Distance M.S. - Coursework and Research

To maintain the strength and reputation of our graduates, we have a rigorous set of courses that are designed to hone the student's skills in aspects of pharmacokinetics and biopharmaceutics, physical/organic chemistry, chemical kinetics and equilibrium phenomena, which we consider essential in understanding problems of any origin, including biological processes, on a molecular level. In addition to the didactic component of our training, we view research progress and the nature of the master's thesis project to be of high importance.

Core Courses

The department requires five core courses, for a total of 14 credit hours, that each student must take and receive a grade of B or better.


Elective Courses

In addition to the 14 hours of required core courses, student must complete two elective courses from the following list to achieve a total of 19 - 21 hours of didactic coursework.


Course Sequencing and Availability

  • It is generally suggested that PHCH 744 (Organic Chemistry) and/or PHCH 731 (Biopharmaceutics and Pharmacokinetics) be taken as the first course if entering the program in a Fall Semester. 
  • It is strongly recommended that the student successfully complete the Organic Chemistry course prior to undertaking PHCH 921 (Chemical Kinetics) and PHCH 973 (Stability), which are offered in the spring semester of each year. 
  • All "core" courses will be offered each fall and spring and all electives will be offered on an alternating year basis.

Research Overview

  • During the first year of enrollment, students should identify a research project, a supervisor at the industrial site (or collaborating institution) who will provide day to day direction of the research project, and a mentor at the University of Kansas (typically with the assistance of the Director of Distance Learning) who will provide overall supervision of the project and monitor the research progress towards a written thesis.
  • Typically, the research will be conducted at the student's place of employment or higher learning.
  • The research component of the program is a primary focus of the degree and research activity is expected as soon as a student starts the program.
  • The student and his/her on-site supervisor must obtain written permission from the company management indicating that the thesis research project can be published without delay. 
  • A proto-type agreement form is available from the KU Pharmaceutical Chemistry Distance Master's Program upon request.

Master's Research Proposal Development

  • Each M.S. degree student is required to take 9 - 11 credit hours of Master’s Thesis (PHCH 898).
  • When first entering the program, the department's Graduate Program Director will serve as the initial KU academic advisor for all students. 
  • During the first semester of the program, or at the first opportunity when considered in conjunction with company or collaborating institution policy (see degree completion time limit section), the student should enroll in 1 credit hour of Master's Thesis.
  • This initial enrollment should be utilized to develop a written research proposal, which meets the approval of their company or institutional advisor and/or any other checkpoints, i.e., a legal department (Upon request, a guidance document providing an overview of proposal preparation is available).
  • The approved proposal should then be forwarded to the department's Graduate Program Director, for review and assignment to a member of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry faculty member (who may approve, reject or require revision of the proposal) who is appropriate to supervise the proposed research. 
  • This process must be completed to earn credit for the initial Master’s Thesis hours.

Research Load and Reporting

  • To expedite progress through the program, students should register for research credits (PHCH 898) as feasible once their research proposal has received approval (when considered in conjunction with didactic coursework load and sponsor limitations). 
  • For the most ambitious student, without constraints, it is suggested to enroll for up to two (2) credit hours of Masters Thesis per semester, including the summer session. 
  • A written progress report is required for each semester that the student undertakes Master Thesis credits. 
  • The assignment of a grade in these hours is contingent upon receipt of a report by the KU advisor at the end of each term of enrollment. 
  • Enrollment in Master's Thesis must continue until a total of 9 - 12 credit hours are earned, such that when taken together with didactic coursework, totals a minimum of 30 hours of graduate coursework. 
  • Please note the KU graduate school program time constraints policy below.

Thesis Defense

  • Each Master's degree student is required to submit and defend a thesis resulting from research of sufficient originality and quality for publication in peer reviewed scientific journals.
  • The research is conducted under the supervision and guidance from the student’s advisor, with input from the thesis committee as needed.
  • For more information on the structure or template of the required thesis, please see KU Libraries: KU Thesis and Dissertation Formatting.


  • Upon falling below a cumulative graduate grade-point average of B, computed with the inclusion of grades earned at KU for all courses acceptable for graduate credit, the student is placed on probation by the university's Office of Graduate Studies.
  • The grades of P, S, U, and I, for which no numerical equivalents are defined, are excluded from the computation.
  • If the student’s overall graduate average has been raised to B by the end of the next semester of enrollment after being placed on probation, the student may be returned to regular status.
  • If not, the student is not permitted to re-enroll unless the Office of Graduate Studies acts favorably on a departmental recommendation for the student to continue study.
  • If admitted on probation, a student must earn an overall graduate average of at least B during the first semester of enrollment (in which case the student is considered to have achieved regular status) to be permitted to re-enroll.
  • A student admitted on probation who fails to earn a B average in the first semester is not permitted to re-enroll.
  • When the particular circumstances are deemed to justify continuation, and upon the recommendation of the department or program, such a student may be continued on probation by the Office of Graduate Studies for one additional semester equivalent of full-time graduate study.

Program Time Constraints

  • Master's degree students are allowed seven years for completion of all degree requirements.
  • In cases in which compelling reasons or circumstances recommend a one-year extension, the Graduate Division, on recommendation of the department/committee, has authority to grant the extension.
  • In cases where more than eight years are requested, the appropriate appeals body of the school or division considers petitions for further extensions and, where evidence of continuous progress, currency of knowledge, and other reasons are compelling, may grant them.

KU Graduate Catalog

Consult the KU Course Catalog and KU Graduate Studies for overall policy and general aspects of graduate studies.

Library Resources

For information on library resources and services available to the Distance Master's Program, please see KU Libraries' Pharmaceutical Sciences: Getting Started.