Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most frequently asked questions about the UCSF PharmD-PhD dual degree program.

  1. How many students apply for admission to the UCSF PharmD-PhD each year, and how many of those are accepted?

    The number of applications varies from year to year, but we generally receive one to two applications per year. All applicants to the PharmD-PhD dual degree must apply to both the UCSF PharmD program as well as the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics (PSPG) PhD program, both of which are highly competitive. Since admission to the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD program is competitive, and a limited number of graduate students are admitted to the PSPG PhD program annually, admission to the UCSF PharmD-PhD is not guaranteed.

  2. Are students in the UCSF PharmD-PhD permitted to delay starting the PhD program following receipt of the PharmD?

    Yes. Students may request a deferment to the PhD program for up to one year following acceptance into the program, however students must submit an updated application to the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD program.

  3. When can I start my research?

    At any time, and the sooner the better. The Extended Discovery Project in the PharmD curriculum will count as one rotation. A second research rotation can be taken instead of a seventh APPE experience. The final rotation can take place once the PharmD curriculum requirements are met.

    Because the PhD is a research degree, you want to make sure that research is a good fit for you as soon as possible. You also want to make an informed decision about who you will select as your research adviser, so it is important that you get as much and as varied research experience as possible before making a decision. Ideally, you will start in your dissertation laboratory when you enter the PhD program.

  4. When should I apply to the UCSF PharmD-PhD??

    Prospective PharmD-PhD students may apply to both programs by the December 2 deadline.

    If you are a current PharmD student, you may apply during the first two years of your PharmD program. Applications must be received by December 2. If you are accepted into the PhD program, you will receive a letter of intent that guarantees admission to the PhD program as soon as you have finished the PharmD and providing that you maintain the minimum 3.0 GPA in your PharmD program.

  5. If I apply, can I change my mind later?

    Of course. The letter of intent will be binding on our part but not yours. If you decide not to pursue the PhD, you will not be penalized in any way. We ask only that you notify us when you make your decision.

  6. Will I actually be enrolled simultaneously as a PharmD professional and PhD graduate student?

    No. At UCSF, you may be enrolled in only one academic program at a time. As a result, PharmD-PhD dual degree students will not be officially enrolled as PhD students until the PharmD is completed.

  7. How much time will I save with the UCSF PharmD-PhD?

    Unlike the PharmD component with its fixed curriculum, the PhD is a research degree, so it is impossible to put a firm timetable on the duration of the program.

    Typically, PhD students require five to six years to complete the requirements for the degree. However, the efficiencies built into the UCSF PharmD-PhD dual degree may shorten the time required for the PhD to approximately four years. It is expected that students will take their qualifying exam and will be advanced to PhD candidacy within 12 to 24 months of completing the PharmD degree.

    At least one core course and several elective courses in the PhD program may be taken during the Extended Discovery Project in the PharmD program. Since course credit may be applied to only one degree program, your grades and credit for these courses will not appear on your transcript until enrolled in the graduate program. Importantly, research started in the Extended Discovery Project of the PharmD program may be part of the PhD thesis, potentially shortening research time.

    Students, working with their advisor and dissertation committee, will complete their research and prepare their dissertation. Once the dissertation has been approved, students are awarded the PhD.

    If the degrees are taken separately, the time for both degrees would be approximately eight years; the UCSF PharmD-PhD will take a minimum of seven years for both degrees.

  8. What degrees are ultimately conferred?

    A Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree is conferred upon completion of the PharmD program requirements and prior to entry into the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics PhD program.

    A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics is conferred upon completion of the requirements for the PhD program.

  9. I am a PharmD, am I eligible for the UCSF PharmD-PhD dual degree?

    If you have already completed your PharmD, you are not eligible for the UCSF PharmD-PhD dual degree, but you might want to pursue one of our PhD programs.

  10. I am not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. May I apply to the UCSF PharmD-PhD?

    International and non-USA citizens may apply for admission to the UCSF PharmD-PhD dual degree. Details:

  11. What are some of the postdoctoral opportunities afforded to your most recent PharmD-PhD graduates?

    Recent UCSF PharmD-PhD graduates have taken positions in academic institutions, biotechnology companies as well as with the United States Food and Drug Administration. We anticipate that our UCSF PharmD-PhD graduates will be highly competitive for most postdoctoral positions.

  12. What are some of the career opportunities afforded to your most recent UCSF PharmD-PhD graduates?

    The UCSF PharmD-PhD will make you uniquely qualified to translate basic research into clinical applications. For example, your laboratory in a pharmaceutical company might study the genetic variability in drug transporters at the molecular level and then follow up with the relevant clinical studies to determine the impact of this variability on appropriate drug selection and patient care.

    In an academic career, you would greatly expand your potential research topics and be able to clearly show students the relevance of the basic sciences to professional practice.

    Our most recent UCSF PharmD-PhD graduates have, in general, gone on to careers in the academic setting and in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.