Pharmacological Sciences PhD Program

The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences offers a program leading to a PhD in Pharmacological Sciences with a Concentration in Pharmaceutical Sciences.  For detailed information about the program requirements, visit our page in the UCI General Catalogue.

Alternatively, students may choose to enter through the Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology (MCP) graduate gateway program, in which they complete required coursework, lab rotations, and other activities intended to provide a broad foundation in the pharmaceutical sciences. At the end of this first year of this interdisciplinary training, they transition from MCP into the Pharmaceutical Sciences Concentration (or other participating program with MCP) to begin their more focused doctoral research under the guidance of a faculty member; current areas of study in Pharmaceutical Sciences include:

  • Structural and chemical biology
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Structure-based drug design
  • Molecular neuropharmacology
  • Pharmacology of aging
  • Molecular evolution
  • Synthetic biology
  • Natural product biosynthesis and synthase engineering
  • Cancer prevention and therapy
  • Gene regulation and intercellular signaling
  • Computational biology and bioinformatics
  • Nanomedicine for targeted drug and gene delivery

Sample Curriculum

The Pharmacological Sciences PhD program is flexible and tailored to the needs of individual students. Students are actively engaged in research throughout their training: In the first year, laboratory rotations ensure exposure to a variety of techniques and research problems. At the end of the second year, students are considered for advancement to PhD candidacy on the basis of academic standing, laboratory performance, and a qualifying examination. After advancement to candidacy, students devote their time to completion of an original research thesis.

CLICK HERE to view a sample program.

For more details regarding the required course work, please visist our program’s section in the UCI General Catalogue.


Students are admitted to the Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology 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. Admitted applicants can expect to receive an offer of admission in late January through late February. Admitted applicants are invited to visit the campus in late February or early March.

Application Deadline: Dec 1

For full consideration, online applications and all supporting documents and scores must be received by December 1.  Offers are made throughout January and February.

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 official original transcript for all postsecondary education
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official GRE test scores
  • International students are also required to submit TOEFL scores

Incomplete applications will not be considered for admission.



  • Research experience (laboratory or fieldwork) is a primary criterion for acceptance into our graduate programs.
  • Some biology courses are required. However, because we are an interdisciplinary program, we admit students from various backgrounds. 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.

 Application Requirements

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 Programs
  • Major/Degree: Pharmacological Sciences-PhD – Concentration in Pharmaceutical Sciences

 Diversity Fellowships

UCI is committed to the recruitment, admission, and retention of a high quality and diverse graduate student population. If you have overcome socioeconomic or educational challenges, please indicate that you are a diversity candidate on your application.

 Test Scores

  • Official GRE Scores (UCI Institutional Code is 4859, Departmental Code is 0613).
  • GRE Subject Test related to your area of interest is recommended; however the subject exam is NOT required for application.
    Note: GRE scores that are five years old or older by the first day of school will not be accepted.

Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation

  • Three Letters of Recommendation submitted electronically through your online application
  • One official copy of all postsecondary academic transcripts sent to:

Graduate Admissions Coordinator
University of California Irvine
209 Steinhaus Hall, Building 502
Irvine, CA 92697-3958

International Students

  • TOEFL Scores for International Students (UCI Institutional Code is 4859, Departmental Code is 47)
    • 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.
  • Teaching Assistant (TA) Eligibility International applicants who are eligible to serve as a teaching assistant 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 the TSE.

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.