What is a pharmacist? Pharmacists are trained drug and medication experts who are licensed to dispense regulated substances to medical patients. In this capacity, they make informed professional recommendations as to the proper dosage and administration of patient prescriptions written by physicians.
To become a pharmacist, it is necessary to first complete some postsecondary coursework, after which students acquire a 4-year "first-professional" education at the graduate level. This education leads to the entry-level degree held by all new pharmacists in the United States - the Pharm.D., or Doctor of Pharmacy.
Schools qualified to offer the Pharm.D. are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Residencies and fellowships often have their own accrediting agencies.
There is no major that prospective pharmacists have to declare at the undergraduate level, but specific preparatory coursework is necessary to get into pharmacy school. These prerequisites can generally be completed in 2 years.
Credits can be earned in an associate's or bachelor's program, but the latter is most common of the undergraduate pharmacy degrees due to rising competition at the best pharmacy schools, plus the fact that many students don't know what they want to do just coming into college. The majority enter pharmacy school with 3 or more years of college experience.
Most pharmacy programs want 60 to 90 pre-pharmacy semester credits, but it varies. Core prerequisites include most or all of the following:
It's further recommended that students take coursework in:
In addition to these subjects, advanced coursework in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology will help prepare students for the rigorous pharmacy curriculum. Keep in mind the precise prequirements depend on the intended pharmacy school.
The Doctor of Pharmacy - abbreviated 'Pharm.D.' - is now the only acceptable entry-level degree for pharmacists in the United States. It is a first-professional degree that takes 4 years to complete. During pharmacy school, students develop a foundation in pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, business management, and pharmacy practice.
The recommended undergraduate prerequisites qualify students to pass the Pharmacy College Emissions Test (PCAT), which is required for entry into the top pharmacy schools. Other common qualifiers for pharmacy school include CPR certification, background checks, updated vaccinations, and pre-admission interviews.
In addition to class time, pharmacy school includes 7 to 10 rotations, most of them during the fourth year of pharmacy school. These experiences are not paid work, but contribute to class credits necessary to graduate with a Pharm.D. Rotations, which typically last 4 to 6 weeks each, take pharmacy students to a diverse selection of clinical and specialist settings, from retail pharmacies to acute care hospitals and oncology clinics.
The bulk of pharmacy jobs are open to those with a Pharm.D. These include:
Those who graduate with a Doctor of Pharmacy can apply for a state license and look for work. However, there are options beyond the Pharm.D. for pharmacists interested in more advanced training. These include a master's degree, Ph.D., and residencies.
Pharmacists advance to the master's level to focus on specific clinical populations, gain policy and management insight, and learn the basics of research. Most master degree programs take about 2 years to complete, making them a shorter alternative to a full Ph.D. for those interested in research and advanced clinical work, but not academia.
As an example, an aspiring geriatric pharmacist may earn a Master of Science (M.S.) in Gerontology. Pharmacists considering sales in the pharmaceutical industry may pursue an M.S. in Pharmaceutical Marketing, while someone who wants to open their own pharmacy may earn an M.B.A. after obtaining the Pharm.D.
A common choice at this level is the Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR). The coursework for an MSCR program includes:
What kinds of jobs can pharmacists get with a master's degree?
Unlike medical doctors, pharmacists who finish their 4-year training do not have to go on to a residency. However, some do for the experience and added credentials. A residency can open up high-level opportunities inaccessible to entry-level pharmacists and can be completed without earning a full Ph.D.
In some cases, residency is required or recommended. Hospital pharmacies and faculty spots at pharmacy colleges often want students to undertake a pharmacy residency. There are advanced clinical work settings that necessitate an accredited residency in a job-specific area.
Pharmacists may participate in either a generalist and specialist residency at their discretion. There are more than 400 pharmacy residency programs in the U.S. in a variety of settings.
Today, more pharmacists are pursuing Ph.D.s, especially those who plan to move up the corporate ladder, work in research or academia, or otherwise take advantage of emerging job opportunities in the field. As the pharmaceutical sciences evolve, those with a research doctorate like the Ph.D. will have the most resilient job prospects.
Common clinical research areas for Ph.D.s include Biomedical Informatics, Pharmacogenomics, and Toxicology. Toxicology programming, for instance, may include:
What kinds of jobs are accessible with a Ph.D. or clinical residency?
We found 79 schools offering pharmacy degree programs in the U.S.
|Albany College of Pharmacy||Albany||NY||691|
|Auburn University Main Campus||Auburn University||AL||21860|
|Campbell University Inc||Buies Creek||NC||5880|
|Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland||OH||9304|
|Drake University||Des Moines||IA||5126|
|Ferris State University||Big Rapids||MI||9847|
|Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University||Tallahassee||FL||12126|
|Idaho State University||Pocatello||ID||13040|
|Long Island University - Brooklyn Campus||Brooklyn||NY||7780|
|Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Science||Boston||MA||1877|
|Medical University of South Carolina||Charleston||SC||2346|
|Midwestern University||Downers Grove||IL||1499|
|North Dakota State University - Main Campus||Fargo||ND||9902|
|Nova Southeastern University||Fort Lauderdale||FL||18587|
|Ohio Northern University||Ada||OH||3227|
|Ohio State University - Main Campus||Columbus||OH||47952|
|Oregon State University||Corvallis||OR||16758|
|Purdue University - Main Campus||West Lafayette||IN||39667|
|Rutgers University - New Brunswick/piscataway||New Brunswick||NJ||35236|
|South Dakota State University||Brookings||SD||8695|
|Southwestern Oklahoma State University||Weatherford||OK||4860|
|St Louis College of Pharmacy||Saint Louis||MO||915|
|St. Johns University - New York||Queens||NY||18621|
|Suny at Buffalo||Buffalo||NY||24830|
|Texas Southern University||Houston||TX||6886|
|Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center||Lubbock||TX||1719|
|The University of Tennessee Health Science Center||Memphis||TN||2069|
|The University of Texas at Austin||Austin||TX||49996|
|The University of Texas Health Science - San Antonio||San Antonio||TX||2543|
|University of Arizona||Tucson||AZ||34488|
|University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences||Little Rock||AR||1855|
|University of California - San Francisco||San Francisco||CA||3517|
|University of Cincinnati - Main Campus||Cincinnati||OH||27327|
|University of Colorado Health Sciences Center||Denver||CO||2399|
|University of Connecticut||Storrs||CT||19393|
|University of Florida||Gainesville||FL||45114|
|University of Georgia||Athens||GA||31288|
|University of Houston||Houston||TX||32123|
|University of Illinois at Chicago||Chicago||IL||24942|
|University of Iowa||Iowa City||IA||28311|
|University of Kansas Main Campus||Lawrence||KS||25920|
|University of Kentucky||Lexington||KY||23114|
|University of Louisiana at Monroe||Monroe||LA||9405|
|University of Maryland - Baltimore||Baltimore||MD||5337|
|University of Michigan - Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor||MI||38103|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Minneapolis||MN||45481|
|University of Mississippi Main Campus||University||MS||12118|
|University of Missouri - Kansas City||Kansas City||MO||12762|
|University of Nebraska Medical Center||Omaha||NE||2695|
|University of New Mexico - Main Campus||Albuquerque||NM||23670|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill||NC||24892|
|University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center||Oklahoma City||OK||2759|
|University of Pittsburgh - Main Campus||Pittsburgh||PA||26329|
|University of Rhode Island||Kingston||RI||14362|
|University of South Carolina - Columbia||Columbia||SC||23728|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles||CA||29194|
|University of the Pacific||Stockton||CA||5609|
|University of the Sciences in Philadelphia||Philadelphia||PA||1927|
|University of Toledo||Toledo||OH||19491|
|University of Utah||Salt Lake City||UT||24948|
|University of Washington - Seattle Campus||Seattle||WA||36139|
|University of Wisconsin - Madison||Madison||WI||40658|
|University of Wyoming||Laramie||WY||11743|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||Richmond||VA||24066|
|Washington State University||Pullman||WA||20492|
|Wayne State University||Detroit||MI||30408|
|West Virginia University||Morgantown||WV||21987|
|Western University of Health Sciences||Pomona||CA||1471|
|Xavier University of Louisiana||New Orleans||LA||3797|