Pre-Pharmacy

 

Pre-Pharmacy

Many undergraduate pharmacy programs will admit students in the junior year if they have fulfilled pre-requisite courses with a specified GPA. As an alternative to transferring after 2 years of pre-pharmacy, students may choose to major in Chemistry or Biology and on completion of their baccalaureate degree matriculate to graduate school in pharmacy. Doctor of Pharmacy Programs (PharmD) with or without an undergraduate degree in pharmacy typically take an additional 3-4 years of study.

Most schools require the following courses as part of the undergraduate preparation. It is recommended that you select 4-5 top schools of interest and identify each of their specific prerequisite requirements. Specific program prerequisites and GPAs can vary considerably from school to school.

General
Requirements 
Some Schools
Require 

Biology

  • BI 111/113 Concepts in Biology I & Lab
  • BI 112/114 Concepts in Biology II & Lab 

Biology

  • BI 230 Microbiology
  • BI 311 Cell Biology
  • BI 206-209 Anatomy and Physiology 

Chemistry

  • CH 151/153 General Chemistry I & Lab
  • CH 152/154 General Chemistry II & Lab
  • CH 221/223 Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • CH 222/224 Organic Chemistry II & Lab

Chemistry

  • CH 341/343 Biochemistry I & Lab

Physics

  • PY 111/113 Physics I & Lab
  • PY 112/114 Physics II & Lab
 

Math

  • MA 151 Calculus
  • MA 131 Statistics
 

Social Sciences

  • PS 110 Intro to Psychology
  • 3 Additional Credits
 

English

  • FY 125 Freshman Seminar
  • EN 201 Experiencing Literature
 

Timeline for Applications

Pre-Pharmacy Timeline for Application

 

Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)

Students who wish to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD) must take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test) standardized exam which measures general academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary for the commencement of pharmaceutical education. To do well on the exam, you must have completed all of the pre-requisite courses before taking the exam.

The test is administered throughout the country by Pearson VUE Test Centers. The test is offered at all locations in January, July and September and limited locations in October and November. Information about how to register and an online video tutorial about registration can be found online. 

There is no magic way that works for all students. Some students choose to enroll in a course like Kaplan or Examkrackers, but this can be costly. Other students chose to buy the preparation books and work on their own. You need to ask yourself what type of learner you are and what approach you are dedicated to.

Information on PCAT preparation and obtaining practice exams can be found on their website.

Test scores are available to within 5 weeks following the end of the test date. Official transcripts of your PCAT score will be sent to the institutions you designated to receive your scores.

As it takes 5 weeks to receive your score, it is advisable to plan for an early PCAT in the case that you may need to re-take the exam.

To be accepted into pharmacy school you need a complete package. You must have the grades and GPA, a good PCAT score, good letters of recommendation, clinical/shadowing experiences and a good personal statement. Applying to pharmacy school is very expensive and we may advise holding off to address deficiencies in your application.  

Average PCAT scores for pharmacy schools

The AACP (American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy) also provides a breakdown of all Pharmacy School admission statistics including average PCAT scores.

Undergraduate Research

Although not a requirement, students are encouraged to undertake undergraduate research with a faculty mentor. In many departments, students can receive course credit for the completion of 3 credits of research. Not only does this give you a valuable experience, but students can present their work at regional and national science conferences and many students have been published authors with their faculty mentor in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Additionally, having a letter of recommendation from your faculty mentor regarding your research, work ethic and skills will be a valuable addition to application.

At the end of the academic year, we also have internal conferences, which showcase and highlight research across disciplines on campus in the CASCon (College of Arts and Sciences Conference) and the Academic Festival. We encourage you to investigate research being performed and become involved.

Pharmacy Internships, Shadowing and Clinical Experiences

Pharmacy schools will require that you have some first-hand knowledge of what it is like to be a Pharmacist. These experiences will allow you to truly get a feel for the profession and determine if it is right for you. It falls on the student to be proactive and seek out experiences. Most of our students have become Certified Pharmacy Technicians and worked at local pharmacies.

How to become a Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)

Personal Statements

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) notes that “Each year, a substantial number of applicants express regret that they felt rushed and lost critical time working on their statement; when they realize how much time it involves, it’s often too late.”

Writing a personal statement on why you want to be a Pharmacist may sound like a simple task, but in reality to do this and do it well takes time, multiple drafts and revisions in coordination with your Pre-Health advisor. Students often underestimate the time involved or the importance of having a good personal statement. The personal statement is an area of your application that is not black and white, it is not a GPA or a PCAT score. It is where you can reflect on your decision to become a pharmacist, what lead you down this path and reflect on your research and clinical experiences.

Tips on writing a pharmacy school personal statement

However, because of the importance of the personal statement, we have incorporated writing personal statements into course content in BI 191, Advanced Seminar in the Health Professions. We highly recommend students enroll in the course as we cover personal statement mechanics, content, do’s and don’ts and perform critiques and draft revisions over several weeks.

Gap Year

Many students fear the gap year or see this as “wasted time” and incorrectly think that taking a gap year would have a negative impact of their application. However, it is quite the opposite and most students take a gap year after college. To check off all the boxes needed for pharmacy school (good GPA and PCAT score, clinical experiences) within three years of college is difficult. If you are hoping to start pharmacy school right after college, you must have all your pre-requisite courses, have taken the PCAT and complete the application before your senior year (most recommended) or during the fall of your senior year (possible). Thus, some students focus on getting good grades, research and pharmacy experiences during college and use the gap year to study for the PCAT while doing something meaningful (working as a pharmacy technician, travel and service, etc). Having a gap year while doing something meaningful makes you a stronger, more competitive candidate. The average age of students matriculating into pharmacy school is 24-26 demonstrating a national trend of students applying after graduation. Admissions committees look for more mature candidates with real world experiences. Thus, a gap year is often to your benefit.