Pharmacists are a critical part of our healthcare system, providing us with the medicinal access we all require at some point. If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacist, you’re probably asking yourself, how difficult is it to get into pharmacy school? In this article, you will learn how to get into pharmacy school programs.
This article was designed to help you get started in acquiring a professional degree in pharmaceutical science or a related field. You will learn about the most common pharmacy school requirements are and how to get accepted into pharmacy school. Above all, we will provide you with a detailed description of the admissions process for top pharmacy colleges.
How Difficult Is It to Get Into Pharmacy School?
Getting into pharmacy school has become increasingly easy. According to the 2020 to 2021 PharmCAS Applicant Data Report, the acceptance rate for pharmacy programs is 88 percent. Out of 13,006 candidates who applied to 134 out of 142 pharmacy schools in the United States in 2021, only 1,486 applicants were denied admission.
Although the data looks encouraging, it is still somewhat difficult to get accepted into a reputable pharmacy program. The ease of admission depends on the school you’re applying to. For example, a top school like the University of California, San Francisco had a 25 percent acceptance rate for its 2021 four-year program and a 19 percent acceptance rate for its transformed three-year program.
Common Pharmacy School Requirements
- Prerequisite courses. Typically you must have completed relevant courses during or outside of your undergraduate study before applying to the PharmD program. These include verified general education, math, and natural science courses. There is not much emphasis on the quality of grades. Credits and passes are accepted by most schools.
- Grade point average. Your grade point average (GPA) from your undergraduate degree should be at least 2.5. Some schools set their minimum at 2.8 or 3.0, but you’ll find many with lower GPA requirements. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to apply to a pharmacy degree program, but there are stipulations for credit hours.
- Online application requirement. Applicants are required to submit a PharmCAS application and a supplementary application. Your PharmCAS application may include your official transcripts, an essay report, or personal statement requirements. As well, the application process might include an application fee.
- PCAT and admission testing. The Pharmacy College Association Test is optional in most schools, but it is still included in the admissions decision. The decision to write the test is usually left to the discretion of the applicant or the admissions committee. If submitted, it will be used to judge the academic preparation of the applicant.
- Letters of recommendation. You are required to present two to four letters of recommendation with your application. The letters should be submitted electronically through PharmCAS if your school is a member and should be provided by a person who can attest to your academic competence.
- Admission interview. Some schools include an interview as part of their admissions requirements. These interviews are organized by the admissions committee as a way to access the candidate’s fitness for the program. The interviews come after the application has been reviewed. Some schools require an essay during the interview session.
- Additional requirements. There are usually health requirements for applicants. Some schools require applicants to present immunization documentation for COVID-19. You may also need to present an internship report or resume depending on the school. Some schools include a criminal background check in their evaluation.
How to Get Accepted Into Pharmacy School: A Step-by-Step Guide
To succeed as a pharmacist, you need to attend a professional program to obtain the necessary experience as a health professional to work in clinical settings. Below is the step-by-step guide to getting into pharmacy school.
Step 1: Review The Admissions Requirements
You should start reviewing possible schools to attend from your undergraduate program. This is the ideal time to compile the required coursework listed by the schools you’re interested in. Your acceptance into pharmacy school depends on the pharmacy prerequisite courses you provide.
If you don’t attend an undergraduate college, you can take an advanced placement test to help you build the required coursework. Some of the common majors required by a majority of pharmacy schools include math, statistics, biology, and chemistry majors.
Step 2: Apply Online Through PharmCAS
Pharmacy school applications are usually submitted through PharmCAS. PharmCAS was established by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), as an application service for students to apply for PharmD programs. You need to first create a PharmCAS account before you can submit your application.
Your application form contains your personal information and attachments. The attachments include evaluation, prerequisite coursework, PCAT, and official transcripts from the US or Canada. You will be required to pay an application fee to PharmCAS.
Step 3: Submit Your Supplemental Application Form
While processing your PharmCAS application, you can complete your supplemental application. The supplemental application is submitted directly from the school’s portal. It might include answering a set of questions or writing an essay, which may test your psychological fitness and knowledge of the pharmacy field.
The supplemental form also attracts a processing fee, paid by credit card. It must be submitted before the deadline. Some schools waive the application fee for students, while others have removed it from the admissions process.
Step 4: Complete the Assessment Interview
The interview stage is reserved for pharmacy school applicants who have successfully submitted their online forms. Once the admissions offices are done reviewing the applicants, you’ll receive an email invitation for an interview. If you decline the invitation, your application will be cancelled.
The interview may be held online or on the school campus. It may consist of multiple sections and a panel of interviewers composed of faculty, current students, and admissions officers. Some schools include an essay assessment during their interview. The interview questions are meant to test your oral communication skills and pharmacy fitness.
Step 5: Check the Status of Your Application
Once you complete the assessment interview, the admissions officials will review your performance and contact you if they are satisfied with the results. To check the status of your application, you can log into your PharmCAS account and click the status menu button. PharmCAS can disclose your admission offers to schools that request that information.
Some schools give a period for candidates to review and accept their admission. Once you’ve been sent an acceptance letter, you may be asked to resend your official transcripts to the school. There may also be requirements for drug tests and criminal background checks.
How to Choose the Right Pharmacy School
To find the right pharmacy graduate program for you, you have to review different schools of pharmacy with a predesigned checklist. Your checklist should contain variables such as acceptance rate, graduation rate, entry requirement, and NAPLEX rate. The NAPLEX rate is particularly important, as it tells you how well the school can prepare you to practice pharmacy.
Top Tips for Getting Into Pharmacy School
- Have in-depth knowledge of the school and program. You can boost your chances of success with in-depth knowledge of the school you applied to. Your interview and essay may require you to explain how the school can help you build the required pharmacy experience. Your response will help them determine your fitness for the program.
- Prepare for PCAT with practice tests. Take time to prepare for the PCAT if you need to write it. Although some schools don’t demand it, you might be asked to provide one if you’ve been out of school for a while. Start practicing with platforms such as Pearson Assessments and Kaplan.
- Read up on current trends in the healthcare industry. Aspiring healthcare professionals must stay informed on the latest trends in the industry. Your evaluation might include questions that test your knowledge of the industry. It’s a way for the school to determine your willingness to learn and blend into the school’s culture.
- Other accomplishments aside from your GPA. Aside from having a good academic record, your application should highlight your involvement in extracurricular activities, volunteer work, social events, and work experience. Some schools are more concerned with your potential and willingness to contribute to their pharmacy community.
- Take time to build your communication skills. Your admission process might include an essay and an interview, both of which are defining factors for your admission. You need to show your recruiter that you’re an eloquent speaker and writer. Take writing classes and courses at Coursera or Udemy to build your verbal skills.
Will I Get Accepted Into Pharmacy School?
The chances of acceptance are high, based on the research insights from PharmCAS. Most schools practice rolling admissions, which allows you to apply to several programs within the same admission period. Chances are, one or more of these schools will take you.
Is Getting Into Pharmacy School Worth It?
Yes, getting into pharmacy school is worth it if your career goals include guiding patients through the right medication and working in a professional pharmacy setting alongside other licensed pharmacists. With a pharmacy degree, you can launch a lucrative career in the healthcare industry that provides you access to great career opportunities.
From a financial point of view, you can earn an impressive salary as a pharmacist. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the pharmacist median salary reaches as high as $128,710. This salary is considerably higher than those in many other professions.
How to Get Into Pharmacy School FAQ
No, getting into pharmacy school is not very hard, as the acceptance rate is high. As long as you can build the course credits and fulfill other admission requirements, you can gain admission into a pharmacy program.
To become a pharmacist, you need to first build credit hours in an undergraduate major in a relevant study. This could take you between two to four years before moving on to become a pharmacy student. After completing your undergraduate, you need to enroll and complete a pharmacy doctorate program. This could take you between three to four years.
The best college major for pharmacy is pre-pharmacy. Other notable majors ideal for a pharmacy profession include biochemistry, anatomy, chemistry, and biology. However, if you study a general degree like math, business, English, or psychology, you can still apply for a pharmacy program.
No, pharmacists go to pharmacy school. However, if they decide to change paths later, they are well prepared to pursue the medical school path.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.