The Drug Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics (DDET) PhD program offers a unique educational opportunity for students interested in drug discovery and the development of novel therapeutics. The changing landscape of drug discovery and the pharmaceutical industry has created a need for scientists with interdisciplinary training to navigate the complex landscape of medicinal chemistry, biotherapeutics, pharmacogenetics/genomics, and basic pharmacology/toxicology.

Students completing this program will have invaluable expertise from carefully selected coursework, a breadth of electives, and engagement in cutting-edge research. DDET features interdisciplinary coursework and a curriculum rich with electives to tailor the individual needs and interests of our graduate students.  


This program prepares students for careers in:

  • Academia
  • Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Biotechnology Companies
  • Regulatory Agencies
  • Government

Full Support

Our program offers full support for highly qualified applicants, including coverage of tuition and fees, and generous monthly stipend.

Typical Time to Degree

4.5 - 5.5 years

Research Areas

Students in the DDET program are trained in areas including: 

Drug Discovery Pharmaceutical Toxicology Computer-Aided Drug Discovery

Basic Mechanisms of Disease
and Drug Target Identification

Organic Synthesis Bioanalytical Chemistry

Factors Responsible for Specific Drug Actions
in Individual Patients and Larger Patient
Populations (i.e. ‘omics approaches)

Structure-Activity Relationships Biopolymeric Drugs
Drug Metabolism Drug Design Molecular Pharmacology

National and international collaborations further enhance the breadth of research activities available to our students.

What Our Graduates Do with Their Degree

Alumni from our program have established meaningful and productive careers at all levels in industry, business, academia, and government. Examples of these include regulatory affairs at the FDA; research positions in Department of Defense, Department of Energy, academic centers, and universities in the United States and overseas; and in biotech/pharmaceutical companies.

Our graduates enjoy long careers and frequently advance to leadership or executive positions. Some examples of where our recent graduates can be found are listed below.

DDET Where Grads Go Infographic v4

Unique Experience

Our faculty educate PhD students and postdoctoral Fellows in the chemistry and biology of drug discovery. We offer an interdisciplinary course of study and world class faculty with leading edge research projects resulting in a quality education and rewarding careers in the pharmaceutical industry and academia. Our outstanding faculty and students ensure a friendly and unique learning and research experience in a pleasant affordable small city in the heart of Iowa.

Income Potential

A 2020 survey conducted by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists found:

Average Earnings
$170,000​/year: Mean Salary 
$32,300​/year: Bonuses
$3,800/year: Outside Income
$206,100/year TOTAL INCOME

Top 25 Percent Earnings
>$210,000​/year: Salary
​>$50,000​/year: Bonuses & Incentives.

Bottom 25 Percent Earnings
<​$119,700/year: Salary

Fifty Percent of Respondents Earnings
<​$159,100/year: Salary

Pharmaceutical scientists develop and test new drugs and bring them to market. It's possible to enter the field with a bachelor's or master's degree, but leading positions in the field require a PhD.

Job opportunities after earning a PhD are varied and offer a great deal of career flexibility.