The Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy (SAS) M.S. Program provides a rigorous background in a range of disciplines critical to preparing the next generation of health services researchers. The program's interdisciplinary approach combines theories and concepts from fields such as economics, sociology, psychology, management sciences, education, epidemiology, industrial/safety engineering, history, and law. The UW–Madison Division of Social & Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy has a national reputation for its research productivity, extramural funding support, publication record, and teaching.  See SAS faculty information and research interests. The SAS Graduate Program at UW–Madison has educated generations of researchers who have taken challenging leadership and advisory positions in academia, industry, and government. Our faculty members and graduates have provided influential roles in communicating research findings to the public, policy makers, pharmacists, and other health care professionals to improve health outcomes, patient care, medication use, and the healthcare system. The Sonderegger Research Center (SRC) is housed within the SAS Division.

About the Program

The objective of the SAS graduate program is to prepare students for independent, theory-based research, leading to new knowledge and understanding of medication use, patient and provider communication and behaviors, health outcomes, patient safety, and healthcare 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 use pharmacy services. This is accomplished by integrating knowledge of pharmacy and pharmaceuticals with theories and concepts from numerous disciplines.

Why Consider a Graduate Degree in Social & Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Students in the SAS graduate program have the advantages of studying at a world class institution of higher learning.  Courses may be taken from a wide range of academic units, providing access to top instructors and researchers. The SAS M.S. program has considerable curricular flexibility, and can be tailored to individual student interest. As program faculty have a broad range of knowledge and expertise, students can specialize in diverse areas of emphasis.

UW–Madison is one of the nation's most prolific research universities, located on the shores of Lake Mendota in the state's vibrant capital city. The city of Madison is consistently recognized as one of the best cities in the nation in multiple categories for quality of life. Visit to learn more about the many reasons to choose UW–Madison for graduate study.

A dual PharmD–M.S. degree program in SAS has been approved. The dual degree program is an opportunity for professional pharmacy students to concurrently pursue an M.S. degree in SAS during the latter half of their professional pharmacy academic years. See the School of Pharmacy's graduate programs coordinator for more information about this dual degree's specifics.

The SAS Graduate Student Handbook and program brochure are sources for additional information.  

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, and Wisconsin SAS alumni who have gone on to achieve the PhD are faculty members at schools and colleges of pharmacy across the United States and abroad. Prospective students interested in careers in academic pharmacy are encouraged to explore resources from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.  Beyond academia, common career setting options for MS and PhD graduates are in the pharmaceutical industry, contract research organizations, managed care, nonprofit research centers, and government entities.  In non-academic settings, SAS alumni have titles such as director for health economics and outcomes research; health researcher for patient safety and quality; social researcher; research scientist; director of pharmacy; director for global market access, pricing, and policy.

A professional degree in pharmacy is helpful, but not required, for applicants to the SAS M.S. graduate program. Academic backgrounds in public health, sociology, industrial/systems 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. If you seek to apply your knowledge and skills to pharmacy or medication-related research at the highest levels, contact us. You can earn the M.S. degree in Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy with emphasis in any of the diverse areas of concentration within our program.

Please see admissions on the program website for a link to the application and a description of the required supplementary materials.  Applications are only considered at the yearly January deadline, for matriculation in the following fall semester.  Applications are not reviewed at any other time during the year.  Students may apply for (a terminal) M.S. or the Ph.D.  If one does not hold a research-based masters degree at the time of application, but is interested in the Ph.D. degree, that Ph.D. intent should be in the application (and if admitted, such students would typically pursue an M.S. in SAS on the way to the Ph.D.).  

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

The SAS faculty believe in supporting graduate students in their quest for knowledge and research expertise;  maintaining a range of graduate student funding mechanisms is a high priority.  Graduate students are often provided with tuition remission and funding support as either teaching assistants or fellows.  In addition, incoming students are provided with new laptop computers for their learning and research endeavors, access to state-of-the-art statistical software, and travel grants to facilitate research presentations at national meetings.  The Sonderegger Research Center is another source for funding, with the availability of annual dissertation grants.  SAS graduate students who are licensed pharmacists are typically encouraged to continue practicing part-time, to maintain their ties to the profession. For the latest on SAS graduate funding, visit this page.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework 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 (
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 may 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.
Assessments and Examinations A formal master’s thesis based on original research is required and must be defended orally. For specific details, see
Language Requirements Only candidates with an emphasis in the history of pharmacy are required to attain competence in foreign language. Contact the School’s Graduate Programs Coordinator for more information.

Required COURSES

Completion of a set of core courses is required. At least 9 credits in core courses, 9 credits in methods of research and analysis, and 11 credits in specialty/advanced courses are required.

Core Courses
Core Seminar2
Research Seminar in Social & Administrative Pharmacy 1
Core Principles6
Research Methods for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Research
Pharmaceuticl Marketing and Policy
Social Behavioral Theories in Pharmacy, Drug Use, and Health Behavior
Proseminar in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Methods of Research and Analysis9
Select from approved lists:
Additional Research methods (3 credits minimum)
Analytic techniques (6 credits minimum)
Specialty/Advanced Courses 211
Select in consultation with major professor.
Research (credit varies)
S&A PHM 990 Research1-12
Total Minimum Credits32

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

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.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

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.

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.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  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).


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.

Requirements for the composition of the SAS M.S. thesis committee are presented at this link.


15 credits

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.


SAS faculty believe in supporting graduate students and a range of funding mechanisms are possible; graduate students are often provided with tuition remission and funding support either as teaching assistants, project assistants or fellows. In addition, new students are provided with new laptop computers for their learning and research endeavors, access to state-of-the-art statistical software and support, and travel grants to present their research at national meetings.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

1. Demonstrate critical knowledge and in-depth understanding of principles in the core area of the program and the student's area of expertise.

2. Identify important research questions, formulate testable hypotheses, and design experiments to test those hypotheses.

3. Conduct original research that contributes to the student's field of study.

4. Communicate, both orally and in writing, scientific knowledge and research results effectively to a range of audiences.

5. Demonstrate ability to teach SAS concepts and principles to a range of audiences.

6. Apply ethical principles in conducting scientific research.