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 (8 semester hours of courses for biology majors with labs; Bio 106 and Bio 113)
- General Chemistry (8 semester hours with lab; Chem 150 and 151)
- Organic Chemistry (8 semester hours with lab;Chem 250 and Chem 251)
- Biochemistry (Chem 311)
- English Composition (Comp 150 and Comp 250 OR Comp 250 and 350)
- Physics (algebra or calculus-based; one semester; Phys 201 or Phys 217)
- Calculus (Math 221)
- Anatomy and Physiology (8 semester hours; Bio 233 and Bio 326)
- Humanities or modern language (two semesters)
- Social science (two semesters)
Courses that are required for some schools, but generally recommended by most schools include:
- Immunology (Bio 427; Advanced Topics)
- Genetics (Bio 260)
- Cell or molecular biology (Bio 381)
- Public speaking
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.