Graduate placement & recruitment

Graduate industrial placements for ongoing postgraduate students or recent graduates

The pharmaceutical industry collaborates with graduates in various ways. A wide range of opportunities are offered to ongoing postgraduate students and recent graduates.

3-12 months in industry
MSc/PhD students spent 3-12 months in industry; other graduate placements lasted 1-2 years


An increasing number of postgraduate programmes integrate 3-to-6-month industrial placement as part of the requirements for master’s (MSc) and doctoral (PhD) degrees. For example, for PhDs funded by research councils, a 3-month industrial placement (termed Professional Internships for PhD Students, or PIPS) is either mandatory or highly encouraged. Moreover, 12-month industrial placement integrated in 20-month MSc degree were also identified. Additionally, people recently graduated from universities may also conduct a 1-2 year placement in the industry.

Conducting an industrial placement equips students with invaluable real-world experience to apply knowledge and theory to practice. Additionally, working in an industrial environment help students develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management.

From the industry…


I was incredibly impressed with the high standard of applicants we received for our medical graduate program within the organisation. It has been rewarding to see how the two successful candidates have been able to learn more about industry and grow in their role. They have also delivered great value through work on important projects. Overall, a highly successful program so far


-Graduate training programme manager from Bristol Myers Squibb

Hosting graduate placements also enable companies to recognise and evaluate talents from academia. Conducting a placement may contribute towards establishing strong relationships with future recruits or academic collaborators.

In our 2019 survey (15 companies), 35% of students spent 3-6 months in industry as part of their PhD or MSc, out of a total of 99 students. Other graduates spent 1-2 year in industry as  a stand-alone internship outside further education.

Graduate placements are also in a growing number of business areas. In our 2019 survey, regulatory, digital, manufacturing, and marketing were the four top areas, with research and development (R&D) ranking fifth in popularity.

Diverse roles and skills
Graduate placements span many business areas including R&D, regulatory, digital, and manufacturing

Graduate training in Medical and Regulatory Affairs

“My typical day involves a lot of interaction. It’s a very open, social way of working with many opportunities to collaborate and learn from others, which I feel is extremely valuable as a graduate first entering the industry.” ​

Tess is on a graduate training programme in Bristol Myers Squibb.

Graduate training programmes: cultivating future industrial leaders

Graduate training programmes are structured programmes cultivating recent graduates to future leaders of the industry. These programmes typically involve rotations between different business areas, providing graduates with a broad range of skills. In our 2019 survey, there were 310 people enrolled in graduate training programmes. Most graduate training programmes are 2-3 years across a wide range of business areas, including manufacturing, IT, supply chain, and others.

2-3 year of intensive training
Reflecting growing confidence in training graduates

Wide range of business areas
Graduate training programmes provide talents with a range of skills across different business areas


Useful links:

Find companies offering graduate placements or graduate training programmes in ABPI careers.

Last modified: 26 September 2023

Last reviewed: 26 September 2023