The Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation Master’s Degree: A Peek Into a Promising Future of the 21st Century

Terence McKenna, an American ethnobotanist and mystic who advocated for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants once said, “Life lived in the absence of the psychedelic experience that primordial shamanism is based on is life trivialized, life denied, life enslaved to the ego.” Although this statement was once perceived as a fringe philosophy, it is increasingly becoming a mainstream ethos, especially in the hallowed halls of academia. As proof of its reach into the American consciousness, the University of Wisconsin (UW) has opened the country’s first Master’s to explore the application of psychedelic medications.
The program, Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation (PPI), is “designed to better prepare recent grads and working professionals for a career in the discovery, development and clinical application of psychoactive drugs as therapeutic agents.” it offers a highly integrated approach to learning about the development and application of psychedelics, entheogens, cannabinoids, and other psychoactive substances, especially with regard to their use in psychedelic-assisted therapy. 

The UW website states that the “Interdisciplinary program was made to appeal to students looking for careers in the pharmaceutical, academic, government, nonprofit and healthcare industries.” One major advantage of the program is that it is delivered entirely online, making it available to students across the United States and around the globe. 

The University of Wisconsin’s Masters Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation prepares students to be part of the rapidly growing psychedelic medicine sector. Source:

Steve Swanson, Dean of the School of Pharmacy, said, “We look forward to our renowned School of Pharmacy becoming a world leader in the provision of high-quality educational experiences that prepare individuals for engagement in research, therapeutic application, advocacy, and regulatory development for the next generation of psychoactive pharmaceuticals.” 

This is not a counseling program. Instead, students will synthesize a wide variety of scientific, psychological, and cultural knowledge in an effort to provide assistance to organizations and individuals wishing to appropriately implement psychedelic practices in a safe, effective, ethical manner. As Cody Wenthur, director of the Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation program stated, “The scope of the psychedelic research ‘renaissance’ is rapidly expanding beyond academic research. We see ongoing progress in active healthcare delivery settings, evolving opportunities in governmental, regulatory and legal organizations, and substantial new investments in the pharmaceutical industry. This master’s program was designed in collaboration with external partners to ensure that graduates will leave the program with real-world knowledge and in-demand job skills.”

The PPI is a 31-hour Master’s degree divided into three main curricular sections: Pharmaceutical Sciences Core, Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Core, and a group of Electives. The Pharmaceutical Sciences Core includes courses such as The Drug Development Process, Current Trends in Drug Discovery and Development, and Research Ethics: Scientific Integrity and the Responsible Conduct of Research. The Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Core offers classes such as Drug History: Dangerous Drugs and Magic Bullets, Legal Structures for Controlled Substances, Appropriate Use of Abused Drugs, and Psychedelic Drugs in Science and Society. Students may also choose from courses such as Ethnobotany. Introduction to Biostatistics, and, Psychedelic History: Sacred Plants, Science & Psychotherapy, for their electives. 

If you are driven by a strong curiosity about how psychedelics can change the way we treat people with mental health challenges while also elevating the spiritual and philosophical aspects of people’s lives, this may be a good option to explore. To find out about specific admission requirements and costs, as well as connect with an enrollment coach, click here.

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