Important Considerations for Applying to Pharmacy Schools

There are a number of factors to consider when applying to pharmacy schools, including the universityís location, costs, financial aid, admission requirements, and of course, the actual quality of the program offered. Some schools have just the Pharm.D. program, some offer pre-pharmacy courses, and others feature 0-6 programs. It is important to be sure that you are applying to pharmacy schools that offers everything you need in a program.

Prerequisite Courses

Most Pharm.D. programs do not require applicants to have a bachelorís degree, but there are still prerequisite courses that students must complete prior to application. Typical prerequisites focus heavily on the sciences. Most schools require two semesters each of General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Physics, and General Biology, all with the associating labs. Other prerequisites may include courses in psychology, economics, writing, and a higher-level math, such as calculus. Pre-pharmacy programs generally include all of the above courses.

Other Application Requirements

In addition to these prerequisite courses, most schools require applicants to submit recommendation letters. Schools vary in the number of letters needed, as well as whom the letter should be from, so it is best to check with each school for more details. A personal essay is also an important part of every application, as it gives students an opportunity to show the school what makes them uniquely qualified. Many schools also hold interviews for a handful of applicants. Students who are granted an interview have a significantly better chance of being accepted than those who arenít.

Applying to Pharmacy Schools Using PharmCAS

The Pharmacy College Application Service, commonly referred to as PharmCAS, provides an easy way for students to apply to several pharmacy schools at once. Students provide their information to PharmCAS, which then forwards the information to the schools the student selects. Course information and transcripts, letters of recommendation, and the personal essay can all be included in the centralized application. Approximately 2/3 of Pharm.D. programs require an application to be submitted through PharmCAS, or at minimum a supplemental application.

Standardized Tests and the PCAT

Some colleges require SAT or ACT scores, but the most common standardized test for pharmacy programs is the Pharmacy College Admission Test, or PCAT. The test is computer based and available from Pearson. It consists of five sections that test verbal ability, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, and quantitative ability. Students are given a scaled score and a percentile rank score, which compares their score against the average. Pearson does not set a particular number as a passing score, but some colleges may, so it is best to get the highest score possible.

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Making the Application Stand Out

Schools list the basic admissions requirements on their websites, but it is best to go beyond whenever possible, since admissions are competitive. In most Pharm.D. programs, less than 20% of applicants are accepted into the program. Exceptional GPAs and PCAT scores, well above the schools basic requirements, are necessary. In addition, some schools may give preferential admission to those with an undergraduate degree. Finally, the personal essay and interview are great ways to tell the school what makes you truly stand out from the crowd.

Applying to pharmacy school is not very different from applying to any other program. The schools look at GPA and academic history, standardized test scores, the interview, and the personal statement. Admissions are highly competitive, so it may be wise to apply to a number of safety schools to maximize your chances of getting in.

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