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What is Pharmacology?

 Pharmacology is the study of drugs with emphasis on three major concepts: pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and pharmacoepidemiology. For more elaborate explanation please refer to our What is Pharmacology page.

Will I become a Pharmacist after completing the biology and pharmacology program?

No, pharmacology is a scientific discipline primarily focused on pharmacokinetics (what the drug does to the body) and pharmacodynamics (what the body does to the drug). Unlike pharmacists, pharmacologists do not have a broad scope of knowledge about every drug within a pharmacy. A pharmacologist is interested in how a particular drug works whereas a pharmacist is primarily interested with the clinical effects of the drug. Consequently pharmacologists are often employed by pharmaceutical companies to partake in drug design and development; pharmacists dispense the developed drug to the general public and thus have to be able to provide clinically relevant information about the said drug. To become a pharmacist you must enroll in Pharmacy graduate program. If you desire to become a Pharmacist the Honours Biology and Pharmacology Programme might be an excellent way to gain relevant knowledge and experience, however, you are responsible to verify that the program matches Pharmacy course requirements.

WHAT IS PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING?

In essence problem-based learning (PBL) is about student driven learning. You will be in charge of what you want to research and how you shall approach the problem given to the group. Following the first session you and other students will collaborate and discuss the relevant information. It is entirely possible that after this discussion session you will discover more things that you may wish to research in order to fully understand and solve the problem presented. PBL depends strongly on group collaboration; therefore it is necessary that each group member be prepared for each tutorial session. Please refer to our Problem-based Learning page and Tutorial Evaluation in a Problem-based Program: A Guide for the Perplexed for more information.

YOU SAID I NEED A MCMASTER GPA OF 6.0 TO GET IN BUT WHAT DO I REALLY NEED TO GET INTO THE PROGRAM?

The McMaster cumulative average of 5.0 is the minimum average you need to have to apply to the Honours Biology and Pharmacology Programme. Since Honours Biology and Pharmacology Programme is taught through problem based learning approach in small group sizes (10 to 20 people) the admission to the program is based on successful interview rather than high academic achievement alone. Aside the average requirement you have to obtain credits in all of the program prerequisite courses before your study period starts (September/Term 1). Science 2C00 and one prerequisite may be completed during your first term of Honours Biology and Pharmacology Programme following approval from Jan D. Huizinga (Program Director) and Lisa Barty (Science Co-operative Education Office).

DO I HAVE TO COMPLETE ALL THE PREREQUISITES BEFORE APPLYING?

Yes, the course requirements for admission to Biology & Pharmacology Co-op Program must be met before September of Level III. This means you can still apply and be admitted to the Program if you pass the interview and demonstrate that you will complete the prerequisites by the end of the summer. However, if there are circumstances where the course is only offered during school year, please ask Kathy McIntosh at biology@mcmaster.ca for further confirmation.

HOW ARE THE INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED?

The interview is generally conducted by an interview committee and lasts about 20 minutes. During this time the committee will ascertain applicant's credentials and personal traits, and determine if said candidate is fit for the program. Program Director, Science Co-op Office Representative, current professor/teaching assistant, and a senior BioPharm student typically reside on the interviewing committee. Although the committee is primarily interested in evaluating the potential candidate, it is also the perfect opportunity for you to meet some of the people involved with the program and ask relevant questions.

CAN I APPLY AFTER LEVEL III?

Yes. Admission to the program is based on completion of minimum of two (2) years of post-secondary study with a minimum grade point average of 5.0 on McMaster University 12 point scale, fulfillment of prerequisite courses and successful interview.

WHEN IS THE APPLICATION DUE?

The completed application and all supporting documentation have to be submitted by the deadline set by the Science Career and Co-operative Office (usually set in February). Specific dates will vary each year, please check the Science Career and Co-operative Office website for more information.

WILL I BE NOTIFIED IN CASE OF SUCESSFULL/UNSUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW?

You will receive a written response from the Science Career and Co-operative Education office. There are three possible outcomes (1) you were admitted to the program in which case you need to accept the offer, (2) you were placed on a waiting list or (3) you did not meet program requirements and will not be admitted.

HOW DO I FIND A THESIS SUPERVISOR?

You are fully responsible for finding your thesis supervisor, but there are many ways in which you can find one. If you are particularly interested in an area of research you may wish to contact researchers in that field expressing your interest in their work. You may contact you previous co-op employer with thesis inquiry. Furthermore there may be postings on OSCAR that offer a thesis position to students. Please see the BioPharm Thesis page to see where previous students have completed their thesis work.

What biology COURSES will I take?

You will be taking courses focusing on human, animal and cell physiology. You will also be able to take courses in immunology, virology and molecular biology as well as any courses in the faculty of biology. Please refer to McMaster Course Calendar for more information.

Do I have any electives?

Absolutely. As an Honours Biology and Pharmacology Programme student you will be able to take up to 12 credits in elective courses. Please refer to McMaster Course Calendar for more information.

DO I HAVE TO DO CO-OP?

Co-op is a vital component of the Honours Biology and Pharmacology Program since the program's initiation over 20 years ago. The Director of the program and the Dean of Science believe that co-op gives our students an advantage over regular science graduates by providing them with valuable and relevant experience highly regarded by potential future employers. All Honours Biology and Pharmacology Program graduates have successfully completed 4 co-op terms and have only the highest regard for this opportunity.

How can I find co-op placements?

You can find co-op placement through two ways, both were commonly used by students in previous years. When co-op recreuitment cycle begins you are encouraged to check the OSCAR website, accessible through the Science Career and Co-operative Education office, for new co-op job postings. Employers who have good relations with the school, had hired students in the past, or decided to hire students for the first time frequently send their co-op job postings to universities. Government, academia, industry and private sector frequently hire co-op students through the McMaster Science Career and Co-operative Education office. The second approach you may wish to try involves a personalized job search. You are encouraged to approach potential employers, particularly professors whose research interests you. The Science Career and Co-operative Education office can provide guidance and help with your personalized job search, including but not limited to resume and cover letter reviews, mock interviews and potential employer contact information.   

What career opportunities are available to Honours Biology & Pharmacology Program graduates?

There are many career opportunities for a graduate with the Honours Biology & Pharmacology Programme. Our graduates are employed in Academia, Government and the Industry. Please refer to our Prospective Student page to see what some of our graduates have to say.