Many people ask us what degree do you need to become a Medical Science Liaison (MSL)?
This really depends on the company and country you are in.
Globally the most abundant background of MSLs are the researchers and the pharmacists. Researchers’ background can be BSc, MSc or PhD. While pharmacists can be Bpharm, Mpharm, RP or PharmD.
The US is very focused on people having a terminal D degree (PhD, PharmD, MD, DNP). More than 90% of the candidates have this terminal D degree. We have worked with people who got into an MSL role without having a terminal D-degree, but the odds are against you. Oftentimes smaller companies, startup, and device companies are less picky on the D-degree. This is a good way to get into an MSL role in the US without having a terminal D-degree.
In many other countries, such as Australia, the Netherlands and many other countries in Europe, the requirement to have a terminal D-degree is less strict. In some countries, we see around 40-60% of the MSLs do not have a terminal D-degree.
Some companies would like you to have some prior pharma experience if you don't have a terminal D-degree. If you have experience as a CRA, regulatory affairs, sales, marketing, medical information, drug-safety this will help your transition into an MSL role. This doesn't mean you don't have to come prepared. No, the MSL interview grilling is still the same, and you have to come 150% prepared.
If you are interested in the breakdown of what the degrees are of current MSLs in your country, then click HERE to view this information about degrees in our salary surveys.