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Washington State University

Research Opportunities

Our mission at the Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) is to help you to become an outstanding health care professional and scientist.

We are proud that our graduates leave WSU and go on to become innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders in all areas of the pharmacy profession.

Your future success is our mission today, and one of the ways we can help you to achieve your career goals is by offering opportunities for WSU student pharmacists to get involved in research.

As a pharmacist you will use the scientific method in many aspects of your job. The traditional role of pharmacy is based on the fundamentals of brainstorming, identifying opportunities, tracking metrics, and reporting. Being able to think like a researcher is a highly sought-after skill with employers, whether is it listed on a job description or not, and research experience will help you to be successful in your career.

Types of Research

Basic: Systematic study geared toward increasing the general scientific knowledge base. For example, how a system runs, how a cell functions, what the cause and effect of a specific drug is. According to the National Science Foundation, this type of research explores the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind.

Translational: Application of basic research findings into pharmacy and other health care practice to achieve positive health outcomes, healthier individuals, and healthy communities. This is often explained as “bench-to-bedside” or “bedside-to-community” research.

Clinical: Directly involves human subjects, or on material of human origin. The differentiating factor for clinical research is the direct interaction with people or groups of people. This includes patient-oriented research, epidemiological and behavioral studies, and outcomes and health services research.

Educational: Focuses basic and translational methods on understanding human learning processes and develop new tools and methods for enhancing educational outcomes.

“Research makes you more dynamic, it enriches your pharmacy knowledge because you get a deeper understanding of topics.”

– Pharmaceutical Sciences Clinical Associate Professor Darrell Jackson

WSU Grand Challenges

Washington State University is deploying its land-grant mission to achieve broad societal impact in today’s world through focusing our fundamental and applied research strengths into the areas of sustaining health, sustainable resources, opportunity and equity, smart systems, and national security. WSU pharmacy faculty contribute to this mission through research initiatives that protect, promote and improve human health. Your participation in research enables you to see firsthand how to advance knowledge—and enjoy the adventure of discovery! More on Grand Challenges at

Pharmacy Research Opportunities

You may not realize just how many ways you can gain exposure to research at WSU. Many of our pharmacy faculty are nationally-renowned researchers and well connected within the professional landscape. This means the wide variety of research projects you can get involved in allows you to strategically align your research experience with your personal pharmacy interests and future career goals.

Independent study projects (electives)

We offer multiple research electives. These electives are only one semester long and are a great way to gain exposure to research in your field of interest.

499 Independent Study – may include studies in technical or specialized problems, selection and analysis of specified readings, development of a creative project, or field experiences. (1-4 credits per semester, maximum of 12 credits)

599 Project – laboratory research, clinical research or comprehensive review of selected subjects. (2 credits per course, not variable. Maximum of 4 credits)

Read more about the difference between a 499 and 599 project »

Next steps:

  1. Find a faculty research project and gain approval from the researcher to participate. Or bring your idea for a research project to a faculty mentor.
  2. Discuss your elective with your advisor.
  3. Your faculty mentor for the project contacts the pharmacy student services office and submits required information.
  4. Start your project.


Pharmacy careers

“I am responsible for a wide array of duties related to budgets, financial growth, hiring, training, recruiting, leadership development, compliance, innovations, safety, human resources, media relations and more.”
– Clinton Slovarp, Market Health and Wellness Director

View career profiles

Doctor of Pharmacy Research Honors Program

This program provides an opportunity for students to conduct a complete research project with a WSU pharmacy research mentor. This program is completed in addition to the standard PharmD curriculum and requires an application due to a limited number of spots.

Students apply in their first year (PY1) of the Doctor of Pharmacy program, you will present your research proposal by the end of your PY2 spring semester, and research projects are completed during the spring semester of the PY3 year. Final oral presentation and defense is scheduled prior to the start of your PY4 APPE rotations. (3 credits minimum of upper division or graduate level courses related to research).

Next steps:

  1. Prepare: Interested students need to identify a mentor in fall PY1 so that they can sign up for 499 (Special Problems) or 599 (Special Projects) for spring PY1.
  2. Participate in a 499/599 project: Students will work with the faculty mentor during the spring PY1 semester.
  3. Apply: Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. PST on March 18, 2022. Further details will be provided in spring PY1.
  4. Acceptance: Admission to the Research Honors program is competitive and depends on the number of research opportunities available each year as well as the number of qualified applicants.

Learn more


In collaboration with the WSU Graduate School, we have established a combined sequential Doctor of Pharmacy/PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Molecular Medicine program that allows some aspects of the PhD experience to be initiated during the PharmD curriculum. This program can save students two of the five years it generally takes to attain a PhD This program is great for students who have a passion for research or academia.

Admission information


“Having a research background can help when counseling patients who want to know about specific pathways and how their medications work.”

– Darrell Jackson

Tips for connecting with faculty researchers

  1. Pay attention during class to identify topics you are interested in. Yes, your areas of interest are potential topics for research!
  2. Explore our website and faculty bio pages to learn about current research projects and common areas of study within the CPPS.
    • Some pharmacy researchers actively seek out student pharmacists to help with their research projects. You can ask your advisor for more information about these opportunities.
    • Researchers and their current projects are often featured in the CougaRx Newsletter.
  3. Start a conversation. This can start as simply as staying after class to ask your professor a question, or reaching out to your professor with an email about your area of interest that may overlap their current research.

Need help breaking the ice? Let us know!

The pharmacy student services office is here to help. Either stop by PBS 130 or make an appointment. We are here to:

  • discuss what you may be interested in,
  • help identify opportunities to get involved,
  • or help you start the conversation with a researcher.