Graduate programs in pharmacology (not to be confused with programs in pharmacy) offer a unique take on interdisciplinary study. Typically designed for individuals who have an undergraduate degree in biology, chemistry, or a similar subject, pharmacology programs introduce students to the world of drug interactions, brain chemistry, and cellular physiology. In a way, these degrees act as a bridge from academia to industry, helping students take their theoretical scientific knowledge and apply it to the field that needs it most: healthcare. Most graduates of the M.S. in Pharmacology programs either continue on to earn a Ph.D. (which allows them to teach or conduct more in-depth research), work at pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies, or for regulatory agencies like the FDA.
If you like what you’ve heard so far, then it’s time to start thinking about where you want to go to school. Although the opportunities for master’s degree students are far from endless, there are still plenty of options from which you can choose. To help narrow your focus, we created this best value pharmacology degree ranking. So how did we decide which schools to include?
Generally speaking, we sought to identify top pharmacology degrees that are high quality but won’t leave you drowning in debt. We initially used College Navigator to acquire a list of all the colleges and universities that offer pharmacology degrees in master’s degree form. To identify the select few that have mastered the high-quality, low-cost balancing act, we then looked for programs that, first and foremost, demonstrate commitment to continued growth by actively enrolling and graduating students (according to data provided by College Navigator). We also used the Thompson Reuters’ “Essential Science Indicators” database to identify programs with high research output, i.e. those that boast a large citations-per-article ratio in pharmacology journals. In addition, we analyzed the schools’ broader performance by evaluating their accreditation status with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Board of Clinical Pharmacology (ABCP). Note that the ABCP specifically accredits fellowship programs at universities with associated hospitals, but those schools that qualify undoubtedly have plenty of extra perks to offer master’s degree students, too! Lastly, we assessed each program on its annual cost by looking at tuition rates and fees for the 2013-14 school year (for public schools, we used an average of their in-state and out-of-state rates).
Taking all the data together, we were able to determine the 25 top pharmacology degrees for 2016. They all have something a little different to offer in terms of both price and performance, and we leave it up to you to determine which one best fits your needs!
In addition to the schools’ websites, you can find the other sources we used for this ranking at the end of the article.
25. University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
M.S./Ph.D. Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program: Pharmacology & Physiology
Graduates of the University of North Dakota’s affordable master’s in pharmacology degree leave with a well-rounded understanding of a half dozen key fields of pharmacology – a broader set of courses than at many other schools. This wide-ranging education is probably part of the reason UND graduates are currently working in such a broad array of professional careers around the world. Program alumni include a physician in Iraq, a research lab manager in Colorado, and a marketing representative in Minnesota. Students interested in a comprehensive pharmacology education that opens the door to alternative careers will find there is a lot to love about North Dakota’s top graduate pharmacology program.
Tuition and Fees: $14,345/yr
24. Creighton University
M.S. in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences: Pharmacology Toxicology and Experimental Therapeutics
Creighton University is the only Jesuit institution on this top pharmacology degree ranking, and the school aims to produce graduates whose Ignatian education will help them become liberal-minded change agents in their chosen fields. Along with a strong ethical component (as reflected in the Responsible Conduct of Research core course), Creighton’s pharmacology program encourages students to enroll in graduate courses from other departments. This cross-department coursework is essential to the kind of interdisciplinary education Ignatius Loyola sought to encourage. In addition, a set of seminar courses in the pharmaceutic sciences gives students the opportunity to communicate and collaborate in the best Jesuit tradition.
Tuition and Fees: $16,674/yr
23. New York Medical College
Valhalla, New York
Masters in Pharmacology
The New York Medical College’s top master’s degree in pharmacology emphasizes experimental methods, granting students the opportunity to gain expertise in both both the biological and analytical components of pharmacological research. No matter where your research draws you, NYMC’s program provides plenty of flexibility to dig into specific fields of study. To that end, the school’s graduate pharmacology program includes a Directed Readings in Pharmacology class, in which students choose a particular topic of interest – such as toxicology or biochemistry – to study under the guidance of a faculty member. It’s even possible to enroll in elective coursework from other disciplines with the approval of the program’s director.
Tuition and Fees: $27,095/yr
22. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Little Rock, Arkansas
M.S./Ph.D. Graduate Program in Pharmacology & Neuroscience
The Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences is a new program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science that encourages communication and collaboration among students from different fields. This affordable graduate program in pharmacology begins with a semester-long core curriculum that provides a foundation in basic science in addition to a unique Scientific Communication and Ethics course. Students then split into one of six tracks to gain expertise in a particular field of biomedicine. UAMS’s interdisciplinary ethos continues throughout the three-year program, which includes three additional science communication courses that give students the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from across UAMS.
Tuition and Fees: $12,986/yr
21. SUNY Upstate Medical University
Syracuse, New York
M.S. Program in Pharmaceutical Sciences
Those hoping to enter the world of academia should look closely at the top master’s in pharmacology degree at SUNY Upstate Medical University, which is explicitly focused on preparing students to be both scientists and teachers. All students take a Presentation and Analysis of Scientific Literature course, in which they read and present research articles to develop their teaching and public presentation skills. The school also offers a two-credit “Teaching for the Basic Scientist” class that provides valuable training in course content design and study assessment methods. Education is so important to SUNY UMU that the admissions department even factors potential teaching ability into its application decisions.
Tuition and Fees: $17,349/yr
20. Kent State University
Master of Science in Pharmacology
Kent State University provides one of the least expensive programs on this top pharmacology degree ranking – an impressive accomplishment, considering the wealth of resources available to pharmacology students. This Ohio institution is ideal for students hoping to dig into research, as it is home to core laboratory facilities for some of the newest and most advanced fields of pharmacology in genomics, proteomics, computation, and 3D visualization. And future pharmacologists hoping to cure Alzheimer’s will be interested to learn that neurodegenerative and blood-brain barrier pharmacology is one of Kent State’s key areas of expertise.
Tuition and Fees: $14,622/yr
19. Temple University
M.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences
Temple’s top graduate pharmacology program offers an unusual amount of variety — three concentrations (in Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics, or Pharmacodynamics) and a flexible Pharmaceutics Non-Thesis Master’s intended for working professionals who want to pursue a graduate pharmacology degree part-time. This broad range of specialties receives support from Temple’s impressive research resources, including a Current Good Manufacturing Practices facility that only five other pharmacy schools in the country can provide. No matter what program students choose, they’ll benefit from Temple’s location in Philadelphia and proximity to the wealth of pharmaceutical companies in the Delaware Valley.
Tuition and Fees: $18,988/yr
18. University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
Master’s in Human Toxicology
The thesis-only Master’s Degree in Human Toxicology is a highly specialized program with a long and proud history – the school was home to an innovative toxicology program in the 60’s and 70’s that produced a number of impressive innovations. Although that original degree eventually fell by the wayside, UI recently reestablished the program with a new twist, introducing an Interdisciplinary Master’s in Human Toxicology designed for working professionals either looking to advance their careers or simply their understanding of the field. This unique program’s singular focus and impressive pedigree makes it one of the best master’s degrees in pharmacology for students interested in the interactions between human health and the environment.
Tuition and Fees: $18,282/yr
17. Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
M.S./Ph.D. Graduate Program: Pharmacology
The Medical University of South Carolina co-administers its top graduate program in pharmacology with the University of South Carolina, an arrangement that provides students at MUSC access to the resources of a large state school. This 120-year-old relationship is the foundation of MUSC’s well-regarded Master’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences, which aims to enable every student to develop coursework and original research that reflects his or her individual interests. The MUSC program is as intensive as its reputation suggests – the school expects every graduate pharmacology student to publish in a peer-reviewed journal during his or her academic career.
Tuition and Fees: $19,187/yr
16. Drexel University
M.S./Ph.D. Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program: Pharmacology & Physiology
Drexel University houses one of the best graduate pharmacology degrees to include both thesis and non-thesis tracks. The non-thesis coursework enables students to write a literature review paper in the place of original laboratory research and includes just 44 total credits – perfect for those hoping to have a more relaxed schedule over this two-year program. Whether you choose to produce a thesis or not, you’ll spend your first year taking the school’s Biomedical Core Curriculum, which provides a foundation in basic biomedical science fields like molecular biology, cell biology, and cell signaling.
Tuition and Fees: $31,519/yr
15. University of Missouri-Columbia
Environmental Toxicology M.S.
Whether you want to pursue a career in academic research or enter the workforce in an industry lab, the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Medical Pharmacology and Physiology M.S. is the comprehensive degree you need to develop a nuanced understanding of the human body and its response to toxins, drugs, and everything in between. Through a combination of upper-level coursework, teaching assistantships, research, and faculty mentorships, Missouri students in both the thesis and non-thesis track are equipped with robust and salient knowledge of a complex field at the end of this two-year program. For thesis track students, laboratory experience and thesis defense provide the perfect background for pursuing a dissertation at Missouri’s School of Medicine.
Tuition and Fees: $16,554/yr
14. University of Kansas
M.S./Ph.D. Graduate Program in Pharmaceutical Science
The University of Kansas’s M.S./Ph.D. Graduate Programs in Pharmaceutical Science combine coursework in pharmacology, toxicology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to prepare students for advanced research in a number of high profile focus areas. Specifically, KU is perfect for those whose interests span molecular neuropharmacology, toxicology, behavioral pharmacology, and signal transduction—all described as “major…areas of active research” at the university’s School of Pharmacology. While both MS and PhD candidates are required to produce a thesis at the end of their terms (about two and five years, respectively), the latter are also expected to develop skills in computer applications for biostatistics, microscopy techniques, and molecular modeling.
Tuition and Fees: $16,004/yr
13. Rutgers University-New Brunswick
New Brunswick, New Jersey
M.S./Ph.D. Graduate Program in Pharmacology & Toxicology
Earning a top pharmacology degree ranking from the National Research Council in 2010, the Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy is a recognized leader in both research and education in molecular and cellular pharmaceutics. Students pursuing either an MS or PhD in Pharmaceutical Science are exposed to a broad range of interdisciplinary coursework in genomics, biochemistry, and even clinical practice that open the doors to virtually boundless research opportunities. And thanks to ample funding to enable completion of the Human Genomic Project, Rutger’s students enjoy a distinct advantage in testing new drug deliveries and responses at the cellular level.
Tuition and Fees: $24,034/yr
12. University of Nebraska
Master of Science in Pharmacology
As the intersection of medical research and application, pharmacology is one of the largest and most exciting frontiers of scientific inquiry. And the University of Nebraska’s Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program is one of the few that actually grants aspiring pharmacists access to the state-of-the-art equipment and research facilities necessary to push this frontier ever forward. From biomaterials and nanomedicine to pharmacodynamics, Nebraska’s groundbreaking research efforts are coupled with exemplary education at both the master’s and PhD levels to enable pharmacology students to both contribute to and learn from this massive life-saving enterprise.
Tuition and Fees: $15,033/yr
11. University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
M.S. in Forensic Toxicology
The University of Buffalo’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology sets itself apart from all but the very best graduate programs in pharmacology by providing unparalleled research opportunities for graduate students, even at the master’s level. Owing to its inordinate selectivity and intimacy, Buffalo’s M.S. in Forensic Toxicology is able to offer accepted students not only small class sizes for required fundamental coursework in cell biology, chemistry, and pharmacology, but also guaranteed lab placement. Once in the lab, students work closely with faculty mentors to acquire hands-on research skills and publication credentials that will be invaluable to their future careers.
Tuition and Fees: $18,835/yr
10. MCPHS University
Masters of Science (M.S.) in Pharmacology & Physiology
With the highest graduate earning rate in New England (even above national leaders like Harvard and MIT) according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Education, it’s easy to see how the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences secured one of our top pharmacology degree rankings. While salary potential isn’t the only important factor in choosing a graduate school, this statistic also represents the excellent career services students can expect at MCPHS. From professional development training and career advising to an expansive alumni network of over 20,000 medical professionals, MCPHS provides pharmacology students with not only a top-notch education, but also a useful platform from which to launch their careers.
Tuition and Fees: $20,550/yr
9. University of Arizona
Medical Pharmacology M.S. Program
The University of Arizona’s Medical Pharmacology M.S. Program offers a comprehensive program that prepares students for diverse research roles in academia, industry, and governmental agencies. And like many of the top graduate programs in pharmacology, Arizona’s College of Medicine provides students with substantial merit- and need-based funding for their research and education. Although it is just one of 11 participants in the NIH IMSD student development program, the University of Arizona goes the extra mile with full-tuition and funding scholarships for “outstanding underrepresented minority students” in any of its numerous biomedical sciences programs, including pharmacology.
Tuition and Fees: $21,209/yr
8. University of Minnesota
Master of Science in Pharmacology
While nobody would expect one of the best master’s in pharmacology degrees in the country to be a walk in the park, it’s safe to say that the University of Minnesota’s MS in Pharmacology is not for the faint of heart. This accelerated, research-intensive program caters to students who already have substantial background and/or work experience in one of the pharmacology department’s focus areas: Cancer and Infectious Disease; Neuropharmacology and Neurodegeneration; Cell Signaling; and Drug Addiction and Toxicity. All others should apply to a more accommodating institution.
Tuition and Fees: $21,621/yr
7. University of Cincinnati
Master of Science in Molecular, Cellular and Biochemical Pharmacology with an Emphasis on Safety Pharmacology
If a Master of Science degree in Molecular, Cellular and Biochemical Pharmacology with an Emphasis on Safety Pharmacology sounds daunting, just wait until you open a textbook! The University of Cincinnati’s Pharmacology Master’s Program offers a rare opportunity for students to become highly specialized experts in this particular field, all while studying at a nationally recognized research institution and top graduate pharmacology program. With $443 million in external research funding annually (approximately 80% of which goes to “biomedical research and training”), pharmacology students at Cincinnati will find no shortage of cutting-edge laboratories eager to enlist their support.
Tuition and Fees: $20,339/yr
6. University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Master of Science in Pharmacology
Among the more flexible degree programs on our list, the University of Michigan’s Master of Science in Pharmacology program is designed to prepare students for everything from professional careers in industry and research positions in laboratories to advancement into medical, dental, and veterinary schools. Adding to the array of options available to students, U of M also offers its pharmacology curriculum on both part- and full-time schedules. But regardless of your career aspirations or scheduling requirements, you’ll still need to work hard to keep up with the demands of this top graduate program in pharmacology. The coursework requires all students to complete either an independent laboratory research project or a rigorous survey of current pharmacological literature in order to graduate.
Tuition and Fees: $31,491/yr
5. University of Tennessee-Health Science Center
Master of Science in Pharmacology
For students looking to augment their academic credentials before applying to medical school, the University of Tennessee-Health Science Center’s Master of Science in Pharmacology is the perfect combination of rigor and convenience. In just 11 months, this accelerated and affordable graduate pharmacology program provides students with a comprehensive introduction to the discipline through coursework that spans biochemistry, scientific research, and drug therapy. In particular, classes in Integrity in Scientific Research and Modern Pharmacology Research Techniques ensure that you’ll be well prepared to take the next step, whatever it may be. And with a 75% medical school admission rate for all graduates, it’s clear that UT’s educational model offers a well-trodden path to success.
Tuition and Fees: $17,057/yr
4. Ohio State University
Masters in Human Toxicology
With specialization options that include Clinical Research Management, Regulatory Affairs, Safety Pharmacology, and Clinical Pharmacology, the Master’s of Applied Clinical and Pre-Clinical Research at Ohio State University grants students access to an unparalleled range of practical, hands-on education opportunities. By “connecting the gap” between clinical practices and laboratory research, this top master’s degree in pharmacology offers students a set of skills that will translate seamlessly into a meaningful career in healthcare. From the FDA and international regulatory bodies to hospitals and university medical centers, you’ll find OSU graduates in every corner of the medical industry.
Tuition and Fees: $22,161/yr
3. Thomas Jefferson University
Available in accelerated (one and a half years) and part-time (four to six year) formats, Thomas Jefferson University’s Pharmacology MS caters to a variety of students with an even greater variety of career goals. Whether you are looking for a career in research or research management, clinical testing, or toxicology review, you can find the coursework and laboratory training you need to launch your career right after graduation. TJU also offers a specialization track in Human Investigations for those undergoing post-graduate clinical training, and it serves as an excellent stepping-stone towards a PhD program as well.
Tuition and Fees: $28,648/yr
2. Northeastern University
M.S./Ph.D. Graduate Program in Pharmacology
As befitting the #2 school on our list, Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences is home to world-class graduate pharmacology programs at both the master’s and doctoral level. Coursework spans the entire breadth of the discipline—from the first drugs and their early applications to the development of molecular biology and modern pharmaceutical practices—to create experts who can utilize specialized knowledge in a variety of applications. Regular seminars and conferences featuring visiting researchers also help keep students abreast of the latest developments in pharmacological research throughout their education.
Tuition and Fees: $22,061/yr
1. Indiana University
M.S./Ph.D. Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program
Leading the nation in boundary-demolishing pharmacological research, faculty teaching, and medical service and outreach, Indiana University’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology is the model for pharmacy schools around the country, and even the world. At this top graduate program in pharmacology, students interested in cancer biology, drug abuse, and pathogen infection are able to work with world-class faculty in the classroom as well the laboratory. From behavioral pharmacology to chemotherapy and pharmacogenomics, IU incorporates the latest findings and practices into its graduate curriculum to prepare students for their theses, dissertations, and beyond.
Tuition and Fees: $18,928/yr
Published May 2016