Pharmacists play a vital role in maintaining the overall health and well-being of many Americans by ensuring that patients receive proper medications, advice and over-the-counter remedies based on their symptoms.
Becoming a pharmacist in the United States requires a Doctorate in Pharmacy (PharmD), a degree offered by several academic institutions in the U.S. If you’re interested in become a pharmacist, read on to learn about the top-ranked PharmD schools in country.
What is a pharmacy school?
To become a licensed pharmacist, you must successfully acquire a Doctor of Pharmacy degree by completing four years of formal education at an accredited college of pharmacy.
Admission to a pharmacy school requires students to complete a pre-pharmacy undergraduate program, which involves the completion of at least 60 to 90 credit hours of undergraduate coursework in both basic and advanced sciences. Many pharmacy schools offer preference for admissions to students who hold a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, biology or a similar science.
Other pre-requisite requirements vary from school to school, but many institutions require prospective students to take and pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), a standardized test that assesses prospective pharmacy students’ knowledge of biology, chemistry, writing, quantitative reasoning and critical reading. It’s a multiple-choice test without a standardized “passing score”; instead, each pharmacy school sets their own score standards.
The top pharmacy schools in the United States
There are over 120+ pharmacy schools in the United States. While each institution offers the coursework that’s necessary to become a licensed pharmacist, below we list the best of the best.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
The Eshelman School of Pharmacy is the University of North Carolina’s school of pharmacy. It’s one of the top pharmacy schools in the United States. Pharmacy programs offered here aim to prepare leading pharmacy professionals. Three distinct degree programs for pharmacists are offered at this academic institution, including:
- Doctor of Pharmacy
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which offers a curriculum that is custom-designed for advanced training in the development of medications, delivery of medications and medication policies. It also offers students research experience in the field of pharmacological medicine.
University of Southern California of San Francisco (UCSF)
Located in San Francisco, UCSF’s School of Pharmacy offers several degree programs for prospective pharmacists, including:
- Master of Translational Medicine
- PharmD and Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR)
- PharmD and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). PhD programs offered at UCSF include bioengineering, biophysics, biological and medical informatics, pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics, as well as chemistry and biology
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Located in Duluth and Twin Cities, Minnesota, the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy offers many programs that focus on the field of pharmaceutical medicine. These programs include:
- Doctor of Pharmacy
- Multiple dual degree programs
- Several graduate programs, such as integrated biological sciences and medicinal chemistry
- A postgraduate pharmacy residency program
In addition to these programs, the University of Minnesota also offers continuing professional development for pharmacists who wish to advance their education after successfully completing pharmacy school.
University of Texas at Austin
Located in Austin, Texas, the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy provides prospective pharmacists with the necessary education and training to embark on a successful career as a pharmacist.
The program focuses on a several core subjects that relate to prescription medications, such as:
- Pharm biochem
- Pharm biochemistry
- Pharmacoeconomics and pharmacy law
Additionally, students must complete an internship under the guidance of a practitioner faculty member.
University of Georgia
The Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences is part of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Georgia. This department offers several programs for prospective pharmacists, including:
- Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences
- Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy
- Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences
- Regulatory Affairs and Clinical Trials
Texas A&M University Rangel College of Pharmacy
The Texas A&M University Rangel College of Pharmacy offers several programs for prospective pharmacists, which include:
- PharmD and Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA)
The school, located in College Station, Texas, also offers several other degree programs, as well as practical experience, which students can begin acquiring in their second year of study.
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
The University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Pharmacy offers joint degree program options for students who wish to become pharmacists. These programs include:
- PharmD and PhD
- PharmD and Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI)
- PharmD and MBA
- PharmD and Master of Science in Clinical and Translational Science (MS CTS)
Additionally, there are four PhD programs, which include:
- Medicinal Chemistry
- Biopharmaceutical Sciences
- Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy
The school also offers a Master of Science in Forensic Science program.
University of California, Davis
The University of California at Davis offers the Graduate Program in Pharmacology and Toxicology, which is coordinated by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Two degree programs are offered, including:
- Master of Science
- Doctor of Philosophy
These programs focus on four specific areas that relate to pharmacology:
- Organism-Environmental Interaction
- Reproductive Biology
- Translational Research
Additionally, students can earn an MS degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry through the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
University of Florida
The University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy offers students the opportunity to earn a PharmD degree in one of two programs: one program for students who are intending on earning their first professional PharmD degree and one for licensed pharmacists looking to advance their Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy (the Working Professional PharmD or WPPD program).
There are joint degree programs that enable students to earn dual degrees, including:
- PharmD and Masters of Public Health (MPH)
- PharmD and MBA
- PharmD and PhD
University of Buffalo
The University of Buffalo’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in the Pharmaceutical Science program. Additionally, the school offers a Pharmaceutical Sciences Accelerated BS/MS Program, which allows students to earn their BS/MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences in five years. Other program options include:
- MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences
- PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences
- PharmD. Through this program, students can earn one of the following joint degrees:
- PharmD and MBA
- PharmD and MPH
- PharmD and Master of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MS)
- PharmD and PhD
- PharmD and Juris Doctor (JD)
Other pharmacy schools in the United States
All of the schools of pharmacy above are accredited by the Accreditation of Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). While these schools are considered the most prestigious pharmacy colleges in the nation, there are several other academic institutions that offer degree programs in pharmacology sciences, including:
- Creighton University
- Drake University
- Duquesne University
- Medical University of South Carolina
- Mercer University
- Northeastern University
- Ohio State University
- Oregon State University
- Purdue University
- Rutgers University, Piscataway
- St. Louis College of Pharmacy
- Texas Tech University of Health Sciences Center
- University of Arizona
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
- University of Cincinnati
- University of Colorado, Denver
- University of Connecticut
- University of Houston
- University of Iowa
- University of Kentucky
- University of Maryland, Baltimore
- University of Mississippi
- University of New Mexico
- University of Oklahoma
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of South California
- University of Tennessee Health Science Center
- University of Utah
- University of Washington
- University of Wisconsin, Madison
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Wayne State University, Applebaum
- West Virginia University
All academic institutions that offer PharmD programs also typically offer multiple degree options in Pharmaceutical Sciences for students who wish to become pharmacists.
As mentioned, prerequisite requirements vary from school to school. Prospective students should find out exactly what prerequisites the school requires before submitting an application.Costs for each school and its programs vary, but here may be opportunities to earn scholarships and grants that can be used to assist with covering the costs.
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