Rapidly growing healthcare and pharmaceutical needs in the United States have led to an increasing demand for trained pharmacy professionals. Pharmacists today take a more active role in patient care than in the past. This is due to the increase in prescriptions to meet the health needs of an aging population, the availability of new drugs and the steady increase of copay insurance programs. Pharmacists are the medication experts, working to help patients understand their medications and working with physicians and nurse practitioners to provide the expertise on dosing, drug interactions and side effects. In fact, pharmacy is the third largest healthcare profession (after nursing and medicine).
As part of the healthcare team, pharmacists are responsible for such things as drug therapy management, administration of drugs and vaccinations, and helping patients in managing chronic diseases. Pharmacists also play an active role in educating consumers, patients and healthcare professionals on the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications and provide expertise about the composition and properties of drugs, so good communication skills and advanced scientific knowledge are essential for pharmacists. In addition, business, management and leadership skills help make for a successful pharmacist. Pharmacists work in a variety of settings such as community pharmacies; hospitals; managed-care organizations; long-term care facilities; pharmaceutical companies; and local, state and federal government facilities.
The doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree is the only professional pharmacy degree offered in the United States. Students seeking to become pharmacists must complete the required prerequisite undergraduate coursework established by the PharmD school. The PharmD degree program requires at least two years of specific undergraduate pre-pharmacy coursework followed by four academic years (or three calendar years) of PharmD study. Students complete their pre-pharmacy coursework while pursuing one of three paths: 1) integrate PharmD prerequisites while completing requirements for their bachelor's degree; 2) Early Assurance 2 + 4 program: complete a two year pre-professional education program preceding admission to the PharmD curriculum; 3) Early Assurance 3 + 4 program: complete the integrated curriculum with all years of study in the profession college. Pre-professional education required for admission may be taken at an approved community college or university. The majority of students enter a pharmacy program with three or more years of college experience. These programs provide students with the requirements to take the licensure examination of a state board of pharmacy in order to practice pharmacy.
The Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) is the centralized application service for students applying to pharmacy school in the United States. Applicants complete a single application and need only one set of official transcripts to apply to multiple PharmD programs. Note that there are still many schools of pharmacy that don't participate in PharmCAS. To learn more about PharmCAS and find out which schools participate in the service, go to the website, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-612-2050.
The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy website provides information about different professional degree programs in pharmacy, different careers in pharmacy, useful applicant links, and an exhaustive list of colleges and schools of pharmacy.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy, take into account the following deadlines/requirements as you prepare a ‘tentative academic schedule’ for your remaining years at Binghamton:
- Deadlines for required admission tests (PCAT - Pharmacy College Admissions Test)*
- Required undergraduate (pre-professional) courses
- Application deadlines for various programs
- Internships and field observation recommended, program specific
* Different admission tests are required for entry to different programs. More than half, but not all, U.S. pharmacy schools require the PCAT. It is important that you contact individual programs and inquire about specific test scores and other admission requirements before you apply. Information about the PCAT is available online.
Admission requirements vary by pharmacy institution. Below is a list of some common college course prerequisites required to enter a U.S. school of pharmacy. Binghamton University is opening a new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The prerequisites are found on the homepage for that school: http://www.binghamton.edu/pharmacy-and-pharmaceutical-sciences/prospective-students/prerequisites.html. However, students should review the requirements for each institution before applying since there is no set standard for required courses needed to gain acceptance to pharmacy school. School-specific information can be found in the AACP publication, "Pharmacy School Admission Requirements" (PSAR).
Online courses: Some professional schools do not accept online science courses, especially those with online labs. Students are responsible for checking the requirements for each school to which they are applying.
|Subject||Course rubric and number|
|Biology (1 year)||BIOL 117 & BIOL 118|
|Chemistry (1 year)||CHEM 107 & CHEM 108
CHEM 111 & CHEM 341
You MUST choose one sequence. You may NOT switch between sequences. Also, CHEM 107 MUST be taken in the fall semester and CHEM 108 in the spring semester.
|Organic Chemistry (1 year)||CHEM 231, CHEM 332 & CHEM 335 (lab)|
|Physics (1 Year)||PHYS 121 & PHYS 122 (or PHYS 131 & PHYS 132)|
|Microbiology (1 semester & lab)||BIOL 314 & BIOL 326 (lab)|
|Human Anatomy & Physiology (1 year)||BIOL 251 & either BIOL 252 or BIOL 347|
|Biochemistry (1 semester)||BCHM/BIOL 403 (formerly BCHM/BIOL 302)|
|Calculus I & II (1 year)||Calculus I: MATH 224 & 225 (formerly MATH 221)
Calculus II: MATH 222 (starting spring 2016, MATH 222 will become MATH 226 & 227)
|Statistics (1 semester)||MATH 147 or MATH 148 or PSYC 243|
|Economics (1 semester)||ECON 160 or ECON 162|
|English/Composition/Literature (at least 1 semester)||Any course in English (ENG), Rhetoric (RHET), Writing (WRIT), Creative Writing (CW) or Comparative Literature (COLI) departments.|
|Public Speaking (1 semester)||Any 3-4 credit course that states "public speaking" in the course title.|
|Social Science/Humanities (at least 1 semester)||Social science: any course in the Anthropology (ANTH), Geography (GEOG), History (HIST),
Political Science (PLSC) or Sociology (SOC) departments.
Humanities: any course in the English (ENG), Comparative Literature (COLI) or Philosophy (PHIL) departments.
|Subject||Course rubric and number|
|Analytical Chemistry (1 semester)||CHEM 221|
|Cell Biology (1 semester)||BIOL 311|
|Genetics (1 semester)||BCHM/BIOL 401 or BIOL 435|
|Immunology (1 semester)||BIOL 402|
|Medical Ethics (1 semester)||PHIL 148|
|Psychology (1 semester)||PSYC 111|
*Disclaimer: All of the above information is current as of July 27, 2015. As with most information, it is subject to change at anytime.
For more information about pharmacy programs, contact:
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
1727 King Street
Alexandria VA 22314
Phone: (703) 739-2330
Fax: (703) 836-8982
Last updated: July 27, 2015