How Do I Get a Bachelor of Pharmacy Degree?

N. Swensson

Getting a bachelor of pharmacy degree may or may not be possible or useful, depending on a person’s country of residence and where he or she wants to work, because requirements and programs are not always the same. In the United States, the bachelor of pharmacy degree is no longer offered and has been replaced by the doctor of pharmacy or Pharm.D. degree, which is a four-year program with two years of required pre-pharmacy courses. In other parts of the world, including Europe, India, and Australia, a three- or four-year undergraduate degree in pharmacy from an accredited institution is the educational requirement to obtain licensing as a pharmacist. Regardless of where a person resides, he or she must complete all the requirements and be accepted to a degree program as the first step in becoming a pharmacist. To obtain a license in pharmacy in the United States, a graduate from a doctor of pharmacy program must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX).

Pills from a pharmacy.
Pills from a pharmacy.

Instead of a bachelor of pharmacy degree, students in the United States now complete two years of pre-pharmacy coursework before applying to a doctor of pharmacy program. Different doctoral institutions may require different prerequisites, so interested applicants should make sure that their undergraduate coursework will be accepted by the pharmacy school they want to attend. In general, pre-pharmacy coursework is likely to focus on math and science, particularly biology and chemistry. It may also include an internship with a local pharmacy or similar health care organization. Students in these programs may also work with advisers or take classes to help them prepare for the doctor of pharmacy admissions test or PCAT.

A mortarboard and diploma for a bachelor of pharmacy degree.
A mortarboard and diploma for a bachelor of pharmacy degree.

In other countries where a bachelor of pharmacy degree is still offered, it takes three to four years of full-time study. The required classes are usually heavily focused on math and science, but can also include more training as a health care provider working with the public. Many bachelor of pharmacy programs require students to spend a year working as an entry-level pharmacist under senior supervision until they are allowed to work independently. Internships, co-op programs, and other professional training may also be part of a bachelor of pharmacy program.

Whether an aspiring pharmacist pursues a bachelor of pharmacy, doctor of pharmacy, or other type of related degree, he or she should be aware that academic training and licensures are usually only applicable to the country in which they are obtained. A person should usually obtain pharmacy credentials in the country in which he or she wants to work. In some cases, however, transfer programs may be available, and some countries may accept degrees from other parts of the world.

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