Pharmacy Education in the United States of America

This site is dedicated to all the people who want to pursue their pharmacy education in the U.S.A., especially to all my mates in India. There is a lot of confusion among prospective students about what the Pharm.D. is all about, and whether it is actually a Ph.D. course. This site talks about what the Pharm.D., the M.S. program and the Ph.D. program are all about . It also highlights the requirements that should be fulfilled before applying to any of these programs. At the end of the Pharm.D. section on this website, the possibility of international students with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Pharmacy becoming registered pharmacists in the U.S. is addressed.
Since most of you reading this are doing your B. Pharmacy and want to pursue the M.S. or the Ph. D programs, you can just scroll down to your region of interest and skip the Pharm.D. For those of you who want to know how to study for the GRE and Toefl, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
1) Pharm.D.:
2) M.S. Programs:
3) Ph.D. Programs:
4) University Websites:

1) Pharm.D.:
In the United States, thePharm.D. (Doctor of Pharmacy) degree is a form of professional doctorate (also called first professional degree) that prepares the graduate for pharmacy practice. Even though professional doctorates and academic research doctorates both utilize the term "doctor", the Pharm.D. is not a research doctorate and is not equivalent to the Ph.D. The multidisciplinary curriculum may focus on pharmacy-biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, social and administrative sciences, pharmacy law and policy, clinical sciences and experiential training.

Although entrance into a Pharm.D. program generally does not require prior completion of an undergraduate degree, many applicants hold one. It takes a minimum of six academic years, which can be completed in five calendar years, after high school graduation to complete the Pharm.D. program, and it is quite common for students to take eight years to complete the degree.

Traditionally in the United States, the bachelor's degree in pharmacy was the first-professional degree for pharmacy practice. However, in 1990, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) mandated that a doctorate in pharmacy would be the new first-professional degree. As of the year 2000, all pharmacy schools in the U.S. have discontinued the B.S.Pharm. (Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy) degree program. The Pharm.D. is the degree program that one pursues in order to become a pharmacist in the U.S.

Pre-Requisites to the Pharm.D. program:
i) Complete the required Pre-Pharmacy Coursework
ii) Take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test )
iii) Obtain letters of Recommendation
iv) Participate in Community Service (Requirement in some universities)

i) Pre-Pharmacy Coursework
The Pre-Pharmacy Coursework lasts up to 4 semesters and generally has the following courses. Coursework is specifically tailored and may vary between Universities.
Semester I
Intro. to Biological Science I
Intro. to Biological Science I Lab
Fundamentals of Chemistry I
Fundamentals of Chemistry I Lab
English Composition I
The United States to 1877 or equivalent (History)
Elements of Calculus with Application orCalculus I
Semester II
Introduction to Biological Science II
Introduction to Biological Science II Lab
Fundamentals of Chemistry II
Fundamentals of Chemistry II Lab
English Composition II
The United States Since 1877 or equivalent
Introduction to Statistical Analysis
Humanities (Refer approved courses list in college)

Semester III
Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry I
Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry I Lab
U.S. & State Constitution/Politics
Social Science: (Choose One): Introduction toPsychology or Introduction to Sociology
Introductory General Physics or Physics I orOne year of high school physics
Visual/Performing Arts (Courses approved by college)

Semester IV
Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry II
Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry II Lab
Elementary Microbiology
Elementary Microbiology Lab
US Government: Congress, President, and Courts
Writing Intensive Social Science (See University courses approved list)
Fundamentals of Public Speaking

ii) PCAT:
PCAT is an exam developed by PsychCorp, a brand of Harcourt Assessment, Inc. is a specialized test that helps identify qualified applicants to pharmacy colleges. It measures general academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary for the commencement of pharmaceutical education. The PCAT is constructed specifically for colleges of pharmacy.
The PCAT consists of 240 multiple-choice items and two Writing topics, and candidates are given four hours to complete the test (plus administrative time for instructions and time for a short rest break about halfway through the test)
The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) endorses the PCAT as the official preferred admission test for entrance to pharmacy college.

iii) Obtain Letters of Recommendation:
Most universities have their own recommendation forms which can be downloaded on the university websites and must be filled in by faculty members. Some Universities require a recommendation form to be filled by a registered pharmacist.
iv) Participate in Community Service:
Community service, volunteering, and school service are all positive areas to be included on the application. With the application pool becoming more and more competitive, do not forget about this important area.
The college is looking for well-rounded individuals who are involved in their communities. There is no minimum amount of activities to be included on the application and the activities can be whatever type that the applicant chooses. Activities do not have to be in the health care area.

After completing the program, the student will have to take a licensing exam (NAPLEX) within the state where he/she wants to practice as a pharmacist.

The NAPLEX, or North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, is a standard examination created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to help individual state boards of pharmacy assess an individual's competency and knowledge so that he or she may be given a license to practice.

The NAPLEX is exclusively a computer-administered exam. Applicants must register with an official testing facility, such as Prometric, at least two business days in advance to schedule a testing appointment. The exam consists of 185 questions and has a time limit of four hours and fifteen minutes, with a mandatory ten-minute break after approximately two hours. Of the 185 questions, only 150 are used to tabulate the applicant's score. The remaining 35 are "trial balloon" questions under consideration for inclusion on future NAPLEX tests. There is no way to distinguish a regular test question from a trial balloon.

The NAPLEX is an adaptive examination in that it tailors itself to the skill level of the applicant. Because of the linear nature of the exam (applicants must answer a question to continue, and there is no backtracking), the computer is able to zero-in on incorrect responses and select similar questions for presentation later in the exam. This allows for analyzation of the applicants' skill level across several performance categories

Upon clearing the licensing exam, they become registered pharmacists within that state.
For international students who've done their bachelors in pharmacy program in countries other than the U.S., becoming a registered pharmacist requires that they first take the FPGEE (Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination) followed by the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination).

International students who have graduated with a 4 year B. Pharmacy degree before Jan 2003 are eligible to register for taking the FPGEE. Those who have graduated AFTER Jan 2003 require a 5 year B.Pharmacy degree to be eligible to register for the FPGEE. This change was made to keep the standards of foreign pharmacists on par with U.S. standards. And NO, there is no way around this. If you graduated after Jan 2003 with a 4 year B. Pharmacy degree, you are, unfortunately, not eligible to register for the FPGEE. You will have to take the PharmD course if you want to become a pharmacist in U.S.A. or have a 5 year B. Pharmacy degree. You cannot make up 5 years with 2 years of your masters either. Period.

2) M.S. Programs:

The M.S. program one wants to pursue depends upon his/her personal interest. There are various departments one can specialize in, which include Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, Pharmaceutics, Industrial Pharmacy, Medicinal Chemistry, Clinical Pharmacy and so on. In order to find out more about these courses, browse through the websites of the universities you prefer to apply to and make sure you know what the course is all about. Not all universities offer all these courses. For instance, a university may only have Master's Degree Programs in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmacology. So find out about your course of interest, and then locate the universities that offer them. Students pursuing the M.S. preferably want to do the Ph.D. and start a career in academia or in R & D.

Colleges have 3 semesters of study per year. Fall semester starts in August, Spring semester starts in January and Summer starts in June. Most universities prefer international students to apply for the Fall or Spring semester. Intake during the summer semester is low. The application deadlines are usually 6 months before the commencement of the program, so make sure you are aware of the deadline for the universities you want to apply to. Some university have deadlines up to 8 months before the actual course. You have to time yourself in such a manner that your GRE, Toefl and transcripts reach the university before the deadlines. In case you haven't' completed the last semester of your Bachelor's degree during the time of application, then you can mention that during the time of application.

Pre-requisites for applying to the M.S. Program :
1) A Bachelor's in Pharmaceutical Sciences Degree or a B. Pharmacy Degree (Some universities even accept any B.S. Degree)
2) GRE
3) Toefl
4) Statement of Purpose
5) Letters of Recommendation
6) Financial capability to live and study in the U.S.

1) A Bachelor's in Pharmaceutical Sciences Degree or a B. Pharmacy Degree:
A Bachelor's of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences or a B. Pharmacy degree is considered as an undergraduate degree in the U.S. During the time of applying to the Master's program, you have to submit a university attested degree or provisional, along with the transcripts from the 1st through 4th year of your Bachelors degree program. The procedure for doing this is that you can take xerox copies of all your transcripts and your provisional degree, take them to your university (Eg: J.N.T.U in A.P.) along with white envelopes and have them attested at the university. The University charges a fixed fee per attestation, so the number of copies you should get attested depends on the number of universities you're going to apply to for the Master's program.
Put one set of attested transcripts and provisional certificate per envelop. Remember that even the envelop has to be attested such that half of the stamp is on the envelop flap and the rest on the body of the envelope.
These are the basic steps for getting attestation, and probably everyone knows them, but I generalized them anyway.

2) GRE
The Graduate Record Exam is a test to gauge your Verbal skills (English), Quantitative skills (Math) and analytical skills (Reasoning and Articulation). Most universities have a specified minimum score one must have in his/her GRE to be considered for admission. Since it's different for various universities, find out about the standards that your university requires before applying there. Some universities don't specify this limit. For information about how to prepare for the GRE, click here. For further information about the GRE, click here.

3) Toefl:
The Test of English as a foreign language must be taken by all international students who wish to study in the U.S. Most universities specify the minimum score they want their applicants to have to be considered for admission. In many cases, if a students has good academics, a decent GRE score, but a low Toefl and the University wants to accept such a student, then he/she may receive a conditional I-20, and he/she will be required to take a semester of English before the actual coursework and this is added to his tuition bill. If money is an issue for you, then don't' forget the consider the bill you'll receive for this course too. For more information about how to prepare for the Toefl, click here.

4) Statement Of Purpose:
This is your personal statement. What you have to do here is mention why you want to pursue the course that you are applying to, and how this degree program is going to help you to achieve your goal. You can include information regarding what your educational background is as well as any special skills that you have. For instance, you may have been a very good orator during your school or college, so include such information in your S.O.P. Identify your skills that are relevant in an academic setting and make sure you make yourself very marketable. Your Statement of Purpose is a very good means for the University to gauge you as a suitable candidate, so be honest and state the skills you actually have. Also, putting skills like being good at debates and presentations, increases your chances of getting a Teaching Assistantship, which would take away the financial burden of paying your tuition to a considerable extent. Having done research work helps you get a Research Assistantship, so make sure you use put down all your skills when you're turning in this document. Do not put irrelevant skills here, e.g., being good at singing. (lol)

5) Letter Of Recommendation:
You will need anywhere between 2 to 4 letters of recommendation from faculty of the college where you've done you're Bachelor's degree. Some universities may require you to download letters of recommendation from their website, in which case, it's more like a questionnaire which the faculty has to fill in. Other universities would prefer your professors to write in their own words about the candidate applying to the university. This is done by your professors personally on official letter heads. In either case, i.e., if you professor fills the questionnaire or if he writes his own letter on official letter head, he has to put his stamp and signature on the bottom, enclose it in an envelop and sign it such that half of his sign is on the flap of the sealed envelop and the rest on the body of the envelop.
You can get good letters of recommendation if you were a good student and treated your professors with respect. (Hehe). In other words, be good to your teachers, and they'll help you in return. The letters of recommendation can really help you, especially when you are applying for a graduate assistantship.

6) Finances:
When applying for a program, you have to show evidence regarding your financial capacity to support yourself and your education during the entire period of your stay in the U.S. You will have to submit a bank statement during the time of application. Some universities require to submit banking transaction for up to six months before the time of application, so find out what kind of paper work your university is asking for. The amount of money that you need depends upon the course you're taking up, the state you're intending to go to, and the living expenses in that city or state. For instance, the cost of living in New York is very high, whereas it is relatively cheaper in Louisiana and Texas.

You have to be sure to turn in the following documents before the application deadlines:
1) Application form ( Online applications are the most preferred by universities)
2) Application fee
3) Attested transcripts and provisional
4) GRE score, directly through ETS
5) Toefl score, directly through ETS
6) Bank Statements
7) Letters of Recommendation
8) Statement of Purpose
9) Graduate Assistantship Application ( if you want to be considered for an assistantship)

3) Ph.D. Programs:
One can pursue a Ph.D. in any of the areas within the pharmaceutical sciences that are of interest to him/her. In order to pursue a Ph.D., it is preferred that one has completed an M.S. program, but it is not a necessity. Some universities accept students into the Ph.D. program right after their bachelors program if the student appears promising. However, remember that the pool of applicants to the Ph.D. program has M.S. students too, so the chances of getting in are comparatively slim right after the B.S.
Some universities offer M.S.+ Ph.D. programs for students who've completed their B.S. The pre-requisites for applying to the Ph.D. program are very similar to the M.S. program.
Pre-Requisites to the Ph.D. program:
1) A B.S. Degree or an M.S. Degree ( depending on whether you're applying to the M.S.+ Ph.D. program, or the Ph.D. program)
2) GRE
3) Toefl
4) Statement of Purpose
5) Letters of Recommendation
6) Curriculum Vitae
7) Financial capacity to study and live in the U.S.
Items 1 through 5 above are similar to what is required in the M.S. program.
6) Curriculum Vitae:
A curriculum vitae, commonly referred to as CV, is a longer (two or more pages), more detailed synopsis than a resume. It includes a summary of your educational and academic background, as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations, and other details.
For details on how to write an academic CV, just click here.
7) Finances:
Most universities offer funding for all the students they accept into their Ph.D. program. However, financial capability to live and study in the U.S. must be proved, more for the visa requirements, as well as to follow standard admission procedures.

4) University Websites:

I am citing here, all the pharmacy schools throughout the U.S.A. This should be helpful to all my fellow pharmacy students.

Auburn University - School of Pharmacy
Butler University - College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Campbell University - School of Pharmacy
Columbia University - College of Physicians and Surgeons
Duquesne University - Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Florida A and M University
Idaho State University - College of Pharmacy
Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Programs
Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences
Long Island University - Brooklyn Campus; Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Long Island University - Westchester Graduate Campus Pharmaceutics
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences
Medical University of South Carolina
Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy
North Dakota State University
Northeastern University Bouve College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Ohio State University - The College of Pharmacy
Oregon State University - College of Pharmacy
Purdue University- School of Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers College of Pharmacy
Saint John's University - College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions
Temple University - School of Pharmacy
Texas Tech University - School of Pharmacy
University at Buffalo - The State University of New York School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Arizona - College of Pharmacy
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy
University of California, San Diego - Department of Pharmacology
University of California, San Francisco
University of Cincinnati - College of Pharmacy
University of Colorado - Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy
University of Connecticut - School of Pharmacy
University of Florida - Department of Pharmaceutics
University of Georgia - College of Pharmacy
University of Houston - College of Pharmacy
University of Illinois at Chicago - College of Pharmacy
University of Iowa - College of Pharmacy
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky - College of Pharmacy
University of Louisiana at Monroe - School of Pharmacy
University of Maryland, Baltimore - School of Pharmacy
University of Michigan - College of Pharmacy
University of Minnesota - College of Pharmacy
University of Missouri - Kansas City Pharmaceutical Science
University of Mississippi - School of Pharmacy
University of Montana - The School of Pharmacy & Allied Health Sciences
University of Nebraska Medical Center - Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - School of Pharmacy
University of Oklahoma - Health Sciences Center College of Pharmacy
University of Pennsylvania - School of Medicine
University of Rhode Island - College of Pharmacy
University of Southern California Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of South Carolina - College of Pharmacy
University of Tennessee, Memphis - College of Pharmacy
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
University of Texas at Austin - College of Pharmacy
University of the Pacific - School of Pharmacy
University of Toledo, The
University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Pharmacy
University of Utah - College of Pharmacy
Virginia Commonwealth University - School of Pharmacy
University of Washington - School of Pharmacy
Wayne State University - College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions
Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University
West Virginia University - School of Pharmacy


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    # by praneeth - November 15, 2009 at 8:56 AM

    I want to do MS in Pharmacy
    final yr bachelors in pharmacy
    Here is my profile
    B.PHARM-3.71(WES evaluation)

    can u pls suggest me some universities which suits fr my score...(in pseutics or indst pharmacy)

    and pls check these universities and do suggest

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    eastern michigan university--- clinical research administration

    wright state university--- pharmacology and toxicology
    north dakota university--- pharmaceutics
    massachusetts college of pharmacy--- pharmaceutics
    university of louisiana at monroe--- pharmaceutics

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    # by sd - December 9, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    Hi, the blog's really good,iam a IIIyr bpharm student from dipsar , can u tell me which univ offers ms (and not ms+phd)with comlete financial aid ,jst got 1yr left so gotta cllct the infrmatn fast ,

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    # by nehasrinivas - March 22, 2010 at 4:14 AM

    hai.........i came to knw that we require 16years of education certificates to study ms(pharmacy) in unfortunately due to some reasons i have only 8yrs certificates including my can u plz tell me whthr i am eligible to study there or not.....plz reply.........thank you...

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