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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Developing new medicines and vaccines

Apply for Ph.D.

Program Overview

Standard KU Graduate Admission Requirements

Students must meet all requirements for Graduate Admissions.


Previous Degree Requirement

B.S. or M.S. degree in chemistry, pharmacy, the biological sciences, material sciences, chemical engineering or related disciplines.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

  • The department does not have a minimum GPA for admissions, but it is important that potential applicants have shown mastery of their undergraduate coursework, especially those relevant to furthering their education in Pharmaceutical Chemistry.
  • We view each applicant carefully and consider the combination of GPA (with emphasis on chemistry courses), GRE scores, letters of recommendation and the personal statement.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Scores

  • GRE scores are no longer required to be included with your application.
  • If you have already taken the exam and would like to include your report with your application, please request your score report be sent directly to KU Graduate Admissions using the institution code: R6871

English Proficiency Requirements

  • Non-native English speakers must demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing and listening via English Proficiency Scores from the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE test.
  • See KU's English Proficiency Requirements for detailed information, including minimum score requirements.
  • Request that the testing agency send your official scores directly to KU (code: KU-6871).

Applicant Background

Incoming students are expected to be competent in basic principles of physical/organic chemistry and mathematics. These requirements are typically satisfied with most degrees in the STEM disciplines.

Time to Complete

  • From the point a student joins the department until the time they defend their dissertation is approximately 5 - 6 years.
  • The university confers degrees at the end of each semester. Therefore, it is possible that the thesis or dissertation defense may occur several months prior to the time the actual degree is conferred.

Departmental Graduate Handbook

KU Pharmaceutical Chemistry Graduate Handbook 2021-22 (pdf)

Coursework and Research

See Ph.D. - Coursework and Research for details about coursework and research requirements for the Ph.D. program

Seminar Presentations

All graduate students are required to attend the weekly departmental seminar. Seminars consist of presentations by guest speakers, faculty members, and students. Typically, graduate students are required to present at least two departmental seminars during their time in the program. The seminar may be based on the progress achieved in their research or on a literature review of work related to their research.

Dissertation Defense

  • Each Ph.D. candidate is required to submit and defend a dissertation 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 dissertation committee as needed.
  • The median time for students to complete their Ph.D. degree in the Department is 5.3 years.

Stipend, Tuition and Insurance

Those accepted to the program will receive a competitive stipend, tuition, and basic health insurance.


  • Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship Program
    • The Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry has been named as a Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship Program partner at The University of Kansas.
    • The program provides a generous stipend and tuition for four years of graduate study to outstanding students.
  • Other university-level awards include:
    • Honors Fellowship - Awarded on a competitive basis to incoming graduate students throughout the university.
    • Dissertation Fellowship - Awarded to outstanding students during their last year of doctoral study.
    • Graduate Minority Opportunity Fund Fellowship - Awarded to outstanding ethnic minority students for work toward the doctoral degree.
  • Departmental Fellowships/Scholarships
    • At the department level, each of the following are awarded to promising incoming graduate students:
      • Takeru Higuchi Fellowship
      • Siegfried Lindenbaum Scholarship
      • Howard Rytting Fellowships
      • Stella Family Predoctoral Fellowship
      • Valentino Stella Students and Friends Predoctoral Fellowship
      • Wanda Waugh Predoctoral Fellowship
    • See Fellowships/Scholarships for more info.

Affiliated Programs

While studying in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, students are eligible to participate in the following affiliated programs.

Takeru Higuchi Intersearch Program

  • Students are also eligible to participate in the Takeru Higuchi Intersearch Program, which allows them to conduct a portion of their research at the Victorian College of Pharmacy, which is a part of Monash University located in Melbourne Australia.
  • Ideally, the students select a surrogate advisor who specializes in an area of research outside that of the primary advisor, allowing for more breadth to their overall research project.


  • The department is a full member of the Globalization of Pharmaceutical Education Network (GPEN) a professional organization that meets bi-annually at other member institutions.
  • Senior students are typically selected to participate in these events.
  • The GPEN meeting, now attended by 43 academic institutions across the world, was founded at KU in 1996 by Professor Ronald Borchardt.
  • Participants in these programs have generally found the experiences to be extremely beneficial to their overall experience at KU.
  • Learn more about GPEN


John Stobaugh
Director of Graduate Studies

Graduate Student Application
Michelle Huslig
Program Coordinator

KU Graduate Admissions