“What are the best pharmacy schools? How are they ranked?”
While we’re asked these questions a lot, there is no simple answer. Every prospective pharmacy student has different needs, interests, and goals, and the educational needs of these individuals also vary considerably from person to person. The subjective factors (location, professors, community, etc.) that should go into any ranking system are not adequately addressed by any of the known publications that currently rank schools.
In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) doesn’t rank the institutions that provide pharmacy education, nor does it endorse any publication that ranks pharmacy degree programs. But rest assured, each college and school of pharmacy in the U.S. undergoes an extensive accreditation process to ensure that they meet very high standards of excellence.
Here is our three step process for determining which pharmacy school might be a good fit for a student who already has college credits.
Step 1. Build the apples to apples spreadsheet
While many pharmacy schools have similar entrance requirements, the way they submit them to PharmCAS and display them on their own websites differ greatly. To create organization from this relatively random class ordering, we suggest creating a spreadsheet in this order:
- Chemistry including inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry
- Biology including advanced or junior level classes such as biochemistry
- Math including statistics and calculus
- Communication Written/Oral including introductory composition and speech
- Social Sciences such as economics and psychology
- Humanities classes, if any
- Other classes that don’t fit into any of these common categories
Step 2. Open the PharmCAS listing for that school and the school’s own prerequisites webpage(s)
There are two ways to look at this. Pre-pharmacy students have open access to the college’s information in one place. However, these listings are somewhat unreliable with omissions and columns that simply don’t match arithmetically. Sometimes the math is impossible to calculate, as the pharmacy school requires “1 or 2 courses” without an associated number of credit hours.
Step 3. Compare the school’s prerequisites.
Take the information from the PharmCAS first and put it into your own spreadsheet. Then use the college’s website(s) to verify this information and look for exceptions, incongruities, and other asterisks. A local pre-pharmacy adviser likely knows many of the idiosyncrasies for each college and would be a good resource. Often, the “best pharmacy schools” answer narrows readily because the student simply can’t complete some schools prerequisites by the end of the year’s application cycle.
Remember, you should carefully choose a pharmacy degree program based upon factors that are important to your own learning needs. You may wish to consider program content, geographic location, faculty, facilities, experiential training opportunities, class size, student demographics, extra-curricular opportunities, and cost in your decision to apply to any program at any institution. Good luck!