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MS & PhD Graduate Programs (Pharmacology & Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Sciences)

Overview: 

The College of Pharmacy Graduate Programs offers a Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) graduate degrees. The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are offered in Pharmacology and Toxicology and in Pharmaceutical Sciences. There are three tracks within the Pharmaceutical Sciences degree: Pharmaceutics and Pharmacokinetics; Drug Discovery and Development; and Pharmaceutical Economics, Policy, and Outcomes.

Ph.D. student graduate average is 4.5-5.5 years of training and pursue careers in highly competitive postgraduate or research positions in academia, industry, government agencies or as consultants for pharmaceuticals companies. M.S. students who apply to the PharmEPO program complete their degree in two years and must apply for admission into the Ph.D. program.

Information about our faculty and their research can be found at the College of Pharmacy website: http://www.pharmacy.arizona.edu/page/grad-pgms

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Graduates of the Pharmaceutical Sciences & Pharmacology and Toxicology, PhD and MS

PHARMACOLOGY is the science concerned with all aspects of the action of drugs and other chemicals on living systems. Its primary aim is the discovery of chemical mechanisms by which cellular and molecular functions are regulated for the purpose of understanding how existing drugs act and to develop new drugs for treatment of diseases. TOXICOLOGY is the study of how chemical and physical agents adversely affect living organisms. Toxicologists study the mechanisms by which environmental agents contribute to cancer, respiratory disease, neurological diseases and many other degenerative disorders. DRUG DISCOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT is a multi-disciplinary science involved in the discovery, design and development of new drugs for the treatment of diseases. This discipline synthesizes and characterizes new compounds as well as isolates and characterizes new compounds from natural products. PHARMACEUTICS & PHARMACOKINETICS Pharmaceutics is concerned with the design and development of pharmaceutical dosage forms. Formulations are developed that maximize the bioavailability and/or the stability of the active ingredient. Pharmacokinetics is the area of study which examines the rates of those processes associated with entry into, disposition through and exit from the body of a drug presented to the body and relates the pharmacological response to the concentration of the drug. PHARMACEUTICAL ECONOMICS, POLICY & OUTCOMES Examines the role of pharmaceutical technologies in prevention and treatment of disease. This discipline examines the value of pharmaceuticals from a clinical, economic, and humanistic perspective.

By completion of the M.S. and/or Ph.D. graduate program, the student will:

  • Learn the basic principles of the discipline
  • Utilize technologies required for modern biomedical research
  • Develop a hypothesis and design experiments to test the hypothesis
  • Analyze the scientific literature
  • Communicate effectively in an oral setting
  • Write proficiently in scientific style

Timeline of Training:  The Graduate Programs Director meets with incoming first year students at New Student Orientation and again individually shortly after the end of the first semester to evaluate aptitude and support the new students in their search for a permanent advisor or research laboratory.  The students are also encouraged to voice any concerns and make suggestions on improving the program.  The students meet regularly with the Graduate Programs Office to ensure all Graduate Programs and GradPath milestones are completed and to propose a graduation date.  Track directors meet with 1st year students individually to customize curriculum needs and monitor student academic performance until an advisor has been selected.  The Thesis and/or dissertation advisor meets regularly with the student to evaluate the students experimental design and results; presentation at group meeting; and review of manuscripts.  Each year, students complete an annual report in preparation for a meeting with their advisor. The Thesis / Dissertation Committee assesses research progress annually.  The College of Pharmacy Graduate Programs requires Ph.D. students to complete a written and oral comprehensive exam based upon coursework and the student’s proposal for research. The student will also defend the masters thesis or doctoral dissertation. The assessment activities will be used to gather program level assessment data.

Program Measures to Assess Progress Toward Successful Outcomes: The Graduate Programs in the College of Pharmacy has established six program measures for research training of students seeking their M.S. or Ph.D. degree:

  1. Training Specific Proficiency: student's will be evaluated as to their basic knowledge of the breadth and depth in the field of Pharmaceutical Sciences or Pharmacology & Toxicology through the annual student report; annual committee meeting; qualifying, written and oral comprehensive exam; thesis and/or dissertation; and as part of the self-evaluation/exit survey.
  2. Technology Expertise: understanding of and the ability to use state of the art techniques and perform research activities will be evaluated through self-evaluations after presentations; annual committee meetings; qualifying, written and oral comprehensive exams; at the thesis and/or dissertation defense and at the completion of the program,
  3. Critical Thinking; the ability for students to develop a hypothesis and design experiments to test the hypothesis will be evaluated by their advisor's evaluation and their self-evaluations.  The comprehensive exams and thesis/dissertation defense will also examine the ability of the student to employ multiple approaches to address scientific questions and interpret findings.
  4. Analyze the scientific literature: The student will be expected to acquire essential skills that enable the professional use of scientific literature as available in published journals and databases.  Special emphasis is placed on demonstrating the ability to critically review of a multitude of scientific data from different sources that must undergo stringent scruitiny and statistical analysis before relavant conclusions can be drawn. 
  5. Oral communication: is specifically evaluated as part of the oral presentation / self-evaluation after seminar or conference presentations.  The student will receive oral and written feedback from the faculty and seminar coordinator.  Students will be specifically evaluated on their ability to communicate to a broad scientific audience as well as to a lay audience.  In addition, oral communication skills will be evaluated at annual committee meetings; the thesis and/or dissertation defense; and at the completion of the program with the self-evaluation/exit survey.
  6. Written comunication: is evaluated through writing requirements including the student's annual report; qualifying and written comprehensive exams; specific aims / research proposal; the thesis / dissertation; and through the self-evaluation/exit survey. Feedback and mentoring are provided by the track director, major advisor and committee annually. Publications are fundamental to the communication of research progress and the expectation is that each students will have the equivalent to one first-authored publication submitted by the time of their thesis and/or dissertation defense.
Assessment Activities: 

The College of Pharmacy Graduate Programs requires a student to complete a written and oral comprehensive exam based upon coursework and the student’s research proposal.  The student will also defend the M.S. thesis and/or Ph.D. dissertation.  Students are evaluated annually through self-evaluations and by faculty with a variety of assessment activities.

Regular or Recurring Activities

Measures / Outcomes
Assessment Activities Training Specific Proficiency Technology Expertise Critical Thinking Analyze Scientific Literature Oral Communication Written Communication

Annual Student Report

X         X
Annual Committee Meeting Report X X X X X X
Oral Presentation Evaluation   X X X X X
Qualifying Exam X X   X   X
Comprehensive Exam X X X X X X
Final Exam X X X X X X
Student Self Evaluation / Exit Survey X X X X X X

Other Assessment Measures: While these assessment measures do not align specifically with program level outcomes, these assessment techniques are used to provide feedback on program effectiveness.

Assessment Findings: 

The Outcomes Assessment Rubric is completed after the comprehensice oral exam by each faculty member from the major and minor committee.  The chair of the committee submits the scored rubrics to the Graduate Programs coordinator. The table below shows the summary of data collected since fall 2012.

Outcomes Measured
Exceeds Meets Does Not Meet
3 2 1
  • Learned the basic principles of the discipline
    Average (49)
    2.45
  • Utilizes technologies required for modern biomedical research
    Average (49)
    2.47
  • Can develop a hypothesis and design experiments to test the hypothesis
    Average (49)
    2.43

  • Analyzes the scientific literature
    Average (49)
    2.44

  • Communicates effectively in an oral setting
    Average (49)
    2.43

  • Writes proficiently in scientific style
    Average (49)
    2.44

Change in Response to Findings: 

The College of Pharmacy Graduate Council and Track Directors for respective programs:

  1. created a form in fall 2012 to assess outcomes after the completion of the comprehensive exam;
  2. enforced the completion of preliminary exams no later than the third year in residence to ensure progress toward research (candidacy);
  3. amended the Student Annual Committee Meeting form to include each faculty member's evaluation of the student's satisfactory progress towards completion;
  4. required Drug Discovery and Development students to take Medical Chemistry PHSC 537a/b;
  5. required the Qualifying exam or MS Thesis for graduate students admitted to PharmEPO with a clinical bachelor's degree (e.g., Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy) or advanced clinical doctorate or terminal master’s degree (e.g., Doctor of Pharmacy / Pharm.D., Doctor of Medicine/M.D., MPH) to gain entry into the Ph.D program;
  6. established the Oral presentation self-evaluation / faculty feedback form;
  7. updated Track Handbooks to reflect the program changes;
  8. included a section in the Student Annual Report “Community Partner” to increase participation in seminar activities, proctoring assignments, recruitment involvement, and graduate student council membership;
  9. launched the student hosted career seminar speakers twice per year to provide graduate students scholary exchange with renowned researchers and to build network opportunities for future employment.
Updated date: Mon, 05/15/2017 - 18:03