Pre-pharmacy is a set of courses that must be completed prior to admission into a pharmacy program. It is not a major that students can declare. Pharmacy programs vary by school and it is important to research the schools you are interested in to verify that you are satisfying the requirements that are particular to that school. Most programs are similar in the minimum requirements.
Pharmacy programs generally accept students who have either completed the bachelor’s degree or who transfer after completing at least 60 hours, including all required pharmacy prerequisite courses. Strong grades, PCAT scores, experience, and interview will allow acceptance with either pathway. Completing a degree first will give you a stronger background, more experience, and a “back-up plan” in case pharmacy is not for you. The stronger science background of finishing the BS will open more opportunities for using your pharmacy degree.
You should pursue a major that interests you, science-related or not. A science major is common since most pre-requisite courses are in science and math. More pre-pharmacy courses count towards a Chemistry major than any other major on campus. Only a handful of courses are needed beyond the pre-pharmacy courses to complete a Chemistry BS degree- biochemistry track. Other upper level courses (such as biochemistry) are strongly recommended, though not required for pharmacy school. Stronger candidates will also have experiences such as undergraduate research that many chemistry majors pursue.
The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) consists of chemistry, biology, math, reading, and writing sections. Detailed information on this test can be found at www.PCATweb.info.
Pharmacy is a highly desirable career and the pharmacy schools are able to take only the very best students. UGA recently accepted 145 students with an average GPA of 3.48 and PCAT of 80. USC accepts 110 students for Columbia campus and 80 students to the MUSC Charleston campus with average GPA of 3.6-3.7 and PCAT of 70. Your GPA and PCAT are very important for granting an interview. Different schools place different emphasis on the GPA, PCAT, interview, recommendation letters, and experience. Some programs are easier to gain admission to, but you should carefully consider the quality of the program and learning environment before deciding where you wish to attend. You will not be a pharmacist until you pass the state boards.
Required courses for the 6 regional pharmacy programs are listed on the next sheet. These schools include Universisty of Georgia (UGA), South University, Mercer, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), University of South Carolina (USC), and Presbyterian College. More detail can be found on each pharmacy school’s website. The table also shows which courses count towards a BS Chemistry degree.
Most pharmacy programs recommend additional “supplemental” upper level courses to strengthen applications. The benefit of these courses is usually found during the interview process. For instance, UGA only looks at the GPA for specific pre-pharmacy courses to grant interviews, but strongly suggests additional upper level courses to do better in the interview portion.
Taking each course marked Yes from the table will complete much of the BS degree. Remaining courses include 26 hours of chemistry (including biochemistry), a minor or at least 12 more hours of upper level courses (such as the supplemental courses recommended by pharmacy), and remaining electives for 124 hours total.