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What Will Help Me Get into Pharmacy School?

You’ve taken some tours and reflected on what’s important to you in a pharmacy school, but what are the admissions officials evaluating? In this blog post, we’ve answered several common questions that admissions officials are often asked.

Do I need a bachelor’s degree before I apply to pharmacy school?

You are not required to earn a bachelor’s degree in order to apply to most pharmacy schools. The PharmD 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.

What college courses do I need before applying to pharmacy school?

The undergraduate classes required for admission into a pharmacy degree program vary significantly from one institution to the next. Due to the variations in admission requirements and procedures among the colleges and schools of pharmacy, it is advisable to research different pharmacy programs. Visit the pharmacy school Web sites for course requirements. School specific information is also available on the PharmCAS site and in the annual publication, “Pharmacy School Admission Requirements.”

Should I choose pre-pharmacy or chemistry as my college major?

You are not required to major in “pre-pharmacy” in college to be eligible for admission to a pharmacy degree program. Chemistry is a common major for pharmacy applicants because many of the course prerequisites for pharmacy are often incorporated into the standard chemistry curriculum. Student pharmacists, however, come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, including those who majored in English, business, communications, biology, etc. If the pharmacy prerequisite courses are not required as part of your undergraduate major, you will need to complete these courses as electives. Contact your designated pharmacy programs directly to determine whether the admissions office distinguishes between classes taken at a community college versus a four-year institution.

What is the minimum college GPA considered?

Most pharmacy schools have a minimum grade point average (GPA) and test score requirements. Due to the high number of applications received in recent years, the minimum GPA may be quite low as compared to the average GPA of applicants offered admission. Visit the PSAR Table 5 for a list of average GPAs for the most recent entering class. Also, visit the school directory on the PharmCAS website for the expected GPA of accepted students and minimum overall GPA considered at each PharmCAS school.  

Do pharmacy schools consider my class rank?

Colleges and schools of pharmacy, in considering applicants for admission, may give attention to the relative position of students within their class-near the top, in the middle or near the bottom. Colleges of pharmacy are interested in enrolling students who have demonstrated exceptional work in school and have the potential to contribute to the profession.

How do pharmacy schools calculate repeated courses?

Policies regarding forgiveness of repeated coursework vary by institution. If you did poorly in a required science course prerequisite, you may want to consider retaking the course in order to improve your prerequisite GPA and chances for admission. The pharmacy school may consider the most recent course grade or include both course attempts to calculate your GPAs.

What kinds of experiences, paid and volunteer, will help me get into pharmacy school?

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 in a pharmacy setting may be an important factor in the admissions process. If you are unable to gain work or volunteer experience directly related to pharmacy, contact your selected pharmacy school admission offices to determine what other experiences they might accept that will adequately demonstrate your knowledge of the profession.

Remember, each school is different, so make sure to review the admission requirements of each pharmacy school for instructions. Good luck!

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