Pharmacists distribute prescription drugs and provide patients with information about medications and their use. They also advise physicians and other health practitioners on selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of drugs that the practitioner might prescribe. Pharmacists are trained to understand the use, clinical effects, and composition of drugs. They need to understand the chemical, biological, and physical properties of drugs. Most pharmacists work in community and retail pharmacies, but they are also employed by hospitals, and home health care agencies. Pharmacy programs are graduate programs and require a bachelor's degree in any discipline, combined with prerequisite course work.

They also require a specialized entrance exam, the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). The PCAT consists of multiple-choice items from the content areas that include verbal ability, biology concepts, chemistry concepts, reading comprehension, and quantitative ability. Many students will be prepared for the PCAT at the end of the sophomore, or second, year (May). At the end of your second undergraduate year, you should have completed general chemistry, math requirements, animal biology, organic chemistry and anatomy.

Pre-Requisite Course Work

Prerequisite courses required by most pharmacy programs:

  • Biology (Bio 112, Bio 113 and lab)
  • General Chemistry (Chem 150 and lab, Chem 151 and lab)
  • Organic Chemistry (Chem 250 and lab, Chem 251 and lab)
  • English Composition (Comp 150, Comp 250)
  • Physics (Phys 201 and lab, Phys 202 and lab, OR Phys 217 and lab, Phys 218 and lab)
  • Calculus (Math 221)
  • Genetics (Bio 260 and lab)
  • Humanities or modern language (two semesters)
  • Social science (two semesters)
  • Human Anatomy (Bio 233 and lab)
  • Physiology (Bio 321 and lab)
  • Microbiology (Bio 331 and lab)
  • PCAT

Application Process & Timelines

The application process for most pharmacy schools takes approximately one year. Most pharmacy programs have a centralized on-line application service, the Pharmacy College Application Service (PCAS). When you are ready to apply, submit your information to PCAS. Then, check the application deadlines for the schools that you are applying to and indicate to PCAS your preferences. The PCAS service will send your application materials. They are not responsible for sending application materials by the program deadline - that is your responsibility - so submit your PCAS application materials at least 4 weeks prior to the first deadline. You must have taken the PCAT prior to your application submission to PCAS, so think about the timing for the exam and application dates.

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