Curriculum Concept

The UCSF PharmD curriculum integrates three components: 1) essential knowledge; 2) patient care experiences; and 3) exploration of pioneering science and innovative patient care.

1: Essential knowledge

Shared basics: Through a foundations curriculum beginning in year one, you’ll develop an essential base of knowledge upon which you’ll continue to build. You’ll rely heavily on these fundamentals throughout your subsequent learning:

  • Foundational concepts in science and therapeutics
  • A critical approach to problems and their solutions, how to explore and interpret the literature and use resources—in short, how to think scientifically
  • How to navigate student life at UCSF and in the School of Pharmacy
  • Pharmacy topics and practice skills you’ll need to succeed

Deep-dive essential core: Equipped with the basics, you’ll dive deeper into the core knowledge of a skilled practicing pharmacist, as you:

  • Learn the biomedical science and therapeutics behind diseases that affect organ systems—such as the cardiovascular, renal, and gastrointestinal systems—and the science and therapeutics of broader disease categories such as infectious diseases and cancers.
  • Progressively build on what you learn as you apply your knowledge to increasingly complex real-life cases.
  • Use the organ systems and disease categories as lenses through which to look repeatedly at social science topics such as applicable pharmacy law, medication access, health policy, health economics, and lifestyle.

2: Patient care experiences

Clinical practice experiences begin early in the curriculum and closely integrate in real time with the organ system and disease category topics you’ll be learning.

Pharmacy practice experiences reflect the situations and challenges you’ll face as a practicing pharmacist. These experiences gradually increase in complexity over time, from introductory to advanced.

  • Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs) run throughout the first and second years of the curriculum, exposing you to contemporary pharmacy practice in community and hospital settings.
  • Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) begin during late spring of the second year and continue through the third year in community, hospital, and outpatient clinic settings.

Throughout these experiences, you’ll learn under the guidance of seasoned pharmacist preceptors at sites located at UCSF and throughout the Bay Area and the state, and from richly diverse patient populations.

3: Exploration of pioneering science and innovative patient care

As you learn about organ systems and disease categories, you’ll also explore the latest scientific developments and innovations in patient care with a faculty of renowned research and clinical leaders.

Not only will you benefit from the remarkable science under way all around you at UCSF, you’ll develop and answer your own questions through team-based learning, and pursue your interests in greater depth through a comprehensive research project. Some of the nation’s most accomplished scientists and clinicians will be your mentors.

This opportunity to explore the latest developments and thinking at UCSF in science and patient care is a singular aspect of our curriculum.

Time to customize and synthesize

Time is built into the curriculum for you to pursue additional APPEs, student project work, innovative experiences, electives, interviews for advanced training programs, and professional development activities.

Of special importance are the time periods created at the end of each organ system and disease segment of the curriculum—time to synthesize what you’ve just learned and to integrate with everything you’ve learned up to that point.

Teaching approach and technology

We believe that the best way to learn is through a variety of means—some lectures, self-directed learning, team learning, group discussions, and debate. You’ll bring your learning to class sessions, to share with classmates and faculty members through active participation.

We’re continually innovating in our use of education technology. Faculty members and staff education experts work together to provide a learning experience enhanced through technology.

Beyond the PharmD

The UCSF PharmD degree, coupled with additional advanced specialized training, is a powerful combination. We encourage advanced training beyond the UCSF PharmD program.