The Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy (SAS) Ph.D. 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 graduate program has considerable curricular flexibility, and can be tailored to the individual student interest. Since the 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.

The SAS Graduate Student Handbook and program brochure are sources for additional 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 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 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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. If one does not hold a research-based master's 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 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement At least half of degree coursework (at least 26 credits out of 51 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 Doctoral students must pass both written and oral preliminary examinations to achieve dissertator status (see The written preliminary examination is evaluated on a pass/fail basis. The oral preliminary examination must be completed within six months after having passed the written preliminary examination.

A dissertation and final oral defense are required. See for details.
Language Requirements Candidates with an emphasis in the history of pharmacy are required to achieve competence in two foreign languages (one in addition to the language acquired for the M.S. degree).Contact the school’s graduate programs coordinator for more information.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Students completing option B minors must complete a minimum of 9 credits outside of SAS, reflecting a cohesive and logical combination of courses for specialization emphasis. For Option B, the doctoral minor is developed by the student and faculty advisor as a plan for specialization. In SAS, the student’s committee approves the minor Option B plan. The minor plan should be approved before courses qualifying for the minor are completed. Some courses in the minor plan may be completed before the plan is submitted, but at least half of the minor coursework must be completed after the minor plan is submitted and approved by the student’s committee. The minor supports the theoretical foundations for the Ph.D. and should consist of a majority of courses that are theory-focused (i.e., not focused on research methods or analytical/statistical techniques); that is, theoretical courses should comprise all or most of the minor plan.

Required COURSES

Completion of a set of courses is required. At least 18 credits in core courses (seminar, core principles, and core methods), 15 credits in research and analysis (additional research methods, analytic techniques), and 18 credits in specialty/advanced courses is required.

Core Courses18
Core Seminar12
Research Seminar in Social & Administrative Pharmacy
Core Methods and Principles6
Research Methods for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Research
and Social Behavioral Theories in Pharmacy, Drug Use, and Health Behavior
Methods of Research & Analysis15
Methods (Select from approved list in consultation with major professor.)3-9
Analytic Techniques (Select from approved list in consultation with major professor.)6-12
Specialty/Advanced Courses18
Select in consultation with major professor.
Minor (Option A or Option B)9
Research (credit varies)
Foreign Languages (History Concentration only). Ph.D. students with a history concentration must achieve reading ability in two foreign languages and take a minimum of 3 credits in methods of research and analysis.
Total Minimum Credits:51

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

If accepted into the SAS Ph.D. program with a master’s degree equivalent to an M.S. (SAS) degree and with program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 24 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) towards the Ph.D. at UW–Madison. 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 ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits earned as a UW–Madison undergraduate may be used toward achieving the 24 credits beyond the M.S. that are required for the Ph.D. in SAS.

UW–Madison University Special

No credits earned as a UW–Madison Special student may be used toward achieving the 24 credits beyond the M.S. that are required for the Ph.D. in SAS.


A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.0 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full-time enrollment (or 12 credits of enrollment if enrolled part-time) the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for one additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.


All students in the Ph.D. program are required to have a major professor/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 Ph.D. students annually.

Composition requirements of the SAS Ph.D. oral preliminary examination committee are presented at this link; this same committee typically also serves as the dissertation final oral defense committee.


15 credits

Time Constraints

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral defense and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examinations may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.


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.