doctorate; the PharmD is a clinical professional doctorate.


Q: What is the average time span for one to complete a Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD?

A:  The average time to completion for the PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences, as measured for those who were awarded degrees in the 2016-19 time span (36 graduates), was 5.08 calendar years. The faculty have reduced the time to degree by simplifying program requirements: only one preliminary examination must be passed to achieve dissertator status, and the program no longer requires a PhD “minor” due to the interdisciplinary nature of study in pharmaceutical sciences.


Q: What facilities are available for research?

A:  The Pharmaceutical Sciences Division is housed in Rennebohm Hall, a seven-story, state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2001 and offers 120,000 assignable square feet.  The Pharmaceutical Sciences Division comprises floors 4 to 7 of Rennebohm Hall and features 34 laboratories; affiliate Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate faculty are housed at other campus buildings.  Located on the northwest edge of campus, Rennebohm Hall is in close proximity to the Health Sciences Learning Center (home of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health), UW Hospital and Clinics, the UW Institute for Clinical and Transational Research (ICTR), the Waisman Center, the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR), the UW Center for Human Genomics and Precision Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Nursing, and Ebling Library for the Health Sciences.  Many researchers affiliated with the University of Wisconsin’s Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center work within these adjacent facilities.

Exceptional research facilities and equipment are highlighted by the school’s Lachman Institute for Pharmaceutical Development, which is home to state-of-the-art instruments, research services, and drug development expertise. Additional equipment utilized by the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division is located throughout our research space. The school’s Lenor Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station is a not-for-profit, self-sustaining center of expertise serving faculty researchers across the UW–Madison campus as well as private-sector drug product development. The station provides laboratory services related to compound physical/chemical characterization and basic formulation development to support preclinical development of promising drug candidates and other unmet pharmaceutical-related needs. Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate students are eligible to participate in summer internships at the station. Many Pharmaceutical Sciences researchers also leverage campus research support mechanisms – for example, through the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center or the UW–Madison Biotechnology Center.


Questions?

Contact the School of Pharmacy’s Graduate Program Coordinator.

Questions about our program?

Check our FAQ page for detailed answers to common questions

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