Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Sciences


Utilizing the extraordinary intellectual, biological, physical and cultural diversity of its geographic region as a focus of investigation and study, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy is proud to offer a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

This program, which is the only program of its type in the Pacific region, provides graduate training in the Pharmaceutical Sciences including Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutics, and Pharmacognosy. It is aimed at students with B.S., M.S., or Pharm.D. degrees, and those currently working in the field. Studies culminate with the award of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Sciences, with an emphasis on natural products discovery and development and their importance in pharmacy and healthcare.

Students will be prepared for senior leadership positions in the pharmaceutical sciences in academia, research, education, government, industry and related fields and become leaders who can identify, research, and solve problems related to the pharmaceutical sciences. The Ph.D. program is designed to foster student development as critical thinkers, team players, self-directed interdisciplinary scholars and communicators.

The mission of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Sciences is to train students to be skilled researchers and critical thinkers who will play key leadership roles in furthering the development of the Pharmaceutical Sciences and related fields now and into the future.

  • To provide a high-quality graduate program culminating in the award of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Sciences, including the areas of Pharmaceutics, Pharmacognosy, Medicinal Chemistry, and Pharmacology.
  • To foster the development of students as critical thinkers, team players, self-directed interdisciplinary scholars, and communicators.
  • To prepare students for senior leadership positions in the pharmaceutical sciences in academia, research, education, government, industry, and related fields. These leaders will be able to identify, research, and solve problems related to the pharmaceutical sciences.
  • To train students by utilizing the extraordinary intellectual, biological, physical, and cultural assets available on the Island of Hawaii, the State, and the Asia-Pacific region.
  • To promote the transfer of cutting-edge technology through developing a community research partnership, process, and protocol for understanding the diversity of natural products originating in Hawaii, the Pacific, and around the world and their applications to healing in a culturally respectful way.

At the conclusion of the Ph.D. program a graduate should be able to:

  1. Perform scientific research that will advance knowledge in the interdisciplinary field of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  2. Use advanced technological equipment in order to perform quantitative analysis and be able to interpret complex data.
  3. Analyze, apply, and present research findings.
  4. Prepare, interpret, and critique scientific publications and proposals.
  5. Identify which aspects of their individual program may be usefully transferred to some applied research program.
  6. Complete the seven stages for a successful Ph.D. in any technical discipline, thereby becoming an independent researcher:
    • Identify a problem/question
    • Form an hypothesis
    • Develop a model
    • Design an experimental strategy to test the hypothesis
    • Execute an experimental plan
    • Interpret the data against the hypothesis
    • Report the results in a dissertation and peer reviewed publications

Acceptance is granted at the discretion of the Pharmaceutical Science Ph.D. Admissions Committee based on the criteria below.

  1. Successful completion of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Sciences Application process.
  2. Each applicant must hold a baccalaureate degree or graduate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university, or its equivalent from a recognized non-U.S. institution of learning
  3. Applicants must have a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 out of 4.0 or the equivalent from the last 60 semester credits (or equivalent) in the undergraduate degree completed, or must hold a graduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or better in his/her graduate program.
  4. Applicants are recommended to have successfully completed with a grade “C” or higher: General Biology I and II for Science Majors with Labs, General Chemistry I and II for Science Majors with Labs, Organic Chemistry I and II for Science Majors with Labs, Calculus 1 or Advanced Calculus. Students may have to take additional courses if proficiency cannot be demonstrated.
  5. A personal statement of objectives is required which includes applicant’s background, professional goals and academic and research interests.
  6. Resume.
  7. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores sent directly from ETS.
  8. Three Letters of Recommendation using the “Ph.D. Letter of Recommendation Form”. The letters should be written by people who can speak to the applicant’s educational ability, motivation, and character, and/or leadership experiences. At least one of your letters MUST be written by a Professor of one of the Natural or Physical Sciences. Please allow the Recommenders plenty of time to complete this form, and have them mail the letter directly to the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, Office of Student Services, Ph.D. Admissions, 200 W. Kawili Street; Hilo, HI 96720-4091.
  9. Completed SKYPE or equivalent electronic interview.

Foreign applicants must also submit:

  1. Official TOEFL score report.
    International students seeking Graduate Assistant positions with any instructional responsibility must demonstrate proficiency in English, defined as a TOEFL score of at least 600 on paper-based or 100 on internet-based test or its equivalent or an IELTS score of 7.0 or its equivalent. Graduate Student Employment Policy.
  2. International Graduate Student Supplemental Information Form.

Further information on the details of fulfilling admissions requirements are available from the Ph.D. Admissions Office, and on the DKICP Graduate Admissions website.

  1. Successful achievement of the requirements for year one of the student’s program.

  2. Regardless of any previous graduate experience, a minimum of 24 graduate didactic credit hours must be taken at UH Hilo before the Ph.D. degree can be granted.

  3. Completion of all first year graduate courses each with a grade no less than a “B” (3.0) and, thereafter, maintenance of a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.

  4. Completion of one seminar each year; a minimum grade of “B” (3.0) should be achieved for this presentation. The Proposal Defense and Dissertation Defense seminars will satisfy the seminar presentation requirement for that particular academic year.

  5. No later than the fourth semester of the program, successful completion of a written and/or oral Comprehensive Examination to demonstrate competence in the chosen area(s) of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

  6. No later than the fifth semester of the program, completion of an original dissertation research proposal, presentation of a public seminar on the student’s research proposal, and successful defense in a comprehensive oral examination (Proposal Defense) on the proposal and any other topics that the Graduate Committee deems necessary. In this examination the student’s Graduate Committee will determine if the student is sufficiently prepared in the selected field of study to continue with their dissertation. Once the student passes the Comprehensive Examination and the Proposal Defense, he/she will be eligible to be admitted to Candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

  7. Successful completion of a dissertation, with enrollment in a minimum of 56 credits of dissertation research (PHPS 799V Directed Studies (To Be Arranged) and PHPS 800 Research Dissertation – Pharmaceutical Sciences (1–15)). Upon completion of the dissertation, a final public seminar and oral dissertation defense (Dissertation Defense) will follow.

  8. Completion of at least 96 combined credits of graduate courses and dissertation; including PHPS 700-level and PHPS 800-level courses.

  9. The publication of one or more first author research manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.

  10. Compliance with UH Hilo rules and regulations for graduation.

View and download the Ph.D. Student Handbook

View and download the Ph.D. Student Annual Progress Report

View and download the Ph.D. Plan of Study Form

View and download the Degree Audit Form

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