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Early careers at AstraZeneca

Research and Development (R&D) Graduate Programme

Research and Development (R&D) Graduate programme

Location: Cambridge, UK; Gaithersburg, Boston, US; or Gothenburg, Sweden

Salary:  Competitive and relocation support (where required)

About R&D 

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led BioPharmaceutical business and our innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. Our two Research & Development (R&D) organisations – R&D BioPharmaceuticals, responsible for Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism and Respiratory diseases, and opportunistically driven for Neuroscience and Microbial Sciences and R&D Oncology – enable us to follow the science through drug discovery and development, and life-cycle management programmes.  

Each year we invest $5.9bn in our science, discovering and developing the next generation of life changing medicines. To put ourselves in the best position to push the boundaries of science, we seek to leverage our combination of capabilities, which encompass both small molecules, oligonucleotides and other emerging drug platforms, as well as biologics, including immunotherapies, and innovative delivery devices that can offer choice to patients.  

About the programme 

The AstraZeneca graduate programme in R&D is designed for those with a passion for science, and a desire to make a genuine difference to the lives of patients today and in the future. During the course of the programme, you will have the opportunity to make a real contribution to our projects and could find yourself involved in scientific breakthroughs that will help deliver the next generation of life saving medicines. 

Our graduates undertake a two-year programme where they will complete three different eight month placements across the R&D organisation with a focus on breadth of experience, all three placements will be completed at the site to which you apply. The programme is run at 4 of our science centres across the globe, in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Boston, Massachusetts in the United States, Gothenburg in Sweden and Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Each site has a variety of teams focussed on different stages of drug discovery and development and therapy area focus. Further details on our science and our R&D sites can be found at our global website (

What you can expect 

We're looking for talented science graduates from a broad range of science disciplines with a Bachelors or Masters degree, who have graduated in  2020, or are due to graduate in 2021. We are particularly looking for those individuals who have a passion for science.   

  • This is a  two-year  programme and includes three individual eight-month placements  through different areas of R&D, providing a broad exposure to multiple areas of basic and applied scientific research 
  • You'll be encouraged to make a real contribution to our projects from day one. You'll find yourself involved in the design and development of new drug projects, which have the potential to be the next generation of life-saving medicines, right from the start of your career 
  • Graduates are enrolled in our Global Graduate Development Programme where we focus on the ‘softer’ skills development
  • Graduates are also aligned to a mentor who is a full time member of the organisation and will support you for the duration of the programme
  • You can expect a competitive salary and benefits
  • We offer all graduates generous relocation support, if required, including Swedish language lessons for graduates relocating to Sweden. 

What does the programme involve? 

The R&D Graduate Programme will give you broad experience of the drug discovery process by immersing you in real science, giving you responsibility on real projects from the outset and providing ongoing mentoring. The programme includes three rotations, which you can choose from an extensive range of placements, allowing you to tailor your development to your passion – whether this is in chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry, pharmacology or another branch of science. And as well as building your scientific knowledge, we’ll help you to develop ‘soft’ skills  which will help you in your career progression.

Wherever you’re based, you’ll be working with colleagues who are true experts, as well as with academic institutions and like-minded scientific companies. You’ll discover how we’re pioneering more open innovation, and actively sharing knowledge and ideas to make the next scientific breakthrough.

The programme provides a springboard to great things for your future career. Through the rotations you are given an excellent opportunity to explore different areas of science which will help you to define your research interests. You will be completing novel and cutting-edge research which you could end up presenting at conferences or getting published in academic journals. Following completion of the programme over half of the graduates choose to continue their development by moving on to study for a PhD in their chosen field, whilst some manage to secure roles within the industry. What will you achieve?

Essential requirements 

What we're looking for: 

  • Science graduates with a minimum of a 2:1 (UK) / GPA 3 (US) / VG Grade (Sweden) or local equivalent Bachelor's degree or Masters gained in 2020  or 2021.
  • Bright, motivated and highly driven individuals with a real passion for drug development .
  • Innovative thinkers with enthusiasm and energy to match their scientific expertise.
  • Ability to work as part of a collaborative team that focuses unequivocally on patient needs. 
  • Strong critical thinking, stakeholder management, planning, organisational and time management skills.

At the Interview stage we have different technical Interviews for Chemistry and Bioscience disciplines. Our chemistry Interviews are based around knowledge of synthetic and medicinal chemistry and the Bioscience question are data driven covering a broad range of areas from biology, biochemistry, pharmacology safety and clinical. Please make sure that you select the correct interview based on your knowledge and education background when applying for the role.

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Now is a great time to be a scientist at AstraZeneca. Working across a range of therapy areas our teams are focussed on translating the really cool science that is happening in our labs into the next generation of medicines that patients need.

- Mene PangalosEVP, AstraZeneca Biotech Unit

Global TB

Meet Lavaniya

"The R&D graduate program appealed to me as the perfect opportunity to fulfil my scientific curiosity, by letting me develop as a scientist and gain a deeper insight into the different fields I am passionate about."

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