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Idaho State University

Graduate Education

The Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPSCI) offers two graduate degrees, the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the Master of Science (M.S.)

Career opportunities for individuals with a graduate degree in the Pharmaceutical Sciences include positions in academia (both research and teaching), pharmaceutical industry, and government regulatory agencies to name a few. Further education or development may allow an individual to pursue opportunities in business or administration.

Graduate degrees at ISU may be obtained in one of the following broad disciplines:

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Health Outcomes & Policy Research
  • Pharmacoeconomics & Administrative Science

Drug Discovery is the process by which new or existing chemical species are found for the treatment of various diseases and carried through preclinical and clinical studies until they receive FDA approval. This is an inherently cross-disciplinary process involving medicinal chemistry, natural products chemistry, computational chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, and structural biology. The department’s current research strengths in this area include structural biology (x-ray crystallography), bioanalytical chemistry, and computer-aided drug discovery.

Pharmaceutics is the science that deals with the design and evaluation of contemporary pharmaceutical dosage forms and drug delivery systems to ensure their safety, effectiveness and reliability. Pharmaceutics places a strong emphasis on understanding and exploiting the principles underlying drug delivery, whether a drug is a small organic molecule, a higher molecular weight protein, or a peptide derived through the use of biotechnology. Current projects underway in the department include the development of permeability/penetration enhancers for poorly soluble drugs including protein and peptides; and production of polymer nanoparticles that can be used for drug delivery.

Pharmacokinetics is the science that deals with the quantitative analysis of interactions between drugs and patients. It involves measuring drug exposure (pharmacokinetics), drug response (pharmacodynamics), and drug-disease modeling and is based on principles of pharmacology and physiology. This science quantifies drug action, adverse effects, and drug metabolism to aid in efficient drug development and patient pharmacotherapy.

Pharmacology is the study of drug action on biological systems, while toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. These are basic sciences that may encompass physiology, behavioral sciences, cell biology and molecular genetics. Studies may be directed at the whole animal, isolated organs or cells or DNA. Currently research areas in our department include alcohol addiction and dependence, neuropharmacology, cancer biology and treatment, and signaling mechanisms underlying cell growth and death.

The social and administrative pharmacy sciences include research in health outcomes, health policy, pharmacoeconomics (the study and comparison of the value of drug therapies) and pharmacy administration. These sciences evaluate the economic, clinical, and societal impacts of medical treatment and can involve research in patient outcomes, public health policy, health disparities, and medication management services.


During the first year of the program, students are required to gain laboratory experience under the direction of several faculty members, as well as complete required courses. Upon choosing an advisor and developing a specialized program of study, students complete required and elective courses while also completing original research in the laboratory of their advisor. Students are required to complete a thesis for the Master of Science degree and a dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Admission Requirements

Students in the graduate program in pharmaceutical sciences come from a variety of backgrounds including pharmacy, biological sciences, chemistry, psychology, and others. Any student with a baccalaureate degree and interests in the biomedical sciences is encouraged to contact the department (Dr. Dong Xu, Director of Graduate Programs) about opportunities in the graduate program.

A complete description of admission requirements is found in the Idaho State University graduate catalog. In general, for consideration for admission, students should have earned a baccalaureate degree in the sciences, with a GPA not less than 3.0. Applicants should provide Graduate Record Examination scores. We currently require at least one section score (verbal, quantitative, analytical) to be at the 50th percentile or better. Meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. We also require three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant's academic ability and potential for graduate study.

All applicants should provide a personal statement of interest and identify which area of emphasis in the graduate program the applicant intends to follow (see above).

All applicants should refer to the Idaho State University graduate catalog for instructions before completing an application.

Cost of Attendance

Please see the ISU graduate catalog for information about tuition and fees. Many students in the program are able to competitively gain tuition and fee waivers.

A limited number of teaching or research assistantships are available to qualified applicants on a competitive basis. Appointments usually include in-state graduate fees and a nonresident tuition waiver.

Graduate students are encouraged to apply for external funding such as fellowships and awards sponsored by organizations such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, AFPE, NSF and the National Institutes of Health. Additional funding opportunities include travel awards, research support and out of state tuition waivers. Information regarding other funding opportunities can be found in the Graduate Studies Catalog.


An online application is available at