Undergraduate Research

The Pharmaceutical Sciences program strongly encourages students to participate in undergraduate research. Whether you are planning to pursue a career in research, pharmacy, clinical healthcare, or something completely different, we believe that the best way to learn science is by gaining hands-on research experience. Opportunities vary widely, and can include traditional lab research, clinical/patient care-related projects, community outreach, and more.

How to Get Started

Securing a research position requires effort and motivation on the student’s part. You need to identify faculty who are doing research that is of interest to you, contact them directly to discuss their work, and find out if there are opportunities for you to become involved. Approach it like a job search; you need to be resourceful, professional, and prepared.

Your first step is to identify research projects that are of interest, or find faculty who specialize in an area that really excites you. Some ways to get started include:

  • Start by reviewing this College of Pharmacy Faculty Areas of Expertise document in order to learn more about the exciting reseach our faculty are engaging in.  If something piques your interest, you can find more details about individual faculty members' research in the College of Pharmacy Faculty Directory. (Narrow your search by Person Type: Faculty, and also by Department.) Faculty in the Pharmacology & Toxicology Department primarily focus on basic science, drug discovery, and drug development. Faculty in the Pharmacy Practice Department are more likely to do research on clinical care. 
  • Read about the College of Pharmacy’s Centers, including the Arizona Center for Drug Discovery, the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center, The Health Outcomes & Pharmacoeconomic Center, and more. Faculty and staff working in our centers are doing exciting interdisciplinary work to address issues in the community and across the world, and you may be able to participate!
  • Go to UA Faculty Profiles to read about research being done by faculty across campus. Even though you are majoring in Pharmaceutical Sciences, you are free to work with faculty in other departments!
  • Talk to your current professors. If you’re in a course that really interests you, talk to the instructor to learn more about their research. If they aren’t currently doing research in your specific area of interest, they are likely to know someone else on campus who is. A referral from another faculty member can be a great way to land a research opportunity.
  • Apply for an established research program. Numerous UA-specific and nationally-competitive research programs are available. These programs often provide paid stipends and generally assist students with the process of connecting with specific faculty mentors. Some established research programs include (but are not limited to):

Earning Research Credit

Once you have secured a research opportunity, it may be possible to earn academic credit. The amount and type of credit you will earn depends upon the number of hours you are committing. University policy requires that you complete a minimum of 45 hours of work (average 3 hours per week over the course of a semester) for each research unit earned.

Different types of research credit are available, including graded units, pass/fail units, and honors units. You and your research mentor will determine which type of credit is appropriate for your project. General guidelines are as follows:

Independent Study
(299, 399, 499)
S/P/F             Designed for students who are performing routine tasks. Non-honors Independent Study units do not count in your GPA.
Honors Independent Study
(299H, 399H, 499H)


Students earning honors independent study credit should be doing demonstrably different work than those earning non-honors credit. This should be reflected in a deeper, more challenging, and more intense engagement with the subject matter or project. Units will count in your GPA.
Directed Research
(392, 492)
A/B/C/D/E/W Designed for students who are making intellectual contributions to an existing project or engaged in their own research. Not appropriate for students conducting routine tasks.
Honors Thesis




Honors students will complete an honors thesis in their final two semesters (3 units per semester). Additional paperwork must be submitted to the Honors College.


If you are completing research with a College of Pharmacy faculty member, you will enroll in credit by completing a College of Pharmacy Research Credit Registration Form. (Fillable Word version available here.)  Your completed form should be submitted to the College of Pharmacy’s Student Services Office within the first four weeks of the semester in which you are earning credit. If you are working with a non-pharmacy faculty member, you will register for credit through that faculty member’s department.

Do you have more questions?

Contact your academic advisor, or talk with your course instructors to get more information about research opportunities.