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We are looking for individuals who want to be leaders and innovators in the world of pharmaceutical sciences.

If you are interested in pharmaceutical sciences, you should start your preparation as early as possible.

  • In your high school and undergraduate years, challenge yourself in the advanced science courses.
  • Gain research experience.
  • As an undergraduate student, explore opportunities to work with faculty members on publications and presentations at professional conferences.

To be eligible for admission to the PhD in pharmaceutical sciences program at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, students must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree (based on a four-year curriculum) or its international equivalent with an accredited institution, with a standard collegiate curriculum in pharmacy, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, zoology, or an allied field;
  • An average grade of B (cumulative GPA 3.0) or better.

View an information session for the DPMP PhD program

Application Process

All applications to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s PhD in pharmaceutical sciences program must be submitted through the UNC Graduate School.

Review of applications begins December 1 and we strongly recommend that applications are completed prior to that deadline.

Although you can apply until February 13, completing your application before December 1 will maximize your chances of acceptance and nomination for UNC Graduate School fellowships.

Applicants must indicate only one choice on their application for their Division of interest or specialization. Only the first choice of Division (i.e. area of interest or specialization) will be considered on their application. Applicants should also describe this choice in their statement of purpose.

Note: You can begin your graduate studies in biological or biomedical sciences at UNC-CHapel Hill without initially committing to a specific program through the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP). Within the School, this option is available to students interested in Drug Discovery (Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry) or Drug Delivery (Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics).

All applications to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s PhD in pharmaceutical sciences program must be submitted through the UNC Graduate School.

For Question 2 on the graduate school application, make sure you scroll down the list until you see “School of Pharmacy.” In the dropdown menu for School of Pharmacy, please select Pharmaceutical Science

Note: If you decide to apply through the BBSP, For Question 2 on the application form, make sure you scroll down the list until you see “School of Medicine.” In the drop down menu for School of Medicine, select Biological and Biomedical Sciences.



Graduate School application materials:

  • A current e-mail address (the Graduate School only uses e-mail to communicate with applicants)
  • Nonrefundable $87.50 application fee
  • Three current letters of recommendation: When filling out the Graduate School application, applicants will be asked to submit the e-mail addresses of the recommenders, who will then receive an e-mail with information for logging into the system to submit their letters.
  • Transcripts
  • GRE test scores that are no more than five years old
  • Statement of Purpose. To assist in the evaluation of your application, please provide a concise personal statement including the following information.
    1. Why do you wish to pursue graduate study in pharmaceutical sciences?
    2. Why do you wish to engage in graduate study in this institution?
    3. What are your reasons for selecting your first choice of Division (i.e. area of interest or specialization)?
    4. What are your previous research experiences? Why was the work conducted? What did you accomplish? How did the experience inform your decision to pursue a PhD?
    5. What do you offer that will enrich our graduate program?  Please include factors such as:
      • Work, teaching, or other life experiences
      • Meaningful events that have influenced your life and career choices
      • Communication abilities
      • Problem-solving skills
      • Are you a leader, follower, or team player?
      • History of overcoming challenges or disadvantages
      • Cultural diversity (this may include ethnic background, race, and other attributes that define your cultural background)
    6. If possible, please identify the specific research areas in which you plan to focus your graduate studies. Is there a particular faculty member with whom you would like to work?

For application questions, please consult the Graduate School’s application instructions or contact

International Students

Applications from non-U.S. applicants are processed in the same way as those from U.S. applicants except for the following:

  1. If a student is sponsored, the sponsor (e.g., the U.S. Government, private foundation, home government, university programs) must clearly establish its financial responsibility and issue the necessary immigration documents for the student.
  2. In cases where the student is supported by private funds or has received a teaching or research assistantship, the necessary certificate of eligibility is issued by the Graduate School.
  3. Students who plan to use personal funds to finance their education must provide the University with verification that the necessary funds are available.
  4. A financial certificate must be completed by each international applicant only if they are offered admission.
  5. Most foreign applicants must provide proof of English-language proficiency by receiving acceptable scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applicants from countries where English is the language of instruction or those who have received a degree from a university in the United States do not have to submit TOEFL scores. The required minimum total score on the TOEFL paper-based exam is 550, with a minimum score of 50 for each of the three sections. The average score for new students admitted in the last three years exceeded 600. Minimum total score on the TOEFL internet-based exam is 90.  The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also accepted to demonstrate English-language proficiency. The minimum score on the IELTS exam is 7.

Selected applicants will be contacted to participate in a telephone/video conference interview with a faculty member.  Telephone/Video Conference interviews are usually scheduled in December and last for twenty minutes.

Selected applicants will be invited to Chapel Hill for on-campus interviews.  During this time you will meet faculty members, current students, tour our facilities and get a chance to learn a little about Chapel Hill.  Campus interviews take place over the course of a weekend (Friday – Sunday) and are usually held in late January/early February.

Being admitted to the Graduate School does not imply that you will receive financial assistance of any kind. The awarding of financial assistance is a separate decision.

Financial Aid and Resources

Our Ph.D. students receive full financial support contingent upon their satisfactory progression in their training program, which is typically completed within five years. We work to offer all graduate students equal financial support that is competitive with other graduate programs.

Graduate students in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy are supported by fellowships and research assistantships that provide an annual stipend of $30,000 plus tuition, fees, and health insurance. Admission offers are made on a competitive basis with consideration given to the applicant’s academic record, Graduate Record Examination scores, and research experience.

Deadline: All applications for admission to the Ph.D. program must be received by February 9. However, we strongly recommend applying by mid-December so that applicants can be nominated for the prestigious University recruitment fellowships and assistantships awarded by the Graduate School.

Each award provides a $3,000 supplement for first-year, full-time PhD students in the division. Recipients who maintain satisfactory academic eligibility will receive an additional $3,000 supplement for their second year.

Award Criteria

The fellowships are awarded to applicants who demonstrate the most impressive records of achievement in undergraduate education, research, and life experiences, and show the highest academic potential as judged by the following criteria:

  • Have achieved a grade-point average of 3.6 or higher at a highly competitive undergraduate institution
  • Have achieved GRE scores in the upper 20 percent
  • Have performed meritorious research as evidenced by presentation at scientific conferences and/or co-authorship in a scientifically reputable journal
  • Are seriously considering offers of admission to competitive, top-tier, peer graduate programs
  • Have high potential to successfully secure extramural fellowship support in subsequent years
  • Intend to remain in the United States upon graduation and pursue a career that will have a major impact on advances in health care


There is no need to apply separately for the Molecular Pharmaceutics Scholar Fellowship Awards. All applicants to the PhD program in the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics are considered for the awards. The number of awards may vary from year to year based on the availability of funds and qualified applicants. The fellowships will not be awarded based on the applicant’s race or gender. Recipients will be notified in writing at the same time they receive their offer of admission to the PhD program.

Qualified applicants can be nominated by the divisional training program that they are applying to for several types of competitive University recruitment fellowships and assistantships from the Graduate School. These awards also provide full stipend, tuition, fees, and health insurance.

Applicants who are nominated for a University recruitment award are guaranteed invitation to the School’s Recruitment Weekend event, which is held during the last weekend in January.

Available awards include:

For a complete list of funding opportunities, visit the UNC Graduate School Funding Page.

Deadline: To be considered for a University recruitment award, applications must be received by December 13. The University recruitment awards are announced in early March.

For applicants who will hold a Pharm.D. by the time they begin graduate training, the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) offers several fellowship awards to encourage outstanding pharmacy students to pursue the PhD in the pharmaceutical sciences in a college of pharmacy graduate program:

  • Phi Lambda Sigma AFPE First Year Graduate School Fellowship
  • Rho Chi AFPE First Year Graduate School Fellowship
  • Kappa Epsilon AFPE First Year Graduate School Fellowship (The Nellie Wakeman Fellowship)

AFPE predoctoral fellows receive a stipend of $10,000 per year that may be used for any purpose jointly decided by the awardee and college that will enable the student to make progress in their pursuit of a Ph.D. The term of the fellowship is September 1 to August 31 of the following year. For full details of the AFPE fellowship predoctoral agreement view the downloadable [PDF]. All eligible students are expected to pursue AFPE funding to help support the cost of their training.

To be eligible, students must:

  • Major in one of the following disciplines: Clinical Pharmaceutical Science, Medicinal/Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmaceutics, Pharmacoeconomics & Health Outcomes Research, Pharmacognosy, Pharmacokinetics/Metabolism, Pharmacology/Toxicology, Pharmacotherapy & Experimental Therapeutics, or Social & Administrative Science.
  • Have completed three semesters of graduate study and anticipate that they have no more than three and a half years remaining to obtain the Ph.D. in progress.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident

The School recommends that AFPE funds be allocated in the following way:

  • $7,500 towards the student’s stipend
  • $2,500 towards non-stipend* expenditures for professional development (i.e. supplies for laboratory rotations, laptop computer, books and other materials, travel, membership fees, etc.)

Visit the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education website to learn more about these AFPE fellowships and to apply. 

Additional external fellowship opportunities include:

Ready to take the next step?