School of Medicine

Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

Program Requirements

Course Requirements

The Ph.D. program is a flexible program which encourages students and mentors to select a particular course of studies that best fits individual interests and needs. Students are required to complete 60 credit hours including the following courses: 

PHARM 207 (5 credits)   General Pharmacology - Course consists of lectures, laboratory exercises, conferences, and demonstrations leading to a broad general understanding of the effects of drugs.

PHARM 199 (1 credits)   Seminar

INTER 142 (2 credits) Principles of Pharmacology - This course is designed to introduce basic concepts in pharmacology to beginning students. The course will introduce students to pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic principles, drug metabolism, and a comprehensive discourse on drug receptor interactions. The application of these principles to specific endeavors will also be discussed. 

PHARM 222 (1 credits)   Introduction to Faculty Research

PHARM 251-2 Research in Pharmacology - An in-depth experience in research development, design, methodology and implementation. Students will undertake specific projects of limited scope and develop their findings under the guidance and direction of faculty preceptors. Number of credits to be declared at registration. 

PHARM 300 (1-6 credits)   Thesis Research 

PHARM 400 (1-9 credits)   Dissertation Research 

INTER 111 (5 credits)  Biochemistry 

INTER 121 (3 credits) Cell and Molecular Biology A

INTER 122 (2 credits) Cell and Molecular Biology B

INTER 131 (2 credits) Biological Systems A

INTER 132 (5 credits) Biological Systems B

INTER 220 (1 credit) Ethics in Biomedical Research

INTER 260 (1 credit) Responsible Conduct of Research

BIOS 6221 (3 credits) Introduction to Biostatistics     

 * Pharmacology 400 (Dissertation Research) replaces Pharmacology 300 after parts I and II of the preliminary examination are successfully completed.        

Laboratory Rotations

In order to increase awareness of the many research opportunities available in pharmacology, students are required to participate in laboratory rotations in their first two semesters of study. Thus, students register for Pharmacology 251 (Research) during their first semester laboratory rotation and for Pharmacology 252 (Research) during their second semester laboratory rotation. Students rotate through a minimum of two laboratories with each rotation being one semester in length.  

Selection of a Mentor

The choice of a mentor and an area of research is usually made by the end of the second semester. The selection of a mentor will be contingent upon the mutual consent of the student and the faculty member. 


The Department of Pharmacology has a seminar series each year. The program includes presentations by visiting scientists as well as faculty, post doctoral fellows and graduate students from LSUHSC.   

Graduate students are expected to attend all seminars and are required to present at least one seminar each year. The purpose is to aid in becoming proficient in presentations of all types as well as communicating ideas to colleagues and students. The organization of the seminar is the responsibility of the student; however, faculty members are available for assistance and advice during the preparation of the seminar. Advanced students are required to present a seminar on their research accomplishments each year. Students will receive written or oral feedback from the faculty and will be evaluated on the overall performance.   


An important component of graduate training is to develop the ability to communicate through teaching. Therefore, all graduate students in the Department are required to participate in teaching during their graduate tenure. The Department teaches courses to Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Allied Health, Dental and Medical students. During the first year or two, students will assist in proctoring examinations. After satisfactory completion of Pharmacology 195, students will also have assigned lectures in courses taught by the Department. Students will be assigned no more than eight contact hours of lectures per year. Topics and number of lecture hours are assigned by the course directors in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, student, mentor, and Department Head. 

Criteria for Admission to Candidacy

A student becomes a Candidate for the Doctorate Degree after satisfactory completion of all required courses, a passing grade on the preliminary examination, demonstration of research ability, participation in and presentation of departmental seminars, and the accumulation of at least 30 credit hours in which a grade was received. 

Committee Selection

Students are required to choose a committee consisting of at least five members that will include at least three with primary appointments in the Department of Pharmacology, your Major Professor, and at least one external member.  

This committee will serve as your Examination Committee for your Preliminary Examination. The Examination Committee selected by the student for his/her preliminary examination will serve as their Dissertation Committee, with the option of selecting an additional member. 

Preliminary Examination

Satisfactory performance in the qualifying or preliminary examination is required for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The objective of the preliminary examination is to examine the student's breadth of knowledge in the area of pharmacology, conceptual ability and aptitude for integrating the knowledge in various fields of study, and ability to think critically. This examination is administered after the student has satisfactorily completed all required courses and selected an Examination Committee.  

The examination consists of two parts, a written examination and an oral presentation. Students are required to complete their written examination within 4 weeks of completing the last required course. Upon successful completion of the written examination, students will schedule their oral presentations with their exam committee.  

In the event that a student does not pass both parts of the preliminary examination, the student's mentor and the GTC will consider whether: 1) the student can remain in the doctoral program and be re-examined at a future date; 2) the student is eligible for a Master of Science degree; or 3) the student should be dismissed from the graduate program. A failing grade upon re-examination will result in dismissal from the program. 

Students who have passed both parts of the preliminary examination are considered candidates for the Ph.D. and return to the laboratory to continue research that will lead to their dissertation under the guidance of their mentor and the Dissertation Committee. 

Dissertation Proposal

A Ph.D. candidate must prepare and present a proposal (written and oral) of his/her dissertation research. This proposal should be in the format of a NIH predoctoral grant application. This proposal is expected to contain a description of completed studies and proposed dissertation work. The Department expects that the presentation of this proposal will be within one year after the successful completion of the preliminary examination. A copy of the written proposal must be submitted to all dissertation committee members at least 2 weeks prior to the oral presentation of the proposal. The written proposal can be accepted, accepted with minor revisions, or rejected. If the proposal is unacceptable and major revision is warranted, the student must submit a revised proposal to the dissertation committee for approval. 

The oral presentation that is in the form of a public seminar is followed by a public question and answer session and is followed by questions from the Dissertation Committee members. Oral presentation of the proposal will constitute the student's seminar for the third academic year. Subsequent to the oral presentation, the student should meet with the mentor and dissertation committee members to discuss and incorporate suggestions and changes.  

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense is the final examination prior to awarding the Ph.D. It is expected that each student will carefully go over the dissertation with their mentor prior to distribution of the dissertation to other committee members. Dissertations must be submitted to all dissertation committee members 2 weeks prior to the defense. Further, two copies are to be placed in the Pharmacology offices for review by the faculty. 

Students are expected to speak with all dissertation committee members about recommended changes of the dissertation prior to the defense to assure that the disserta¬≠tion will be in final form at the time of the defense. The University requires that the dissertation be defended and delivered to the School of Graduate Studies at least one month prior to graduation.  

The final dissertation defense should consist of a seminar, not to exceed one hour in length and covering the research performed during the student's tenure, followed by a question and answer period. The defense seminar is open to the public and is followed by questions from the Dissertation Committee. Upon completion of all questioning, the dissertation committee will vote with no more than one negative vote permitted. 

Students are required to provide one bound copy of their dissertation for the Department of Pharmacology Library.