UMass Lowell Launches New Pharmaceutical Sciences Programs

First Public University in Mass. to Offer Graduate Degrees in Field

First Public University in Mass. to Offer Graduate Degrees in Field

UMass Lowell, with faculty from UMass Medical School, will be the first public university in Massachusetts to offer graduate degrees in pharmaceutical sciences.


UMass Lowell, with affiliated faculty from the UMass Medical School, is the first public university in Massachusetts to offer graduate degrees in pharmaceutical sciences

The new master’s and doctoral degrees are designed to meet the growing demand for pharmaceutical scientists who discover, develop, test and manufacture medications. 

The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) recently approved UMass Lowell’s new pharmaceutical sciences programs, which will be the only public program in the Commonwealth. Courses in the programs will begin September 2014 and applications for the programs are currently being accepted.

Through the programs, UMass Lowell will offer master of science and doctoral degrees along with a professional science master’s degree (PSM). The PSM program follows the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences in providing a core of business fundamentals (finance, marketing, and management), a co-op and courses in technical communication and pharmaceutical science. This type of degree is designed for enhancing workforce development in this important industry. Technically prepared professionals gain the business and communication skills that facilitate their advancement in corporations. The business core is already offered online by the university since many of the prospective students are already working full time in industry.

“UMass Lowell is in a unique position because of its existing programs in nanotechnology, clinical laboratory sciences, genomics and chemistry to prepare students for both research and leadership careers developing new methods of drug discovery and delivery,” said Shortie McKinney, dean of UMass Lowell’s College of Health Sciences. 

By establishing PSM, M.S. and Ph.D. programs in pharmaceutical sciences, the university fulfills a vital workforce need in the high-tech biopharmaceutical industry. Federal and state data projects a 17 percent growth rate in the pharmaceutical industry through 2018, but Massachusetts faces national and global competition to fill the jobs created by expansion of the industry.

“The offering of these pharmaceutical sciences programs through collaboration of two public institutions, UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School, provides increased opportunities for interested professionals in Massachusetts and strong support for the biopharmaceutical industry, thus enhancing economic development in the Commonwealth,” said UMass Lowell Provost Ahmed Abdelal. 

Students in the Ph.D. program will have a choice of six research specializations – clinical research, drug discovery, medicinal chemistry, nanopharmacology, nuclear pharmacology and imaging, and pharmacogenomics. 

More than 30 faculty from across UMass Lowell in various academic disciplines – biology, chemistry, clinical laboratory sciences, engineering, nutritional sciences, and physics – will teach in the program. About 25 affiliated faculty from UMass Medical School in Worcester with expertise in the areas of biochemistry, molecular medicine and neurology will be among the possible mentors for Ph.D. research students. 

UMass Lowell will house research for the new pharmaceutical sciences programs in the new Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, an $80 million building that opened last fall and is home to research in a variety of cutting-edge fields by university faculty and industry partners.

To accommodate the new pharmaceutical sciences program, state-of-the-art equipment has been purchased for the Saab Center’s nanofabrication laboratory with funding from a $10 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. The grant was awarded to the university in April 2012 to support the development of pharmaceutical sciences research space in the Saab Center; the third floor of the new building will house nanomedicine and biopharmaceutical labs, cell culture areas and an instrument room that will support the new pharmaceutical science programs, as well as other research. 

The new pharmaceutical sciences program is led by UMass Lowell’s College of Health Sciences, deploying a university-wide graduate group of faculty from health, sciences, and engineering together with the Medical School faculty.