About the PhD Graduate Program

Receive an education in chemistry and biology that prepares you for the evolving multidisciplinary research of the pharmaceutical industry and academia.

Our Medicinal Chemistry graduate program is one of the top-rated in the United States.  We have a diverse group of faculty members, graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows working at the interface of chemistry and biology.

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The Medicinal Chemistry program welcomes applications from students with pharmacy, chemistry, or biology degrees. Students majoring in other degree programs that encompass chemical, biochemical, or biological fields of study are also encouraged to apply.

  1. A grade point average indicative of a strong undergraduate academic performance is required of all applicants.
  2. All non-US students must submit either a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. See the Graduate School about the preferred performance levels.
  3. Please note that the University of Minnesota's institution code 6874 should be used for TOEFL submissions.
  4. Please note that the Department of Medicinal Chemistry no longer requires GRE scores.


  • Applications are only accepted for fall term admission. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. You must fulfill all application requirements, including payment of the application fee, before your application is considered complete. Any inquires about the application fee should be directed to the Graduate School.
  • Applications should be submitted by January 3rd.

Application Checklist

Complete your application for admission using the Graduate School's online application system.
You will be asked to provide the following:

  1. A statement explaining your interest in Medicinal Chemistry and why the graduate program at the University of Minnesota is a good fit for you.
  2. A brief summary of any prior work or research experience that has influenced your decision to pursue a Medicinal Chemistry PhD.
  3. Resume/CV.
  4. Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended.
  5. Three letters of recommendations. You will be asked to provide contact information for your references, and they will be asked to submit their letter electronically through the online application system.
  6. An application fee ($75 domestic, $95 foreign students).

Financial Assistance

Students who have been accepted into the program with the assurance of financial assistance receive such support in the form of either teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships. All students on assistantships and fellowships receive a tuition waiver and a comprehensive health care benefits package.  Students do not need to fill out any additional forms when applying to be considered for financial support.  Students are fully supported throughout the duration of their studies as long as satisfactory progress is being made toward a degree.

Policies And Procedures

The policies and procedures are designed to help you become familiar with departmental guidelines and program requirements. Responsibility lies with the graduate student to initiate and carry out the necessary steps essential to the progress and ultimate completion of their respective graduate program.

Students also should consult the General Information section of the Graduate School Catalog or the Graduate School website for pertinent Graduate School requirements and policies and procedures.

Student Diversity

The Department of Medicinal Chemistry embraces the University of Minnesota's position that promoting and supporting diversity among the student body is central to the academic mission of the University. A diverse student body enriches graduate education by providing a multiplicity of views and perspectives that enhance research, teaching and the development of new knowledge. A diverse mix of students promotes respect for, and opportunities to learn from, others with the broad range of backgrounds and experiences that constitute modern society. Higher education trains the next generation of leaders of academia and society in general, and such opportunities for leadership should be accessible to all members of society. The Graduate School and Department of Medicinal Chemistry are therefore committed to providing equal access to educational opportunities through recruitment, admission and support programs that promote diversity, foster successful academic experiences and cultivate the leaders of the next generation.

PhD Requirements

Maintaining Active Status

The Graduate School requires that students register every Fall and Spring term to maintain active status up through and including the term in which you will complete your degree. Failure to maintain active status will result in discontinuation of student status and require applying for readmission.

Coursework Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 24 credits of required and elective graduate (5000 or 8000) level coursework and 24 Doctoral Thesis Credits (MedC 8888). This coursework and thesis credit requirements are generally completed during the first two years of study. A typical course sequence is illustrated below.

After Semester One:
students should register for a maximum of 14 credits of graduate level coursework and/or MedC8888 thesis credits each semester until they have completed their thesis credit requirement. Under no circumstances should a student register for more than 14 credits in a semester without approval from either the DGS or their advisor, as this entails significant additional tuition costs.

After Two Years:
Some students may be in a situation where they have completed all of their course requirements and they need less than 6 credits to complete their thesis requirements. In this situation, students will need to register for 6 credits of MedC 8888 thesis credits to retain their full-time status. Once students have completed their thesis credit requirement and have met the other advanced doctoral student status requirements, they will begin in the following semester to register for a specific one-credit registration (MedC 8444) that certifies the student as full-time. Until the student has a research advisor, the Director of Graduate Study will approve all registrations. It is a program requirement that before registering each semester students must consult with and obtain the approval of either their advisor or the Director of Graduate Studies.

potential plan for what classes to take when during year one and two

The following are required courses for the doctoral program in Medicinal Chemistry:

  • MedC 8001 | General Principles of Medicinal Chemistry I | 3 cr
  • MedC 8002 | General Principles of Medicinal Chemistry II | 3 cr
  • MedC 8050 | Mechanistic Organic Chemistry | 2 cr
  • MedC 8435 | BioAssays | 1 cr
  • MedC 8100 | Seminar | 1 cr
  • Chem 8066 | Professional Conduct of Chemical Research | 1 cr
  • Chem 8321 | Organic Synthesis | 4 cr
  • MedC 8888 | Doctoral Thesis | 24 cr

Students are required to take three additional courses, two of which must be from the list below:

  • MedC 8070 | Chemistry and Biology of Infectious Diseases | 3 cr
  • MedC 8401 | The Chemistry of Counterterrorism | 3 cr
  • MedC 8413 | Chemistry of Nucleic Acids | 3 cr
  • MedC 8420 | Natural Products Chemistry | 3 cr
  • MedC 8461 | Design of Cancer Immunotherapeutics | 3 cr
  • MedC 8471 | High Throughput Drug Discovery | 3 cr
  • MedC 8753 | Molecular Targets of Drug Discovery | 3 cr
  • MedC 8700 | Advanced Concepts in Medicinal Chemistry | 2 cr

Below is a list of approved courses to satisfy the biochemistry requirement. Students may use other courses not listed here to complete their biochemistry requirement with the approval of the DGS and their advisor:

  • BioC 8005 | Biochemistry: Structure and Catalysis  | 2 cr
  • BioC 8006 | Biochemistry: Metabolism and Control  | 2 cr
  • BioC 5535 |  Intro to Modern Structural Biology-Diffraction |  2 cr
  • BioC 5528 |  Spectroscopy and Kinetics | 4 cr
  • GCD 8151 | Cell Structure & Function  | 3 cr
  • Chem 8411 | Intro to Chemical Biology  | 4 cr 
Remedial Coursework

Sometimes a student is admitted to the Medicinal Chemistry graduate program with specific course deficiencies. Such deficiencies need be made up as soon as possible, preferably during the first year of residence. For example, if the deficiency is physical chemistry, the student will take Chem 4501 (3 cr) or its equivalent. In the case of other course deficiencies, the Director of Graduate Studies will determine the appropriate course to fulfill the deficiency.

Research Interests

Department research interests include antiviral and anticancer drug design, cancer chemoprevention, chemical biology, chemical carcinogenesis, drug metabolism, gene therapy, molecular recognition, natural products chemistry, neuroscience, peptidomimetics, receptor modeling, and NMR and X-ray crystallography.