Pharmacology and Toxicology both require an understanding of basic properties and actions of chemicals and the biological systems they affect.  Toxicology is, more specifically, the study of adverse effects of chemicals on living systems, the extent of damage they produce, the relationship between dose and effect, routes of exposure, and potential treatments.  Toxicologists not only identify toxins, but also contribute to risk assessment, safety evaluation, and establishment of legal regulations.  Toxicologists perform many different duties including research in academic, nonprofit and industrial settings, and in consulting and public service.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Toxicology degree program prepares students for careers as independent scientists in academia, industry, or government through a broad-based curriculum and development of strong research design and communication skills.  The Ph.D. didactic curriculum consists of a core of required discipline-based coursework, but is significantly individualized through advanced electives, seminars, extensive mentored research experiences, and consultation with the student’s selected advisory committee.

The application process is an online process. Application to this graduate program is facilitated through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGPBS). Detailed instructions on how to apply and the application deadlines are posted on the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences website

Admission requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution documented by submission of official transcript indicating the degree has been conferred before entering the program. Official transcripts from institutions attended post-baccalaureate are also required.
    Students with degrees from outside the U.S. may be subject to transcript evaluation indicating the degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree and meets the minimum cumulative GPA requirements.
  • A cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the bachelor’s degree.
  • Applicants who are not native speakers of English, whether domestic or international, must demonstrate they meet the Minimum English Proficiency Requirement.
  • A background check is required during the admission process; it may affect the student's eligibility to enter the program.
  • An official copy of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score sent from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to University of Kansas Medical Center - ETS institutional code 6895.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Prerequisite coursework:
    • One year of general chemistry
    • One year of organic chemistry or one semester of organic chemistry and one semester of biochemistry
    • One year of biological sciences
    • One semester of calculus
    • One semester of physics
  • Research experience (beyond labs associated with lecture courses) is strongly suggested.
  • Interview - the most qualified applicants will receive an invitation for an interview.

Applicants will be assessed based on a combination of GPA, research experience, interview and GRE scores. Students not meeting the above requirements may be eligible for provisional admission.  After an applicant has been admitted, a program may defer an applicant's admission for one year after which time the applicant must submit a new application.

Admission requirements are subject to change. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program. Other years’ catalogs».

The program consists of coursework, research experience, and the successful completion of a doctoral dissertation. Dissertation research culminates in a final dissertation examination consisting of an oral presentation by the candidate and an examination by the faculty. Relevant prior graduate work is taken into consideration in setting up individual programs of study leading to the Ph.D.

Degree requirements:

  • Degree requirements are normally completed within 6 years of admission to the program although a maximum of 8 years is allowed.
  • Cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 for all KU graduate coursework.
  • Successful completion of the University’s Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement prior to the semester the Oral Comprehensive Examination is scheduled.
    • Successful completion of GSMC 857 Biographics, GSMC 852 Introduction to Biomedical Research I and GSMC 855 Introduction to Biomedical Research II (or equivalent) meets the Research Skills requirement.
    • Successful completion of GSMC 856 Introduction to Research Ethics (or equivalent) meets the Responsible Scholarship requirement.
  • Successful completion of the Residence Requirement prior to the semester the Oral Comprehensive Examination is scheduled. The requirement is met by enrollment in full-time status a minimum of two semesters.
  • Successful completion of the Oral Comprehensive Examination. Students are recognized as formal doctoral candidates after they have passed the comprehensive examination.
  • Successful completion of the Post-Comprehensive Enrollment requirement.
  • Enrollment in a minimum of one (1) credit hour of PTOX 999 Dissertation in Toxicology the semester the student will defend dissertation and graduate.
  • Successful completion of the Final Oral Examination (dissertation defense.)
  • Successful Dissertation Submission and Publication (according to Office of Graduate Studies policy.)
  • Successful completion of the following Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Science (IGPBS) courses (or their equivalent):
    GSMC 850Proteins and Metabolism2
    GSMC 851Molecular Genetics2
    GSMC 852Introduction to Biomedical Research I2
    GSMC 853Cellular Structure2
    GSMC 854Cell Communication2
    GSMC 855Introduction to Biomedical Research II2
    GSMC 856Introduction to Research Ethics1
    GSMC 857Biographics1
    GSMC 858Introduction to Faculty Research1
    GSMC 859Research Rotations1-4
  • Successful completion of the following Toxicology courses:
    PHCL 880Essentials of Pharmacology4
    PTOX 889Research in Toxicology1-10
    PTOX 898Principles of Toxicology1
    PTOX 917Disposition of Xenobiotics2
    PTOX 918Toxicology4
    PTOX 940Techniques in Industrial Toxicology2
    PTOX 990Research for Dissertation in Toxicology1-10
    PTOX 999Dissertation in Toxicology1-10
  • Successful completion of a minimum of two elective courses that are at least two (2) credit hours each in consultation with the student's advisor and dissertation committee.  Additional elective coursework may be taken as determined in consultation with the student's advisor.

Students enrolled in the MD-PhD Physician Scientist Training Program should review the Degree Requirements section of this catalog for that program.

Degree requirements and course descriptions are subject to change. Any courses taken as an equivalent must be approved by the Graduate Director and the Office of Graduate Studies. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program.  Other years’ catalogs».


Typical Plan of Study

Year 1
GSMC 8502GSMC 8532GSMC 8591-4
GSMC 8512GSMC 8542May take an elective course from the student's chosen degree program in consultation with the student's advisor.1-3
GSMC 8522GSMC 8552 
GSMC 8561GSMC 8591-4 
GSMC 8571  
GSMC 8581  
GSMC 8591-4  
 10-13 7-10 2-7
Total Hours: 19-30
Year 2
PHCL 8804PTOX 8891-6PTOX 8891-3
PTOX 8891-6PTOX 9172PTOX 9402
PTOX 8981PTOX 9184 
 6-11 7-12 3-5
Year 3
PTOX 8891-6PTOX 8891-6PTOX 9901-3
Oral Comprehensive Exam scheduled as early as this semester if approved by committee to proceed.   
 2-12 2-12 1-3
Year 4
PTOX 9901-6PTOX 9901-6PTOX 9901-3
 1-6 1-6 1-3
Year 5
PTOX 9991-6PTOX 9991-6PTOX 9991-3
Final Oral Exam (dissertation defense) scheduled semester approved by committee to defend and graduate.   
 1-6 1-6 1-3
Total Hours: 27-85