Master of Science in Pharmacology

The Department of Pharmacology offers thesis-based and non-thesis Master of Science degrees. The thesis-based M.S. degree is a course and research based program, with 24 credits in coursework, and 6 credits of research. A thesis is written and there is a defense. A non-thesis M.S. degree requires 30 credits in coursework, but does not require a thesis or thesis defense. Research interests in the Department of Pharmacology are diverse, with special emphasis on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular pharmacology, physiology, neurovascular coupling, signal transduction, and medicinal chemistry/cancer chemotherapy.

For More Information

If you are interested in the Pharmacology AMP, please contact the Program Coordinator, Dr. Anthony Morielli.

Requirements for AdmissionApply Now button

Admission into this program requires the following:

  • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 is recommended.
  • Completion of one year of undergraduate biology, chemistry, or physics courses.
  • Completion of the Graduate College Application FormInstructions
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are not required.

Students MUST be admitted through the Graduate College before taking any courses that will be applied to the Master’s Degree requirements. Students will continue Master’s Degree coursework in the summer following their undergraduate graduation.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 30 credits and successful completion of a written comprehensive exam are required for a Master’s Degree in Pharmacology. Students enrolled in the thesis-based program must also write, present and successfully defend their research thesis.

Students must also meet the Graduate College requirements for the Master's Degree. Courses should be selected from the following list. Up to two additional graduate level courses (6 credits), approved by the Program Director, may be used towards the 30 credit requirement.

PHRM 201Introduction to Pharmacology3 Credits
PHRM 240 §Molecules and Medicine3 Credits
PHRM 272 Toxicology3 Credits
PHRM 290 §Topics in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology3 Credits
PHRM 302 Pharmacological Techniques1-4 Credits
PHRM 305Milestones in Pharmacology2 Credits
PHRM 308 §
Integrative Physiology and Pharmacology
3 Credits
PHRM 372Special Topics1-3 Credits
PHRM 373 Readings in Pharmacology2 Credits
PHRM 381 §Seminar1 Credit
PHRM 391 ✻Master's Thesis Research6 Credits
MPBP 301 Human Physiology and Pharmacology I4 Credits
MPBP 302Human Physiology and Pharmacology II4 Credits
BIOC 301General Biochemistry3 Credits
BIOC 302General Biochemistry3 Credits
STAT 211Statistical Methods I3 Credits

§: Required for both thesis-based and non-thesis Master's.
†: Required only for non-thesis Master's.
✻: Required only for thesis-based Master's.

Comprehensive Examination

Students are required to pass a written comprehensive exam that will be taken during their final semester in the program.  The written examination will consist of questions based on topics relevant to the student's course of study.  The comprehensive exam should be completed by the end of the second semester of the two-year Master of Science program.  A single re-take is permitted for the comprehensive exam.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Science

Advancement to candidacy requires satisfactory completion of the comprehensive exam.

Masters Thesis

The thesis is prepared and submitted in compliance with the detailed Guidelines for Writing a Thesis or Dissertation.The oral defense is scheduled only after submission of an original copy of the dissertation to the Graduate College office for preliminary review by the Dean of the Graduate College. This copy as well as copies to the thesis defense committee must be submitted at least 4 weeks prior to the anticipated oral defense.

Masters Thesis Committee

After the student chooses a thesis advisor, a committee is formed that serves as both the Studies Committee and the Thesis Defense Examination Committee.* The thesis defense committee consists of at least four UVM faculty members, two from the Pharmacology Department including the thesis advisor. The chair of this committee must be from a different program and department than the candidate, and must be approved by the graduate dean upon nomination by the thesis advisor. This committee serves as both the comprehensive exam committee and the thesis defense committee. The candidate must meet with this committee to present a pre-thesis proposal (see below) and also approximately 6 months before the expected defense date to obtain "permission to write the dissertation". It is recommended that the candidate meet with this committee every six months to update the committee on the progress of his/her research. (Committee is composed of 1 outside program, 2 inside program, 1 either.)

Pre-Thesis Proposal 

The goal of the pre-thesis proposal is twofold.  First it will provide the thesis committee with a written summary of the proposed research so that they can make useful contributions at the first thesis committee meeting.  Second it serves as the first draft outline of the student's Master's Thesis.

Please note that this proposal is not intended to mimic an actual grant proposal in either size or scope.  It is intended as a starting point for discussion at the first thesis committee meeting, and as a way for students to begin preparation for their thesis.  The student is encouraged to work with their thesis advisor in the preparation of this document.

At least one week prior to the first dissertation committee meeting, the student will submit a brief (4-7 pages) summary of the planned research in the following format:

  • Specific Aims:  The first page should be formatted as a "Specific Aims" page of an NIH grant proposal.  This specific aims page should describe the context, long term goals of the project, hypothesis and/or model to be tested.  It is important to include information on how each aim will be approached experimentally.  The Aims should be written so that they are understandable not only by experts in the field, but by scientists with a broad range of expertise in the life sciences.


  • Experimental Design:  The remaining portion of the proposal should include the following:
    • A brief background section (1-2 pages).  Use the background section to build an argument for your project and give the reader what they need to know, but not more.  It is not intended to be a literature review.
    • An experimental design section (approximately 2-5 pages) describing how the research will be carried out and analyzed.  This section should describe how the research for each aim will actually be carried out and how the data will be interpreted.  This section should contain the following:
      • There should be enough methodological detail to give the thesis committee a clear idea of what the experiments physically entail and how the data will be quantified and analyzed.  Plans and rationale for statistical tests and sample size determined should be clear.
      • A discussion of the expected results, potential difficulties and limitations, and alternative approaches should also be included.


  • References:  Provide a list of references using a format that includes the title of the referenced article.  For example, in Endnote use the style for "Cell" as in:  (Brownstein et al., 2016).

Brownstein, C.A., Beggs, A.H., Rodan, L., Shi, J., Towne, M.C., Pelletier, R., Cao, S., Rosenberg, P.A., Urion, D.K., Picker, J., et al. (2016).  Clinical heterogeneity associated with the KCNA1 mutations include cataplexy and nonataxic presentations.  Neurogenetics 17, 11-16.


* Note: The thesis advisor is member #1. Member #2 is anyone with a PRIMARY appointment to the department of pharmacology. This excludes adjunct faculty. Member #3 is any UVM graduate faculty. This could be a person with Primary, adjunct or no affiliation with Pharmacology. Member #4 must have not have primary or adjunct faculty affiliation with Pharmacology. That outside member must also serve as the chair. All of the members must be qualified as graduate faculty with the graduate college.