Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer advice on their safe use.
Careers within the pharmaceutical field are diverse and provide many opportunities for challenging and rewarding service. There are six specialty areas:
- Ambulatory Care Pharmacy
- Nuclear Pharmacy
- Nutrition Support Pharmacy
- Oncology Pharmacy
- Psychiatric Pharmacy
Admission Requirements for Pharmacy School
The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree requires the completion of a 4-year program at an accredited school of pharmacy. Some Pharm.D. graduates obtain further training through 1-year or 2-year residency programs or fellowships. All states require pharmacists to be licensed.
Education and Training
Pharm.D. programs generally take 4 years to complete. The courses offered are designed to teach you about all aspects of drug therapy. In addition to receiving classroom instruction, you will spend time working with licensed pharmacists in a variety of practice settings.
Most programs look for a minimum undergraduate cumulative 2.5 GPA but the average GPA for matriculates is a 3.7 cumulative and a 3.8 in the sciences. Keep in mind these numbers are averages and various schools can have their own averages that are higher or lower. Also, these averages are climbing higher each year and admission to pharmacy schools is more competitive than ever. Be sure you take your studies seriously and put in the proper time for reading, studying, and review for each course.
PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test)
The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) endorses the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) as the official preferred admissions test for entrance to pharmacy school. Approximately two-thirds of U.S. colleges and schools of pharmacy require the PCAT for admission. You should aim to have a score in the 70th percentile in order to stay competitive.
Most students take this exam the summer before their senior year. In order to register for the PCAT you will need to complete the following:
Quick Look at the PCAT
||CMU courses with relevant content|
BIO 110, 324, 326
HSC 214, 211
CHM 131, 132, 425*
CHM 345, 346
Reading Comprehension (50 minutes)
Evaluate and apply information
and arguments presented
Courses that emphasize critical thinking and reasoning skills. Many UP courses and BIO 490 capstone courses.
MTH 132, 133
Where is the PCAT administered?
In several locations throughout Michigan, including:
- Big Rapids
- Sault Ste. Marie
What is the cost of the PCAT?
How should you prepare for the PCAT?
- Begin at least 3 months before your test date
- Questions emphasize problem-solving abilities, not rote memorization
- Essential to obtain practice tests
Experience in Pharmacy
All applicants need to be aware that the Admissions Committee also views one’s knowledge of the profession of pharmacy to be of importance. You should consider shadowing a pharmacist to learn the daily objectives of the field. This will help you discover if this is truly the path for you. Having strong career experiences and life accomplishments will allow you to validate your professionalism and maturity, which are strongly considered in the application process.
You should have scientific aptitude, good interpersonal skills and a desire to help others if you want to be a pharmacist. You also must be conscientious and pay close attention to detail, because the decisions you'll make affect human lives.
Michigan Pharmacy Schools
Applying to Pharmacy Schools
There is now a centralized application process for pharmacy school. You may file one application and send it to multiple pharmacy programs. Most Pharmacy Schools use the PharmCAS (Pharmacy Centralized Application Service) site as a centralized application site.
The choice of an undergraduate major while preparing for pharmacy school is not especially critical for successful admission, but the selection of certain coursework and the right combination of sciences, social and behavioral sciences and electives is important.
The requirements for each PharmD. program will be significantly different. You will need to research each school you wish to apply to verify those requirements. To be admitted to a Pharm.D. program, you must have completed at least 2 years of specific professional study. This requirement generally includes courses in:
- Mathematics and natural sciences, such as chemistry, biology and physics
- Course in the humanities and social sciences
Most applicants have completed 3 or more years of college before moving on to a Pharm.D. program, although this is not specifically required.
Certain basic requirements must be fulfilled before you can be accepted to pharmacy school. These requirements include:
- 1 year Inorganic Chemistry with labs
- 1 year Organic Chemistry with labs
- 1 year Physics with labs
- 1 year Biology with labs
- 1 year English
- 1 year Calculus
- 1 semester Anatomy
Below are the CMU courses we recommend to meet these requirements:
||HSC 214 or BIO 337
||CHM 425 or CHM 521 & CHM 522
||CHM 131 & CHM 132
||CHM 345, CHM 346 & CHM 349
||PHY 130, PHY 131, PHY 170, PHY 171
or PHY 145, PHY 146, PHY 175, PHY 176
||BIO 110 & BIO 208
||ENG 101 & ENG 201
||MTH 132 & STA 382
||HSC 215 or BIO 392
Some pharmacy schools may have additional courses required or recommended. Review the admission requirements of the pharmacy schools you plan on applying in advance.
All required courses must be taken for a grade. Each school has its own policy regarding AP credit. Usually, AP credit in these areas should be followed with additional upper level work in the discipline including labs.
To further strengthen you application and your ability to succeed in pharmacy school, here are some additional CMU courses you could take:
||Various economics courses|
Pharmacists held about 274,900 jobs in 2010. About 65 percent worked in retail settings. About 22 percent worked in hospitals. A small proportion worked in mail-order and internet pharmacies, pharmaceutical wholesalers, offices of physicians and the federal government.
Employment of pharmacists is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing numbers of middle-aged and elderly people and scientific advances that lead to new drug products will continue to spur demand for pharmacists. Job prospects should be excellent.
Median annual wages of pharmacists in May 2010 were $111,570.
For information on pharmacy as a career and programs offered by colleges of pharmacy:
Additional career information is available from:
Information on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) is available from:
Pre-Health Professions Academic Advisor
Lisa E. Snider
Emmons Hall 136B
Biology Faculty Advisor
Brooks Hall 206A
Chemistry Faculty Advisor
Dow Science Complex 343