Graduate Education

The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology is part of the School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, located in historic downtown Richmond, Va. Virginia Commonwealth University offers an integrated graduate program in pharmacology and toxicology leading to Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Graduate Education

More than 250 scholars have earned their Ph.D. from this department since 1953, making it one of the largest and most productive departments in the country. With 35 dedicated faculty members and numerous affiliated faculty, the department offers a rich and highly interdisciplinary environment for research.

The broad base of courses offered in pharmacology and toxicology, together with basic training in physiology and biochemistry, provides the background for a successful career in academic institutions, industry or government. Students customarily complete formal course work in pharmacology, physiology and biochemistry during the first year and a half of study. Participation in research begins early in the first year and students along with faculty participate in a strong seminar program, which includes distinguished visiting scientists from the U.S. and abroad. The research program of the department is sufficiently broad to provide an adequate basis for entry into a wide variety of interesting areas of modern biomedical science.

Students from this program have won national and state awards for their research excellence.. The department is nationally recognized for its research in alcohol and drug abuse, cancer, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal pharmacology.

All of our doctoral students are supported in their graduate education by National Institutes of Health training grants, fellowship funds and institutional support. The average duration of study for our doctoral candidates is 4.7 years — attesting to the efficiency of our program.

The department offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology. This is a research-oriented degree program comprising graduate coursework and supervised research leading to a master’s thesis.
This program is intended primarily as a terminal M.S. degree. Students intending to pursue a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology should apply directly to the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal Ph.D. program. The M.S. program will be of interest to individuals planning on technical positions in pharmacology or toxicology research or testing; students in the health professions, such as medicine or dentistry, who desire additional research training; and students interested in a government position, such as with regulatory agencies, who seek training in pharmacology and toxicology and those interested in a career as a technician in the pharmaceutical industry or academia.

The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology is also the home to the International Programme in Addiction Studies (IPAS), a unique online program of graduate study. The program offers a Master of Science in Addiction Studies as well as both Intermediate and Advanced Certificates. IPAS is jointly offered by the University of Adelaide, King’s College London, and Virginia Commonwealth University. The program is available to students from all countries, although course materials are in English only. No campus attendance is required. More information and a link to the application materials are available on the IPAS web site (