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College of Pharmacy


Degree Progression

Learn about the steps required of Ph.D. candidates in USC's College of Pharmacy as you progress from required coursework to dissertation defense.

Candidacy for the Ph.D. program is a two-part process. Part one is satisfied by the successful completion of PHAR 700. Once the core courses work is completed, part two of the process is divided into the following four segments: selection of a research adviser, selection of a graduate committee, submission and defense of your initial research proposal (IRP) and submission of your program of study.

Completion of Ph.D. Studies

  1. Completion of all required coursework by the end of the degree program. The core curriculum should be completed by the end of the second year.
  2. Selection of a research adviser should occur by the beginning of the second year. The student must notify the graduate director in writing using the Research Advisor Selection form [docx].
  3. Graduate committee selection must occur by the beginning of the second year. The student must notify the graduate director in writing of the committee’s composition using the G-DCA Doctoral Committee Appointment Request form [pdf].
  4. Submission and defense of initial research proposal (IRP) must be completed by the end of the second year. The proposal topic is the student’s planned Ph.D. research project and is written in the style of an NIH proposal. The student must then orally present the IRP to his or her Ph.D. committee.
  5. The Ph.D. program of study must be completed by the end of the second year. Students must use the Graduate School’s DPOS Doctoral Degree Program form [pdf].
  6. The comprehensive written/oral examination must be taken no later than the end of the third year. The student’s graduate committee must approve the topic of the research proposal. The proposal will be written in the NIH proposal's format.
  7. It is highly recommended that the thesis committee be convened for an update and discussion of target completion date of dissertation about six months prior to the target graduation date. The student, in consultation with the thesis adviser, calls the meeting.
  8. When complete, all dissertations are submitted online to the Graduate School and should follow department requirements and suggestions for formatting.
  9. A dissertation seminar and defense must be completed within eight years of the start of the Ph.D. program. The dissertation seminar and defense of dissertation must be scheduled through the graduate program director, following consultation with all committee members.
  10. If the student fails to achieve an affirmative vote of at least 75% of the committee members in attendance, the committee may recommend the following actions:
    • major revisions of the dissertation followed by a second and final defense of dissertation to be conducted within 30-90 days
    • second and final defense of dissertation to be conducted within 30-90 days

Failure in a second defense of the dissertation will normally result in awarding of a master's of science degree in pharmaceutical sciences.