If you’re thinking about enrolling in pharmacy school, you must meet several prerequisites to do so. It’s critical to comprehend these fundamental criteria. This can assist you in starting your journey and better preparing for a job as a pharmacist.
In this post, we outline the fundamental prerequisites for pharmacy school so that you can learn how to become ready for your new career.
8 prerequisites for pharmacy school
When you begin your career trajectory, there are a few important pharmacy school criteria to take into account. You can complete the criteria to pursue a pharmacy education most effectively by following these eight steps:
1. Finish all necessary courses
There are specific courses to finish before graduating from high school, just as other healthcare courses. Math and science expertise are essential for the area of pharmacy. Courses in chemistry, biology, physics, arithmetic, and statistics are some of the essential prerequisites. The specific courses required to change depending on the school. To prepare yourself, it’s a smart option to investigate various pharmacy schools. For advice on suitable courses, consult other pharmacy students or a school counselor.
2. Fulfill the demands of undergraduate study
A doctor of pharmacy degree requires a different path to completion than other medical degrees. It is not necessary to have earned a Bachelor of Science degree before registering for a pharmacy school, but you should have completed a minimum of 2 years of college-level work. Most students have already finished at least three years of university.
After graduating from high school, students can enroll in “0-6 programs” at several schools. This allows you to complete both your undergraduate and pharmaceutical degrees in 6 years. As few colleges provide this choice, it’s crucial to understand and satisfy the demands of your program.
3. Develop patient-care experience
As the applicant pool for these programs is frequently extremely competitive, think about volunteering or applying for entry-level positions in the medical field where you can gain first-hand patient experience. Your resume will benefit from this experience, which demonstrates that you dedicated yourself to the field. To learn about your options, speak with the pharmacies and hospitals in your area. Working in a pharmacy gives you a practical understanding of how it runs. Even better, check a few alternative pharmaceutical settings to see which ones you prefer.
4. Engage in Pharmacy job shadowing
Job shadowing is an excellent approach to gaining practical experience. You are interested in becoming a pharmacist, so observing one might help you better grasp what it takes to work in the field and what your responsibilities might be daily. This is different from working in a pharmacy because you may concentrate completely on the pharmacist’s profession and observe how they perform. You gain knowledge on how to manage particular circumstances and reach crucial conclusions. Because you acquired these abilities directly through experience rather than in a classroom, they may later prove to be crucial.
5. Get endorsement letters
The procedure of applying includes requesting recommendation letters. It’s always a smart option to use at least two or three letters, but it’s a wise idea to double-check with your school to be sure. They are an essential part of your application since they demonstrate your capacity for academic success in a graduate program and provide weight to whatever skills you claim to possess. You could request letters of recommendation from lecturers, coworkers, or the pharmacist you apprenticed with or shadowed. Normally, professional letters—not those from family or friends—are required for pharmacy programs.
6. Take the Pharmaceutical College Admissions Test (PCAT)
Pharmacy school admissions require the PCAT. You can take this test to see how well you know about pharmaceutical sciences, clinical services, and ethical guidelines. For information on the minimal GPA criteria and appropriate test scores, visit the web pages of the colleges you are considering. Study in advance and look up test-taking strategies to increase your chances of passing. Before your registration is restricted, you get five attempts to pass the test. Below are some pointers for success:
- Get familiar with the test’s four segments. The PCAT lasts four hours and is broken down into four categories: chemistry, biology, reading comprehension, and quantitative ability. Plan out the time you will spend studying each section.
- Complete the coursework. Be sure you have finished the prerequisite classes for pharmacy school since a large portion of the test will include material from those courses.
- Examine study aids. You can prepare for the PCAT using a variety of online resources. You can improve your test score using any of them, whether they are free or expensive.
- Concentrate on tough subjects. The test may have some harder sections than others; if you’ve studied for certain sections in advance, you may find that you breeze through such sections. Spending the bulk of your reading time on those challenging topics can improve your grade.
- Create excellent study habits. Create a straightforward study schedule, such as setting aside an hour every day to go over the required reading. To boost efficiency, you can arrange a study session with a few of your classmates.
- Allow yourself enough time. To make sure you can accomplish the degree of preparation required to succeed, begin your exam preparation far in advance. To be rested and prepared for the exam, get enough of rest the night before.
7. Send in your application for pharmacy school.
Even though most schools mention the PharmCAS application, there’s no uniform pharmacy application. The application season typically begins in mid-July each year, so keep an eye out for the precise deadlines so you can begin classes when you’re ready. The following are the crucial elements of your application:
- Application for PharmCAS
- Your statement
- Recommendation letters (a minimum of one month before the due date)
- Academic accomplishments and experiences
- Transcripts from your college or high school
- Result of the PCAT
To demonstrate your interest in the pharmacy course, you must submit the necessary papers. Once you have done so, you can anticipate a response.
8. Finish the interview for assessment.
Depending on when you submitted your application, you might hear from someone right away or up to a few weeks later. Make sure you’re prepared to accept the invitation to an interview and react. Similar to a work interview, being prepared in advance can help. Choose a professional wardrobe to wear on the day of your interview and rehearse what you would say with a friend. Here are a few inquiries you might come across:
- What made you decide to study pharmacy?
- Do you have any relatives who work as physicians or pharmacists?
- Why did you decide to enroll in our pharmacy degree over others?
- Why should we accept you into our program?
- Are you able to handle the demanding requirements of our program both physically and psychologically?
- What do you do with your spare time while you’re not at school?
- Do you keep up with current business trends? What have you recently observed?
Courses needed for a pharmacy degree
It can be a lengthy but rewarding road to becoming a pharmacist. After high school, it may take between six and eight years or longer to complete a Pharm.D., become fully licensed, and begin working as a pharmacist. You should select a pharmacy school based on your needs when making your decision. Particularly when it comes to fulfilling pharmacy program requirements, different schools have varying criteria.
The vast majority of doctor of pharmacy degrees don’t demand a four-year bachelor’s degree. Biological science, chemistry, and biochemistry are popular undergraduate majors, while there are many other options. According to a comparison by Pharmacy Times, biology and chemistry majors tend to have lower GPAs, worse admission exam results, and less organized application processes than English majors. This suggests that English is a beneficial pre-pharmacy major.
A list of required courses for pharmacy school has been supplied by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). See the PharmCAS School Directory for detailed information on the coursework requirements for a specific school. Pharmaceutical schools may include extra guidelines and rules that specify what you must do before applying. The number of credits needed for every course topic may differ amongst pharmacy schools. For the most part, as part of a bachelor’s pharmacy degree, pharmacy schools will demand that you pass the following courses. Each school will have different lab prerequisites.
Biology and/or anatomy
You might be able to enroll in distinct physiology and human anatomy courses through pharmacy schools. Others might be open to taking a physiology and anatomy course together. The study of human anatomy focuses on the skeletal system. The study of these structures functioning is called physiology.
A biochemistry course could be required by pharmacy schools. The chemical reactions in living things are studied in this subject.
For most pharmacy schools, general biology I and II are prerequisites. You might also need to take a cell biology or genetics course, depending on your school. Researching living things is called biology.
It is typical for prerequisite courses in chemistry to include General Chemistry I and II in addition to Organic Chemistry I and II. The principles of chemistry, including chemical bonding, reactions, and atomic or molecule structures, are studied in general chemistry. Organic compounds are the subject of organic chemistry.
The majority of pharmacy schools will demand broad humanities coursework, which can include courses in history, languages, literature, art, philosophy, and religion.
It’s common to need to pass a microbiology course. The science of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, is known as microbiology.
Ordinarily, the education prerequisites for pharmacy schools include General Physics I and II in Physics. In physics, the movement of matter across space and time is studied.
Pharmacy schools might insist on taking a psychology course. Human behavior and the human mind are the subjects of psychology. Some schools might have a set of social science or cognitive science requirements.
A typical requirement for pharmacy school is calculus. The most typical calculus course needed is a non-business calculus course.
Behavioral or social science
Several pharmacy schools may need or prefer students to have a background in sociology or psychology.
Talking and communicating
Certain pharmacy schools may have a public speaking or speech course requirement.
Many pharmacy schools require students to take statistics. Nonetheless, a biostatistics course could be preferred or required by pharmacy schools. The study of collecting, analyzing, analyzing, and reporting data is known as statistics.
Other prerequisites for pharmacy school
For admission to a pharmacy school, there are extra standards in addition to those for pre-pharmacy courses. You’ll have to tick off a few items, such as a certain GPA, standardized test scores, and more, similar to if you register for college or graduate school. Here’s what to anticipate:
A standardized exam called the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) assists in determining whether pharmacy students are eligible to enroll in pharmacy school. The PCAT and your PCAT scores must be submitted with your application to the majority of schools. However, the number of pharmacy schools that still require the PCAT in the application procedure is dwindling. A lot of schools conduct interviews with candidates before getting PCAT results.
For entrance to the pharmacy program, the majority of AACP-certified universities demand passing scores on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). The PharmD curriculum requires a certain level of academic proficiency and scientific understanding, which is measured by this standardized exam.
The PCAT primarily evaluates skills in biochemical functions, biochemical mechanisms, reading and comprehension, and quantitative skills. The exam, which is given by Pearson, has one writing topic and 192 multiple-choice questions. The PCAT will take students four hours or so to finish.
Students are given a raw score for each segment of the exam based on how many questions they properly answered. Incorrect answers are not penalized in any way. Two graders examine the essay component and give a writing score based on grammar and style rules.
The raw score is then transformed into a scaled result between 200 and 600. Maximizing performance on every question is essential because the PCAT’s cumulative score is based on the section results from all of the tests.
PCAT minimal scores for admission will vary between pharmacy schools. What is a decent score depends on the applicant’s circumstances, including the remainder of their application and where they attend school.
For the PCAT, a score of 440 in biology, 438 in quantitative, 432 in reading, and 443 in chemistry will place a student in the highest 10% of test takers. Many schools prefer evenly dispersed results across segments to very high achievement in one subject and very low in another.
In general, admissions are thought to be quite hard for students with scores over 420. A score of 400 or more will put you over average, but it won’t be as helpful in programs with fierce competition.
There is typically a certain GPA prerequisite for pharmacy programs. The required GPA ranges from 2.5 to 3.0 on average. If your GPA is less than the required level, some colleges won’t even consider your application.
A minimum of two recommendation letters are often required for pharmacy programs. Typically, a university lecturer, a registered pharmacist, a potential employer, or a faculty advisor will provide these recommendation letters.
Those who meet the requirements to attend pharmacy school would be called to an interview. The interview procedure is used by pharmacy schools to learn more about you and determine whether you’ll be a suitable fit for the Pharm.D. course. Also, you may utilize the interview to learn more about the school’s pharmacy degree course and determine whether it’s a good fit for you.
To continue in the admissions process, qualified candidates are invited to an interview.
Every pharmacy college usually requires it, however, each institution has a different interview structure. To gauge their potential, students can talk to a professor, a student, a pharmacist, or a board of interviewers.
Almost as crucial as studying for the PCAT or raising your GPA is prepping for the pharmacy school interview. You can be assured and prepared for the interview by doing some research on the school and psychologically getting ready.
The admissions committee can assess your spoken communication skills, your capacity for problem-solving, and your group dynamics during the pharmacy school interview. These abilities are necessary for working in a pharmacy.
The best course of action for pupils is to honestly consider their backgrounds, beliefs, and priorities rather than memorizing the answers. This is an additional chance for you to demonstrate your unique qualifications for admission in addition to your test results.
You have the opportunity to express your sincere interest in the school by asking questions about it in addition to being questioned. Determine if you can envision yourself attending this university and whether the courses, teachers, research, and campus atmosphere are a suitable fit for you.
Lack of preparation might be demonstrated by discomfort and unpreparedness during the interview. While the specific topics you would be asked are unknown, there are several general types of questions for which you can come up with answers.
You must be ready to explain why you decided to seek a profession in pharmacy. The admissions committee is seeking candidates who are driven by the desire to care for patients rather than by fame, fortune, or power.
Also, you’ll probably be questioned about how you view the job of a pharmacist as well as why you think you’d make a good employee. You can connect to the interviewers by telling experiences that exhibit desired traits like compassion, empathy, or leadership.
Applicants should conduct themselves properly during the interview. This entails establishing a great first impression, appearing early, and dressing professionally for business.
A wonderful opportunity to demonstrate your communication abilities is during an interview. The interviewing team wants to ensure that you can speak properly for the patient’s benefit in the long run. Your nonverbal and verbal communication abilities will be highlighted by making eye contact, listening intently, and providing clear, succinct answers.
Finally, throughout the interview, be sure to emphasize any firsthand experience you have with the pharmacy industry. Many pharmacy schools are searching for employment or voluntary work interacting with patients in a healthcare context.
You might be asked questions like these during the interview:
- What made you decide to study pharmacy?
- What abilities and traits do you possess that would help you succeed as a pharmacist?
- What are some obstacles or flaws you have tried to strengthen or get past?
- Why did you decide to enroll in this specific pharmaceutical program?
- What was the most challenging circumstance you encountered while collaborating with others on a task or project?
- What are your knowledge levels in the pharmacy industry?
- Do you have prior experience working in a pharmacy or medical setting?
Ensuring that you are ready for pharmacy school
Make sure you’re well-prepared before starting your path to becoming a pharmacist. By making this promise, you’ll pledge to lifelong learning and use what you learn to benefit your community.
Tuition and expenses must be paid after you start pharmacy school. Typically, tuition costs between $20,000 and $50,000. Out-of-state students and students who choose private schools over public ones typically pay more for pharmacy school. In addition, there are living expenditures and costs for books and materials to consider.
You’ll also be working as an intern while you’re in pharmacy school thanks to advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs). You’ll frequently be dealing with patients in a drugstore or medical setting. Many pharmacy schools may have vaccine requirements since you can be subjected to communicable diseases. It may be necessary for new students to receive the MMR, varicella, and hepatitis B vaccines.
Before enrolling a student in their program, certain colleges may conduct a background investigation or drug test. A tuberculosis skin test that is negative might also be necessary. Find out the prerequisites from the various pharmacy schools you are interested in.
You should plan, establish solid study routines, and network while getting ready for pharmacy school along with meeting the academic and medical criteria for pharmacy. Before applying to pharmacy school, you could choose to begin working as a pharmacy technician. Your application to pharmacy school can benefit from employment in a pharmacy or even from joining pharmaceutical organizations and groups, which can also help you save money on fees and tuition.
Choose among the many educational possibilities offered to future pharmacists, you may find it difficult. Find programs that fit your needs in terms of location, pricing, program type, and accessible specialties by using our effective search engine. If you want additional information on preparing for a profession in pharmacy, visit the websites of the PharmCAS or AACP for details on pharmacy schools and their criteria.
Frequently Asked Questions about pharmacy schools
- How should I get ready for pharmacy school?
Students should enroll in advanced-level courses in math, physics, chemistry, and biology. A pharmacist’s communication abilities—both written and verbal—are as important as their scientific expertise since they must impart their understanding of medications to patients and medical professionals.
- Which course is most suitable for pharmacy?
A pharmacy bachelor’s degree might be a wonderful method to land entry-level jobs at pharmacies or clinics. Students who pursue a master’s degree may be able to get better-paying positions in this industry.
- What distinguishes pharmacology from a pharmacy?
A pharmacist administers prescription drugs and gives patients usage instructions. A medicinal discipline called pharmacology concentrates on chemical medications and how they influence organisms and people who take them. Pharmacologists are in charge of creating the medications that pharmacists can safely administer to patients.