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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 courses 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.

    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

    Meet this year’s Drug Discovery and Development Outstanding Achievement Award Winners

    Jillian McGonigle, MS
    Affiliation: Pfizer
    Position: Project Planner, Inflammation & Immunology

    Caitlyn Durgin, MS
    Affiliation: Pinney Associates
    Position: Associate

    Learn more about our Drug Discovery and Development students.

    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.

    MS in Drug Discovery and Development FAQs

    Will the online MS in Drug Discovery and Development program help me to network with industry professionals?
    At Drexel University, we are proud of the industry expertise that our faculty bring to the classroom. They will be able to help you navigate the industry landscape and provide valuable career advice. In addition, the connections you make with your fellow students will provide a lifetime of networking opportunities. Drexel’s Drug Discovery and Development students are affiliated with some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

    Student Affilitations

    • Abbvie
    • Amgen
    • Astra Zeneca
    • Bayer
    • Biogen
    • Brystol-Myers Squibb
    • Catalent Biologics
    • Charles River Labs
    • CHOP
    • Covance
    • Eli Lilly
    • Ernst & Young
    • Eurofins
    • GlaxoSmithKline
    • ICON
    • Incyte
    • IQVIA
    • Janssen
    • Johnson & Johnson
    • Kaiser Permanente
    • MD Anderson
    • Medimmune
    • Mem Sloan Kettering
    • Merck
    • Novartis
    • Parexel Intl.
    • Pharmaron
    • Pfizer
    • Radius Pharma
    • Reaction Biology
    • Sanofi
    • Takeda
    • Teva
    • US Air Force
    • US Army
    • Univ of Pennsylvania

    Are there any awards associated with the online MS in Drug Discovery and Development program?
    At Drexel University, we believe in rewarding hard work and dedication. That's why the Drug Discovery and Development program grants an Outstanding Achievement Award each year to students who exhibit consistently excellent performance throughout the program and graduate with the highest grade point average.

    Meet this year’s Drug Discovery and Development Outstanding Achievement Award Winners:

    • Jenna-Marie Dix, MS
      Affiliation: Memorial Sloan Kettering
      Position: Clinical Coordinator
    • Vinod Laxminarayen, MS
      Affiliation: Pfizer
      Position: Manager, Global Medical Grants
    • Serena Lee, MS
      Affiliation: University of Nevada
      Position: PhD Candidate, Pharmacology
    • Liliana Sanoja-Suarez, PhD, MS
      Affiliation: Einstein Healthcare Network
      Position: Clinical Researcher

    Learn more about our Drug Discovery and Development students.

    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  
    CR 612S Fundamentals of Compliance 3.0
    or CR 520S or 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 or Practicum in Drug Discovery and Development
    Electives *
    Total Credits 38.0

    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 2024-2025 is $1663 per credit.

        For the academic year 2024-2025, students enrolled in an online graduate academic program will be charged a graduate online program fee of $125 per year.

        • 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.
          • 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.


        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.

        Meet the Program Directors

        Headshot Paul McGonigle

        Paul McGonigle, PhD
        Director, Drug Discovery & Development Program
        Director, Interdisciplinary & Career-Oriented Programs

        Dr. McGonigle has an extensive industry background with companies such as Wyeth Research, NeuroGenix, and Psychogenics. His research interests include CNS drug discovery, receptor pharmacology, behavioral pharmacology, and neuropharmacology

        Headshot Joanne Mathiasen

        Joanne Mathiasen, PhD
        Co-director, Drug Discovery & Development Program Professor

        Dr. Mathiasen has a robust background with industry leaders such as Johnson & Johnson, Cephalon, and Teva. Her research interests include CNS drug discovery, behavioral pharmacology, neuropharmacology, and pain and cognition.

        View more Drug Discovery and Development Faculty Profiles

        Academic Calendar

        2023-2024 Academic Year


        Classes Begin

        Classes End

        Fall 2023

        August 21, 2023

        December 15, 2023

        Spring 2024

        January 8, 2024

        May 3, 2024

        Summer 2024

        May 13, 2024

        August 2, 2024


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