MCP Program

MCP Program

The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences offers a unique gateway graduate program in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology leading to a PhD in Chemistry, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, or Pharmacological Sciences with a Concentration in either Pharmaceutical Sciences or Pharmacology. The program is both interdisciplinary in nature while at the same time offering an in-depth, individualized state-of-the-art practical and theoretical training in each student’s specific field of interest.

This integration of specialization and exposure across disciplines offers a breadth of expertise that is not easily achievable in any single, individual department, and which uniquely prepares graduates for success in the rapidly changing field of pharmaceutical sciences. This dual goal of specialization, with an interdisciplinary foundation, is accomplished through a one-year initial program of coursework and lab rotations, followed by a transition into one of the participating department’s PhD programs for in-depth specialization and research.

Upon completion of the one-year MCP curriculum, students choose a faculty advisor affiliated with one of the above-listed participating departments and transition into their “home” department to complete the remaining degree requirements for their PhD.

Sample MCP Curriculum

CLICK HERE to view a sample MCP Curriculum

Should I Apply to MCP or Pharmacological Sciences?

Choose MCP over Pharmacological Sciences if you:

  • Want maximal coursework flexibility
  • Want to be able to choose your PhD program after rotating through a couple labs
  • Are somewhat undecided about your research directions(s)
  • Want an advisor who does not have an appointment in Pharmaceutical Sciences or Pharmacology

Choose Pharmacological Sciences over MCP if you:

  • Have a specific research focus and want to begin as quickly as possible
  • Know that your research focus aligns with Pharmacological Sciences and its faculty
  • Have an advisor lined up and would like to commit to their lab as soon as possible


Application Instructions

Complete the Online Application which is submitted to the Graduate Division. When completing the “Degree Program” section of the online application for admission, please make the following selections:

  • School/Department: Interdisciplinary Gateway Programs
  • Major/Degree: Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology
  • Specific Area of Interest: Indicate which one of the following three departments you would be most interested in as your eventual home department: Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chemistry, Pharmacology, or Molecular Biology & Biochemistry. The choice you indicate here is not binding, and can be changed at any time until you select a research advisor during the first year.

Students are admitted to the Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacology (MCP) gateway program on an annual basis in the fall quarter only. The admissions committee and the graduate advisors screen applications immediately after the application deadline. Applicants selected to interview will be notified by early January. Admitted applicants can expect to receive an offer of admission in late January through mid-March.

Submit applications by Dec 1 for full consideration

The online application and supporting materials should be received by December 1 for full consideration, but submissions received up until to January 5 may be considered.

Applicants are required to submit:

  • An official online application including the application fee ($105 for domestic applicants, i.e. US citizens and permanent residents and $125 for international applicants)
  • One copy of official transcripts for all postsecondary education* – Please do NOT wait for fall quarter/semester grades to post before sending your transcripts. You may send updated transcripts later if you choose.
  • Three letters of recommendation – uploaded to the online application by your recommender.
  • Official General GRE test scores that are less than 5 years old (Code: 4859)
  • International students are also required to submit TOEFL scores (Code: 4859)

*Send all post-secondary transcripts to:

University of California, Irvine
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
209 Steinhaus Hall, Building 502 Irvine, CA 92697-3958
Attn: Graduate Admissions Coordinator

Incomplete applications will not be considered for admission.




  • An MS degree is not required for consideration. However, research experience (laboratory or fieldwork) is a primary criterion for acceptance into our graduate programs.
  • Some biology and chemistry courses are required. However, because we are an interdisciplinary program, we admit students from various academic backgrounds, so there are no specific course requirements. Applicants recently admitted to our program have undergraduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines, including molecular biology, psychology, and chemical engineering, as well as chemistry and biology.
  • Minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0.

Admission Statistics

The acceptance rate for the MCP program is approximately 23%, and admitted applicants from previous cycles had the below characteristics:

  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.44
  • Average GRE scores: 158 Verbal; 160 Quantitative; 4.1 Analytical

Student Funding

Admitted applicants receive funding for tuition, health insurance, and a monthly stipend/salary through a combination departmental or university fellowships and/or teaching assistant (TA) and graduate student researcher (GSR) positions in their first year. In years two through five, students are generally funding by their faculty advisor as GSRs, as well as through a combination of university fellowships, extramural grants/fellowships, and/or TA positions.

Diversity Fellowships

UCI is committed to the recruitment, admission, and retention of a high quality and diverse graduate student population and has several diversity fellowships for new and returning students who qualify. If you have overcome socioeconomic or educational challenges, please indicate that you are a diversity candidate and describe your experience in detail within the Personal History section of the application.

International Students

  • TOEFL scores are required for all international applicants
  • If your undergraduate degree was obtained in a country where English was the primary language, the TOEFL exam is not required. For more information regarding admissions requirements for international students, visit the Academic Qualifications webpage.
    • Please note: Though the university may waive the TOEFL for admissions purposes, you still must show English language proficiency in order to TA at UCI.  Unless you have received your high diploma in the US, the department still requires the TOEFL or IELTS speaking scores in order to assess your TA eligibility (see below).
  • Teaching Assistant (TA) Eligibility International applicants who are eligible to serve as teaching assistants will be considered more favorably in the admission review process. The following test scores will qualify students to be a teaching assistant at the University:
    • A score of 26 or higher on the speaking component of the TOEFL ibt
    • A score of 8 or higher on the speaking module of the IELTS, or
    • A score of 50 or higher on UCI’s SPEAK test.
  • For more information about the English language requirements for TA’s, please visit the English Language Proficiency Requirements for TAs webpage. For additional information about graduate study at UC Irvine, please visit the UCI Graduate Division website.
  • Information regarding visas, student employment, and any other services to help international students transition into life at UCI is overseen by the UCI International Center.