Pre-Pharmacy Preparation

4 Year Checklist

Freshman Checklist

  • Meet with your pre-health advisor and your academic advisor
  • Begin basic science courses
  • Join campus student organizations
  • Get tutoring if you need it!
  • Subscribe to and read science journals and/or news magazines
  • Seek and begin volunteer/ community experience (and continue throughout undergraduate years)

Sophomore Checklist

  • Choose a major (if you haven't already done so)
  • Explore all health career options
  • Start becoming familiar with requirements for various programs
  • Seek summer internships or research experience
  • Research schools in which you are interested, see "Web sites" listed below in this sidebar for a good start

Junior Checklist

  • Attend the University Professional and Graduate School Fair
  • Make a list of schools you are interested in and research them thoroughly
  • Find out the earliest date to submit an application
  • Take appropriate entrance exam
  • Reality check: What are your chances?
    • GPA:
    • Activities:
    • Scores:
  • Apply to schools (anytime from late spring through mid fall) Consider taking valuable electives: Biochemistry, Genetics, Communication, Microbiology, Ethics, Foreign Language
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation
  • Investigate WICHE opportunities

Senior Checklist

  • Retake entrance exam, if necessary
  • Confirm that you meet graduation requirements
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation
  • Complete secondary applications if necessary
  • Prepare for interviews
  • Apply for WICHE if applicable
  • Confirm your commitment
  • Seek honors & scholarships for graduate school
  • Send appropriate people thank you notes and inform them of your success or future plans

Web Sites

Miscellaneous Checklist

  • Experience - throughout your time in college you should be getting health care experience and exposure in a variety of settings.
  • Extracurricular activities - health profession schools like to see people who are interested and involved in their campus and local communities.
  • Conduct research with faculty on campus.
  • Develop the ability to read, write and think - science is only one part of health care.
  • Consider seeking leadership positions in organizations in which you are involved.

Investigating Pharmacy

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.

Basic Pre-Pharmacy Requirements

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 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:

  • Chemistry: General 121, 122
  • Organic 341, 342, 345
  • Biology: General 190, 191, & 192
  • Human Anatomy & Phys. 223-224
  • Microbiology 251
  • Physics: General 151-152
  • Math: Math 181,182,
  • English: Composition 101, 102

Additional Suggested Courses

  • Psychology 101: General Psychology
  • Speech 113: Fundamentals of Speech Comm.
  • Economics: Principles of Microeconomics 102 OR Prin. of Microeconomics 103
  • Statistics 152: Introduction to Statistics
  • Biochemistry 400: Introductory Biochemistry

Pharmacy Education

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.

Application Process

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)

Standardized Tests

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.

Letters of Recommendation

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.

Work Experience

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.

Tips for Pre-Pharmacy Students

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.

Useful Web Sites