PhD in Pharmacology & Physiology

Information Sessions

Attend one of our online sessions to learn more about our program and the admissions process.

Apply to the PhD in Pharmacology & Physiology program by submitting an online application through the Georgetown Graduate School of Arts & Sciences portal.

Admission to our program is highly competitive. To learn more about us, please contact us or fill out our Request for Information form.

Please note that this degree program does not lead to a PharmD and will not allow you to be a practicing pharmacist.

Admission Timeline

December 1

Final Deadline to Apply for Summer Admission

International applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow sufficient time to submit all application materials and apply for a U.S. visa if admitted.

August: Application opens

December 1: Application deadline for all materials. Applications missing required materials after December 1 may be reviewed at the discretion of the admissions committee

January-March: Interviews. We may conduct interviews over Zoom and/or in person

February-April: Admissions offers from the program

July 1: Program starts for Summer

Application Requirements

Applicants are to submit all required credentials and supporting documentation no later than the application deadline.

Applicants do not need to arrange a position in a laboratory prior to admission. Any prospective students who currently have positions in departmental laboratories must apply to the program through the same procedure as all other applicants, and will not receive special consideration.

A 4-year bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a science field (e.g., Chemistry, Biology, Pharmacy, Neuroscience, Physiological Psychology) with a GPA of 3.0 or higher (across all undergraduate coursework and/or institutions attended). Our most competitive applicants have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Research experience in the sciences is required. Direct research experience in pharmacology or physiology is highly valued but is not required.

Prospective students with GPAs below 3.3 may wish to consider our GeorgeSquared (G²) Advanced Biomedical Sciences certificate (new window), a partnership between Georgetown and George Mason University, as a precursor to doctoral study. Students admitted to our PhD program after successfully completing the George Squared ABS program can be exempted from some of the first-year coursework. Credits can also be transferred to our MS in Pharmacology program.

List your postsecondary institutions in your application, and upload a transcript for each institution. Applicants are required to list/upload copies of official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions where more than 15 credits of coursework were completed and/or where program prerequisites were completed (any number of credits). This gives the admissions committee a more complete picture of your academic preparation for graduate study.

WES (new window) or NACES (new window) credential evaluation services are required for international transcripts.

Follow the transcript instructions in Admissions FAQ (new window) to ensure you upload proper documentation.

We strongly prefer that applicants waive their right to view the letters that are submitted for their application. This option is in the application system when you are inputting your recommenders’ information.

The strongest letters will come from those who have supervised you in a research or academic science context (e.g., principal investigator, science professor, clinician).

The program requests that applicants forward the following instructions to letter writers:

  • Rate the applicant as: Exceptional, Outstanding, Very Good, Above Average, or Below Average.
  • Comment on the applicant’s ranking compared to other students you have mentored. E.g., “The student is in the top 5 students of the 50 students I mentored over the last 30 years.”
  • Comment on the applicant’s drive, creativity, independence, and resilience.

The Academic Statement of Purpose should be at least one page, but not more than two pages long, and should cover:

  • The factors (such as personal background, professional past experiences, or academic interests in department faculty and research) that motivate you to pursue a PhD program in this field.
  • Your research background/experience that has prepared you for graduate studies.
  • Your academic preparation for this degree program (coursework at bachelor’s and/or graduate level). If there are any areas of your transcript that might be a cause for concern on the part of the admissions committee, such as low grades in coursework relevant to the degree, be sure to address them clearly.
  • Long-term goals you wish to achieve during or after your PhD studies.
  • Any additional information that you would like the committee to consider as they review your application. We understand that many different factors (socioeconomic status, personal/familial challenges, racial/ethnic/cultural background, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, being the first in one’s family to attend college and/or to pursue STEM graduate education, historical/structural/institutional obstacles, etc.) impact the path to a PhD in the sciences. We strive to promote equity and inclusion in our program, recognizing the many ways that we can each enrich the academic and scholarly community through our unique backgrounds and circumstances.

Please upload Part 1 and Part 2 into the Supplemental Information section of the online application.

Part 1: An essay answering the following prompt, maximum one page: Please tell us about an incident in your research where you experienced failure. Include what you did about it and what you learned from the experience. Note: This essay is separate from the Statement of Purpose.

Part 2: A simple ranked list of six faculty members in our department with whom you would be interested in doing research. The list should be ranked 1 through 6, with 1 being the faculty member with whom you are the most interested in doing research in our department. Important note: Although the research areas covered by our participating faculty are broad, the most concentrated areas of research strength are in neuropharmacology and signal transduction. Because of our strong focus on neuropharmacology, applicants interested in clinical pharmacology or cancer pharmacology may wish to apply elsewhere. In particular, the Tumor Biology program (new window) at Georgetown is very strong.

Your CV/resume should include relevant professional (such as research, volunteer and intern experiences) and academic experiences with dates and descriptions/responsibilities. When applicable, items in each section should be in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experiences listed first. For experiences involving research, please note clearly the name of the principal investigator of the lab. Include citations for your publications, abstracts and presentations (if applicable). Use 11pt font size or larger; allow your CV/resume to span multiple pages if necessary.

The application fee is nonrefundable but limited application fee waivers may be available. View information about the application fee (new window).

Applicants to any Georgetown program may choose to submit an Optional Statement that addresses diversity, personal background and contributions to community. A detailed prompt for the statement can be found in the application.

All applicants are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the English language sufficient to meet the admission requirement of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Follow the TOEFL/IELTS instructions in Admissions FAQ (new window) to determine whether you need to send us test scores to prove your English language proficiency.

We do not accept GRE scores from applicants. Please do not include GRE scores as part of your application, and please do not send official score reports.

If you have accidentally included GRE scores in your submitted application, please contact our admissions team at to have your GRE information removed from your application. Otherwise, the information will keep your application marked as incomplete.

Any GRE score remaining on an application at the deadline will be removed/redacted from the file circulated to our admissions committee.

As of the 2017-18 application cycle, we have decided to remove GREs from our PhD application process. A growing literature makes it abundantly clear that GREs are poor predictors of graduate student success (see: Hall et al. and Moneta-Koeler et al.). Moreover, GRE scores consistently disadvantage women and individuals from underrepresented groups in science. Thus, given the poor predictive value of the GRE, we feel it only serves as an access barrier to applications, as significant time and money are required for the examination and subsequent score reporting.

Tuition & Stipend

Biomedical Graduate Education PhD students can receive merit-based fellowship awards that cover tuition, stipend, student health insurance, dental insurance and mandatory fees. Visit BGE PhD Tuition & Stipend for more information.

Applicants with external (third-party) funding guaranteed for the entirety of their PhD program (e.g., scholarships, sponsorships or fellowships through governments, employers or any organization) should include a copy of their award/sponsorship letter with their application. If the sponsorship is awarded after you submitted your application, please send a PDF copy of the letter to to be added to your application file.

Training Grants

Students may apply to participate in Georgetown’s NIH-funded, externally peer-reviewed institutional training programs. Visit BGE T32 Training Grants to learn more about our programs.

MD/PhD Program

Our program participates in Georgetown School of Medicine’s MD/PhD program. If you are interested in the MD/PhD program, please apply directly to the School of Medicine.

GU-NIH Graduate Program

Students who wish to conduct dissertation research at the National Institutes of Health should submit an application through the NIH’s partnership with Georgetown University Biomedical Graduate Education. Visit the BGE Partner Institutions page for details and application instructions.

Career Readiness

Our students benefit from the services of the Biomedical Graduate Education career office, including one-on-one advising, skills workshops, leadership programs and more.