Career Column

The Value of a PharmD Dual Degree

Kaley Weintraub
Rutgers Post-Doctoral Fellow,
Medical Affairs


s the job market becomes more competitive, pharmacy students are seeking early opportunities to ensure they stand out. It has therefore become increasingly popular to pursue additional degrees while completing a PharmD or post-doctoral training. The number of dual-degree programs in the US has increased by about 40% in the last seven years. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), more than 90 schools currently offer PharmD dual-degree programs. These programs include Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Public Health (MPH), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD), Doctor of Medicine (MD), and others.

The most popular dual degree is a PharmD/MBA, with about 70 schools offering the program. I applied to the MBA program during my second year of pharmacy school. My school offered two tracks; one that would allow me to take nighttime MBA classes and another that would add an additional year of schooling. I opted to take evening MBA classes which would allow me to complete both degrees at the same time. Every semester I took the maximum number of credit hours allowed by the university, as well as a few summer classes.

My typical day consisted of attending lectures and labs at the College of Pharmacy, followed by night courses at the College of Business. The classes were challenging at first because they were driven by group discussions and open-ended exams; and also because, as a science/math-driven person, learning concepts in a traditional lecture format and taking exams with one correct answer was most familiar to me. I soon came to appreciate leaving pharmacology and lab practicals behind to focus on business strategy and management. After graduation, I decided to pursue a Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship in Medical Affairs toward my goal to apply this additional business understanding to a successful pharmaceutical industry career.

For further insight into other thoughts about PharmD dual-degree programs, I spoke with a fellowship alumnus and three post-doctoral fellows.

Time Commitment

  • A dual degree program can generally add up to four additional years of schooling.

Richard Bradley Rzendzian, PharmD, MBA: “I applied to the MBA program after undergraduate school, and from there, sacrificed all summer breaks and pharmacy elective options to complete both degrees in three years.”

Dylan Atkinson, PharmD, MPHc: “I applied at the end of my final year of pharmacy school and began classes in the fall of my first year of fellowship. By taking nine credits per semester, it will take about two years to complete.”

Value After Graduation

  • Some suggest the value lies in staying ahead of the competition post-graduation, while others emphasize the importance of work experience first.

C. Joseph Britt, PharmD, MBA: “The MBA gives you grounding and a higher understanding of business strategy; however, it is not instrumental to success as a fellow or in industry. I believe the MBA helped set me apart from competition after graduation, but I feel the value really comes with experience. I found it useful to take class with students from backgrounds outside of pharmacy, as you learn largely from the experiences of fellow students.”

Himika Patel, PharmD, MS: “I definitely believe the dual degree gave me a competitive edge, especially when applying for fellowship programs. I was able to more confidently articulate my interest within regulatory and offer the skillsets learned during my didactic coursework to the position.”

Dylan Atkinson, PharmD, MPHc: “During fellowship was the best time for me to pursue my MPH. I am less concerned with the ‘letters’ of the degree and more focused on the value I extract from the classes.”

  • Have you been able to apply the skills you learned from your master’s degree to your current role?
  • In general, having a broad skill set in your back pocket can set you up for success in many roles.

Richard Bradley Rzendzian, PharmD, MBA: “My fellowship was in medical affairs, but the MBA helped transition me into a commercial role. It helped label me as seeking to develop into commercial areas by providing me with the business language necessary to communicate and relate with field personnel. I am now working full time as a pharmaceutical sales representative.”

Himika Patel, PharmD, MS: “The core principles and skills that I learned in the Master’s program are something that I can implement in my current role on a daily basis. Having an understanding and a basic foundation in regulatory prior to coming into this role made my transition smooth and I was able to quickly build real world applications.”


  • Healthcare is becoming more complex and focused on cost-effectiveness, which makes awareness of business and commercial issues crucial for understanding, management, and professional success.
  • Familiarizing yourself with business concepts can be a good way to stay competitive in job markets throughout the rapidly changing healthcare environment.
  • Whether you’re situated in a community pharmacy, institutional setting, or the pharmaceutical industry, an MBA can help you effectively plan, communicate, and convey the right business solutions.

References and additional articles available upon request.