Chemistry is central to the study of pharmacology. Chemical reactions are responsible for the processes that occur in the body when pharmaceutical drugs are taken. Chemical processes are also used to create new pharmaceutical drugs. Though all pharmacy students will study chemistry in their degree program, some may choose to major in chemistry as an undergraduate before moving on to their pharmaceutical study or may choose to enroll in a dual-degree program that leads to a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, or Pharm.D. Students who choose a dual degree have a number of career options.
Research and Development
Pharmacists who have a dual degree in chemistry are well suited for careers in research and development. They can work for private corporations or for government or nonprofit organizations. They may conduct research on possible treatments for health disorders and diseases, or they may study the effectiveness of current drugs, including treatment success and potential side effects. Pharmacists with a dual degree in chemistry may also be involved in the development of new drugs, helping to find more effective treatments with fewer side effects or potential risks.
Preparation for a Ph.D. Program
Though a Pharm.D. is considered a terminal degree, some pharmacists choose to complete a Ph.D. program as well. Most Ph.D. programs are designed to poise students for a career as university professors or to conduct research at the university level. However, some Ph.D. programs, depending on the focus of study, may also prepare students for work in government research or the development of new drugs. Students who complete a dual degree in chemistry and pharmacy have a strong academic background to prepare them for the rigors of a Ph.D. program in pharmacy or pharmacology.
Government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration oversee the regulation of pharmaceutical drugs, including approving new drugs, creating guidelines for the approval process, investigating the safety of drugs already on the market and issuing recalls for drugs that are found to be unsafe. Pharmacists with a dual degree in chemistry and pharmacy have an inclusive education that qualifies them to work for government agencies to review drug applications, develop guidelines for new drugs and study the safety of drugs currently being marketed. Research and administrative positions are available in this field.
Work as a Pharmacist
Pharmacy is a competitive field. Pharmacists who have a dual degree in chemistry and pharmacy can set themselves apart from other applicants to gain a hiring advantage and to command higher salaries. Because chemistry is so important to the work that a pharmacist does, having this additional educational training shows that a pharmacist has mastery over the subject matter needed to perform the job and to do it well.