The graduate program in social and administrative sciences in pharmacy (SAS) provides a rigorous background in a range of disciplines critical to preparing the next generation of health services researchers. The program focuses on scientific and humanistic bases for understanding and influencing interactions involving patients, medications, pharmacists, other caregivers, and health care systems. Further, it evaluates the need for pharmacists to fulfill various roles, such as clinical practitioner, drug consultant, and drug distribution system manager, in order to meet the needs of diverse patients, providers, and organizations that utilize pharmacy services.

The program's interdisciplinary approach integrates knowledge of pharmacy and pharmaceuticals with knowledge from disciplines such as economics, sociology, psychology, management sciences, communications, education, epidemiology, law, industrial/safety engineering, ethics and history. The overall objective of the program is to prepare students to carry out independent, theory-based research leading to new knowledge and understanding of medication use and safety, patient and provider communication and behaviors, health outcomes, health care systems, and the pharmacy profession. For additional SAS faculty information, see faculty research interests on the SAS website.

The SAS graduate program has considerable curricular flexibility and can be tailored to the interests of individual students, allowing specialization in diverse areas of emphasis. Facilitating student support is a high priority; division faculty work to ensure that students have sufficient funding support to be successful. Incoming students are provided with computing and technology resources for their learning and research endeavors. Travel funding allows students to present their research findings at national meetings. The Sonderegger Research Center is housed within the division.

The program maintains uniform admission requirements, M.S. and Ph.D. course and credit requirements, and procedures for monitoring student progress and program quality. The SAS graduate student handbook provides this information in detail. See also the program brochure.

A dual PharmD–M.S. degree program in SAS was recently approved. The dual degree program is an opportunity for professional pharmacy students to pursue an M.S. degree in SAS while completing requirements for their professional pharmacy degree. See the School of Pharmacy's graduate programs coordinator (contact information below) for more information about this dual degree's specifics.

Post-Graduate Information

Placement information for recent SAS alumni is updated yearly; see the program website. SAS has a rich history of creating future pharmacy educators. Beyond academia, common career setting options are the pharmaceutical industry, managed care, contract research organizations, and consulting.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.S., dual Pharm.D./M.S.

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

At least half of degree coursework (at least 17 credits out of 32 total credits) must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 16 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions (the student must have graduate student status on the other institution’s transcript at the time the courses were taken). Such courses should be presented to SAS faculty prior to one’s first graduate semester and require the review/approval of at least two SAS faculty members. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate/Professional

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 7 credits of UW–Madison courses numbered 700 or above (earned as a UW–Madison undergraduate or professional student) toward the M.S. Such courses should be presented to SAS faculty prior to one’s first graduate semester and require the review/approval of at least two SAS faculty members. Note: The above does not apply to students enrolled in the dual Pharm.D.–M.S. (SAS) program.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 7 credits of coursework numbered 700 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Such courses should be presented to SAS faculty prior to one’s first graduate semester and require the review/approval of at least two SAS faculty members. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits (fall and spring); 12 credits summer

Program-Specific Courses Required

Completion of a set of core courses is required. At least 8 credits in core courses, 9 credits in methods of research and analysis, and 11 credits in specialty/advanced courses are required. See this link for specific M.S. curriculum information.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required for graduate-level courses (numbered 300 and above, excluding research) to receive a degree.

Other Grade Requirements

Candidates will be dropped from the program if they receive more than 7 credits of grades at the BC level or lower. This applies to formal courses, seminars, and research credits.

Probation Policy

The status of a student can be one of three options:

  1. Good Standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status.
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

Advisor / Committee

Students are required to maintain a SAS faculty member as an M.S. advisor through the duration of their studies. Students should select a permanent major professor before the end of the second semester enrolled in the program. SAS graduate faculty monitor the progress of M.S. students annually.

Composition requirements of the SAS M.S. thesis committee are presented at this link.

Assessments and Examinations

A formal master’s thesis based on original research is required and must be defended orally. For specific details, see this link.

Time Constraints

The SAS M.S. is designed to be completed in two years.

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that were earned before their absence. Further, that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

Only candidates with an emphasis in the history of pharmacy are required to attain competence in one foreign language. Contact the School’s graduate programs coordinator for more information.

The online application and all supplemental materials (official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, statement of purpose for attending graduate school, resume/CV, School of Pharmacy's financial aids statement) must be received by January 1 for consideration for matriculation in the following fall semester. Applications are not reviewed at any other time during the year.

A professional degree in pharmacy is helpful, but not required, for applicants to the SAS graduate program. Academic backgrounds in public health, sociology, industrial engineering, or economics, for example, are well suited for graduate study in SAS. Those with pharmacy-type work experience or a degree in a related field are invited to inquire about the compatibility of their background for admissions purposes.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Demonstrate critical knowledge and in-depth understanding of principles in the core area of the program and the student's area of expertise.
  • Identify important research questions, formulate testable hypotheses, and design experiments to test those hypotheses.
  • Conduct original research that contributes to the student's field of study.
  • Communicate, both orally and in writing, scientific knowledge and research results effectively to a range of audiences.
  • Demonstrate ability to teach SAS concepts and principles to a range of audiences.

Professional Conduct

  • Apply ethical principles in conducting scientific research.