The Pharmaceuticals Program

The revolution in pharmaceuticals over the past half-century has provided public health with some of its most important and powerful tools. However, the processes by which new drugs are developed, tested, licensed, regulated, and manufactured are poorly understood—even by most health care professionals. The BUSPH Pharmaceuticals Program is a unique educational offering, designed to bridge those gaps and provide a practical overview of pharmaceuticals from a public health perspective. The program is available to Master of Public Health students and should be of particular interest to students considering careers in the pharmaceutical industry, service delivery programs, or pharmaceutical policy making agencies.

Students enrolled in the program will learn what drugs are and how they work; how they are tested, developed, and monitored; how formularies are derived; and how drugs are licensed and regulated. Students will develop key analytic skills useful for framing pharmaceutical policy and decision making in domestic and international contexts. The Pharmaceuticals Program prepares students for positions in both the public and private sectors, including positions in federal and state government agencies, the pharmaceutical industry, contracting research organizations, and international agencies.

Program Goal

The goal of the Pharmaceuticals Program is to provide students with the knowledge and expertise to address pharmaceutical issues from a public health perspective.

Specific Objectives

Upon completion of the Pharmaceuticals Program, students should be able to:

  1. Identify major pharmaceutical issues and priorities in the context of public health domestically and globally.
  2. Discuss the range of pharmaceutical research, policy, and programmatic interventions facing the global public health community, including relevant health policy and management experiences of different organizations, nationally and internationally.
  3. Evaluate pharmaceutical programs in the context of economics, organization, regulation, and politics.
  4. Contribute to the design and implementation of policy and program interventions to address pharmaceutical issues in a domestic and global context.
  5. Understand how new pharmaceuticals are tested and licensed.
  6. Understand the principles for how drug safety is monitored and assessed in clinical and post-marketing settings.

Requirements for Completion of Certificate

  1. Successfully complete SPH PH 740 and at least 8 credits of approved Pharmaceuticals Program courses and earn a minimum grade of B in all courses. (Please see the program website for up-to-date information about our approved course listings.)
  2. Actively participate in the seminar series throughout participation in the program. We define this as attendance for at least 18 seminars. Students are, of course, encouraged to attend all the seminars.
  3. Complete a practicum that has been approved by the program director and the director of the student’s primary concentration.

Application Process

All students who have been accepted to SPH for the MPH program are eligible to apply for the Pharmaceuticals Program. Students must be in the Pharmaceuticals Program for a minimum of 2.5 semesters. Therefore, full-time students must apply and join the program during their first semester at SPH.

Students wishing to enroll complete and submit a web-based form. Once enrolled, the student receives a confirmation from the Pharmaceuticals Program assistant. The enrollment is added to the student’s electronic record.

For students matriculating in the fall, we will accept applications through the second week of September of each year.

For students matriculating in the spring, we will accept applications through the second week of January of each year.


The Pharmaceuticals Program gives students a solid foundation in pharmaceuticals while providing flexibility to tailor their coursework toward a specific career path in policy, industry, or in health programs and non-governmental organizations. Through tailoring their electives, students have the opportunity to identify and acquire the specific skill sets they plan to use after graduation.

Skills relevant to careers in:


  • Health policy
  • Health services research methods
  • Pharmacovigilance
  • Clinical trials
  • Patent law
  • Insurance systems
  • Qualitative research methods


  • Project management
  • Good clinical practice
  • Discovery and development
  • Clinical trials
  • Regulatory affairs
  • Intellectual property

Health Programs/NGOs

  • Project management
  • Infectious diseases
  • Vaccines
  • Rational drug management and adherence
  • Corruption
  • Qualitative research methods