Pharmacists are health professionals who are concerned with the pharmaceutical needs of patients. In recent years, the responsibilities of pharmacists have broadened from dispensing medicines to consultations with physicians, direct patient care, and patient education. Pharmacists can work in a variety of settings: community pharmacies, hospitals, home health care, nursing homes, health maintenance organizations, research, teaching, quality control, and product development. Other opportunities for pharmacists are found in research or manufacturing businesses, colleges or universities and various departments in the government. For pharmacy career information, read the US Department of Labor Occupational
There is not one prescribed academic program for acceptance to pharmacy school. Students must prepare themselves with a basic background in chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology as well as the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities.
Beyond this basic preparation, the major you choose can be in any subject, and should be based on your interests, abilities, and needs, as long as pharmacy school entrance requirements are completed.
The Advising Center offers assistance with program selection, academic guidance, workshops, writing the personal statement, mock interviews, getting letters of recommendation, admissions testing, and application timeline.
Each school's requirements are detailed in the Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements (PSAR), an annual publication of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. The PSAR is available at aacp.org It is the applicant's responsibility to determine the specific requirements of each program to which they are applying. All required courses should be taken for a letter grade.
The general requirements include:
Additional Suggested Courses
The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) degree program requires at least 2 years of specific undergraduate course work followed by 3-4 years of professional study. Some programs accept applicants who have completed a minimum of 3 years of undergraduate study; however most programs prefer or require completion of an undergraduate degree prior to matriculation.
The application process for most pharmacy schools starts approximately 18 months prior to your matriculation date. Applicants need to prepare early by identifying potential schools and identifying the requirements, guidelines and deadlines for each institution. Most pharmacy schools belong to a centralized application service - Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS)
Some colleges require the applicant take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT), which is offered 4 times a year - January, June, August and October. Other colleges may request ACT, SAT or GRE scores. Check with the individual colleges for their particular requirements. The PCAT consists of approximately 300 multiple choice questions in the following areas: Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability, Biology, Chemistry, and Reading Comprehension. It is recommended that you take the PCAT during the winter or spring of the year you are applying.
Most pharmacy schools require that the applicant send 2 or 3 letters of recommendation. It is advisable that one letter be from a pharmacist, preferably one with whom you have worked. Also, letters from science instructors and/or former employers may be required. PharmCAS provides a Letter of Recommendation Service.
You may also consider storing your letters with a document collection and delivery service such as Interfolio. With Interfolio your letters can be kept on file for up to five years and delivered to the programs you are applying to at your convenience. More information about the service can be found at Interfolio.
It is advisable that the applicant have some exposure to the field of pharmacy. This exposure is important as it serves as an indication that the individual is aware of what the pharmacy profession entails. Possible sources of experience include volunteer or paid work in the community and/or with a practicing pharmacist.
Keep your grades as high as possible. An upward trend in grades will be noted. Develop your ability to read, write, think and communicate. Explore the field of pharmacy; be sure you know the positive and negative aspects of being a pharmacist and know what the pharmacy profession is all about. Pursue extra-curricular activities that interest you. Leadership and communication skills are most important, particularly the ability to work with others of diverse backgrounds.