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  • Online MS in Drug Discovery and Development

    Drexel University’s online MS in Drug Discovery and Development offers you the specialized training and real-world insight you need to find success and enable advancement in the field of drug discovery and development. This unique program provides the rigorous scientific and technical training necessary to succeed in this complex and multidisciplinary field, and facilitates a smooth transition to an enduring and productive career with a biotechnology firm, pharmaceutical company, contract research or nonprofit organization, or an academic institution.

    MS in Drug Discovery and Development Program Features

    • 100% online
    • Optional thesis
    • Customizable curriculum
    • Over 50 approved electives to select from
    • Full-time and adjunct faculty with years of industry experience
    • Learn from active professionals

    What is an MS in Drug Discovery & Development?

    Drug discovery and development is the process by which new drugs are produced and brought to market. The FDA states that there are five stages in the drug development process: discovery, preclinical research, clinical research, FDA review, and FDA post-market safety monitoring.

    Drexel’s online MS in Drug Discovery and Development teaches you to understand, evaluate, and engage with every stage in this discovery and development process. The core curriculum is supported by a large offering of specialized topics that allow you to focus on areas like:

    • Clinical Research
    • Discovery Research
    • New Product Development
    • Pharmaceutical Law
    • Regulatory Affairs
    • Strategic Planning
    • Technology Transfer

    Program of Study

    Drexel’s drug discovery graduate program offers a flexible curriculum highlighted by a core set of required courses that introduce the essential scientific underpinnings of the field and numerous specialized topics including:

    • Biologics
    • Biomarkers
    • Business Development
    • Clinical Development
    • Commercialization and Marketing
    • Computer Aided Drug Design
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Formulation
    • High Throughput Screening
    • IND Application
    • Intellectual Property
    • Lead Optimization
    • Medical Writing
    • New Drug Application
    • Peptide Therapeutics
    • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
    • Pharmacoepidemiology
    • Pharmacogenomics
    • Pharmacovigilance
    • Program and Portfolio Management
    • Safety and Toxicology
    • Target Identification
    • Target Validation
    • Translational Medicine
    • Use of Animal Models
    • Vaccines

    This is complemented by an extensive list of advanced electives that let you customize the program and focus on one or more areas of particular interest.


    One of the major strengths of the Drug Discovery and Development program is the diversity and extent of faculty with significant industry experience. This includes five full-time faculty members with over 100 combined years of experience as both scientists and senior executives in the pharmaceutical and biotech fields. The adjunct faculty consists of over 30 active professionals and includes several senior level executives from regional and national companies whose expertise includes topics ranging from target identification and validation to commercialization and marketing.

    Hear From an Alumna

    "There were several programs I considered, but I ultimately felt that the Drexel MS in Drug Discovery & Development would give me the right combination of basic science training as well as a critical overview of the biomedical science industry."

    Ariana Myers
    MS in Drug Discovery and Development, 2020
    Vice President, Donisi Health

    Monthly Online Open House - Meet the Program Directors

    During this monthly virtual event, the program directors will introduce you to the drug discovery & development programs, discuss the curriculum, and answer any questions you may have. Register today!

    Drexel's 10,000 Hours Podcast: I Want a New Drug

    There seems to be a million kinds of medicine in your local pharmacy. But what does it take to get a drug to market? Drexel professor Richard Mangano explains the drug discovery and development process, and why some drugs get funded – and some don’t.

    Requirements for The MS in Drug Discovery & Development Online

    You must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or an equivalent international institution in order to pursue this degree. Your GPA should be 3.0 or higher, and relevant work experience is considered very valuable.

    Students who pursue the MS in Drug Discovery and Development come from various professional and academic backgrounds. You’ll learn alongside classmates who work at pharmaceutical, biotech, and contract research companies, and have backgrounds in life sciences, chemistry, engineering, and pharmaceutics. Ideal applicants for this program include:

    • Graduate Students
    • Mid-Level Pharmaceutical Professionals
    • Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Employees
    • Professionals Interested in a Career Change
    • Recent College Graduates

    What Can I Do With a Drug Development Degree?

    Careers in Drug Discovery & Development
    With a degree in drug discovery and development, you’ll be prepared for careers throughout the industry. Graduates from this program have gone on to work at companies like Merck, GSK, Janssen, Amgen, and the FDA. Some common career paths for graduates include:

    • Business Development
    • Clinical Research
    • Commercial Marketing
    • Discovery Research
    • Drug Safety and Metabolism
    • Manufacturing
    • Medical Affairs
    • Project Management
    • Regulatory Affairs

    How Long Does It Take to Complete an MS in Drug Discovery & Development?

    Drexel’s online MS in Drug Discovery & Development is a 38 credit program. Most online students complete the program on a part-time basis. Courses are offered during fall, spring, and summer semesters so you can complete your MS in Drug Discovery & Development in as little as two years. Most students take two and a half to three years to complete the program.

    MS in Drug Discovery & Development Salary Expectations

    Salaries for drug discovery and development roles will vary largely based on employer and location. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some common job titles and salaries are:

    • Life Scientist - $89,150
    • Medical Scientist - $88,790

    The biopharmaceutical industry is enjoying steady growth in the number of jobs and wages with the average wage approaching $100,000 per year.

    For Questions, Please Contact:

    Dr. Paul McGonigle
    Professor and Director

    Dr. Joanne Mathiasen
    Professor and Co-Director

    Related Programs

    Drexel University offers a variety of Graduate Minors that can be added to any master's degree program.
    State restrictions may apply to some programs.


    Both a thesis and a non-thesis option are available. The non-thesis option requires the preparation of a scholarly document on a topic related to the biopharmaceutical field. The thesis option requires a written thesis that is focused on an area of concentration within the pharmaceutical industry. The thesis may be based on research (laboratory or otherwise) conducted within a pharmaceutical rotation, which may be at Drexel or at a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company, nonprofit or contract research organization, or a government agency.

    Required Courses  
    IDPT 500S Responsible Conduct of Research 2.0-3.0
    or CR 612S Fundamentals of Compliance
    NEUR 500S Statistics for Neuro/Pharm Research 2.0-3.0
    or IDPT 501S Biostatistics I
    or CR 520S Applications of Clinical Research Biostatistics
    PHRM 512S Graduate Pharmacology 3.0
    PHRM 525S Drug Discovery and Development I 3.0
    PHRM 526S Drug Discovery and Development II 3.0
    PHRM 527S Current Topics in Drug Discovery and Development 1.0
    PHRM 605S Research in Drug Discovery and Development 4.0
    or PHRM 610S Practicum in Drug Discovery and Development
    Electives *
    CBIO 510S
    Cancer Biology  
    CR 500S
    CR 501S
    Emerging Trends in Medical Device Regulation  
    CR 505S
    Ethical Issues in Research  
    CR 508S
    Medical Device Combination Product Regulation  
    CR 510S
    Sponsored Projects Finance  
    CR 511S
    The History of Misconduct in Biomedical Research  
    CR 512S
    Fundamentals of Academic Research Administration  
    CR 513S
    Business Processes and Contemporary Concerns in Pharmaceutical R & D  
    CR 514S
    World Wide Regulatory Submissions  
    CR 515S
    Intro to Clinical Trials  
    CR 518S
    Clinical Trial Budgeting  
    CR 520S
    Applications of Clinical Research Biostatistics  
    CR 523S
    Current Issues in Review Boards  
    CR 525S
    Scientific Writing and Medical Literature  
    CR 527S
    Clinical Data Management  
    CR 535S
    Current Federal Regulatory Issues in Biomedical Research  
    CR 536S
    Clinical Project Management  
    CR 541S
    Patient Recruitment and Informed Consent  
    CR 545S
    Pharmaceutical Law  
    CR 546S
    Clinical Outsourcing  
    CR 550S
    Leadership Skills  
    CR 551S
    International Regulatory Affairs  
    CR 555S
    Compliance & Monitoring Issues  
    CR 565S
    Contemporary Issues in Human Research Protection  
    CR 570S
    Principles and Practice of Pharmacovigilance  
    CR T580S
    Special Topics in Clinical Research  
    CR 600S
    Designing the Clinical Trial  
    CR 609S
    Innovative Product Development  
    CR 612S
    Fundamentals of Compliance  
    CR 614S
    Introduction to Clinical Pharmacology  
    CR 617S
    Informatics in Pharm Res & Development  
    CR 620S
    CR 625S
    Health Policy and Economics  
    CR 631S
    Applications of Clinical Research Biostatistics II  
    CR 633S
    Quality Assurance Audits  
    CR 635S
    Strategic Planning  
    MIIM 521S
    Biotechniques I: Molecular and Genomic Methods  
    MIIM 522S
    Biotechniques II: Immunological Methods  
    MIIM 524S
    Vaccines and Vaccine Development  
    MIIM 527S
    Immunology, Immunopathology and Infectious Diseases  
    MIIM 530S
    Fundamentals of Molecular Medicine I  
    MIIM 531S
    Fundamentals of Molecular Medicine II  
    MLAS 536S
    Animal Models for Biomedical Research  
    NEUR 508S
    Graduate Neuroscience I  
    PATH 601S
    PHGY 503S
    Graduate Physiology  
    PHRM 502S
    Current Topics in Pharmacology & Physiology  
    PHRM 503S
    Pharm & Phys 1st Lab Rotation  
    PHRM 507S
    Prin of Neuropharmacology  
    PHRM 516S
    Advanced Topics in Physiology  
    PHRM 517S
    Advanced Topics in Pharmacology  
    PHRM 518S
    New Frontiers in Therapy  
    PHRM 519S
    Methods in Biomedical Research  
    PHRM 520S
    Internship in Drug Discovery and Development  
    PHRM 521S
    Intensive Internship in Drug Discovery and Development  
    Quarter Elective Course Options
    PHRM T580S
    Special Topics in Pharmacology  
    BMES 604
    MGMT 910
    Readings in Strategic Management  
    MGMT 940
    Seminar in Organizational Behavior  
    ORGB 511
    Leading in Dynamic Environments: A Personal, Relational, and Strategic Approach  
    PROJ 501
    Introduction to Project Management  
    PROJ 535
    International Project Management  
    Total Credits 38.0-41.0

    *Courses that are not listed above may be taken as electives only with the approval of the program director.

    View Course Descriptions

    Admissions Criteria

    • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or an equivalent international institution
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 is preferred
      • Those with a lower GPA are encouraged to apply, but should ensure that relevant professional experience is included on their resume for evaluation

      Required Documents

      With multiple ways to submit documents, Drexel makes it easy to complete your application. Learn more by visiting our Completing Your Application Guide.

      • A completed application
      • Official transcripts from all universities or colleges and other post-secondary educational institutions (including trade schools) attended
      • Three letters of recommendation from professionals or former instructors
        • Essay of approximately 500 words explaining:
          • Your reasons for pursuing a degree from Drexel
          • Your short-term and long-term career plans
          • How your background, experience, interests and/or values, when combined with a Drexel degree, will enable you to pursue these goals successfully
        • Resume
        • Additional requirements for International Students


        The tuition rate for the academic year 2021-2022 is $1507 per credit.

        • This program is eligible for Financial Aid.
        • Special tuition rates available for Drexel University AlumniMilitary members, and members of our Partner Organizations
          • These rates apply only to new online students and students being readmitted.
          • These rates apply only to fully online courses. Hybrid or on-campus courses may have different rates.
          • Tuition rates are subject to increase with the start of each academic year in the fall term.
          • All students must contact applyDUonline@drexel.edu within the first two weeks of the term to request tuition savings for which they qualify.
          • Special rates cannot be combined. If you qualify for more than one special rate, you'll be given the one with the largest savings.
          • When receiving special tuition plans with Drexel University Online, you may not combine them with other tuition benefits that may be available from Drexel University.


        Academic Calendar

        2020-2021 Academic Year


        Classes Begin

        Classes End

        Fall 2020

        August 17, 2020

        December 11, 2020

        Spring 2021

        January 4, 2021

        April 30, 2021

        Summer 2021

        May 10, 2021

        July 30, 2021

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