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Best Major to Pursue a Ph.D. in Pharmacology?

omarrrromarrrr Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member

I am currently a sophomore in my Chemistry major with a biochemistry track. I really want to go into Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology when I graduate but due to limited information about the field I cannot make the decision as to whether or not I should change my major to Biology with a Pre-Health Professional track or stick to my current major. Any ideas?


Replies to: Best Major to Pursue a Ph.D. in Pharmacology?

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    edited August 31
    The best way to figure this out is to look at the requirements for toxicology and/or pharmacology graduate programs. I took a look at a few.
    University of Washington's environmental toxicology PhD program recommends at least one year of biology, one year of general chemistry and two quarters/one semester of organic chemistry (and recommends physical chemistry), one quarter of differential and integral calculus (and recommends more), and one year of algebra-based physics.
    NCSU's PhD program in toxicology "invites applications from all individuals holding Baccalaureate or Master’s degrees with strong backgrounds in the physical and life sciences."
    The University of Arizona's PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology requires "a bachelor's degree in pharmacy, chemistry, or the biological sciences or Pharm.D. degree and adequate preparation in mathematics."
    UCLA's PhD in molecular toxicology says "the ideal training for an undergraduate would be to major either in Chemistry or Biology and to have a solid background in both of these disciplines with some quantitative training"; they also require a course in statistics.
    Berkeley's PhD program in molecular toxicology says applicants "with a background in the biological sciences and lab experience are best suited for the Molecular Toxicology program. While there are no set prerequisites, we look for the coursework in areas such as calculus, general and organic chemistry, biology, and biochemistry. Because this program is designed to develop research scientists, it is also important that applicants are familiar with an experimental lab setting."
    I looked at a couple of pharmacology PhD programs (e.g. Duke, Minnesota) and advice was generally the same.

    So, it doesn't look like it matters whether you major in chemistry or biology - that's totally up to you. Whichever one you like better is what you should stick with, and make sure that you take adequate coursework in the other field (and a lot of math, apparently).
  • omarrrromarrrr Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    @juillet Thank you so much for your detailed response! I'm thinking of sticking with Chemistry even though it's the harder major and take some biochemistry and pharmacology courses as well after that. Thanks again!
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