Curriculum concept

abstract lines


The UCSF School of Pharmacy doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum for 2018 and beyond is under intense development. The curriculum is structured around five main curriculum components:

  1. Foundations
  2. Integrated Themes
  3. Applied Patient Care Skills
  4. Practice Experiences
  5. Discovery Projects

At the beginning of year one, special attention will be paid to preparing students for success in the curriculum and orienting students to people, places, and resources.


Within Foundations, students will gain fundamental knowledge and skills that will be applied repeatedly as they progress through the curriculum. These courses are strategically placed at the beginning of both year one and year two. Each course provides students with key concepts in the biomedical, pharmaceutical, social/administrative, and clinical sciences, as well as necessary skills for professional and academic success.

Integrated Themes

Students will apply the fundamentals they learned in Foundations to eight Integrated Themes. Each theme is comprised of a core Science and Therapeutics thread and an Inquiry thread. The Integrated Theme coursework begins in year one and continues through the spring of year two.

Year 1 Science and Therapeutics Thread

  • Cardiovascular
  • Respiratory
  • Renal
  • Gastrointestinal

Year 2 Science and Therapeutics Thread

  • Endocrinology
  • Psychiatry and neurology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Oncology

In the Science and Therapeutics thread, students will gain the biomedical sciences and therapeutics knowledge they will need as practicing pharmacists.

In the Inquiry thread, students will explore the latest scientific developments and most recent innovations in patient care. Inquiry immersion coursework will equip students with the scientific thinking skills and tools they will need to continually identify and solve problems.

Applied Patient Care Skills

Through a longitudinal Applied Patient Care Skills course beginning in year one, students will acquire hands-on, practice-related skills. The skills being acquired during any one point in the curriculum will align as closely as possible with the Integrated Theme topics and pharmacy practice experiences in which students will be concurrently engaged.

Practice Experiences

Clinical pharmacy practice experiences will be designed to integrate with the Science and Therapeutics thread and will purposefully reflect the kinds of situations and challenges pharmacists face regularly. These practice experiences gradually increase in complexity over time, from introductory to advanced. Students will have opportunities for elective as well as required practice experiences. Experience sites are located both at and beyond UCSF.

Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs) will run throughout the first and second years of the curriculum, exposing students to contemporary pharmacy practice in community and hospital settings. Early practice experiences ready students for the advanced level of clinical experience. Joint practice experiences with UCSF health professions students are being piloted.

Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) will begin during late spring of the second year and continue through the third year. Students will apply their learning in community, hospital, and outpatient clinic settings.

Discovery Projects

Through in-depth projects, students will tackle a pharmacy-related problem of personal interest—and its solution—in detail, over time, and with the guidance of seasoned faculty mentors.

The Discovery Project will allow students to become adept at developing and answering scientific and clinical questions. Depending on the scope of the selected project, students are mentored individually or in small teams by established scientists and clinicians who are experts in the students’ project areas. The Discovery Project begins in year two and continues until the final block of the curriculum.


Grading will be pass/no pass. Student academic progress will be measured throughout the curriculum via both formative and summative assessments. Students will have comprehensive progress examinations at or near the end of years one and two. Student Discovery Projects will be presented for review at the end of year three. Review for the pharmacy licensure examination will occur at the end of year three.