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Student Life

Listed below are some typical questions that prospective students ask. Answers are from current and past pharmacology graduate students:

  • What background do I need to apply to UC Irvine Department of Pharmacology?

Jose: "You need a bachelor’s. An interest in the biological sciences is important as well. I received a bachelor of science degree from UC Irvine after which I began my MD/PhD training at UC Irvine. After my second year of medical school I simply came to this department to begin my training in pharmacology. I really didn’t apply because of the scope of the program that I am in."

Tim: "Collectively, we have degrees (BA/BS) ranging from biology to psychology. Pharmacology is a diverse field that utilizes aspects of many other disciplines.” (BS in animal science from Purdue University).

Paul: "Biochemistry from UCSD."

Ann: "Organic and biological chemistry from University of Michigan, later with an MS in chemistry from UC Irvine."

Greg: "Marine biology from Florida Institute of Technology, and an MS in molecular biology from Fresno State."

Jason: "Chemistry from UC Berkeley."

Deepali: "Pharmacy degree from India, and the list continues…. Many of us have worked in industry or obtained master's degrees following college, while many others of us have entered the program directly out of an undergraduate education."

  • Why should I choose UC Irvine pharmacology?

Jesse: "I was looking for a program with a strong background in molecular and neuro pharmacology. I liked the way the program was laid out and the small student to faculty ratio."

Jose: "I was interested in cardiovascular pharmacology and the research being done in the Duckles lab was very exciting and pursuing clinically relevant questions related to hormone replacement therapy and stroke. I chose this department over all other departments. throughout UC Irvine because of the small, intimate and cohesive environment that exists there."

Kathy: "UC Irvine was my first choice for training because of its strength in the neurosciences, and the friendly atmosphere I’ve always encountered at the school."

Steve: "As a medical student taking the medical pharmacology course, I was immediately impressed by the power of drugs and their roles in disease treatment. There are so many basic questions left about mechanisms by which certain drugs act. It’s unraveling these puzzles that makes research in pharmacology exciting and a future in this field most rewarding."

  • How long will it take me to get my PhD ?

Jesse: "Most students graduate in four to five years, but if you’re willing to put in the work it’s conceivable to graduate in as little as three years."

Jose: "I will finish my Ph.D. in less than three and one-half years."

  • How much do you work while in graduate school here at UCI?

Jesse: "The time I spend working varies from day to day. The hours are extremely flexible. Some days I might work four hours other days 12. We don’t have any teaching requirements so we have nearly unlimited amounts of time to do research."

Jose: "I put in about a 40-hour work week, give or take some hours."

  • What kind of research is available in the department? 

Ann: "Our laboratory studies the neurobiology of addiction. Rats are trained to self administer drugs of abuse to help define important neural systems associated with drug abuse.”

Deepali: “On a project funded by NASA, I am investigating the cardiovascular changes occurring in rats as a result of exposure to zero gravity.”

Paul: “We are examining the role of dopamine synthesis and uptake in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.”

Tim: “My research is directed toward explaining the mechanisms of peripheral benzodiazepine receptor function in inflammatory response.”

Greg: “We are interested in the signal transduction properties and contractile role of muscarinic receptors in smooth muscle.”

Steve: “The emphasis of our lab is to identify, clone and characterize novel neuropeptides associated with brain derived G protein coupled receptors.”

  • Funding: How will I get paid?

Jesse: "The stipend here is very competitive, in fact it’s higher than what most other schools have to offer. Excellent benefits are included and the monthly paycheck is steady. The only requirements we have is to do well in our courses and work in the labs."

Jo Anne: “Almost all students are funded either by your adviser, the department, or outside grants. We are strongly encouraged to apply for grants or fellowships as part of our training.”

  • What are my housing options?

Jesse: "I chose the on-campus housing because it’s simply the best deal in the area. The housing I have is a two-story town home apartment complex with free utilities. It’s an incredible deal that really makes your monthly living stipend go a long way."

Jose: "I rent an apartment in Corona del Mar, a nice beach community four miles from campus and one block from the beautiful cliffs that overlook Newport Beach and the Pacific Ocean. I wouldn’t have it any other way."

Steve: “If you want to go cheap, Verano housing (on campus) for graduate students is probably the best way of getting by on a tight budget. Nicer accommodations are also available (actually in higher demand) at Palo Verde or the Middle Earth dormitory. For off-campus housing, Park West apartments are popular, though also pricier.”

Jason: “From September to June, some students live right on the beach, and often quite affordably. Some beach houses allow year-round rent, while others require you to vacate for the summer.”

  • What can you do for fun in the area?

Jesse: "I guess the question is what don’t I do for fun in the local area. There’s a new recreation center that I routinely use to work out, play racquetball and climb on the rock wall. A 10-minute drive will take you to the beaches and nightlife scenes. The surf and scuba diving is excellent here and Orange County is the mountain biking capital of the world. We are also four hours from the Sierra Nevada mountain range which offers some of the best skiing, rock climbing, fly fishing, hunting, off-roading and backpacking in the country. The opportunities are endless here."

Layla: “In a nutshell, this is one of the few areas you can actually go surfing (immediately west of Irvine), skiing (in the San Bernadino range), and gambling (in Las Vegas) in less than 24 hours!”

Susan: “The weather is amazing. Orange County is one hour south of L.A. and 1.5 hours north of Mexico, with the best sunsets and Mediterranean-like beaches.”

Paul: “There are a lot of good, affordable restaurants in Orange County.”

Jason: “Swing and salsa lessons are on campus or at a number of clubs in the area. Newport, Corona del Mar, Laguna beaches (5-20 minutes away) each have their own style and allure. It’s much better to explore the surrounding areas for night life.”