MS in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology

Graduates of the USC School of Pharmacy’s multidisciplinary master’s degree programs are highly sought after by leading institutions in academia, industry and government. The Master of Science in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology program emphasizes research in molecular and neuro-pharmacology, receptor pharmacology, and biochemical and oxidant toxicology.


Candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in pharmacy, chemistry, biology or other related disciplines are invited to apply. Applicants must have demonstrated proficiency in verbal and written English and in fundamental scientific areas such as organic and physical chemistry, biochemistry, biology, mathematics, statistics and computer science.

Applications for admission are reviewed by the Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Admissions Committee of the School of Pharmacy and are evaluated primarily on the basis of academic excellence.

Admission Criteria
The Admissions Committee will consider applications based on the following factors:

1. Overall Grade Point Average (GPA)
A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required. Special attention is given to the grades achieved in science courses relevant to the program (e.g., chemistry, biology, biochemistry, pharmacology and mathematics).

2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Score
GRE scores of 153 Quantitative and 144 Verbal (new exam) or a combined Verbal and Quantitative GRE score of 1000 (old exam) are required.

3. Letters of Recommendation
Three letters from faculty knowledgeable about the student’s ability and capability are required. These letters should provide a thorough assessment of the student’s experience in laboratory research, ability to communicate in verbal and written English, motivation and creativity, and other qualities in the student’s academic performance.

4. TOEFL Scores for International Applicants
A minimum TOEFL (computer based) score of 213 is required. An IELTS score of 6.5 is competitive, with no less than 6 on each band score; an IBT minimum score of 90, with at least 20 in each section, is required.

Financial Aid

Students accepted into the USC School of Pharmacy Master of Science program are not eligible for institutional financial aid. Students are not permitted to be paid for working in a lab while enrolled in research or thesis units. During the summer, faculty advisors may provide a stipend, arranged on an individual basis.

Application Deadline

The application deadline for the fall semester is January 1. Applicants selected by the admission committee will be notified of acceptance shortly thereafter. Admissions decisions will continue to be made until the class is filled.

Graduate Program Application

Requirements for Degree Completion

Units Required

A minimum of 24 core-curriculum courses (see Course Offerings below) and 32 total units are required for graduation, including 594A and 594B (MS thesis). The core curriculum emphasizes drug discovery, drug delivery and molecular pharmacology.


Research can be initiated at any point in the program. Students selecting the non-research master’s track may elect and are encouraged to carry out research in their program.


Students may choose between two tracks to complete the Master of Science degree. First, the non-research Master’s track requires that the student conduct a detailed, extensive literature review in an area determined by the student in conjunction with a thesis advisor faculty member. Second, the research track requires that the student carry out a research project during the second year of the program.

On either track, students must submit a thesis to complete their degree requirements, either covering the scientific area selected in the non-research track, or describing their research project and results in the research track. The thesis should be 50-100 pages on average.

Course Offerings

Graduate students are expected to possess knowledge in various areas of pharmaceutical sciences. The following are graduate courses offered by the program (some courses are not offered every year):

  • PSCI 599 
  • PSCI 599 
  • PSCI 651 
Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • PSCI 652L 
Structure-Activity Relationship & Drug Design
  • PSCI 653L 
Spectrometry in Biomedicine
  • PSCI 654L 
Computing Applications in Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • PSCI 655 
  • PSCI 662 
Advanced Pharmacokinetics
  • PSCI 663 
Dosage Form Design & Evaluation
  • PSCI 664 
Drug Discovery and Design
  • PSCI 665 
Drug Transport and Delivery
  • PSCI 666 
Molecular Structural Biology
  • PSCI 667 
Intracellular Drug Delivery and Targeting
  • PSCI 671 
Drug Metabolism (Morphology)

The following are graduate courses offered in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology:

  • MPTX 500 
Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • MPTX 501 
Toxicology of Oxidants and Free Radicals
  • MPTX 601 
Methods in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • MPTX 602 
Sciences, Research and Ethics

The following are graduate courses offered for the Health Sciences Campus as “campus-wide” general courses:

  • INTD 531 
Cell Biology
  • INTD 561 
  • INTD 571 
Molecular Genetics
  • PHBI 562 
Systems and Integrative Physiology

USC Course Catalogue

For Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSCI) and Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology (MPTX) courses, see School of Pharmacy.

For Interdepartmental (INTD) and Physiology and Biophysics (PHBI) courses, see Keck School of Medicine.

USC Course Catalogue

Schedule of Classes

For course availability for the current year see the Schedule of Classes.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact the School of Pharmacy Graduate Affairs Office at (323) 442-1474 or