Generally speaking, there are two categories of master degrees offered to students interested in pharmaceutical studies or pharmacy-related careers.
The first category includes research-based programs, usually known as Master of Science degrees. Depending on the program's focus, a research-related master degree may be labeled Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Science, for... example, or something even more specific, like Master of Science in Toxicology. These graduate programs don't necessarily lead to traditional pharmacy careers. Instead, more likely, qualified graduates may go on to become scientific researchers who test and develop new medications or health and beauty products, conduct biochemical research, or work to improve environmental health concerns.
Students who enter research-based pharmacy programs are usually required to engage in research and unique scholarship, which they must compile into an extensive written report known as a thesis or dissertation. Practicing research and documentation is fitting preparation for these students, as most of them aspire to work in laboratories, regulatory agencies, or in college classrooms. A research-based Master of Science Pharmacy degree may also be a stepping stone toward a Ph.D. in Pharmacy or Pharmaceutical Science (for advanced research in the pharmacy field).
Other pharmacy-related master degrees are offered in conjunction with Pharm.D. degrees. They may be known as "dual degrees" because colleges intend for students to work towards two different degree titles at the same time. Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees, for example, are often combined with pharmacy degrees. Students who complete these programs may intend to work as Licensed Pharmacists and/or to manage the business concerns of pharmacy facilities or retail chains. At the master-level, another popular dual degree option is the Master of Public Health (MPH), which could be combined with Pharm.D. studies to prepare students for both hands-on pharmacy work and the complexities of public healthcare infrastructures.
In most cases, admittance into a Master of Science Pharmacy program requires that you hold a closely-related bachelor degree (chemistry, biology, pharmaceutical science, etc). Some students may enter research-related master programs after having already completed Pharm.D. programs. Still, master degree programs do not qualify you to work as a Licensed Pharmacist. If you plan to practice as a pharmacist, you need to complete an accredited Pharm.D. degree and meet all your state's pharmacist licensing requirements.
There have been outstanding advances in the application of drug treatments and preventive vaccines over the past few decades, and researchers seem to be on the cusp of even greater breakthroughs. Extensive research is key to perfecting healthcare advancements, and the industry is in constant need of highly-trained professionals. With a Master Degree in Pharmacy, a Master of Science Degree in Pharmaceutical Science, or any type of pharmacy-related dual degree, you could begin working in this fast-paced, vital career sector.
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