How do I get a Pharmacy Degree?

Ken Black

Getting a pharmacy degree often involves years of study and advanced preparation. For those who know in high school that pharmacy is an area of interest, taking as many math and science courses as possible, especially chemistry, should be a big help. After high school, looking at a pharmacy college and getting enrolled is the logical progression. From high school, the process will take five to six years.

A pharmacy technician working.
A pharmacy technician working.

During that logical progression, research should be done into the school of choice. Look for those who have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. This will indicate how well the pharmacy school's degree is likely to be accepted. It may not even be possible to get a state license without going to a school with this accreditation. Making sure the school is also a member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy is also recommended, if the school is located in the United States.

A pharmacist mixes and dispenses medication.
A pharmacist mixes and dispenses medication.

Once a school has been chosen, it is necessary to make sure one's academic adviser knows as early in the process as possible what the student's intentions are. This will help the adviser choose the appropriate prerequisites before the core pharmacy program begins. Getting into a college of pharmacy is often a very competitive process, and therefore it is important for any student pursuing a pharmacy degree to begin as early as possible. Getting good grades will also help.

A pharmacy degree is known as a PharmD. It may also be referred to as a Doctorate of pharmacy. This pharmacy degree is not considered a graduate degree in the traditional sense of the word, even though it normally takes five to six years to obtain. Rather, it is its own degree that does not require a bachelor's degree before earning. Some students may find a bachelor's degree that closely coincides with a PharmD, and attempt to get both at the same time. However, this is not necessary in order to get work as a pharmacist.

Many times, those interested in a pharmacy degree will get a bachelor's degree first, and then apply for the pharmacy program, but there are other options. One is known as an "early assurance" option, which guarantees the student a spot in the core pharmacy program without any degree, if certain conditions, such as passing the required prerequisites with a minimum GPA, are met. No matter which path is chosen, once in the pharmacy program, the time required to complete the program is still likely to be at least five years.

Those who are interested in online degree programs should be cautious when hoping to earn a pharmacy degree. The programs are often not full PharmD degrees, but rather degrees for pharmacy technicians, which require less technical expertise, and which offers much lower pay. Some programs offer a PharmD degree, but enrollment is limited to licensed pharmacists who were licensed before the PharmD was required. Keep in mind that the requirements for being a pharmacist are regulated at the State level, and that earning a license in one state does not necessarily give one the right to work as a pharmacist in another state.

Pills from a pharmacy.
Pills from a pharmacy.

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