Pharmacological Sciences PhD Program

The Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacology offer an interdepartmental program leading to a PhD in Pharmacological Sciences with a Concentration in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacology or Medicinal Chemistry.  For detailed information about the program requirements, visit our page in the UCI General Catalogue.

The current areas of study in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department 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 each individual student. 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. By the end of their third 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 dissertation.

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


Application Instructions

Complete the Online Application which is submitted to the UCI 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, Pharmacology, OR Medicinal Chemistry

Students are admitted to the Pharmacological Sciences PhD program on an annual basis in the fall quarter only. The admissions committee and the graduate advisor screen applications immediately after the application deadline. First round 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 ($120 for domestic applicants, i.e. US citizens and permanent residents and $140 for international applicants)
  • For application review purposes only, scan and upload copies of transcripts for all institutions attended since high school. In the online application, you will be prompted to upload your scanned documents. Please upload both the front and back sides of the transcript. Uploaded transcripts should be recent and include the following: your name, dates of attendance, grades/marks received, credits and grading legend. Official transcripts will be requested by the Graduate Division if and when you are admitted and decide to attend UCI. Do not send official transcripts until this time.
  • A Personal statement that must include your specific research interest and three possible research advisors
  • 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)

Applicants are encouraged to upload the following in their application:

  • Current curriculum vitae or resume
  • List of publications



  • 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 Pharmacological Sciences program is approximately 23%, and admitted applicants from previous cycles had the below characteristics:

  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.32
  • Average GRE scores: 153 Verbal; 155 Quantitative; 4.0 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
  • However, 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.
  • 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.