M.S. and Ph.D. Handbook

This handbook is a consolidated source of information and guidelines relating to graduate study for the faculty and graduate students of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan. Students and faculty should also refer to the Rackham Graduate School website which outlines the Rackham Graduate School guidelines for graduate study at the University.



The goal of our graduate program is to train the next generation of pharmacologists for careers in academia, government, biotech, the pharmaceutical industry, as well as emerging novel careers in which their knowledge provides value. To do this we provide a rigorous and supportive learning environment and individual mentorship from our faculty comprised of the very best academic pharmacologists.

Where To Go For Information

Graduate Student Handbook
This handbook outlines the requirements for the Ph.D., M.S., and the Ph.D. segment of the M.S.T.P. degree programs in Pharmacology. This includes requirements for coursework, laboratory rotations, preliminary examinations, and completion of the degree, together with advice on the selection of a thesis advisor and dissertation committee. There is also general information on matters necessary for your life as a graduate student. Please be familiar with requirements of the Department and the Rackham Graduate School. Graduate School rules/regulations can be found in their entirety on the Rackham Graduate School website at http://www.rackham.umich.edu/policies/academic_policies/.

Graduate Program Committee 
Departmental requirements for all graduate degrees are administered by the Graduate Program Committee, a committee of seven faculty members and one student representative. This Committee has been delegated the authority by the faculty and the Chair to interpret rules and requirements and, when the circumstances warrant, to grant exceptions upon formal appeal. The Committee is also a resource for any questions or concerns regarding progress to the Ph.D. and can assist with conflict resolution. First year students in the M.S. & Ph.D. programs are required to meet regularly with their respective program director. Advising regarding coursework selection will be provided at orientation, but you may contact your program director at any time during your studies for guidance on any matter. Ph.D. students must meet with Dr. Jutkiewicz on a yearly basis. After your first year of Ph.D. training, your Research Mentor (Dissertation Committee Chair) will serve as your primary resource for academic advising and mentorship for your thesis project. In addition, the Graduate Coordinator is also an excellent resource.

Graduate Student Representative
The Pharmacology Graduate Student Representative (GSR) serves as a leader within the department, representing the voice of students and advocating for their concerns. Students nominate themselves at the beginning of the academic year and department staff send out a survey ‘who would you feel most comfortable with representing the students on the GPC’. All students who have become candidates are eligible. In August, the new GSRA will begin their one-year term. In addition to planning the monthly graduate student meetings, the GSR will also attend all meetings of the Pharmacology Graduate Program committee which meets monthly. Discussions of the GPC may include, but are not limited to, topics like departmental and class requirements, preliminary exams, applications for direct admission to the PhD program, and student policies/expectations. GSR should provide student opinion/voice on issues, but have non-voting privileges. Also, the GSR is expected to keep information discussions confidential. Our current GSRs are Anthony Garcia ([email protected]) and Behirda Karaj ([email protected]).

Graduate Trainee Leads – PostDoc and PhD
PhD trainee and PostDoc fellows nominate a 'lead’ each academic year. Often the PhD trainee lead collaborates with the Post Doc lead.
The role of the trainee/postdoc lead:

  • Work with the student affairs program manager to establish monthly meeting dates/times/food. Typically the meeting calendar follows the faculty meeting calendar.
  • Organize and lead the monthly meetings
  • Take responsibility for delivering food to meeting location and instructor others on cleanup duties

Student Mentors
The department values our students and wants to provide opportunities for students to succeed in our rigorous academic program. Third-year doctoral students who have passed their preliminary exams are eligible to be mentors to the incoming students. We often like to match mentors based upon non-academic markers, such as geographics (undergraduate program or high school location?), hobbies (disc golf or musical instrument?) or other fun facts.

Faculty Areas of Assistance
These faculty have specific areas that they assist our students. Graduate trainees are encouraged to seek advice and assistance from any of the departmental faculty. Contact information can be found on our website.

  • Academic Planning and Issues: Emily Jutkiewicz, Grad Program Chair
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Jorge Iniguez-Lluhi, Dept. DEI Committee Co-Chairs & Faculty Ally for Diversity
  • Conflict and Resolution: Carole Parent & Jorge Iniguez-Lluhi, Departmental Ombudsperson
  • General Student Issues: Lori Isom, Department Chair

Administrative Complex
The Offices of the Chair, Executive Assistant to the Chair, Chief Departmental Administrator, IT & Financial Specialists are located in 2301 MSRB III. Our Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator is located in 1301 MSRB III. Our HR Specialist and Research Administrator work virtually and can be contacted via email or phone.

Departmental Email Groups
All incoming Ph.D. students, including PIBS students who choose to join Pharmacology labs after their rotations, will be added to the Pharmacology PhD student email group, [email protected], to receive relevant announcements and other pertinent information. All incoming M.S. students will be added to the Pharmacology Master’s student email group, [email protected].

Departmental Scholarly Activities

Students are expected to attend the following events:

Wednesday Lunchtime Seminars: On 3 of the 4 Wednesdays per month, a distinguished invited speaker presents a research seminar to the Department. All PhD and MS students are expected to attend. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to have lunch with the speaker following the seminar. The Executive Assistant to the Chair will email a sign up for lunch the week before.

Friday Student Seminars: The required course, PHARM 646, trains PhD students in seminar preparation and presentation (see course requirements below). Attending this Friday seminar series is compulsory for all PhD and MS students. All Pharmacology faculty also attend these seminars, thus providing an excellent learning experience

Annual Pharmacology Retreat: The Pharmacology Retreat brings together faculty, students, postdocs, and staff for a program of scientific communication, career/professional development, and social interactions/community building. This event includes a poster session as well as research talks by trainees and faculty. The retreat is generally held overnight at an off-site venue early in the fall semester and includes lunch, dinner, and breakfast the following morning.

Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (PSTP) Annual Symposium: Our NIH-funded PSTP T32 holds an annual symposium for all faculty and students in the Department of Pharmacology, Departments of Medical Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy, and several other Medical School Units including Biological Chemistry. Two nationally or internationally renowned scientists are invited to speak: one on their cutting-edge research and the other on the critical topic of research responsibility and ethics. All second year and above Pharmacology PhD students are required to present their research in the form of a poster or short talk. MS students are welcome, but not required, to present as well. This event is an excellent opportunity to network and develop interdisciplinary collaborations. The PSTP symposium is organized entirely by PSTP students, providing them with a unique leadership experience in planning and executing a scientific meeting.

Midwest Pharmacology Colloquium: U-M partners with Wayne State University, Michigan State University, U of Toledo Pharmacology departments to host an annual colloquium.  Students in all four schools have the opportunity to present posters and science talks.  This event provides the opportunity to network and practice sharing your science with others.  Pharmacology Ph.D. students are expected to attend and participate.

Alumni Steering Committee Weekend: Each year the Pharmacology Alumni Steering Committee makes an in-person visit to review the Department, meet with our trainees, and to present the Outstanding Alumnus Award. This event provides an opportunity not only to network with experienced pharmacologists in a variety of different careers, but also provides a forum for the students to discuss ways to improve the program.

Student Meetings & Groups

The University of Michigan has hundreds of student organizations and associations. You can find lists on the websites of the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies: https://ogps.med.umich.edu/resources/student-groups/ and the Office of Student Life: https://campusinvolvement.umich.edu/managing-your-student-organization.

Pharmacology students meet as a group at noon on the first Wednesday of each month (at the same time as the Departmental Faculty Meeting) to discuss all, and any, aspects of their graduate experience. Decisions/suggestions for improvement etc. made at these meetings are communicated to the Graduate Program Committee and/or Graduate Coordinator for consideration by the Department. These meetings are organized by the Graduate Student Representative to the Graduate Program Committee. The Graduate Student Representative is selected each July, students interested in serving in this role self-nominate and then the Pharmacology graduate students vote to select their representative for the coming year.

Pharmacology Bagel Nosh: The Pharmacology department gathers weekly on Fridays from 9:30-10:30 in 1301 MSRB III to socialize. This event is open to all members of the department and is a good opportunity to meet others.

Pharmacology Trainee Chalk Talk: Chalk Talk is a weekly lunch gathering where students present pretty much whatever they'd like–their research, a cool paper, ideas they want feedback on, prelims, job application talks, anything – without the burden of preparing slides. Graduate students are expected to present at least once a year, and all students, postdocs, and research staff are invited to come join us and ask questions, offer ideas, and learn about the cool stuff other people in the department are working on. It's also a great way to get used to asking questions during talks.

Rackham Student Government (RSG): RSG serves as a conduit between the student body and the Rackham Graduate School, the University administration, the State Legislature, and even the Federal Government. RSG also hosts and funds social events. RGS is a founding member of the Student Advocates for Graduate Education (SAGE), a coalition that works to lobby State and Federal decision makers on behalf of graduate and professional students. https://rsg.umich.edu/

Biomedical Graduate Student Government (BGSG): The purpose of BGSG is to promote and represent the interests of graduate students in the biomedical sciences. BGSG provides an organized way for graduate students to voice their opinions on their education and to provide services and programs which enhance their graduate experiences. BGSG aims to support the needs of all students associated with the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. BGSG includes representatives from each of the 14 home programs of PIBS, as well as the PIBS first year class, the MSTP program, and the PREP program. If you are interested in getting involved or becoming a representative, please contact either the current representative from Pharmacology or the BGSG E-board at [email protected].

Campus Student Organizations: The University of Michigan has over 1,600 of our student organizations. The Maize website allows you to search organizations, see when mass meetings are and join those groups you're interested in.

Departmental Staff


 Administrative Staff (alphabetical by last name)

Areas of Assistance & Staff Contact Name

  • Building & equipment issues:  Dennis
  • Building & lab access & key and ID card replacement/renewal: Dennis, Audrey
  • Computers, software and internet:  Tom
  • Course registration: Sondra
  • Degree requirements & planning: Sondra
  • Departmental events & planning: Katie
  • Departmental email groups/listservs:  Tom, Sondra, Audrey
  • Email and level II passwords: Tom
  • Grants: Bo, Yvonne, Debra
  • General student & postdoc matter and questions: Sondra, Audrey
  • Healthcare issues: Audrey, Sondra
  • Ordering laboratory equipment and supplies:  Ingrid, Carol
  • Personal & confidential matters: Dennis, Audrey, Sondra
  • Reimbursements/Concur: Ingrid
  • Room scheduling:  Courtney, Sondra
  • Seminar setup: Carol, Courtney, Tom
  • Stipend payments: Audrey, Sondra
  • Student funding: Sondra, Audrey, Debra
  • Travel Awards/Summer Students: Dennis, Sondra, Audrey
  • Visa Information: Audrey, Sondra
  • Website updates: Tom, Carol, Sondra

Graduate Instructional Faculty


This section provides information on the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The requirements stated here include those set by the Department and those set by the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Students are urged to consult the Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies (http://www.rackham.umich.edu/current-students/policies/academic-policies).


PhD: Rackham & Department Requirements

Ph.D. students mainly enter the Department of Pharmacology through the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) admissions umbrella through the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Michigan Medical School (https://medicine.umich.edu/medschool/education/phd-programs/phd-admissions). It is also possible for outstanding students to gain admission to the Ph.D. program after completing the Department’s M.S. Pharmacology degree.

Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree
The Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree conferred by the University. It is a research degree. It is never conferred solely as a result of study, no matter how faithful, extending over any prescribed time period or for any amount of course work or research accumulated. The Ph.D. represents more than merely the sum of semesters in residence and of credits for courses taken. The length of residence and the plan of study are of secondary importance. The Ph.D. is granted solely upon evidence of proficiency in the specialty field chosen by the candidate, including independent and insightful investigation as demonstrated in a written thesis based upon original research combined with creative scholarship that is presented with a high degree of literary skill.

Rackham and Departmental Ph.D. Requirements
The basic requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy set by the Rackham Graduate School and the Department include:

  1. Total of 36 Rackham course credits is required for graduation. Minimum coursework in residence requirement (18 hours of graded graduate coursework registered as a Rackham student in Ann Arbor).
  2. An overall GPA of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) grade point average or higher in the graduate student’s record.
  3. 4 credit hours of cognate coursework with a B- grade or better.
  4. Appointment of a Dissertation Committee to oversee the student’s program and progress in research.
  5. Completion of a yearly departmental seminar beginning in the 2nd year of study (PHRMACOL 646).
  6. Recommendation by the Department for admission to candidacy, which includes successful passing of the Prelim Exam.
  7. Obtain proficiency in the core competencies of graduate training (determined by the research mentor and the GPC; see annual Mentor Evaluation Form)
  8. Generate novel ideas and information that contribute to scientific knowledge
  9. Obtain approval from the Dissertation Committee that the student has produced a sufficient quantity and quality of novel information to generate a cohesive dissertation
  10. Obtain approval from the Dissertation Committee to proceed toward graduation (e.g., finish running experiments, finish writing dissertation, and plan a date for the thesis defense)
  11. Approval of the written dissertation by the Dissertation Committee and the Graduate Dean and a final oral examination by the Committee (Thesis Defense).

PhD: Chronology - from PIBS through Graduation


PhD: Course Requirements/Registration


Fall Semester

  • PIBS 503 - Research Responsibility and Ethics (1 credit)
  • PIBS 800 - PIBS Seminar Series (1 credit) *cognate credit
  • PIBS 600 - Biomedical Sciences Independent Study (Research Rotation: 3-4 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 601 - From Molecules to Patients: Basic Quantitative Principles of Pharmacology (3 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 614 - Seminars in Autonomic Pharmacology (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 646 - Student Seminars (1 credit)
  • PHRMACOL 603 - Practical Statistics (2 credits)
    Or Cognate/Elective Course (see list below of common choices)

Winter Semester

  • PIBS 800 – PIBS Seminar Series (1 credit) *cognate credit
  • PIBS 600 - Biomedical Sciences Independent Study (Research Rotation: 3-4 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 612 - Antimicrobial & Cancer Pharmacology (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 615 - Seminar in Molecular Neuropharmacology (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 616 - Cardiovascular Pharmacology (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 617 - Endocrine Pharmacology (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 646 – Student Seminars (0.5 Credits)


Fall Semester

  • PHRMACOL 502 - Introduction to Scientific Communication (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 646 - Student Seminars (1 credit)
  • PHRMACOL 990 - Pre-candidacy Research (1-8 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 603- Practical Statistics (2 credits)
    Or Cognate/Elective Course (see list below of common choices)

Winter Semester

  • PHRMACOL 646 - Student Seminars (1 credit)
  • PHRMACOL 990 - Pre-candidacy Research (8 credits)

*Students on the PSTP training grant must also enrolled in the required course for that program (PHMACOL 604) during the fall and winter semesters in their second year.


  • PHRMACOL 646 – Student Seminars (1 credit)
  • PHRMACOL 995 – Dissertation Research (8 credits)

Cognate/Elective Courses

Cognate courses are those in a discipline or area different from a student’s field of study but that are related or connected with some aspect of this field. The Rackham Graduate School requires 3 credit hours of coursework in approved graduate-level cognate courses with a grade of B-. Cognate courses must be approved by Graduate Program Committee. Pharmacology courses that are cross-listed in another department may be used to satisfy the cognate requirement. See below for a list of common cognate course for Pharmacology student. Please consult with the Graduate Coordinator, GPC Chair or your Research Advisor for additional courses. Check the schedule of classes for courses offered in a particular term.

  • PHRMACOL 503 - Real-World Drug Discovery (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 621- Translational Pharmacology (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 622- Translational Research (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 625- Translation Pharmacology Journal Club (1 credit)
  • PHYSIOL 502 - Human Physiology (4 credits)
  • BIOLCHEM 515 - Introduction to Biological Chemistry (3 credits)
  • BIOLCHEM 550 - Macromolecular Structure & Function (3 credits)
  • MICRO 619 - Immunotherapy: from bench to bedside (2 credits)

Current Graduate Level Pharmacology Course descriptions

PhD: Other Registration Information

Students must be registered full time (9 units for pre-candidates and 8 for candidates) for the fall and winter terms of each academic year, unless they are on an approved leave of absence. There are no registration requirements for the spring/summer term. However, a student must be registered for the full term in which they will defend their dissertation; this may include the spring/summer term. Registration deadlines can be found on the University of Michigan’s Registrar’s Office website (https://ro.umich.edu/calendars).  Registration is required of any person using University facilities (classes, laboratories, libraries, computing center, consultations with faculty, etc.) in progress toward a degree, with the exception of Spring/Summer terms. During Spring/Summer you only need to register if you defend between May and September. In this case, you must register for the entire Spring/Summer term, regardless of which month you defend.

Course selections for each term must be reviewed by the appropriate Program Director (Dr. Emily Jutkiewicz, or Drs. Chris Canman/Liz Peckham).
For overrides and specific registration information or other questions or problems, please contact the Graduate Coordinator, Sondra Auerbach.

In selecting PHRMACOL 990, (pre-candidate dissertation research), which is usually registered for in the 2nd year of study in addition to the remaining required coursework, the number of hours taken for credit may range from one to eight per term as approved by the advisor. However, the student must register for a total of 9 hours per term prior to candidacy. For PHRMACOL 995 (candidate research), for which 3rd year and above students usually register, the number of registration hours is fixed at eight. ***After passing candidacy and being formally designated as candidates by Rackham Graduate School, students may register for up to 4 credits per term in addition to PHARM 995 without incurring additional tuition. Enrollment in PHRMACOL 646 would count towards these additional credits each term.

PhD: General Course Requirement Information

The Graduate Program Committee and the student’s Mentor are collaboratively charged with the responsibility to see that each student has a program of course work that is both broadly supportive of the student’s specialized field of study and also indicative of the breadth and range of interest which the graduate student may need to call upon.

Each student in the Department must be ‘in good standing’ (see ‘Good Standing Policy’ section). Part of being in ‘good standing’ means that the student must maintain a grade point average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better. Credit in independent research (PHRMACOL 990, 995) and seminar courses (PHRMACOL 646) do not count toward the GPA. Instead, grades in these courses are S (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory).

A grade of Incomplete (I) may be assigned to a student only if the unfinished part of the student’s work is small, the work is unfinished for reasons acceptable to the instructor, and the student’s standing in the course is a “B” grade or higher. Grades of Incomplete can be changed to letter grades only after the incomplete work is made up within the time frame allowed by the instructor. Please check with the Rackham website (https://rackham.umich.edu/academic-policies/section3/) for specific information on the incomplete policy.

PhD: Research Requirements

Research Rotations & Choice of Research Advisor Policy for Students Entering Through PIBS. (Please note: students who are admitted directly to the Pharmacology Ph.D. are required to obtain prior, written, financial commitment from a faculty research mentor)

The choice of a Research Mentor generally occurs by the close of the second term of enrollment, following research rotations. The formal steps preceding the choice include:

  1. All first-year graduate students entering through PIBS are required to take two terms of the research rotation course, one in the fall and one in the winter (PIBS 600) to gain practical lab experience. Students will complete 2 eight-week rotations per semester. PIBS offers students the choice to start July 1 or September 1, and so the first rotation may be conducted in the summer semester before formal classes begin. The rotations have two purposes:1) to allow the student to choose a research mentor/laboratory for their thesis research 2) to expose the student to multiple methods of research inquiry, areas of research investigation, and technologies. Ph.D. students entering through PIBS who start in the Fall term must complete a minimum of three rotations, with a maximum of five rotations. Students who start in July will complete four or five rotations. The earliest date students can match to a lab is March 1. Detailed descriptions of pharmacology faculty and their research are available at: https://www.umms.med.umich.edu/faculty-search/search
  2. Prior to the start of classes, the Graduate Program Chair and Graduate Coordinator will meet with incoming PIBS students who indicate a primary program choice of Pharmacology to present an overview of the graduate program and the research projects of Pharmacology faculty who are accepting new students. Students should then follow up by scheduling individually appointments with faculty of interest. They may also contact faculty prior to arriving on campus to arrange their first rotations.
  3. Once students identify a faculty rotation mentor, they must complete the required the rotation worksheet through the PIBS program. All rotation worksheets must be approved and signed by the Pharmacology GPC Chair or the Graduate Coordinator. Students must complete rotation paperwork for each of the 2 eight-week rotations each term. At the end of each rotation, the research mentor will complete a rotation evaluation that is then reviewed in person with the student. Based on the rotation evaluations for the two half-term rotations, the PIBS Director will assign an overall grade for the student for PIBS 600 for the term.
  4. Until a Research Mentor is officially selected, the student should discuss any questions or problems with the Graduate Program Committee Chair and/or Graduate Coordinator. After the Research Mentor is chosen, questions regarding course work, career objectives and goals, or any other concerns may be first directed to that faculty member. However, the members of the Graduate Program Committee and the Graduate Coordinator are always available for consultation.
  5. Near the end of the Winter term, near the end of rotations, the student should meet with their intended Research Mentor to mutually confirm that they will be joining that lab.
  6. After choosing a Research Mentor, students must meet with the Graduate Program Committee Chair and/or Graduate Coordinator to discuss formally joining the Pharmacology graduate program, fulfilling program requirements, and funding. A Pharmacology Financial Guarantee Form must be completed by the student and Research Mentor and approved by the Departmental Chair. Students wishing to join the Pharmacology program with a Research Mentor who does not have an appointment in the Pharmacology Department must obtain explicit approval from the Graduate Program Committee Chair and select a Dissertation Co-Chair/Co-Mentor with an appointment in Pharmacology. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the co-mentors and the student must be submitted and approved by the Department Chair.
  7. Once confirmed with the program, the Pharmacology Graduate Coordinator will notify the Academic & HR Coordinator in the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  8. Finally, students must complete Rackham’s online Change of Status Application (a step-by-step document is on PIBS 600 Canvas course website). Look for the blue button in the middle of the webpage that says “Begin the Change of Status Application.” After the form has been submitted, please notify the Pharmacology Graduate Coordinator so they may follow-up with Rackham and approve the change.


Our graduate students have a wide range of research choices available to them, including working on a Pharmacology Ph.D. in a different department, with a research advisor who is not a member of the Pharmacology department.  Students who select an advisor outside of the department must have a co-mentor who is a Pharmacology faculty member. A co-mentor serves in two main roles: (1) acting as an official liaison for the student to the Pharmacology department and (2) ensuring that the student’s dissertation has a pharmacology component that is sufficient for granting a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. The co-mentor also serves as the student’s contact to the department for any academic issues that would be more appropriately dealt with by Pharmacology, rather than a faculty member in another department. 

Students should select the co-mentor as soon as they have decided on a research lab with an advisor in a department other than Pharmacology. The student must obtain explicit approval from the Graduate Program Committee Chair and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the advisor, co-mentor and the student must be submitted and approved by the Graduate Program Committee Chair. 

In addition to the student’s annual committee meeting, they must meet with their co-mentor on a monthly basis until the completion of their degree.  The advisor, co-mentor and student should also work together to complete the annual Individual Development Plan and select a dissertation committee.  The student will register in the co-mentor’s section of either Pre-Candidacy Research (PHRMACOL 990) or Dissertation Research (PHRMACOL 995) each term.  The co-mentor is responsible for consulting with the advisor and entering a grade each semester for the student. 

PhD: Individual Development Plans (IDP)

Pharmacology doctoral students should initiate the Pharmacology Individual Development Plan (IDP) every year in the graduate program. This plan is intended to help students monitor progress towards completion of their graduate training, including identifying skills and strengths, but also areas for improvement as well as helping make decisions about possible career paths. The IDP process also provides a mechanism for students to communicate ideas or problems with their mentors in a neutral setting. Rackham's MORE (Mentoring Others Results in Excellence) training workshop is a department requirement and initially be completed (by both the trainee and mentor) in Year 2, and your MORE plan should be revised/revisited annually with each IDP discussion. (Mentoring templates and more details are found on the MORE website.) Doctoral students interested in pursuing an internship to help explore or broaden career opportunities should initiate this potential leave of absence conversation during the writing of the IDP.  Discuss how one searches and obtains an internship, as well as potential leave of absence term options and overall progress to degree timeline implications.  Read more about internships on our secure Intranet.

1st year Ph.D. students who have yet to identify a mentor by April have a deadline of August 31. All other Ph.D. students will be required to complete an update of their IDP by May 31 each year to remain in good standing in the program.  

PhD: Electronic Portfolio

Pharmacology Ph.D. students will build an electronic portfolio using Google Drive.  Upon joining a lab, the Graduate Coordinator will create an electronic folder for you in Google Drive and share it with you and your advisor. Portfolios will include annual Assessment Forms including an annual mentor/mentee competency checklist, IDP (updated annually), specialized documentation of competencies (teaching evaluations, teaching philosophy statement, publications, and other scholarly works), transcripts, a curriculum vitae, documentation of participation in Graduate Certificate Programs, professional organizations, or Diversity & Inclusion activities, and other relevant materials. Research mentors will encourage their trainees to be proactive in crafting and updating these documents, as they are crucial to their professional growth. As a part of their yearly review of trainee progress the GPC will review the portfolio contents of each Ph.D. student.

PhD: Preliminary Exam - Step 1

The preliminary examination is required for advancement to doctoral candidacy in Pharmacology. For the exam, trainees will develop, write, and defend a short research proposal under the guidance of a Prelim Committee Chair and other Committee Members. The purpose of the preliminary examination is to evaluate and strengthen the trainee’s ability (a) to conceive and design rigorous experiments testing a hypothesis, (b) to consider and interpret predicted and alternative results, and (c) to critically analyze the basic science and pharmacological knowledge used to generate a hypothesis. A ‘Pass’ assessment of both the written and oral components of the exam is required for advancement to doctoral candidacy in Pharmacology.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic and GPC Approval

  • Students will research and formulate two potential exam topics. The hypotheses proposed must meet the following 3 criteria: (1) they are different than those proposed in your grant written for PHRMACOL 502, (2) they are different from any of the funded and/or unfunded hypotheses being tested in your thesis laboratory at this time, and (3) they must involve the investigation of pharmacological processes (i.e., drug-receptor interactions, signaling mechanisms, etc). Confirm with your thesis advisor that your proposed hypothesis is not under investigation in the lab at this time.
  • Write a very brief paragraph describing each topic for the GPC. The paragraph should contain 1-3 sentences describing each of the following items:
    • Identify the ‘unmet need’ or gap in the literature that the proposal will address;
    • Write a concisely-stated and testable hypothesis;
    • Describe the types of methods most likely to be employed to test the hypothesis; and
    • Provide statement(s) justifying that the proposed hypothesis meets the above 3 criteria. Your PI must confirm, in writing, that both proposed hypotheses are not under investigation in their laboratory at this time.  (Note: Do not propose experiments that: a) involve any kind of screening to identify a compound or tool, b) are hypothesis-generating experiments, c) identify correlations d) characterize interactions/effects/responses, or e) are replicated from another cell line/tissue/sample type with similar predicted outcomes. While these types of experiments are often necessary in grants and in our own research efforts in the lab, they are not appropriate for this exercise. You need to design experiments to test a hypothesis.)
  • Submit the following documents to Sondra Auerbach:
    • Paragraphs with 2 potential exam topics with PI confirmation (statement and signature)
    • Specific aims page from PHRMACOL 502
  • The GPC will review submission materials on a case-by-case basis. The GPC has the authority to approve or reject any exam topic. For questions about topic selection and development, it is recommended that trainees consult with a GPC member.
  • Trainees will be informed of the approved exam topic and will be assigned 3 Prelim Committee Members: a Prelim Committee Chair, a GPC representative, and a third Prelim Committee Member.
  • If both topics are rejected, trainees will have 5 days to submit 2 additional topics for review. Consulting with GPC members prior to the first submission will decrease the likelihood of topic rejection.

PhD: Preliminary Exam Step 2 - Preparation and Written Proposal 

After topic approval, trainees should formulate an outline or draft of the overall scientific question, specific hypothesis to be tested, and the experimental design required test the proposed hypothesis. The development of a clear, rigorous proposal is best achieved through repeated (or multiple rounds of) feedback and refinement of ideas, proposed experiments, and alternative outcomes and approaches.

Feedback and refinement must be obtained by discussing the proposal with your Prelim Committee in order to identify potential gaps in logic underlying the scientific question and proposed experimental design to test their hypothesis. Trainees must meet with their Committee Chair during the development of the proposed question, hypothesis, and experimental design, and this will likely require multiple meetings. Trainees must also consult with their Committee Members during the proposal preparation. Trainees are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposed experiments with faculty and/or other graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Trainees should not discuss their experimental design, predicted or alternative results, and data interpretation of their proposal with their thesis mentor.

Through this iterative process, trainees should develop at least 2 but no more than 3 independent specific aims, a Significance section, and an Experimental Design section. The final proposal format should be no more than 7 pages in total length including figures, Arial, 11 point, 0.5” margins, and single line spacing. The Specific Aims should be one page, and the Research Strategy Section (comprised of the Significance and Experiment Design) should be no more than 6 pages and may be shorter. An innovation section is not necessary but can be included, if desired. References must be provided but are not included in the page limitations. Organization of the final proposal should be as follows:

I. Specific Aims: A concise statement of the overall objective and the overall hypothesis to be tested. The overall hypothesis should be evaluated in two (but no more than three) specific aims that are not interdependent. Specific Aims should be no more than 1 page.
II.  Significance: Provide background information necessary to understand the rationale of the present proposal, critical evaluations of existing knowledge, and specific identification of the gaps in our knowledge that the project is intended to fill.
III. Experimental Design and Methods: A discussion of the experimental approaches that will be used to test the proposed hypothesis. Diagrams of the proposed mechanisms are useful, including how/where the specific aims probe part of the mechanism. Include the following:

      • Description of the experiments designed to test the proposed hypothesis. Sufficient positive and negative controls should be included in the experimental design.
      • Brief outline of the assays and procedures to be used (details such as amounts of materials used, etc., should not be included unless they are variables in the experiment; but trainees should be sufficiently familiar with these details to discuss them during the exam, if necessary).
      • Description of your expected results supporting your hypothesis, including intended analyses and interpretation tools.
      • Possible alternative results should be discussed and how these would influence your interpretation and the proposed hypothesis.
      • Also include technical or experimental difficulties that may be encountered and how these problems would be addressed.

PhD: Preliminary Exam Step 3 - Oral Defense

Trainees will present their proposal, using their written proposal structure as a guide. Trainees will have a short, uninterrupted period of time (10-15 minutes) for presenting the Overall Objective and Specific Aims of the proposal, after which questioning may begin. At the end of the oral defense, trainees will be asked to leave the room while the Prelim Committee discusses and prepares their recommendation for the GPC. The total length of the oral defense should not exceed 2 hours.

PhD: Preliminary Exam Step 4 - Assessment

In order to facilitate an objective and consistent assessment of the trainee’s performance, each
examiner will be asked to consider how well the student:

  1. Conceived and designed the proposed hypothesis and its significance based on knowledge from the scientific literature.
  2. Designed rigorous experiments to test the hypothesis.
  3. Anticipated the results that would be expected from the planned line of experimentation, in particular applying basic pharmacological principles related to the design and interpretation of the predicted results.
  4. Derived a logical interpretation or course of action, when challenged with an alternative explanation of the data by flaws in the proposed experimental design or by potential experimental pitfalls.

The Prelim Examination Committee will make a recommendation to the GPC regarding the trainee’s performance on the exam and the written proposal, but the GPC ultimately decides whether a ‘Pass’ or ‘Not Passed’ will be assigned to the exam. If a trainee receives a ‘Not Passed’ assessment, they will be offered an opportunity for remediation including, but not limited to, a second attempt at a written proposal and/or oral examination, and the trainee will be placed on academic probation. Part of the remediation process will involve identifying the flaws in the written proposal and/or oral defense and, redesigning experiments, learning details about assays and procedures, altering hypotheses to be tested, and/or narrowing the focus.  Trainees will be required to meet with the GPC Chair as well as the Preliminary Examination Committee chair and members. If the trainee does not receive a ‘Pass’ assessment after remediation, then the student will not meet the requirements of academic probation and will be dismissed from the Pharmacology Ph.D. program.

PhD: Advancement to Candidacy

Once a student has completed all necessary Departmental and Rackham Graduate School requirements* and has passed their preliminary exam, the Graduate Program Committee will consider them for candidacy. If successful, advancement to candidacy will occur in the following term (for example if the preliminary exam is passed in April, the student may become a candidate at the beginning of the spring/summer term, May 1, of that year). As a requirement for good academic standing, students must be advanced to candidacy by the Fall semester of their 3rd year, unless there are extenuating circumstances that have been approved by the Graduate Program Committee.

Before admission to candidacy can be recommended, the following requirements must be met:

  • Completion of all course requirements, including 3 credits of cognate coursework by the end of the term in which the preliminary exam is completed.
  • Achievement of 3.0 or better grade point average (graded courses only).
  • Passage of the preliminary examination.

PhD: Forming a Dissertation Committee & Committee Meetings

A Dissertation Committee should be assembled by each graduate student in consultation with his/her Research Mentor by September 30 of their third year following their preliminary exam.   Students should submit the Departmental Dissertation Committee form to the Graduate Coordinator so it can be recorded with the Graduate School. Students must have a dissertation committee in place, with the dissertation committee form properly submitted to the Department to remain in good standing in the program. Note however, that students may, at any time, switch or add committee members.  The Research Mentor serves as Chair and shares with the Committee the responsibilities of guiding the student toward the doctoral degree. For detailed guidelines on forming your dissertation committee see: (http://www.rackham.umich.edu/current-students/dissertation/committees/guidelines-dissertation-committee-service).

Assembling a Dissertation Committee

The process of assembling a dissertation committee is accomplished through conversations between the student and their Research Mentor.

  • After consultation with their Research Mentor, students should contact potential dissertation committee members via email or in person asking if they would be willing to serve on their dissertation committee. In so doing, they should:
    • Introduce themselves and the research of their lab (1-2 sentences)
    • Include 2-3 sentences describing their general project
    • Ask if are willing to serve on their dissertation committee

Committee Composition: Dissertation committees must have at least four members, three of whom are members of the Graduate Faculty (tenure or tenure-track instructional faculty holding an unmodified (not visiting, adjunct) appointment at the University of Michigan) and two of whom are from the doctoral candidate’s home program. Furthermore, each committee: Must have a sole chair (mentor) or two co-chairs; must have a cognate member who is familiar with the standards for doctoral research and holds at least a 0.50 appointment in a Rackham doctoral program, other than the student’s home department/program. The committee may include a University faculty member who is not Graduate Faculty, a University staff member, or a qualified individual outside the University to provide expertise in the candidate’s discipline. In any of these cases, special membership must be approved by the Graduate School, by submitting a short justification and the CV of the potential member.

Once all members of the dissertation committee have agreed to serve, an email should be sent to all members acknowledging and thanking them for their willingness to serve as well as other detailed information, as needed.

Students should complete the Departmental Dissertation Committee form and submit it to the Graduate Coordinator by Sept 30th of their third year. The Departmental Dissertation Committee form requires signatures from all faculty serving on the committee. The Graduate Coordinator will then submit the proposed committee to Rackham, who will email the Graduate Program Committee, the dissertation committee Chair/Research Mentor and Student for approval prior to finalizing the committee.

Functions of the Dissertation Committee
The Dissertation Committee consults with the student and the Research Mentor as appropriate with respect to the student’s professional development, course work, seminar participation, and experience in examinations and research performance.
The committee will meet yearly beginning in the third year to discuss the student’s research and academic progress, submission of manuscripts, presentation at scientific meetings, future scientific and career goals, and progress toward writing a thesis satisfying the requirements of scientific merit. If the student is not making satisfactory progress, the committee is encouraged to meet on a more frequent basis. Finally, the committee will meet for acceptance of the written dissertation as certified on the form supplied by the Graduate School following the Oral Thesis Defense.

Students are encouraged to work with their committee members outside of the formal meetings when relevant.

Prior to each meeting, the dissertation committee should receive:

    • The student’s academic transcript
    • A Research Progress Report written by the student.

The student’s electronic portfolio should ultimately contain:

    • Annual Committee Meeting reports
    • Assessment forms including the annual mentor/mentee competency checklist
    • Individual Development Plan (updated yearly)
    • Specialized documentation of competencies including teaching evaluations, teaching philosophy statement, publications, and other scholarly works.
    • Documentation of participation in Graduate Certificate Programs, professional organizations, or Diversity & Inclusion
    • Transcripts
    • Curriculum Vitae
    • Review of the written dissertation
    • Final signed approval of the dissertation and the degree

Dissertation Committee Meeting
Starting in their 3rd year students are required to meet with their thesis committee each year, no later than May 31st. A student who has not completed their yearly Dissertation Committee Meeting by May 31 will not be considered in good standing in the program.

The function of the committee is to guide and support students throughout their research and writing. Committee meetings are more important when things are not working than when they are. Regular committee meetings can serve to reduce the time to degree.

Students should plan to have a dissertation committee meeting at least once a year (or more often).

  1. Students should invite dissertation committee members from outside of the department to attend their PHARMACOL 646 seminar soon after the course schedule is released/finalized. Dissertation committee members are not required to go.
  2. Students should email their dissertation committee 2-3 months in advance of their desired window for the dissertation committee meeting in order to find an available time for everyone. Plan for two hours only. After the committee has responded, an email should be sent to all members confirming the date and time.
  3. The Graduate Coordinator must be informed of the planned date/time of the student’s yearly dissertation committee meeting. They can also assist in scheduling a room for the meeting.
  4. Every dissertation committee member should be sent an email reminder about the student’s dissertation committee meeting (including the date, time, building/room) one week in advance. This email message should include a project summary/outline (see below) for the committee to review, as well as attachments of manuscripts in review or in press. Please copy the Graduate Coordinator on this email.

Before EACH dissertation committee meeting, students should:

  • Prepare project summary/outline, approximately 1 page in length.
    • Provide a very brief background.
    • State the project goal and hypothesis.
    • Describe results to date, experiments that are on-going, and future experiments.
    • Potential outline of 2-4 data chapters of the dissertation.
  • Print a copy of the Annual Dissertation Committee Meeting Report Form to bring to the dissertation committee meeting for all committee members need to at the end of the meeting.

At EACH dissertation committee meeting, the student should:

  • Leave the room at the start of the meeting so the chair/mentor can talk briefly with the committee.
  • Present slides, provide brief background on project, as well project goals & hypothesis(es) and show relevant data (describe methods/procedures/etc.)
  • Outline their progress, including:
    • Describing potential data chapters
    • What experiments are complete?
    • What are you doing now/what experiments are in progress?
    • What are the future experiments?
    • Timeline for future activities
    • Struggles or things that are not working (if relevant): trouble-shoot with your committee, consider the go-no go decision points: when a goal/experiment/method is not achievable and consider alternative options/experiments/goals.
  • Students are encouraged to include information about long-term career goals and career development opportunities in which they are participating, including conferences they have attended/will attend, other coursework they plan to take, certificates, etc.
  • The student may be asked to leave after the committee meeting so that the dissertation committee can discuss briefly.
  • The Dissertation Chair will leave the meeting briefly at the end of the meeting so the student can discuss any mentoring concerns with the other members of the committee.
  • Have all members sign the Dissertation Committee Meeting Report Form

After EACH dissertation committee meeting, the student should:

  • Return the signed Dissertation Committee Form to the Graduate Coordinator by email. The GPC Chair will reach out to students to schedule a meeting to discuss the meeting- progress, successes, troubles, etc.
  • Update their IDP including the Mentor/Mentee Checklists in collaboration with their mentor and send it electronically to the Graduate Coordinator by May 31st each year.

PhD: Dissertation Pharmacology Requirements

The major objective of a dissertation project is to conduct original research and generate new information that advances scientific knowledge. The trainee has the primary role of conducting the research, preparing the findings, and authoring the dissertation. A dissertation in pharmacology is expected to have 2-3 data chapters of original research that is sufficient for publication. The data chapters should tell a cohesive “scientific story” (not a short report). It is important to note that all research or experiments conducted during graduate training may not be included in the dissertation. Examples of research that may be left out of a dissertation include: exploratory and optimization studies, side or unrelated projects, separate experiments conducted as part of a collaboration, etc. The decision of “sufficient for publication” will be determined during a thesis committee meeting. There is no publication requirement prior to graduation; however, it is highly encouraged.  Please be aware of copyright permissions with your publications; more details are on the Pharmacology Intranet/Education tab. (need to login using umich.edu details)

Dissertations in Department of Pharmacology must have:

  1. An overall introduction to the topic and the background literature, a description of the goals and hypotheses of the dissertation, and a brief explanation about how the data chapters address the goals of the dissertation.

  2. 2-3 data chapters, with each chapter containing following sections: introduction, methods, results, discussion, figures/tables, and reference

  3. An overall discussion section integrating knowledge generated across the 2-3 data chapters, interpretations of finding relative to the overall goals of the dissertation, and future directions of this research project.

PhD: Dissertation 

The regulations governing the preparation of the dissertation are located on Rackham Dissertation website (http://www.rackham.umich.edu/students/navigate-degree). The subject matter of the dissertation is to be presented at a public seminar (Thesis Defense) in the last term of the student’s program.  The student is responsible for setting up his/her thesis defense in consultation with his/her Dissertation Committee. 

The dissertation must be submitted in draft form (i.e., before the final typing and final reproduction of figures) to the members of the Dissertation Committee for their suggestions at least two weeks prior to the defense. Students are also required to complete a pre-defense meeting with Rackham, at least three weeks in advance.  Prior to signing up for the meeting, students should confirm the Dissertation Committee in Wolverine Access. 

All dissertations will be submitted electronically to Rackham during the post-defense submission. The final digital copy will be the copy of record. To submit your dissertation, you will access the Rackham dissertation online submission website. You will be asked to provide bibliographic keywords, or tags, that describe the content of your dissertation, including subject, concepts, theory and methods. These will help others to find and retrieve your dissertation. You will copy your abstract to the website and upload a PDF of the final digital copy of your dissertation. The staff of Rackham’s Academic Records and Dissertations will review your submission, and may require you to make final changes before the submission is approved. No further changes will be allowed once the dissertation is approved and submitted. Rackham will hold your dissertation until your degree is conferred (which happens three times a year in April, August, and December). After your degree is conferred, Rackham will forward your dissertation as the copy of record to Deep Blue (http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/), the permanent digital repository of the University Library.

PhD: Degree Deadlines 

The Graduate School establishes deadlines related to finishing the degree requirements. The first is related to the intended final term of enrollment. Full candidacy tuition must be paid in the term in which the final examination is held, but a grace period is allowed under which the examination may be held within about 30 days after the end of the term without paying additional fees. This grace period or 2nd “extended” deadline does not require formal request or approval, but the degree conferral date changes. The exact dates and conditions of the deadlines can be found at https://www.rackham.umich.edu/current-students/policies/doctoral/phd-students/doctoral-degree-deadlines

Six months (at least) prior to your expected defense, please a) check the Rackham deadlines & paperwork requirements and b) refer back to your annual review.  If you have not had an annual review recently, schedule on asap.  The annual review allows all committee members to provide you written feedback on how you can complete your science.  The annual review form can be downloaded from the website: https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/pharmacology/education/phd-program/handbook-forms

You may also schedule a meeting with the Graduate Coordinator to discuss timelines/plans.

PhD: Dissertation & Graduation Resources

Student Seminars

This Pharmacology Student Seminar course, PHRMACOL 646, provides students with the confidence and ability to present their work clearly and succinctly to an audience and is considered the most important course offered in the department. Consequently, it is a required course throughout the student’s entire time in the graduate program. All students, including first-year PIBS students who are Pharmacology primaries, are required to attend Pharmacology 646 and register for the 1 credit course 'PHRMACOL 646' each term; a grade of “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” will be given. If a student is unable to attend for valid reasons (i.e. sickness, attending a national meeting, etc.) they can contact the course director for an excused absence.  Greater than two unexcused absences will result in the student's receipt of a U (unsatisfactory) grade. For more information about Coursework, Grading, and Academic Standing, refer to the Rackham Graduate School policies. The student seminar is scheduled weekly on Fridays at 12 pm.  Each year prior to the start of the academic term, one of the PHRMACOL 646 course directors with all students who will be presenting in the coming year.  Students are also provided with a list of seminars before the start of each academic year. 

Beginning in their second-year students must present a yearly seminar.  Students directly admitted to the Ph.D. program will present in their first year in the program, having previously completed one year of research in their lab as an MS student.  Students must present on a yearly basis to remain in good standing.  Students may opt out of this presentation in the year in which they present their thesis defense. However, in order to opt out, a scheduled defense date must be in place by the time the 646 schedule is prepared for the current year.  

Third- and fourth-year students are encouraged to present a description of their own research. Second-year students should present a critical review of 1-2 reports in the current scientific literature, or if their own research is sufficiently advanced, they may present their own research.  A second-year seminar presenting critical reviews of published research should deal with a recent significant advance in pharmacology or an advance in physiology, chemistry, cell biology, etc., that provides techniques or concepts that are important for understanding drug action. The presentation should be a critical evaluation of the work, not simply a summary. Discussion and criticism of the research by the audience is encouraged; the speaker should be prepared to answer questions about the work. Presentations of purely clinical literature are discouraged (although exceptions can be made) because of the empirical nature of most clinical work and the specialized expertise required for its proper evaluation. In keeping with the tradition of the university being open to all forms of inquiry, students should not present data on compounds whose structures cannot be revealed because of patent or other considerations. 

For the benefit of both presenter and audience, the following protocol should be observed: 

  1. Students are expected to review the seminar with their faculty member 2-4 weeks prior to their seminar.
  2. The student should present the seminar to a 646-class instructor (Dr. Jenkins) at least 2 weeks prior to formal presentation. This will allow time for the necessary restructuring, changing order of slides or handout material, etc. Note: Pharmacology has standing practice times reserved during the fall and winter 646 seminar season. Please check with the Student Affairs Program Manager to see what they are.  
  3. One week prior to the seminar, the student provides the Student Affairs Program Manager the title of their talk. A seminar announcement will be created and distributed electronically. 
  4. The seminar faculty mentors will meet with each student immediately after the presentation to discuss strengths and weaknesses of the seminar.  Written feedback will be provided to the student, the student’s mentor and thesis committee, and filed in the student’s electronic portfolio.

PhD: Teaching Requirement

Teaching is a valuable and integral part of graduate training in pharmacology. During the third year of study, all students are expected to assist in the teaching of pharmacology in the department and will be encouraged to take coursework that will complement the chosen field of specialization.  If you do not complete the GSI teaching assignment for whatever reason, you will need to complete another full GSI assignment. In early summer teaching assignments for the upcoming academic year will be made by GPC & the Graduate Coordinator with student and faculty input. Please note: T32 appointments may alter this schedule. Courses that have a GSI include: the fall semester are PHRMACOL 502, 601, 603, 621 and MEDCHEM 600 and for the winter semester are PHRMACOL 425, MEDCHEM 510 and 610. All Pharmacology students must complete the CRLT (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching) GSI Orientation/Training prior to the term their team.  The GSIO is typically offered in August and December. (http://crlt.umich.edu/gsis/gsio). You can also find additional training resources at http://crlt.umich.edu/gsis/gsitraining

There are also a number of course available through the College of Education, including (these courses may also count as cognate courses): 

  • EDUC 554- Chemistry Education 
  • EDUC 662- Learning and Development in Higher Education 
  • EDUC 695- Research and Educational Practice 
  • EDUC 791- Foundations of Learning and Teaching 
  • EDUC 762- Curriculum in Postsecondary Education 
  • EDUC 834- Designing Science Learning Environments
  • EDUC 832- Theory and Research Development in Science Teaching

Effective Fall 2023, the Department of Pharmacology has accepted a policy change: GSI hours will be paid in addition to the normal stipend.  Importantly, this change makes stipends more equitable between GSIs with different funding sources, especially those who are not eligible for many federal grants.

PhD: “Good Standing” Policy

A Ph.D. student in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan will be considered in “good standing” if he/she complies with all rules and regulations of the University, the Medical School and the Department and performs the duties of their appointment as a Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA), Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) or Fellow in a professional and timely manner and if the following conditions are also met:

  1. The student must maintain an overall GPA of greater than or equal to 3.00 for all academic courses taken, including cognate courses, throughout their residence in the program. They must complete all required courses for the Pharmacology Ph.D. program. 
  2. The student must successfully complete a course on Research Responsibility and Ethics (PIBS 503) and participate in annual refresher programs, as scheduled by the Department of Pharmacology.
  3. Students entering the program through PIBS must take two semesters of the Graduate Research rotation course (PIBS 800) and receive a passing grade in both terms. By the end of their first year in residence (September 1), the student must identify a research mentor who will agree to oversee and assume financial responsibility for their Ph.D. research.
  4. In the absence of approved, extenuating circumstances, the student must achieve Ph.D. candidacy by the beginning of the fall term of their third year in residence. See section on Preliminary Exam.
  5. Students must be engaged in full-time work, including coursework, research and other relevant scholarly activities and must receive Satisfactory (S) grades for all terms enrolled in PHRMACOL 990 or PHRMACOL 995. If a student receives an ‘Unsatisfactory’ grade in PHRMACOL 995, this will trigger an immediate meeting of their Dissertation Committee to review the student’s progress, and report back to the Graduate Program Committee. Based on this report, the Graduate Committee may determine that the student is not in “Good Standing” and recommend dismissal from the program. Alternatively, the Graduate Program Committee may recommend that the student find a new mentor or look for other resolutions. 
  6. Beginning in their second year (1st year for direct admit Ph.D. students) students must present an annual seminar as a part of the PHRMACOL 646 course. 
  7. Student must form their Dissertation Committee by no later than the September 30 following their Preliminary Exam (typically September 30 of their third-year in the program). 
  8. Beginning in their third year, students must meet with their Dissertation Committee on an annual basis and must submit the Annual Dissertation Committee Meeting Report Form by May 31 each year. 
  9. Students must complete their first IDP with their mentor by December 1 of their 2nd year (1st year for direct admit Ph.D. students) and update their IDP each year by May 31. 
  10. Ph.D. students may not have outside employment.

PhD: Academic Probation and Dismissal Policy

At no time after the first year of study should a student be without a research mentor. If a research mentor intends to terminate the relationship, they must follow the program’s academic probation procedures, during which time a student may look for a new mentor with the assistance of the Department. If a student intends to terminate the relationship, they should work closely with the Graduate Chair to first establish an alternative mentorship strategy.

Students who fail to maintain good standing will be placed on academic probation by the Rackham Graduate School and the Pharmacology Graduate Program Committee, who will provide a letter stating the requirements that have not been met, the duration of the probationary period, and expectations for improvement. Probation may be recorded on the transcript and become a permanent part of the student’s academic record. Failure to meet the outlined expectations within the defined probationary period may result in dismissal from the program.

The minimum length of academic probation is two months, as determined by the Rackham Graduate School. This period may be extended at the discretion of the Graduate Program Committee Chair.  The research mentor’s original funding commitment to the student remains in force throughout the probationary period.  In the event that the probationary status renders the student ineligible for a given funding source (e.g. GSI appointment), the Department of Pharmacology will be consulted to provide funding from a general fund. 

The group of faculty charged with deciding whether to dismiss a student for academic reasons will include the Graduate Program Committee Chair, the student’s research mentor, and a member of the Graduate Program Committee designated by the Graduate Chair.  Students who have been placed on academic probation or recommended for dismissal have the option of appealing the decision to a separate faculty committee comprised of the Department Chair and two additional non-GPC Pharmacology faculty members. The ultimate decision for dismissal lies with the Department Chair.

Approved by Graduate Program Committee November 2018.


Medical Science Training Program (MSTP)

MSTP students enter the Pharmacology Program after their M2 year and are considered to be at the same level as PIBS students entering the second year.   


Pharmacology MSTP Course Requirements

MSTP students must complete a minimum of 18 graduate credits including, Pharmacology/MSTP students must complete the following courses:

  • PHRMACOL 601 - Basic Quantitative Principles of Pharmacology (3 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 646 - Student Seminars (1 credit per semester)
  • PIBS 503- Responsible Conduct of Research Training (1 credit)
  • Elective coursework to meet minimum credit requirement.

Graduation requirements for MSTP students are the same as for the PhD students as listed above except for the following:

  1.  Preliminary exams will be taken after one year in the Ph.D. program, on the same schedule as the Ph.D. students. 
  2. There is no teaching requirement.
  3. Each student has an individualized Research Rotation Advisory Committee to provide guidance in selecting research rotation mentors and a PhD program.  Two research rotations are required; many fellows do three. The first research rotation is generally taken during the summer after the Scientific Trunk, and the others are scheduled after completion of the Clinical Trunk and board exams.


Master's Program


Master’s Program: Degree Requirements & Courses

Rackham and Departmental M.S. Requirements 

The basic requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy set by the Rackham Graduate School and the Department include: 

  1. 33 Rackham course credits are required for graduation.  A minimum of 24 credit hours of graded graduate coursework (including the grade of S-Satisfactory). 
  2. Completion of all required coursework with an overall GPA of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) grade point average or higher in the graduate student’s record. 
  3. 4 credit hours of cognate coursework with a B- grade or better.
  4. Completion of a written thesis and short oral presentation of the research project or literature survey. 

Course Requirements

The plan below is for full-time students completing the program in 11 months.  Part-time students work with the Program Directors to develop a schedule based on their timeline.

Fall Semester 

  • PIBS 503 - Research Responsibility and Ethics (1 credit) 
  • PHRMACOL 605 - MS Degree Research (4 credits) 
  • PHRMACOL 601 - From Molecules to Patients: Basic Quantitative Principles of Pharmacology (3 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 603 - Practical Statistics (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 614 - Seminars in Autonomic Pharmacology (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 621 - Translational Pharmacology (2 credits)
  • PHRMACOL 646 - Student Seminars (1 credit)
  • Cognate/Elective Course (see list below of common choices, the Program Directors and/or Student Affairs Program Manager can assist in finding other courses that meet this requirement)

    • PHARMACOL 622 - Translational Research (2 credits)
    • BIOLCHEM 690 - Biochemical Regulatory Mechanisms (2 credits)
    • PIBS 550 - Biomedical Innovation & Entrepreneurship (2 credits)

Winter Semester 

  • PHRMACOL 605 - MS Degree Research (8 credits) 
  • PHRMACOL 612 - Antimicrobial & Cancer Pharmacology (2 credits) 
  • PHRMACOL 615 - Seminar in Molecular Neuropharmacology (2 credits) 
  • PHRMACOL 616 - Cardiovascular Pharmacology (2 credits) 
  • PHRMACOL 617 - Endocrine Pharmacology (2 credits) 
  • PHRMACOL 646 – Student Seminars (0.5 Credits) 

Current Graduate Level Pharmacology Course Descriptions

Spring/Summer Semester

While MS students do not register for the Spring/Summer, they do continue their research and then write, defend and submit their MS thesis. General timeline (specific dates may change each year; deadlines for submission of the written thesis and presentation of the oral defense are available from the MS Program Directors):

  • July1 - thesis due
  • Mid July - oral defense
  • August 1 - revised thesis due

**Please note: International students need to speak to the UM International Center to retain a valid visa status.  As MS students complete their degree requirements during the summer term without being enrolled for a course, most international students go onto OPT at the end of winter term through the end of August.  This is not an automatic process; please consult with the International Center in January.

Master's Program: Research Requirements

The Research Project provides the student with an intense, in-depth research experience. Under specified circumstances, students who are engaged in scientific research outside the University and whose supervisor has an active collaboration with a faculty member within the Department of Pharmacology may be permitted to conduct the research component of the MS degree off-campus. For those MS students whose primary focus is not laboratory research, an in-depth review of the research literature may substitute. 


As part of the requirements for completion of the MS degree in Pharmacology, all students are required to write a short thesis (approximately 25-35 pages total in length) on their research project. The thesis can be based on either a research project conducted in the laboratory or an in-depth literature survey. 

Each thesis must contain the sections indicated below and, in the order, listed. The thesis should be paginated with the Title page numbered as 1. Font size should be 12-point. Spacing of either 1.5 or 2 can be used with 0.75” margins. Arial or Helvetica fonts are recommended. 

Instructions for preparation of a thesis involving a laboratory project:

Overall goal: The student’s thesis must have a clearly defined hypothesis, a logical experimental approach and justified conclusions. 

  1. Title page: The title must be clear and concise and abbreviations should be avoided, if at all possible. The title page must list the student’s name and laboratory of origin. 
  2. Table of Contents: All major sections of the thesis must be listed along with page numbers. 
  3. Acknowledgements: This section is optional. 
  4. Abbreviations: A list of all abbreviations used must be included. The list of abbreviations should be in alphabetical order. 
  5. Abstract: This must concisely state the hypothesis that is being tested, general experimental approach, results and conclusions. The Abstract section can be no longer than 250 words in length. 
  6. Introduction: This section must contain a clear statement regarding the aims of the study and summary of the relevant background that supports the rationale behind the study. It is suggested that the length of the Introduction section should be ~10% of the total length of the thesis. 
  7. Materials and Methods: The Materials and Methods section must contain a clear and concise description of the methods and techniques employed. Description of the methods must be of sufficient detail to allow for reproducibility of the experiments. Names of the commercial suppliers of chemicals and reagents used must be identified. 
  8. Experimental Results: In this section, the experimental results are usually presented without discussion of their significance. Results are typically presented as Tables or Figures with corresponding narrative. Whenever possible, the statistical significance of the results should be presented. It is important to note that positive results are not a prerequisite for successful completion of the MS thesis. Given the short time period available to students, negative results will be accepted provided that the starting hypothesis is tenable. 
  9. Discussion: Conclusions drawn from the study are presented in this section. Unnecessary repetition of the Results section should be avoided. Some indication of future directions of the research should be mentioned. Occasionally, it may be advantageous to combine the Results and Discussion sections. 
  10. Overall summary or conclusion: This section is optional. In some studies, one or two paragraphs summarizing the principal findings and conclusions derived from a study can be helpful. 
  11. References: References are cited in the text and in the list of references at the end of the text according to guidelines listed in the journal Molecular Pharmacology (https://molpharm.aspetjournals.org/content/ifora#References). References must be arranged alphabetically and not numbered. The names of all authors must be given in the references. It is usual to cite 25-40 references for a laboratory project. 
  12. Figure Legends: Figures are numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals and listed in order. Legends must provide sufficient detail for the reader to understand the Figure independent of the text. 
  13. Tables: Each Table must be placed on a separate page, each page numbered consecutively with the remainder of the thesis. Tables are numbered with Arabic numerals. A brief description is provided at the top of each Table. General statements about the Table are provided below the title. 
  14. Figures: Figures can be positioned at the end of the manuscript, or within the text, if preferred. All Figures must be accompanied by Figure legends. 

Instructions for preparation of a thesis involving an in-depth literature survey:

  1. Overall Goal. This type of thesis provides detailed coverage of a topic that is of current pharmacological interest, with effort made by the student to integrate conflicting data sets and to synthesize an overall conclusion. Title page: The title must be clear and concise and abbreviations should be avoided, if at all possible. The title page must also list the student’s name and laboratory of origin. 
  2. Table of Contents: All major sections of the thesis must be listed along with page numbers. 
  3. Acknowledgements: This section is optional. 
  4. Abbreviations: A list of all abbreviations used must be included. 
  5. Abstract: This section presents the overall topic that has been investigated, results and major conclusions. The Abstract section can be no longer than 250 words in length. 
  6. Introduction: This section must include a broad introduction to the topic under discussion, its relevance and pharmacological significance. It is suggested that the length of the Introduction section should be ~10% of the total length of the thesis. 
  7. Discussion: This section is the major part of the thesis and is composed of a distillation of the available published evidence supporting or refuting the concept under investigation. A selective rather than exhaustive coverage of the literature is required. The Discussion section must include coverage of the basic and cellular pharmacology of the topic under investigation as well as studies that focus on physiological consequences. Students must provide a critical evaluation of previous conclusions and when warranted, challenge accepted concepts. Conflicting points of view should be presented in an objective manner. It may be advantageous to divide the text in this section by means of sub-headings. It is strongly recommended that Figures and/or Tables be used to supplement this section. 
  8. Overall summary or conclusion: A summary (two or three paragraphs) detailing the principal findings and conclusions derived from the study must be included. 
  9. References: References are cited in the text and in the list of references at the end of the text according to guidelines listed in the journal Molecular Pharmacology (https://molpharm.aspetjournals.org/content/ifora#References). References must be arranged alphabetically and not numbered. The names of all authors must be given in the references. It is usual to cite 40-75 references for a literature survey. 
  10. Figure Legends: Figures are numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals and listed in order. Legends must provide sufficient detail for the reader to understand the Figure independent of the text. 
  11. Tables: Each Table must be placed on a separate page, each page numbered consecutively with the remainder of the thesis. Tables are numbered with Arabic numerals. A brief description is provided at the top of each Table. General statements about the Table are provided below the title. 
  12. Figures: Figures can be positioned at the end of the manuscript or within the text, if preferred. All Figures must be accompanied by Figure legends. 

Each MS thesis will be read and evaluated by at least two faculty members, at least one of whom is a current member of the GPC. It is assumed that when the thesis is submitted that the student’s P.I. will have read and approved the submission. The thesis must be carefully written and grammatically correct. Theses that do not conform to these standards will be immediately returned to the student for revision prior to re-evaluation. Following review, most theses will require some revision, according to the reviewers’ comments. Unless they wish to rebut the reviewers’ comments, students should make every effort to incorporate reviewers’ suggestions for improvement into the revised text. Successful completion of the MS thesis and a satisfactory oral defense are required for fulfillment of the requirements for the MS degree. All thesis and course work submitted for the MS degree must comply with the Rackham Academic and Professional Integrity Policy guidelines as stated here: http://www.rackham.umich.edu/current-students/policies/academic-policies/section11.  Theses may require revisions after review. Students are encouraged to incorporate reviewers’ comments or concerns (If warranted) into the text of their revised thesis. 

Master's Program: Information on direct admission to U-M Pharmacology PhD program

Upon successful completion of the MS degree, a student may apply for direct admission to the Pharmacology PhD program.  Two requirements must be fulfilled for direct admission to the Pharmacology PhD program from the MS program.

  1. Student must apply to Rackham Graduate School and be accepted.
  2. A research mentor must agree to have the student join their lab and have the funding available to support the student.  A Pharmacology Financial Guarantee Form must be completed by the student and Research Mentor and approved by the Department Chair.

If the student direct admits to the Ph.D. program, they would be considered a second year graduate student and would be responsible for completing all requirements of PhD students. Any data generated during their MS thesis research can be included in a PhD dissertation but cannot substitute for the substantive body of work required for a dissertation.


All Students

Course Descriptions -Pharmacology/Graduate Level


Extended Educational Opportunities 

Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Career Day: This takes place each July and provides students with information about careers especially non-traditional career paths. There are talks and panel discussions with academic faculty from large and smaller schools, biotechnologists, medical writers, patent attorneys, etc. 

Annual Pharmacology Colloquium: This research colloquium brings together graduate students and faculty from the pharmacology departments of the Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and the University of Toledo, for a day long scientific program.  Each of the schools takes turns in hosting this annual event. The colloquium primarily provides a forum for students to present their research in both oral and poster presentations and an opportunity for all participants to exchange ideas.

Journal Clubs:

Pathways to Pharmacology is a graduate student-run program run in the Department of Pharmacology in collaboration with the University of Michigan Wolverine Pathways Program. In this free, college readiness program, admitted middle and high school scholars join Wolverine Pathways from Detroit, Southfield, and Ypsilanti to take part in extracurricular classes and activities designed to strengthen their knowledge and preparedness for college. (contact:[email protected] and [email protected]

SOAR (Scientist for Outreach on Addiction Research): As a student organization at U of M, SOAR provides community outreach on topics relating to addiction and addiction research. SOAR is comprised of scientists from a variety of fields.  (contact: [email protected])

Certificate Programs: The department encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the University to extend their educational experiences. These include a variety of certificate programs to prepare students for future careers (https://rackham.umich.edu/navigating-your-degree/certificate-program-information/), for example: 

Conflict Resolution Policy

Usually the best approach to resolving a problem is through informal discussion and negotiation when the problem first arises. Discussion and negotiation amongst the parties in a conflict may not only help to resolve the original conflict, but can lead to better communication and more positive working relationships in the future.  Before approaching the individual, gather your thoughts and composure, and develop a plan for what you want to say. In your conversation with the individual, focus on the issue over which you have a conflict; you may want to bring specific examples that illustrate the issue. Try to think of ways to present the situation in a way that might help the person understand your perspective. Give the person the chance to explain their perspective about the situation. It may be helpful to think of the conflict as an opportunity for the two of you to develop a better understanding of each other and a better working relationship. Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, it is a good idea to follow it up with a note (via email is fine) to the person, describing the situation (dates, events) that you discussed, as well as how things stand after your meeting. That way, if there is still a misunderstanding, the conversation can continue. Also, having documentation of your efforts to resolve the present situation or in the event that a similar future situation arises with that same person.  Even when a student may not feel comfortable talking with the other party in the conflict, the process below should be used. 

If you find that in spite of your best efforts, the conflict has not been satisfactorily resolved, you can lodge an informal complaint with the department.  If your problem cannot be resolved at the departmental level or if you prefer discussing the matter with someone from outside the department, consider seeking help from the Office of the Ombuds, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution or the Rackham Resolution Office. 

Informal Complaint

An informal complaint is handled primarily within the Pharmacology Department following the sequences listed below, depending on the situation. Every effort would be made to resolve the conflict internally through this informal procedure. Unless the complaint involves a conflict between you and your thesis advisor, you can talk the situation over with your thesis advisor if you feel comfortable. It will be helpful to hear your advisor’s perspective, and it’s good for them to know about the situation.

In lodging an informal complaint, you should:

  • Clearly explain to the contact person the nature of the complaint, including specific details of the events that transpired, and the dates of those events.
  • Provide a copy of any documentation of your efforts to resolve the situation with the other party, as well as any evidence relevant to your complaint.
  • Indicate what you suggest as a satisfactory resolution.

If you can’t comfortably discuss the situation with the first person in the sequence, contact the next person in the sequence. Depending on the nature of your complaint, it may be necessary to involve additional people. The sequence for involving others is listed below for each type of complaint. If a person in the listed sequence is the person with whom you have a conflict, your complaint will be addressed to an alternate person (listed in parentheses). Each person handling your complaint should notify you in writing. Specifically, each person handling your case should: 1) acknowledge receipt of your complaint, and 2) describe the actions taken. In the event that you are not satisfied by the resolution of your complaint, you may appeal to the next person in the sequence.

Please use the following sequences for conflicts with:

Your thesis advisor:

  • Other committee members.
  • Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator
  • Pharmacology Faculty Ombudsperson or Pharmacology Graduate Program Chair (alternate: Pharmacology Graduate Committee faculty member).
  • Pharmacology Department Chair 
  • Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Rackham Graduate School or OSCAR

A thesis committee member:

  • Thesis Advisor.
  • Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator
  • Pharmacology Faculty Ombudsperson or Pharmacology Graduate Program Chair (alternate: Pharmacology Graduate Committee faculty member).
  • Pharmacology Department Chair 
  • Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Rackham Graduate School or OSCAR

Another graduate student:

  • Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator
  • Pharmacology Faculty Ombudsperson or
  • Pharmacology Graduate Program Chair (alternate: Pharmacology Graduate Committee faculty member).
  • Pharmacology Department Chair 
  • OSCR

Lab member:

  • Thesis Advisor
  • Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator
  • Pharmacology Department Chair 

Pharmacology Department staff:

  • Thesis Advisor.
  • Pharmacology Department Chair

Pharmacology faculty member:

  • Thesis Advisor
  • Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator
  • Pharmacology Faculty Ombudsperson or
  • Pharmacology Department Chair 
  • Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Rackham Graduate School or OSCR

Graduate Program Chair:

  • Thesis Advisor
  • Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator
  • Pharmacology Faculty Ombudsperson or
  • Pharmacology Graduate Committee faculty member
  • Pharmacology Department Chair 

Pharmacology Department Chair:

  • Thesis Advisor
  • Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator
  • Pharmacology Faculty Ombudsperson or
  • Pharmacology Graduate Program Chair (alternate: Pharmacology Graduate Committee faculty member).
  • Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Rackham Graduate School 

The Graduate School:

  • Thesis Advisor
  • Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager/Graduate Coordinator
  • Pharmacology Graduate Program Chair (alternate: Pharmacology Graduate Pharmacology Department Chair 

On Campus Conflict Resolutions Resources

  • Office of the Ombuds is a place where student questions, complaints and concerns about the functioning of the University can be discussed confidentially in a safe environment. 6015 Fleming, Phone: (734) 763-3545  https://ombuds.umich.edu
  • Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR): Promotes justice by facilitating conflict resolution for the Michigan community and creating a just and safe campus climate. 100 Student Activities Building, Phone: (734) 936-6308. https://oscr.umich.edu/ 
  • Rackham Graduate School’s Designated Resolution Officer (RO): Advises faculty, staff and students on matters related to student emergencies, crisis situations, disputes, and student conduct violations. The RO also provides information about Graduate School and University policies and procedures, makes referrals, and provides resources when appropriate.    https://rackham.umich.edu/academic-policies/section9/

Pharmacology Faculty Ombudsperson 

The role of the faculty Ombudsperson is to listen to, coach, and potentially mediate interpersonal conflicts that arise at any point of student participation in the Pharmacology Ph.D. program. This person is meant as a resource for students to confidentially discuss issues that do not obviously require formal conflict resolution. The student and the Ombudsperson together will have the option of determining whether the issue discussed requires formal conflict resolution, in which case the issue will be handled through the process outlined in the student handbook. Problems with coursework should be directed to the GPC. The ombudsperson will be chosen by graduate student from a slate of candidates initially proposed by the students, plus other interested parties. The ombudsperson will serve a term of 3 years and will have direct access to the Pharmacology Department Chair to assist with mediation if necessary.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee

The primary role of the DEI Committee is to help gather and disseminate information as well as to advise the Chair on strategies, policies, and activities to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Department.  

The goals of the Committee are to promote diversity at the trainee, staff, and faculty levels and to ensure that all members of the Department feel welcomed as essential participants in our overall academic and research missions. To achieve these goals, the DEI Committee will liaise with members of the Department to identify broad issues that need to be addressed and develop resources and approaches to resolve the issues that are identified. The Committee will communicate the issues and approaches to the Chair, along with suggestions on how to implement them.  The Committee will meet monthly to discuss ongoing efforts, evaluate progress, and set future goals as the Department environment evolves. The minutes of each meeting will be made available to the Department in a Google Drive folder. 

The DEI Committee will generally not take part in individual conflict resolution other than the DEI leaders being available as a resource for reporting incidents as described below. While the Committee is not charged with implementing policy changes, it can advocate for faculty, staff, and trainees and facilitate meeting with those who enact policy changes.  

Size of Committee:10 members

Method of Appointment:  Members of the Department shall vote for candidates (self-nominated or nominated by other Department members). Final appointments are subject to approval by the Department Chair and agreement from the candidate. 

Term of Office: This committee shall consist of 2 tenure track Faculty, 2 Research Faculty, 2 students, 2 post doc, and 2 representing research/administrative staff. It will be chaired by the Medical School DEI lead and co-chaired by another faculty or staff member. All members will serve staggered two-year terms such that one member of each interest group will be replaced or reappointed each year.  The Pharmacology Student Affairs Program Manager and the Faculty Ombudsperson shall serve as non-voting ex-officio members.

Discrimination and Harassment

The Department of Pharmacology and the University of Michigan maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination and harassment for all students, faculty, and staff. Discrimination or harassment are contrary to the standards of the Department and University community. They diminish individual dignity and impede educational opportunities, equal access to freedom of academic inquiry, and equal employment. Discrimination or harassment are barriers to fulfilling the University’s scholarly, research, educational, patient care, and service missions. Discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight or veteran’s status as set forth in and/or the SPG 201.35, Nondiscrimination Policy Notice will not be tolerated in the Department of Pharmacology or at the University of Michigan.

A claim under this policy may be brought by the University or by a faculty, staff or student member of the University community. Complaints based on conduct of students who are not acting as employees of the University are addressed in the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, which is administered by the Office of Student Conflict Resolution. The Rackham Graduate School has created a Discrimination and Harassment Resource Guide, as well as a website with information on how to file a formal complaint, resources and university policies and reporting procedures. (https://rackham.umich.edu/rackham-life/discrimination-and-harassment/). 

Members of the Michigan Medicine Department of Pharmacology who witness or experience any type of discrimination or harassment are encouraged to file a verbal or written complaint with the Chair of the Department, who will work through appropriate channels to address and resolve the issue. For graduate students, the Chair will first meet with the student to understand the situation and any incidents that have occurred.  Together, they will discuss options and strategies to resolve the situation, including bringing other members of the Department into the discussion.  Incidents of sexual or gender-based misconduct must be reported to the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE). Following the meeting, the Chair will respond to the student in writing, formally acknowledging the complaint and outlining next steps, including actions that will be taken.  Such actions will be made on a case-by-case basis. When appropriate, the Chair will provide updates to the student or may refer the case to Rackham Graduate School Resolution Officer, or the OIE.  The Chair will meet with the student to discuss whether the complaint has been satisfactorily resolved.  If not, the student and Chair will continue to work together to determine additional steps. Alternatively, the student may consider filing a formal complaint with the Rackham Graduate School Resolution Officer or the OIE.  A student may also file a complaint against another student through the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR).

The following excerpt from the Standard Practice Guide for the University of Michigan outlines the University policy on discrimination and harassment (https://spg.umich.edu/policy/201.89-1

Leave, Absences (for life events, education and/or professional development opportunities) and Vacations 

Leave and Absences 

Effective Fall 2010, Ph.D. students may request a temporary leave of absence when certain life events prevent continued active participation in their degree program. The policy enables students to officially suspend work toward their degree for a limited time. Students may request a leave of absence as early as six months prior to the term the leave is to start. A leave will be granted to students for illness (either physical or mental) or injury, to enable them to provide care or assistance for family or dependents, to allow them to meet military service obligations, or for other personal reasons.

See Rackham’s Leave of Absence Policy for a checklist for graduate students, faculty and staff. https://rackham.umich.edu/academic-policies/section2/#2-2-2  https://rackham.umich.edu/navigating-your-degree/leave-of-absence/ 

Unapproved absences are not allowed. Students that are not engaged in full-time work, including coursework, research and other relevant scholarly activities, will not be considered in good standing in the program and will be subject to dismissal. The mentor and program director will meet with the student to discuss the absences and performance and outline a plan for remediation during a probation period.  After the probationary period, the student’s work in the laboratory, productivity, participation in programmatic activities and attendance at critical research meetings will be evaluated by the Graduate Program Committee, which will make a final recommendation. 

Leave of Absence for Education and/or Professional Development Opportunities

Pharmacology trainees must request permission for a leave of absence from their graduate studies to engage in opportunities related to their educational or professional development approximately 6 months in advance.  This request must be approved by the mentor/co-mentor and the Graduate Program Committee (GPC).  If necessary, the dissertation committee can help the trainee and mentor/co-mentor identify the most appropriate time for a leave of absence.  Depending on the trainee's current funding, permission also may need to be requested from the funding agency 8-12 weeks in advance.  Spring/Summer internships do not require an official Rackham leave-of-absence, but do require prior discussions with advisor; discussion should include appropriate timing of internship and overall implication of absence from research lab on overall completion timeline.  [Read more about internships on our secure Intranet.] Complete the Pharmacology form for more details and necessary signatures. 


Students can take two full weeks of vacation (10 business days) of their choice per year (in consultation with their thesis mentor). Additional vacation days include recognized Federal holidays, Season Days (i.e., the 4 working days that fall between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day), and other times when the University is officially closed. Your thesis mentor and/or the PIBS Director if you are a first-year student must approve any exceptions.

Parental Accommodation Policy:

All eligible students will be granted a Parental Accommodation period up to six weeks long immediately following the birth of a child or the adoption of a child under the age of 6 for whom the student has parental responsibilities. During this period of accommodation, the student may continue to be enrolled as a full-time student. Additional information can be found at the following Rackham website (https://rackham.umich.edu/navigating-your-degree/parental-accommodation-policy/)

Financial Information (for Ph.D./MSTP students)

Financial Support 

The Pharmacology Department is committed to providing all graduate students full financial support for their graduate program tenure. This support frees the student to concentrate on research and full-time study.  Students must be making satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. degree to be eligible for support. 

Fellowship Funding & Support Beyond the First Year

First-year students entering through the PIBS program will be funded through a fellowship that will provide full coverage of stipend, tuition & fees, tuition and health care during their first 10 months.  For first-years starting in July, the last month they will receive a stipend from their PIBS fellowship is April, for those who start in September, their last month is June.  For students entering through PIBS following their choice of a thesis advisor and for student entering through direct admission, support will be provided by some mix of the following funding mechanisms: 1) a Research Assistantship (GSRA) supported by an individual grant of their thesis advisor; 2) a Teaching Assistantship (GSI); or 3) a fellowship.  Generally, after the first year, unless a student is on fellowship (see below for more details, they will be a GSRA.  Typically, students in their third-year will be a GSI for one term.  Students will be notified of their funding type on an annual basis and when any change in their funding type occurs (fellowship to GSRA and vice versa).  Students can also talk with the Graduate Coordinator or HR Specialist they have questions about their funding. 


Fellowship support may be in the form of a fellowship awarded directly to the student by a national agency or research foundation (e.g., NIH), by the Department, the University, or Rackham. Students on training grants and other types of scholarships, such as Rackham Merit Fellowships and NSF awards, are also paid from fellowships.  

  • Tuition and fees are covered in full for students on fellowship.  
  • Students on fellowship are eligible for University’s healthcare program for graduate students, GradCare as well as dental coverage Option 1, which is processed by the department. 
  • Students on fellowship will not have income taxes withheld from their paychecks. Students will be responsible for paying these taxes when they file their annual Income Tax Return. To avoid additional fees, students should plan to pay estimated taxes during the year. Consult Rackham’s website (https://rackham.umich.edu/rackham- life/finances/) for more information on taxation and estimated tax payments.

Graduate Student Research Assistantships (GSRAs)

Students who are not on fellowships are generally paid as Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRAs) or, if helping to teach a course, as Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs). The source of funding for all GSRA appointments is through their thesis advisor. GSRAs and GSIs are considered “employees” of the university and as such, will have taxes deducted from their paychecks, and they will receive a W-2 form. A student on GSRA performs personal research (including thesis or dissertation preparation) or who assists others in performing research that is relevant to his or her academic goals. In those cases where the student will be engaged in his/her dissertation research, full-time activity is expected; otherwise, conditions of the appointment are governed by the standard employment practices of the University. 

  • Tuition and fees for a GSRA with a 25% (10 hours of expected work per week) or greater appointment fraction for four or more consecutive months will be fully covered and applied directly to the student's account.  
  • Domestic students holding a GSRA appointment during the summer months, when students are typically not enrolled, will see FICA taxes withheld form their monthly pay. Once a student achieves candidacy they are eligible to file a FICA Exemptions Request with the Office of Finance, they must do so for each spring/summer term they are a GSRA.  Students of fellowship during the spring/summer term and international students do not have FICA taxes withheld.  http://finance.umich.edu/finops/payroll/tax/studentemployeesficaexemption 

GradCare (Health) and Dental Insurance 

All graduate students, regardless of their funding source/type, are entitled to GradCare health insurance and Dental option 1. If you plan to leave the State of Michigan for any length of time, please contact the Benefits Office (615-2000) or visit the benefits office website to inquire about off- site or emergency coverage. 

Rackham Fellowships, Awards, Grants & Scholarships.Rackham provides a variety of faculty nominated, Department nominated, and student-initiated funding opportunities.  Selection of departmental nominees is made by the Pharmacology Graduate Program Committee. These fellowships are typically awarded on the basis of scholastic record and the student’s research achievements. Follow the link at the following site for detailed guidelines for each competition, including eligibility requirements, nomination forms and selection criteria:  https://rackham.umich.edu/funding/

  • Rackham Travel Grants. The Rackham Graduate School provides up to $800-$1,050 for travel to domestic (up to $1300 for international) professional conferences and meetings. You can only receive one travel grant per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). Refer to Rackham’s website for detailed information and forms to apply for travel funds: https://rackham.umich.edu/funding/funding-types/rackham-conference-travel-grant/ 
  • Rackham Research Grants. The Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant is designed to support Rackham graduate students who need assistance to carry out research that advances their progress toward their degree.  Applications are accepted at any time and reviewed individually on a rolling basis by faculty reviewers. https://rackham.umich.edu/funding/funding-types/rackham-graduate-student-research-grant/

    • Master’s students are eligible for an award up to $1,500
    • Precandidates are eligible for an award up to $1,500
    • Candidates are eligible for an award up to $3,000

Fellowships Awarded by the Pharmacology Department. The department has a number of endowed fellowships that are awarded on a yearly basis. Talk with the Graduate Coordinator about the award criteria and timeline for these fellowships. 

  • Dr. Benedict and Diana Lucchesi Graduate Education Fellowship
  • Charles W. Edmunds Fellowship
  • Pharmacology Centennial Fellowship

Departmental Travel Awards

Attendance and presentations at national conferences such as the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (www.aspet.org) and the Society for Neuroscience (www.sfn.org) are strongly encouraged. Grants to attend such conferences are available from the department (see the Graduate Coordinator) and Rackham (see below) as well as the societies themselves.  The Graduate Coordinator will solicit nominations in March and August of each year for the Thomas Baum Travel Awards.  For students on PSTP, contact the Graduate Coordinator for more information about the annual travel grant reimbursement you are eligible for. 

Stipend Payment Schedules

Stipends for students on GSI or GSRA appointments are paid in four equal installments per term. Checks are available on the last working day of each.  They are mailed to your current address in Wolverine Access (http://wolverineaccess.umich.edu) or directly deposited into your bank account, which can also be set up in Wolverine Access. Full information is available on your appointment confirmation. 

Fellowship and training grant payments are also typically paid monthly, though the payment dates are usually closer to the middle of the month. Please see the Graduate Coordinator and/or HR Specialist if you have questions or problems with payments. 

Once you declare the Department of Pharmacology as your department, we will cover registration and mandatory fees for the fall and winter terms. If you wish to use the campus recreation facilities, you will need to buy your own user pass during the months you are not officially enrolled as a student (May-August). Some mentors will pay for the summer recreation facilities user pass, if asked. 

Any questions related to stipend payments, student bills, insurance supplements, etc., should be directed to the Graduate Coordinator and/or HR Specialist. If you receive a student bill indicating a balance owed, notify them as soon as possible; do not wait until the following month or semester. By that time a financial hold will have been placed on your account and you will be unable to register. A $30.00 late charge may be assessed and a negative service indicator established if payment is received after the due date or if payment is received in less than the amount due. A negative service indicator will prevent you from registering, and/or from receiving an official transcript, diploma, and financial aid. 

Supplementary Income

Appointment to a half-time assistantship or to an equivalent fellowship is intended to provide sufficient financial support to enable a student to devote full time to his/her graduate program. Consequently, a condition of the appointment is that no outside employment be undertaken other than tutoring. In conditions of unusual financial hardship, such as may result from extra dependents or special circumstances, the student should discuss other options with their Research Mentor and the Chair of the Graduate Committee.


Tutoring not only offers the graduate student a chance to obtain a small supplementary income, but also offers a chance to better his/her teaching methods and to review the basics of a particular course. At the beginning of the semester, a questionnaire will be sent out to determine each graduate student’s willingness to tutor and his/her preference for specific courses.  The principal restriction on tutoring is that Graduate Student Instructors must not tutor students enrolled in the course in which they are teaching. 


Loan funds administered through the Office of Financial Aid (http://www.finaid.umich.edu) are available to meet the needs of any educational expense for students while enrolled in the University.  The extent of this financial need must be clearly established by providing a complete statement of the applicant’s financial resources and expenses for the academic year. 

Loans are NOT available for any non-educational expense which is normally financed by a commercial lending institution, nor are they available for the repayment of previously incurred indebtedness. The graduate college also has Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Fund (http://www.rackham.umich.edu/prospective-students/funding/student-application/graduate-student-emergency-funds) that is intended to help meet the financial needs of Rackham graduate students who encounter an emergency situation or one-time, unusual, or unforeseen expenses during their degree program. 

Income Tax Liability

Current practice is subject to review by the IRS and may change at any time. Graduate Student Instructor and Graduate Student Research Assistantship stipends are considered salary for services performed and, as such, are subject to withholding and income tax. Under the income tax law of 1986, stipends for fellowships and other forms of student aid are subject to income tax and must be reported quarterly. It is the student’s responsibility to report fellowship/award aid to the IRS. If you have questions regarding your taxability status you should call the IRS at 800-424-1040, or visit the University’s Office of Finance  http://finance.umich.edu/finops/payroll/tax

Resources at U-M

In addition to your Advisor, the Graduate Coordinator, the Graduate Committee (including the Chair), and the Rackham Graduate School staff, there are many resources on campus to help you succeed as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. 

Mentoring Resources

Selected Campus Academic Resources

  • Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) http://www.crlt.umich.edu/ CRLT offers programs and services designed to support graduate students in all stages of their teaching careers from training for their first teaching experience through preparation for the academic job market.
    • Preparing Future Faculty Conference
    • U-M Graduate Teacher Certificate
    • Seminars for Graduate Student Instructors
  • Sweetland Center for Writing http://www.lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/ The Sweetland Center for Writing supplements formal writing instruction by providing free programs that help students understand assignments, develop ideas, support arguments and claims, cite sources, and revise at the paragraph and sentence level.
    • Writing workshops
    • Writing references and resources
    • Peer tutoring
    • Dissertation Writing Institute
  • English Language Institute (ELI) http://www.lsa.umich.edu/eli  The English Language Institute offers opportunities for students to participate in courses and workshops aimed at improving their language and communication skills. 
    • English for Academic Purposes Courses
    • Workshops
    • Writing Clinics
    • English Learning Links
  • Center for Statistical Consultation and Research (CSCAR)  http://cscar.research.umich.edu  CSCAR emphasizes an integrated, comprehensive statistical consulting service, covering all aspects of a quantitative research project ranging from the initial study design through to the presentation of the final research conclusions.
    • Workshops and seminars
    • In-house Mental Health and Wellness Counselor  

      Kate Hagadone, PhD, LP: [email protected]

    • Student Support
  • Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS)  https://ogps.med.umich.edu  OGPS is an information hub for the outstanding and diverse young scholars of Michigan Medicine, and a resource for their trainees, faculty, and staff.  They aim to provide a foundation and a community for trainees to explore the next step of their career in the biomedical sciences.  Their team develops programs and pathways for students and postdocs to grow intellectually, personally, and professionally on their scientific journey.
    • Career & Professional Development (workshops and career advising)
    • Software help
    • Software access
    • Spatial Analysis/GIS
  • Scholar Space http://www.lib.umich.edu/scholarspace  Scholar Space teaches individuals how to use technology in coursework, teaching, or research.
    • One-on-one technology consultations
    • Workshops
    • Digitalization of documents
  • University of Michigan Library  http://www.lib.umich.edu/  MLibrary supports, enhances, and collaborates in the instructional, research, and service activities of the faculty, students, and staff, and contributes to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.
    • Deep Blue  Dissertation, article, publication repository
    • Borrowing and circulation
    • Course reserves
    • Instruction and workshops

Selected Sources of Campus Support

  • The Career Center is committed to preparing U-M students and alumni to be active, life-long learners in developing and implementing their career decisions.  http://www.careercenter.umich.edu/ 
  • Center for the Education of Women (CEW+) offers support services to students, faculty, staff and community members.   http://www.cew.umich.edu/about 
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)** offers a variety of confidential services to help students resolve personal difficulties. Services include brief counseling for individuals, couples and groups.  https://caps.umich.edu 
  • Department of Recreational Sports is the place for fun and fitness on campus.  Rec Sports offers both informal activities and structured programs: Club Sports, Challenge Program, Drop-in Program, Intramural Sports and/or Outdoor Adventures. https://recsports.umich.edu/ 
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resources https://diversity.umich.edu/resources/ 
  • Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) The DPS website contains information about police services as well as other units such as parking enforcement, Communications Center and Criminal Investigations. http://police.umich.edu/ 
  • Emergency Preparedness and Alert System UM Emergency Alert is an urgent, mass notification system that keeps students, faculty and staff informed about major active emergencies on campus. This system will be activated without undue delay by the Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS). Sign up for voice and text emergency alerts at https://dpss.umich.edu/content/emergency-preparedness/emergency-alerts/
  • International Center provides a variety of services to assist international students, scholars, faculty and staff. https://internationalcenter.umich.edu/ 
  • Psychological Clinic provides psychological care for students.  Services include consultation, short-term and long-term therapy for individual adults and couples.  http://www.psychclinic.org/ 
  • Department of Public Safety (DPS) provides information on crime prevention strategies, the law enforcement authority of the University police, and policies and statistics about crime on campus.http://www.dpss.umich.edu/
  • Mental Health and Wellness Resourceshttps://uhs.umich.edu/stressresources & https://caps.umich.edu/article/um-mental-health-resources 
  • Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) provides educational and supportive services for the University of Michigan community related to sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, sexual harassment, and stalking. https://sapac.umich.edu/
  • Spectrum Center provides a comprehensive range of education, information and advocacy services working to create and maintain an open, safe and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty, and staff, their families and friends, and the campus community at large. https://spectrumcenter.umich.edu/  
  • Services for Students with Disabilities (SSWD) provides services to students with visual impairments, learning disabilities, mobility impairments, hearing impairments, chronic health problems and psychological disabilities, so they may enjoy a complete range of academic and non academic opportunities. https://ssd.umich.edu/ 
  • Student Legal Services (SLS) is a unit of The Division of Student Affairs, is a full service law office available to currently enrolled students at the University of Michigan. Student Legal Services is staffed by attorneys who are licensed to practice in the State of Michigan as well as the United States District Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. https://studentlegalservices.umich.edu 
  • University Health Service (UHS) is a health care facility, located on central campus that offers many outpatient services in one building for    U-M students, faculty, and staff. Many of UHS services provided to registered students are covered by the Health Service fee.  https://uhs.umich.edu/ 

Conflict Resolution

  • Office of the Ombuds is a place where student questions, complaints and concerns about the functioning of the University can be discussed confidentially in a safe environment.6015 Fleming, Phone: (734) 763-3545  https://ombuds.umich.edu 
  • Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) Promotes justice by facilitating conflict resolution for the Michigan community and creating a just and safe campus climate. 100 Student Activities Building, Phone: (734) 936-6308. https://oscr.umich.edu/ 
  • Rackham Graduate School’s Designated Resolution Officer (RO) Advises faculty, staff and students on matters related to student emergencies, crisis situations, disputes, and student conduct violations. The RO also provides information about Graduate School and University policies and procedures, makes referrals, and provides resources when appropriate.    https://rackham.umich.edu/academic-policies/section9/

Resources of International Students

Resources for Students with Children