Pharmacy Colleges and Universities

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Pharmacist speaking to a
Pharmacy is the chemical sciences side of
the healthcare services industry.
Specifically, pharmacy focuses on the safe
and effective use of drugs and medications
in the treatment of disease, illness, and
various other physical and psychological
ailments. The scope of pharmacy includes
drug therapy, compounding drugs,
dispensing medications, consulting and
educating patients, and working with other
medical professionals and organizations.
In short, pharmacy focuses on using drugs
to help patients maximize their health.

Within pharmacy, there are two primary
healthcare professionals: Pharmacists and
Pharmacy Technicians.
Pharmacists are licensed professionals who
work in pharmacy. They are the primary
healthcare experts within the industry, as
such, they are required to be licensed by
the state where they work. Pharmacy
technicians work under the supervision of
a licensed pharmacist, assisting with the
dispensing of drugs and medications to
customers. In some states, like
pharmacists, pharmacy technicians are also
required to be licensed.

Becoming a pharmacy technicians is
actually quite straight forward. You can
become a pharmacy technician through
on-the-job training or by earning a 1-year
certificate or 2-year associate’s degrees
in pharmacy technology from a vocational
school or community college. Becoming a
pharmacist is a little bit more involved.
It typically requires earning a four-year
bachelor’s degree and then earning
doctoral degree in pharmacy from an
accredited college or university.

An undergraduate major in pharmacy studies
is designed to prepare aspiring college
students and pharmaceutical professionals
for the independent or employed practice
of preparing and dispensing drugs and
medications in consultation with
prescribing physicians and other health
care professionals, and for managing
pharmacy practices and counseling
patients. If you decide to pursue a major
in pharmacy studies you can expect to take
courses in mathematics, chemistry,
physics, biochemistry, physiology,
anatomy, pharmacology, pharmacognosy,
pharmacy practice, pharmaceutical
chemistry, pharmacy administration,
applicable regulations, and professional
standards and ethics.

Select a concentration below to explore
various pharmacy colleges and universities
offering majors and degree programs. Learn
how to prepare and dispense drugs and
medications, counsel patients and manage a
pharmacy practice.

Choosing a Pharmacy School

Currently, the top pharmacy schools in the
United States, according to U.S. News
& World Report
are The
University of California�San Francisco
University of North Carolina�Chapel Hill
and The
University of Minnesota
. But picking
a pharmacy schools is, and should be, a
lot more involved than simply applying to
the top ranked institutions. First off,
applying to Pharmacy school isn’t like
apply to an undergraduate program.
Competition for most pharmacy programs is
much more competitive. You really should
feel fortunate to get accepted into any
good program.

There are many factors to consider when
selecting a pharmacy program. The
following are a few of the most important:

  • Residency. Residency is now
    required of all students desiring to
    work as a pharmacist. No only will
    residency influence your eligibility
    to work in the industry, it will also
    impact your ability to find a good job
    after you graduate.

  • Admissions criteria. The
    admissions criteria for pharmacy
    schools can vary quite a bit from one
    school to the next. Some schools have
    several prerequisite courses that must
    be completed for program candidacy. The Drake College of Pharmacy
    and Health Sciences
    , for
    example, has a mandatory 2-year
    pre-pharmacy program students must
    complete before being accepted to
    their 4 year professional PharmD
    program. Other schools have similar
    admissions programs BUT guarantee
    admission once the pre-pharmacy
    program has been completed.

  • Location. While location
    doesn’t determine the quality of
    education an institution provides, it
    can influence a student’s ability to
    have good experience. There are only a
    limited number of good graduate level
    pharmacy programs in the United States
    (just over 100) and there’s a high
    likelihood you may have to relocate if
    you’re accepted. Can your family
    easily move to a new city or even
    across the country to go to school?
    Can you afford to move? Will you have
    to find a new job? Are you going to be
    okay with being away from friends and
    family for several years?

  • Specialties. There are
    several specialties within the field
    of pharmaceutical sciences (e.g.
    Pharmacy Administration, Drug Design,
    Pharmacoeconomics, Pharmaceutical
    Marketing and Management, etc.) There
    are also many pharmacy schools that
    offer a diverse selection of
    specialized education tracks and/or
    joint degrees. Before applying to a
    program you should know (1) which
    branch of pharmacy you want to pursue
    as a career and (2) which schools
    offers specialized tracks of study for
    your desired career path. For example,
    a few pharmacy schools now offer joint
    degree programs that incorporate the
    Pharma.D. with a traditional MBA. For
    those pursuing a career in
    Pharmaceutical Marketing and
    Management, this is the perfect
    program. While an MBA can be acquired
    after completing the Pharma.D. program
    it typically is much faster to
    complete the two degrees together and
    offers students the additional benefit
    of a business education tailored
    toward the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Cost. While costs will vary,
    according to the American
    Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
    the average cost of a four-year
    professional pharmacy programs,
    including fees and tuition ranges from
    $63,000 at a public school (for
    in-state students) to $122,000 for
    private schools. For out-of-state
    students, attending a public school
    costs roughly $115,000. Attending
    pharmacy school is an expensive
    proposition�and these figures don’t
    include the cost of books, exams, and
    living expenses. Very few students can
    afford pharmacy school without some
    form of financial aid. When
    considering what programs to apply to
    you’ll want to consider the cost of
    the program and what type of financial
    aid options are available through the

  • Quality and reputation. We’ve
    stated that attending one of the top
    ranked pharmacy program in the nation
    shouldn’t be your main criteria in
    selecting a school, and we stand by
    that, however, it’s still important to
    attend a quality program that has a
    good reputation. In order to make sure
    you attend a quality program, you’ll
    want to make sure it is offered by a regionally accredited
    institution and/or accredited through
    the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy
    Education. Attending a program with a
    good reputation will go a long way
    toward helping you find a good
    residency program and job.

  • Career placement and support.
    At the end of the day attending
    pharmacy school is all about preparing
    for your career and finding a good
    job. When evaluating pharmacy schools
    you’ll want to look into how
    successful they’ve been at placing
    their students in good jobs following
    graduation. What is the starting
    salary of most graduates? What is a
    school’s overall placement rate? How
    long does it take the average student
    to find a job following graduation?
    What other career development services
    does the school provide its students?

  • Faculty. Another strong
    quality indicator is a school’s
    faculty. A good pharmacy program is
    typically the result of good faculty.
    You’ll want to know how many students
    there are per faculty member. Do all
    faculty have a Ph.D. in their field of
    expertise? Are faculty tenured? How
    well is the school able to retain its
    faculty? Schools that are unable to
    retain their faculty for more than a
    few years usually have less than
    stellar pharmacy programs.

  • Licensure and test scores.
    Before becoming a practicing
    pharmacist, students must get licensed
    in the state where they’ll be working.
    To become licensed students must pass
    the North American Pharmacist
    Licensure Examination (NAPLEX). When
    evaluating potential pharmacy schools
    you should inquire about the NAPLEX
    pass rate of its students. What type
    of preparation for the NAPLEX does the
    school offer? What other licensure
    assistance does the school provide.

  • Internship/Externships. Both
    internships and externships are an
    important aspect of preparation for a
    career in pharmacy. The experience you
    obtain from your internships could
    very well set you apart from the
    competition when it comes time to
    start looking for a good job or launch
    your career. Do your due diligence!
    Make sure you find out how many of a
    school’s were able to find internships
    the previous year. Even find out which
    companies or organizations regularly
    recruit interns at the schools you’re

Other considerations might include a
school’s culture, mission and philosophy;
their curriculum and program format; and
the type of research projects they’re
involved with.

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