Program Structure



The MDD is designed as a twenty four-month program with eighteen-months of course work and a six-month practicum for students with no previous laboratory or industry experience. Full-time students can take the course work in a single intensive period immediately preceding the practicum. Part-time students can take the courses over a period of 2-5 years preceding the practicum. If students have no experience directly relevant to the degree, they must be prepared to spend a concentrated period in a practicum setting, possibly in their present workplace prior to graduation.

The MDD program offices are on the Health Sciences campus of USC at the School of Pharmacy. Students have access to a state-of-the-art dedicated computer-learning laboratory. The MDD program includes team-taught, interactive discussions of current issues focused on drug discovery and development, including issues of ethics and safety. The program includes coursework delivered in nontraditional formats such as intensive weekend sessions and distance learning. Course listings are posted on the Regulatory Sciences web site each semester. All courses are available in on-site and distance formats.

The MDD program relies on the participation of several faculty members from the School of Pharmacy as well as faculty members from other USC academic divisions. In addition, experts from the governmental and private sectors participate in the program, giving students direct contact with people working at the forefront of the drug discovery and drug development fields.

The MDD program is unique in its own scope in that it is ideal for individuals who have completed an undergraduate degree in one of the fields of science. Other students that will benefit from this program include Ph.Ds and Pharm.Ds who want to strengthen their expertise in the drug discovery and drug development arenas. MDD students will have the opportunity to design, critically evaluate and optimize a broad range of drug development strategies. Students will begin with the earliest stages of drug design and discovery, and will learn the many steps that one follows to successfully prosecute novel drug targets. Notably, this knowledge will provide students with the necessary foundations that will allow them to make critical decisions in their professional capacity on how to most effectively move drug discoveries to market in order to reach patients.

Course Requirements

Other courses can be substituted with the approval of the program director.


one course minimum

RSCI 601 Biomedical Commerce, or equivalent business course – 4 units

Introductory Translation

one course minimum

RSCI 530 Translational Medicine:An Overview – 2  units

Advanced Translation

two courses minimum, three recommended

RSCI 531 Industrial Approaches to Drug Discovery
RSCI 532 Early Stage Drug Development
CXPT 609 Preclinical Experimental Therapeutic Drug Development
PSCI 664 Drug Discovery and Design
6-8 units

Quality Assurance

one course minimum

RSCI 525 Introduction to Drug and Food Toxicology
MPTX 526 Chemistry manufacturing and Controls
3 units

Clinical Research

one course minimum

PM 523 Design of Clinical Studies
MPTX 517 Structure and Management of Clinical Trials
3-4 units


one course minimum (if not taken previously)

PM 510L Biometry Principles – 4 units

Introductory Regulation

MPTX 511 Introduction to Medical Product Regulation
MPTX 512 Regulation of Pharmaceutical Biological Products
3 units

Directed Research

RSCI 590 Directed Research 1-3


Number varies based upon other coursework

Total – 32 units

Sample of a proposed curriculum for a full-time MS MDD student

Year 1

RSCI 530 – Translational
Medicine (2, Fa)
RSCI 531 – Pre-clinical
Drug Discovery (4, Sp)
RSCI 532 – Pre clinical Drug
MPTX 526 – Chemistry
manufacturing and
Controls (3, Fa)
RSCI 601 – Biomedical
Commerce (4, Sp)

Year 2

MPTX 517 – Structure and
Management of Clinical
Trials (4, FaSpSm)
MPTX 512 – Regulation
of Pharmaceutical and
Biological Products (4)
PM 510L – Principles of
Biostatistics (4)
MPTX 516 – Medical
Products and the Law (3, F)
MPTX 590 – Directed
Research (1)

Please refer to the following links for more information about this exciting, novel degree program!

News story about the program
Program flyer