Jul 24, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Pharmaceutical Sciences (PhD)

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This program emphasizes basic as well as applied research in drug delivery and targeting, utilizing medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry, pharmaceutics, pharmacodynamics,  molecular pharmacology, immunology and cell biology.

A minimum of 60 units is required for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. At least 24 units of course work are required at the 500-level or above, exclusive of seminar and directed research. The Doctor of Philosophy candidate must select a minimum of 12 units from courses offered in the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences (PPSI), eight of which must be selected from the core 4-unit courses. The remainder of the 24 units may be taken from PPSI courses or from courses offered in other departments that are approved by the PPSI graduate affairs committee. The qualifying exam committee may require more than 24 units of course work. A maximum of 12 units can be transferred from graduate studies elsewhere.

Foreign Language Requirement

There is no formal foreign language requirement. However, an individual qualifying exam committee can require competency in a foreign language or some other research tool such as computer language, if this is relevant for the student’s area of research.

Qualifying Exam Committee

Upon admission, the student will be assigned to a member of the graduate faculty who will serve as his or her temporary adviser until a permanent adviser has been identified. The student’s program of study will be under the direction of a qualifying exam committee composed of at least five members, one of whom must be from outside the department granting the degree. The student should select a graduate adviser and qualifying exam committee no later than the third semester in residence.

Screening Procedure

The performance of each student will be evaluated no later than the end of the second semester of enrollment in the graduate program. This screening procedure is conducted by the student’s qualifying exam committee or, if a student has not selected his or her research adviser at that time, by the Graduate Review Committee of the department. The committee reviews thoroughly the student’s progress up to that point in various areas including course work, research interests and laboratory performance on his or her research project or laboratory rotations. If a performance deficiency is detected at that point by the committee, the student will be recommended to either take additional course work or transfer to the Master of Science program. Passing this screening procedure is prerequisite to continuation in the PhD program.

Qualifying Examination

Students will be required to pass a comprehensive qualifying examination in major areas of the pharmaceutical sciences. The examination is administered by the qualifying exam committee and consists of two parts: a written examination and a written proposition outlining a research project, followed by an oral examination based on the proposition and questions dealing with the written examination. All course and qualifying examination requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy must be completed within two and one half years after admission.


A dissertation based on original investigation is required. The research should make a contribution to science and should demonstrate the candidate’s scholarly advancement and competence to undertake independent research. An oral defense of the dissertation will be held after the candidate submits the final draft of the dissertation to the dissertation committee (see Theses and Dissertations ).

Student Teaching

Teaching experience is considered an integral part of the training of graduate students. Thus, as part of the general requirements for the PhD, each student is required to participate in the teaching program of the USC Alfred E. Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

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