MS in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

*Application Deadline Extension For Fall 2020 Admission - June 1, 2020*


Graduates of the USC School of Pharmacy’s multidisciplinary master’s degree programs are highly sought after by leading institutions in academia, industry, and government. The Master of Science in Molecular Pharmacology & Toxicology program emphasizes research in molecular and neuro-pharmacology, receptor pharmacology, and biochemical and oxidant toxicology.



Candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in pharmacy, chemistry, biology or other related disciplines are invited to apply. Applicants must have demonstrated proficiency in verbal and written English and in fundamental scientific areas such as organic and physical chemistry, biochemistry, biology, mathematics, statistics, and computer science.

Applications for admission are reviewed by the Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Admissions Committee of the School of Pharmacy and are evaluated primarily on the basis of academic excellence.

Application Deadline

Applications and all supporting materials may be submitted anytime between September 1 and January 15 for consideration for admission for the following Fall semester.

The application deadline for the Fall semester is January 15. Program deadline expires on January 15 at 11:59:59 pm PST. Applicants selected by the admission committee will be notified of acceptance shortly thereafter. Admissions decisions will continue to be made until the class is filled.

Admission Criteria

The Admissions Committee will consider applications based on the following factors:

1. Overall Grade Point Average (GPA)

A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required. Special attention is given to the grades achieved in science courses relevant to the program (e.g., chemistry, biology, biochemistry, pharmacology and mathematics).

2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Score

GRE scores of 153 Quantitative and 144 Verbal (new exam) or a combined Verbal and Quantitative GRE score of 1000 (old exam) are required.

3. Letters of Recommendation

Three letters from faculty knowledgeable about the student’s ability and capability are required. These letters should provide a thorough assessment of the student’s experience in laboratory research, ability to communicate in verbal and written English, motivation and creativity, and other qualities in the student’s academic performance.

4. TOEFL Scores for International Applicants

A minimum TOEFL (computer-based) score of 213 is required. An IELTS score of 6.5 is competitive, with no less than 6 on each band score; an IBT minimum score of 90, with at least 20 in each section, is required.

5. Research and Professional Experience

The student’s research and professional experience should be well described within the application. A personal statement summarizing career objectives and research interests, published manuscripts and letters of reference should be included. These documents will help the admissions committee in their evaluation of the candidate’s background preparation for success in the MS program.

Financial Aid

Students accepted into the USC School of Pharmacy Master of Science program are not eligible for institutional financial aid. Students are not permitted to be paid for working in a lab while enrolled in research or thesis units. During the summer, faculty advisors may provide a stipend, arranged on an individual basis.

Units Required

A minimum of 24 core-curriculum courses (see Course Offerings below) and 28 total units are required for graduation, including 594A and 594B (MS thesis). The core curriculum emphasizes drug discovery, drug delivery, and molecular pharmacology.


Research can be initiated at any point in the program. Students selecting the non-research master’s track may elect and are encouraged to carry out research in their program.


Students may choose between two tracks to complete the Master of Science degree. First, the non-research Master’s track requires that the student conduct a detailed, extensive literature review in an area determined by the student in conjunction with a thesis advisor faculty member. Second, the research track requires that the student carry out a research project during the second year of the program.

On either track, students must submit a thesis to complete their degree requirements, either covering the scientific area selected in the non-research track or describing their research project and result in the research track. The thesis should be 50-100 pages on average.


Course Offerings

Graduate students are expected to possess knowledge in various areas of pharmaceutical sciences. The following are graduate courses offered by the program (some courses are not offered every year):

  • PSCI 599, Pharmacogenomics
  • PSCI 599, Proteomics
  • PSCI 651, Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • PSCI 652L, Structure-Activity Relationship & Drug Design
  • PSCI 653L, Spectrometry in Biomedicine
  • PSCI 654L, Computing Applications in Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • PSCI 655, Immunopharmaceutics
  • PSCI 662, Advanced Pharmacokinetics
  • PSCI 663, Dosage Form Design & Evaluation
  • PSCI 664, Drug Discovery and Design
  • PSCI 665, Drug Transport and Delivery
  • PSCI 666, Molecular Structural Biology
  • PSCI 667, Intracellular Drug Delivery and Targeting
  • PSCI 671, Drug Metabolism (Morphology)

The following are graduate courses offered in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology:

  • MPTX 500, Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • MPTX 501, Toxicology of Oxidants and Free Radicals
  • MPTX 601, Methods in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • MPTX 602, Sciences, Research and Ethics

The following are graduate courses offered for the Health Sciences Campus as “campus-wide” general courses:

  • INTD 531, Cell Biology
  • INTD 561, Biochemistry
  • INTD 571, Molecular Genetics
  • PHBI 562, Systems and Integrative Physiology
Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

Founded in 1905, the USC School of Pharmacy has played a key leadership role in both the advancement of the field of pharmacy and in the education of new generations of pharmacists and remains one of ... Read More

Founded in 1905, the USC School of Pharmacy has played a key leadership role in both the advancement of the field of pharmacy and in the education of new generations of pharmacists and remains one of the nation’s foremost schools of pharmacy today. Read less