Pharmacy is a doctoral health profession in which licensed professionals provide information about medications to patients and other healthcare professionals. As "medication experts," pharmacists are concerned with safeguarding the public's health in matters relating to medication distribution and use and disease state management.
Pharmacists play a vital role in improving patient care through the medicine and information they provide. The demand for trained pharmacy professionals has increased in recent years due to the rapid growth of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, especially for the growing elderly population. The number of pharmacists in healthcare services is also increasing as pharmacists become more actively involved in drug therapy management for patients of all ages.
As you review your options, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Pre-pharmacy is not a degree-granting program, so you cannot major in pre-pharmacy.
- Individual advising is strongly recommended.
- Pre-pharmacy students take pre-requirement course work in preparation to transfer to a school that offers a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) degree.
Advisor: Sherryl Allen
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Eligibility Criteria & Application Information
The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program requires at least two years of specific undergraduate college study followed by four academic years (or three calendar years) of professional pharmacy study. Most students enter a pharmacy degree program after completion of three or more years of college.
You are not required to earn a bachelor’s degree in order to apply to most pharmacy schools. The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree requires at least two years of undergraduate study and most student pharmacists complete three or more years of college before starting a pharmacy program. Some pharmacy schools do give preference to students who have earned a bachelor’s degree. Individuals who hold a bachelor’s or other advanced degree must still complete all four academic years (or three calendar years) of professional pharmacy study.
According to AACAP, more than 75 percent of all pharmacy programs require applicants to submit scores from a standardized test known at the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). See "Relevant Tests" for more information about the PCAT.
Most pharmacy schools have a minimum grade point average (GPA) and test score requirements. Visit the AACP Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR Table. 8) for a list of average GPAs for the most recent entering students.
In addition, Pharmacy colleges encourage or require applicants to have volunteer or paid experience working with patients in a pharmacy or health-related setting (hospital, nursing home, etc.). Ongoing work or volunteer experience is also referred to as “shadowing.” Shadowing in a pharmacy setting in more than one professional venue, approximately 100-200 hours in each is recommended.
The Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) is a centralized application service for colleges and schools of pharmacy provided by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). This comprehensive service:
- Facilitates applications to pharmacy colleges and schools;
- Provides admissions offices with a comprehensive set of tools, many of which allow school-specific definitions, for processing, reviewing, and analyzing applications;
- Promotes the profession of pharmacy to interested applicants through links to relevant Web sites; and
- Houses a rich database of applicant information.
Most pharmacy degree programs require 1-4 letters of recommendation (also known as “letters of evaluation” or “letters of reference”) as part of the pharmacy admission process. Schools may require you to submit letters from particular individuals, such as a pharmacist, professor, or academic advisor. Your selected pharmacy schools may require your evaluators to use a school-specific evaluation form in lieu or in addition to the letter from the evaluator.
Pharmacy schools will require competitive candidates to visit the campus for an interview. The interview format varies by institution. Pharmacy admission officers may require you to speak with a single faculty member, a student, a pharmacist, a panel of interviewers or participate in an orientation program.
According to AACAP, more than 75 percent of all pharmacy programs require applicants to submit scores from a standardized test known at the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).
The PCAT is a specialized test that helps identify qualified applicants and is a measure of general academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary to achieve a pharmaceutical education. It is administered in a computer based format. The standard administration of the PCAT will occur on one or more dates in July, September, and January. You can find out more about the PCAT on their website: www.pcatweb.info