Rankings

The 18 Best Doctor of Pharmacology Graduate Schools

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: February 21, 2024, Reading time: 41 minutes

Best Doctor of Pharmacology - featured

Find your perfect college degree

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Pharmacology isn’t the same as pharmacy, and it’s something that must be emphasized since their education, training, and career options are different, if complementary. On the one hand, pharmacology is a biomedical science that covers the study of drugs and their effects on humans and other living organisms. This multidisciplinary field draws from many sciences, from biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and biophysics to neuroscience and endocrinology. 

Quick audio summary:

Best Doctor of Pharmacology - fact

On the other hand, pharmacy as a healthcare profession involves the clinical applications of the drugs developed in pharmacology, including its best principles and practices. At the core of a pharmacist’s profession is the safe, effective, and efficient dispensation of prescription and over-the-counter medications. 

Such a fundamental differentiation must also be made because pharmacologists cannot practice pharmacy in the United States! Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Pharmacology degree can neither take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination nor apply for a pharmacist license. But their career options are plentiful, and it’s something that works in their favor. 

A Doctor of Pharmacology degree is a postgraduate program that provides advanced research and clinical training in the clinical science of drugs and their actions. This degree combines the traditional practice of pharmacy with advanced research-based learning, preparing students for careers in academia, regulatory agencies, healthcare systems, industry, and other fields related to pharmaceutical science and medicine.

In addition to preparing graduates for successful careers in the pharmaceutical industry, a Doctor of Pharmacology degree also provides students with an in-depth understanding of the basic principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacology, and pharmacotherapeutics. This knowledge is essential for providing quality healthcare services and promoting safe and effective drug use. With the additional research and clinical training, graduates of this program are highly competitive in their field.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are the roles and responsibilities of a Pharmacologist? 

Every pharmacologist’s job differs depending on their chosen specialization and employer. Pharmacologists with pharmaceutical companies will likely be involved in the research and development of new drugs, including data analysis and clinical trials. Pharmacologists with the US Food and Drug Administration can evaluate the data regarding clinical trials submitted by pharmaceutical companies. 

With that said, the general roles and responsibilities of pharmacologists include: 

Pharmacologists may also be expert witnesses in court proceedings regarding the effects of drugs. 

What’s the typical program of study for a Pharmacy degree?  

Becoming a pharmacologist can take at least ten years of formal study since it requires a doctorate. But while pharmacologists have a doctorate, they aren’t usually considered doctors in the same way as professionals with a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Instead, their doctorate is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, a research-intensive degree. 

The typical path toward a Ph.D. in Pharmacology is as follows: 

Due to the multiple educational pathways toward a career in pharmacology, interested individuals must consult with academic advisors or guidance counselors. 

What are the important qualities of a Pharmacologist? 

Like all professionals in the medical industry, pharmacy graduates must live up to high standards in their personal and professional lives. With so many lives at stake, their most important qualities include: 

Pharmacologists must also be patient, organized, and objective when involved in research projects. 

What are the training and licensing requirements to practice as a Pharmacologist? 

Aspiring pharmacologists must apply for the appropriate board certification with the American Board of Clinical Pharmacology (ABCP). There are two types, namely: 

The certification exams are offered from July to August. The ABCP has been the official accreditation and certification body for both applied and clinical pharmacology programs since 1991. 

Earning a certification in a pharmacology specialty is also highly recommended since it demonstrates expertise in and commitment to the profession. 

What makes the Doctor in Pharmacology degree worth the extensive commitment? 

If there’s a silver lining to this current crisis, it must be the spotlight in which the pharmacology industry has found itself! The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized its importance in addressing the myriad of diseases and disorders that humanity faces. The speed with which the pharmacology industry provided solutions for the coronavirus crisis has been praised, too. 

For aspiring and current pharmacologists, now is the time to shine! Other reasons for pursuing the pharmacology path include the expansion from conventional drugs to innovative therapeutic programs. Think of gene therapeutics and engineering, protein-based and cell-based therapies, and fast-acting vaccines.  

Indeed, pharmacologists and pharmaceutical scientists are being recognized for their profound impact on how we live as individuals and as a society! 

There’s also the fact that a Ph.D. in Pharmacology will open up careers in pharmacology, toxicology, and medical research in a wide range of settings. Hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical corporations, government agencies, colleges and universities, and non-profit organizations are just a few examples of workplaces. 

Pharmacologists are also among the highest-paid scientists in the United States! Their median annual pay is $91,510 per year (BLS, May 2020) when classified as medical scientists. PayScale reports that pharmacologists earn $98,141 per year, on average. The job growth is also a come-on at 17% (2020-2030), a much faster than average rate, meaning there are plenty of current and future job opportunities. 

Can the field of Pharmacology be dangerous?

Yes, the field of pharmacology can be dangerous. Working with drugs and chemicals can be hazardous, and it’s important for pharmacologists to take proper safety precautions at all times. Additionally, pharmacologists must be aware of any new medicines or treatments and study their effects on people.

METHODOLOGY

The Doctor of Pharmacology or related sciences programs featured here were selected based on their: 

20 BEST DOCTOR OF PHARMACOLOGY GRADUATE SCHOOLS

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill 

University of North Carolina

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

PhD in Pharmacology 

UNC’s main goal in its Ph.D. in Pharmacology program is the development of outstanding pharmacological scientists. Toward this end, students are provided with full participation and support from faculty mentors, high levels of NIH funding, and excellent physical facilities. Students are encouraged to study the diverse research areas in pharmacology, from cell surface receptors to behavioral pharmacology. 

Standout Features:

UNC is among the best universities for a Ph.D. in Pharmacology because of its robust support for basic and applied research in the pharmacological sciences. The state-of-the-art facilities house cutting-edge equipment, and the award-winning faculty members have a hands-on approach to mentoring student-researchers. UNC has several research centers, including the Genetic Medicine Building, Thurston Bowles Alcohol Center, and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

When the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center happened, the undergraduate class of 2005 were in their freshman year. Their graduation class gift commemorated the victims who were UNC alumni through a memorial garden. 

Boston University 

Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

PhD in Pharmacology

The Ph.D. in Pharmacology program has produced many of the country’s leading pharmacologists! In 1997, the Biomolecular Pharmacology Program was recognized with the prestigious T32 Instructional Training Grant by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. But BU School of Medicine doesn’t rest on its laurels either, and it has continued its system-wide initiatives to provide doctoral students with a conducive environment for education and research. 

Standout Features:

Students will likely enjoy better academic and research success by participating in the interdepartmental Biomolecular Pharmacology predoctoral training program. The formal training covers interdisciplinary topics in molecular pharmacology, drug-receptor interactions, and neurobiology.  

The Castle houses the BU Pub, the only pub operated by Boston University, and it’s where students, faculty, and staff relax and mingle. 

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 

University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan

PhD in Pharmacology 

UMich is a preeminent public research university that, in the fiscal year 2020, reported $1.62 billion in research volume and made significant advancements in several areas. These include the COVID-19 pandemic, carbon neutrality and driverless vehicle technology, even social justice. Indeed, the first pharmacology department in the United States continues to embrace its service vision through scholarship and research! 

Standout Features:

Every student must have an Individual Development Plan by the start of their second year. Many students become part of the university’s T32 training grants, such as the Human Genetics Training Grant and the Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (PSTP).  Fellowships are also possible for senior students after completion of their F31 proposal. 

“Defend the Diag!” is the battle cry of members of the Theta Xi fraternity as they protect Umich’s quad from possible vandalism by Michigan State students before the annual football game. 

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

PhD in Pharmacology

Research is in UPenn’s DNA, and it shows in its long list of achievements and its $1 billion+ annual research funding! Its research-centric journal, aptly titled Research at Penn, showcases groundbreaking research from its 12 schools. Most notable in 2021 are mRNA technology, uterine transplant, and sustainable farms of the future. As a Ph.D. in Pharmacology student, you will also have the opportunity to contribute to scientific advancements! 

Standout Features: 

UPenn’s Ph.D. training program has funding support from the NIGMS Predoctoral Training Grant in Pharmacology. Students are provided with intensive knowledge and skills in basic biomedical science and pharmacology. There are also training sessions in genome science and bioinformatics. 

After the third quarter in a Quaker football game, students, alumni, and supporters will throw toast – as in toasted bread – and sing “Drink a Highball.” 

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 

The State University of New Jersey

Piscataway, New Jersey

PharmD/PhD Program

Rutgers knows where its priorities lie, and it’s in supporting its core missions, including academic instruction and research! Students in its PharmD/Ph.D. program can rely on Rutgers’ ample support for their academic studies and research activities. The Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology (JGPT) designed the dual degree program’s curriculum. 

Standout Features:

The PharmD/Ph.D. program courses can be transferred to other programs, too, in case you want to transfer! Students are provided with broad research training in toxicology, molecular biology, pathology, and drug metabolism. 

The Scarlet was the former name Rutgers’ athletes were called, referencing the university color. The Scarlet Knight isn’t the university’s original mascot – it was Chanticleer, a fighting rooster inspired by the Reynard the Fox medieval fable. But the fighting rooster became associated with “being chicken” and was replaced by the Scarlet Knight. 

Columbia University 

Columbia University

New York, New York

PhD in Pharmacology 

Columbia is among the country’s highest-ranking research universities, with NIH research grants of more than $667 million in 2020! Suffice it to say that its graduate programs, including the Ph.D. in Pharmacology program, enable students to pursue their research interests! 

Standout Features:

The Ph.D. in Pharmacology program has a ladderized curriculum, meaning students can earn a degree as they progress through the program’s milestones. Students who have completed two years have been conferred a master of arts degree. After passing the qualifying exam and getting approval for the thesis proposal, the MPhil degree is conferred. The Ph.D. degree is conferred after the successful defense of a dissertation. 

Columbia University is among the largest landowners in New York City in parcels of land and buildings owned – more than 246 sites as of the last count. There are also a few National Historic Landmarks too, such as the Low and Pupin. 

University of California Los Angeles 

University of California

Los Angeles, California

PhD in Pharmacology 

UCLA consistently tops its previous-year research funding support with its 2019-2020 funding reaching $1.427 billion, a 38% increase since 2015. The Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology (DMMP) offers the Ph.D. in Pharmacology program among its notable funding recipients. Faculty members and students are offered research opportunities that integrate pharmacology with other sciences, including medical, physical, and biological sciences. The goals include innovations in molecular therapeutics as well as new in vivo and in vitro molecular diagnostics. 

Standout Features:

Students have numerous opportunities for research in state-of-the-art centers like the Ahmanson Translational Imaging Division and the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging. DMMP also has close ties with start-ups and biotechnology companies where students can participate in laboratory rotations. Students may also become Graduate Student Representatives and, thus, develop their leadership skills. 

UCLA is proud of its sports activities and teams. It’s the first university in the US to achieve 100 championships. The July 2019 record of 129 national championships is second only to Stanford University. And don’t forget that UCLA has the best college food in the entire country! 

Yale University 

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

PhD in Pharmacology 

Yale, an R1 research university and member of the AAU, has a campus dedicated solely for research – the 136-acre former Bayer Healthcare campus – along with its numerous graduate and professional schools. Among the most active, research-wise, is its Department of Pharmacology that offers a highly selective Ph.D. in Pharmacology program. This is, in turn, part of the Program in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS), which offers interdisciplinary and integrated graduate study opportunities. 

Standout Features:

Every student has a customized curriculum based on their unique background, personal interests, and career goals. But there are mandatory program requirements, too, such as the laboratory rotations and teaching assistantships. Students train in the diverse areas of pharmacology, from cell and molecular biology to pathology. 

Milton C. Winternitz created the Yale System in its medical school, and it emphasizes critical thinking among students in a non-competitive environment. This means students aren’t graded, but the Yale School of Medicine is among the most selective.  

    The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences

Ohio State prides itself on the excellence and extent of its research programs, resulting in its status as a leader in change and innovation. And it has the financial resources, too, with $968.3 million in R&D expenditures in 2020! Suffice it to say that students in its world-class Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences program have all the necessary resources to make discoveries. 

Standout Features:

Students thrive in the program’s flexible programming, wherein there are only a few mandatory courses and a wide range of electives. Faculty advisors allow students to choose their focus areas for research and then tailor their electives and dissertation based on their choice. 

OSU is exceptional for being one of the few universities with a land, sea, and space grant! Not only is it the home of geniuses – it’s the country’s #1 producer of Fulbright Scholars, among other distinctions – but it’s also a happy place to be! 

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

PhD in Pharmacology 

Vandy has made several breakthrough discoveries and innovations, such as the powered exoskeleton and Tennessine, that it’s considered a preeminent research university. Its Department of Pharmacology offers an outstanding Ph.D. in Pharmacology program where nearly 60 students – or scientists-in-training – are involved in many research projects. The most notable as in drug metabolism, receptor signaling, and neuroscience. 

Standout Features:

Students participate in research and scholarly activities and engage in a wide range of professional development activities. These include department and works-in-progress seminars, participation in the Graduate Student Journal Club, and attendance in lectures delivered by distinguished professionals. Informal lunches with the faculty are even encouraged! 

Vandy houses Middle Tennessee’s only Level 1 trauma center and the only cancer center researching pediatric and adult cancers. Such is its cancer research-centric focus that it’s a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. 

Emory University

Emory University

Atlanta, Georgia

PhD in Pharmacology 

Emory’s excellent track record in research spills over to its graduate students in its Ph.D. in Pharmacology program. In 2021, the university received $894 million for research into COVID-19, and we can safely surmise that pharmacology is covered. Emory takes pride in its world-class Molecular and Systems Pharmacology (MSP) graduate program, where future leaders are made. 

Standout Features:

The MSP Program’s particular strengths are cancer biology, neuropharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, chemical biology, AIDS research, and toxicology. No wonder it’s ranked #1 by The Scientist based on its impactful research in pharmacology and toxicology! 

Emory has a macabre streak with its guardian of the school spirit and unofficial mascot being Dooley, a skeleton. But it has its creative side, with Emory ranked the best university for writers, thanks to its excellent writing programs. 

Cornell University

Cornell University

New York, New York

PhD in Pharmacology 

Cornell’s mission of teaching and contributing to all fields of knowledge is alive and well in its Ph.D. in Pharmacology program! Students are encouraged to dig deeper into every aspect of pharmacological sciences and, in so doing, make impactful contributions to the field. With Cornell’s $1.19 billion in total research funding – #1 in the State of New York – there’s plenty of research opportunities for graduate students, too. 

Standout Features:

Ph.D. students and faculty members in the Pharmacology Program focus their research on treatments and therapies for several diseases and, thus, make significant contributions to medicine. Many faculty members are associated with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute and Weill Cornell Medical College. Students can then perform research on diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Cornell’s main campus stretches for 745 acres, but its total campus area covers thousands of acres! The 4,300-acre Cornell Plantations with its forest and garden belongs to the private Ivy League university. 

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

New York, New York

PhD in Biomedical Sciences Pharmacology and Therapeutics Discovery Concentration

ISMMS, a private medical school, is Mount Sinai Health System’s academic teaching arm and offers the outstanding Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences with a Pharmacology and Therapeutics Discovery Concentration. Students are provided with state-of-the-art training, tools, and technologies necessary for their career success in the future. The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, which administers the program, allows students to choose their multidisciplinary training area, preceptor, and curriculum. 

Standout Features:

The Ph.D. program provides state-of-the-art technology for its students during their research and, thus, ensures that their research projects are up to standard. These include NMR spectroscopy, chemical synthesis, bioinformatics, and next-generation sequencing, among other rational methods for drug discovery. 

ISMMS is among the top research recipients of the NIH, with over $400 million funding in 2021! Medical students learn the medical sciences in their first two years – and it’s a pass/fail system – and then the clinical sciences in their last two years. 

Johns Hopkins University 

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

PhD in Pharmacology

Offered by the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, the Ph.D. in Pharmacology degree provides a wide range of training opportunities in biomedical sciences. Students tackle immunology, chemical biology, neuroscience, virology, and cancer to discover new treatments and therapies. The sheer number of specific research areas available for study makes JHU the best in our book! 

Standout Features:

Students in the MD program may also enroll in the Ph.D. program and earn both degrees. Opportunities to earn a dual degree are also offered to students enrolled in programs where pharmacology faculty participate. These include programs in cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, pathobiology, immunology, and neuroscience. 

JHU is an old hand at advanced research since it’s the first research university in the country! There’s a history of firsts here! In 1985, the Peabody Institute, the country’s first music academy, became part of JHU.  

University of Colorado

University of Colorado

Aurora, Colorado

PhD in Pharmacology 

UC Boulder’s Graduate Program in Pharmacology has a 43-year track record of excellence, and it’s among the longest-running programs of its kind. Plus, it’s one of the best NIH-sponsored training programs with a research focus on cancer biology, neuroscience, and signal transduction. 

Standout Features:

The program’s underlying philosophy is the emphasis on state-of-the-art research technologies and techniques in all training stages. Only candidates with exceptional academic and training credentials are considered for admission. 

CU has 19 alumni who have made their mark as astronauts. Talk about reaching for the stars! There’s even a teaching astronaut at the Boulder campus. 

University of Washington 

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

PhD in Pharmacology 

UW’s Ph.D. in Pharmacology program is open to graduate students and students enrolled in the university’s medical, nursing, dental, and pharmacy programs. Offered by the Department of Pharmacology, the research-intensive program explores the myriad aspects of pharmacological sciences with an interdisciplinary approach. 

Standout Features:

Ph.D. students can rely on the strong support system provided by UW to ensure their academic success! Faculty members act as mentors whose guidance and mentorship start from the first day of classes. Students meet with their supervisory committee to ensure that they are on track even during the dissertation-focused years. 

Known as the Sun Dodgers since 1919, UW’s athletic teams, students, and alumni decided it was time for a change in 1922. On February 3, the university officially changed its athletic teams’ nickname to The Huskies, and it has stuck ever since. 

Duke University 

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

PhD in Pharmacology 

Duke’s highly selective admission policy applies to its Ph.D. in Pharmacology program, too, meaning applicants must be ready for a rigorous selection process.  But the effort is worth it considering that Duke spends over $1 billion on its research projects every year and many of its faculty are among the most cited researchers. This means Ph.D. students can rely on a strong support system for their pharmacological sciences-based research. 

Standout Features:

Students aren’t overburdened by didactic coursework as there’s only a small number of core courses in pharmacology that must be completed. The rest of the didactic instruction is directly related to their dissertation topic, which may be in biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics. 

Duke is particularly known for its exceptional strengths in cellular signaling mechanisms and receptor function concerning neuropharmacology, metabolism, and drug action. 

Duke’s endowment may come from tobacco money, but smoking is completely banned in most areas on campus, such as in the medical center and within 10 feet of dining and residential buildings! 

University of Mississippi 

University of Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

PhD in Pharmacology

Ole Miss is notable for its research on biomedical sciences, with its Ph.D. in Pharmacology faculty and students making significant contributions. Offered by the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, the program trains individuals for successful careers in pharmacology and toxicology. Graduates become teachers, researchers, and leaders in these fields, too. 

Standout Features:

Students hone their research skills through a combination of independent research and faculty-led research, both of which are characterized by their intensive demands. 

Ole Miss one-upped Bama when it hired Sarah Isom, the Southeast’s first female professor. 


Key Takeaways

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.