Is It Hard to Get Into Pharmacy School? Acceptance Rate & Requirements

Becoming a pharmacist is an excellent choice for people who are interested in working in healthcare. Pharmacists earn a great salary, have good job security, can work in a variety of settings, and often have flexible schedules.

If you want to become a pharmacist, you’ll have to be accepted into and complete a Doctorate of Pharmacy program. While completing school is challenging, getting accepted into pharmacy school has gotten easier over the last several years. 

In fact, the acceptance rate for pharmacy students in 2021-22 was 87%. If you meet the minimum qualifications for pharmacy school and have a decent GPA, you have a great chance of being accepted.

This guide goes over pharmacy school acceptance rates, admission requirements, and tips on how to improve your chances of getting into the school of your dreams. 

Pharmacy School Acceptance Rate: Easiest & Hardest to Get Into

According to data from the Pharmacy College Application Service, acceptance rates for pharmacy schools have increased significantly over the past several years. 

In 2021, overall acceptance rates reached a record high of 89%. This is surprising, considering that just 20 years ago, acceptance rates were between 30% and 35%. 

While acceptance rates are high, students still need to prepare well for pharmacy school. There are requirements that you must meet to even be considered, and getting into a more competitive school remains a challenge for many students.  

Easiest Pharmacy Schools to Get Into by Acceptance Rate

Here are the easiest pharmacy schools to get into by acceptance rate, according to BeMo:

  • North Dakota State University School of Pharmacy – 96%
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – 91%
  • Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy – 85%
  • University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis – 82%
  • University of Mississippi College of Pharmacy – 78%
  • Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – 75.2%
  • University of Kansas College of Pharmacy – 74%
  • Idaho State University College of Pharmacy – 65%
  • University of Arizona College of Pharmacy – 62%
  • Southwestern Oklahoma State University School of Pharmacy – 60%
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia College of Pharmacy – 58%
  • South Dakota State University – 57%
  • South University (SC) – 57%
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy – 56%
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy – 53%
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy – 52%
  • University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy – 49%
  • Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – 48%
  • Duquesne University School of Pharmacy – 45%
  • University of Florida College of Pharmacy – 45%

Hardest Pharmacy Schools to Get Into by Acceptance Rate

Here are the hardest pharmacy schools to get into by acceptance rate, according to BeMo:

  • Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy – 8%
  • Northeastern University School of Pharmacy – 11%
  • University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences – 11%
  • Marshall B. Ketchum University School of Pharmacy – 12%
  • Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy – 12%
  • Thomas Jefferson University School of Pharmacy – 12%
  • West Coast University School of Pharmacy – 12%
  • East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy – 13%
  • D'Youville University School of Pharmacy – 14%
  • Keck Graduate Institute School of Pharmacy – 14%
  • Regis University School of Pharmacy – 14%
  • Touro University California College of Pharmacy – 14%
  • Western University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy – 14%
  • Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy – 15%
  • Palm Beach Atlantic University Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy – 15%
  • Belmont University College of Pharmacy – 16%
  • California Northstate University College of Pharmacy – 16%
  • Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science College of Pharmacy – 16%
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy – 17%
  • University of New England College of Pharmacy – 17%

Pharmacy School Requirements

Before submitting a pharmacy school application, make sure that you meet all of the requirements. If you choose a more competitive school, you will have to maintain higher-than-average grades and get more than the minimum required experience. 

1) Complete Prerequisite Courses

While a degree is not required to attend pharmacy school, you have a better chance of being accepted to a great school if you earn a bachelor’s degree in a science-based field before applying to pharmacy school. 

At a minimum, you will have to complete the following prerequisite courses:

  • Anatomy 
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology Lab
  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Humanities
  • Microbiology
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Calculus
  • Social Science
  • Statistics

Most students spend about two years completing these prerequisite classes. 

2) Maintain at Least a 2.5 GPA, Aim for a 3.5

Pharmacy schools typically list minimum GPA requirements for applicants. This varies based on what school you choose. 

If you have a low GPA, you still have a good chance of getting into pharmacy school. Less strict schools may accept students with a GPA as low as 2.5.

Data from PharmCAS shows that in 2021, the average GPA for students accepted into Doctorate of Pharmacy Programs was 3.35. If you want to be a competitive applicant, aim for a 3.5 GPA. 

In addition to overall GPA, many schools consider your GPA in science courses. The average science GPA for students accepted into these schools was 3.2 in 2021. 

3) Gain Pharmacy Experience (Optional but Helpful)

Not every school requires their students to have pharmacy experience, but students who do have some experience have a better chance of being accepted into the program of their choice. 

Pharmacy technicians can get experience working in retail pharmacies, hospitals, outpatient centers, or mail-order pharmacies. 

Working as a pharmacy technician is a great way to get experience while earning money to pay for pharmacy school. In addition, getting certified as a pharmacy technician will give you a head start on some of your pharmacy courses, making it easier to complete both your prerequisite courses and get through a challenging pharmacy school curriculum. 

4) Get Great Letters of Recommendation

A good letter of recommendation can make or break your application. When considering who will recommend you, keep in mind that the person you choose to write your letter is just as important as what they say. 

If you can, try to get letters of recommendation from someone working in the pharmaceutical field, someone with experience in healthcare, or a professor of one of your science courses. 

If you have experience working as a pharmacy tech, you may be able to ask the pharmacist you work with for a letter. Other options include managers, school teachers, or coaches. 

5) Write a Supplemental Essay If Required

Most pharmacy schools require applicants to write an essay as part of the application process. While it is tempting to use the same essay for each application, this may not work in your favor. 

It is worth the effort to personalize each essay and ensure that the questions are answered thoughtfully, with the school's mission statement in mind. 

6) Ace the Interview

An interview is the last step of the application process for many doctorate programs. While each program is different, you can expect to be asked some of the following questions during your interview: 

  • Why do you want to become a pharmacist?
  • What makes you a good fit for our school?
  • Why would you choose our school over other programs?
  • What experience do you have working or volunteering in healthcare?
  • What are some of your interests/hobbies outside of school and work?
  • Describe a challenge you have faced at school or work and how you overcame it. 

Most pharmacy school interviews will not require you to answer questions about specific medications or healthcare, but they may ask you questions that assess your critical thinking skills. 

Tips for Getting Into Pharmacy School

Even though most students are accepted into pharmacy school, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. There are many things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted to a great pharmacy school and landing a job after you graduate. 

The following tips will make you a more competitive applicant for school: 

  • Consider working as a pharmacy tech. Getting experience as a pharmacy tech is one of the best things you can do to prepare for pharmacy school. Not only does it look good on your application, it will give you a head start on your learning, allowing you to better understand pharmaceuticals, pharmacy law, and patient care. We have a 4-month online pharmacy tech program here at Stepful that teaches you everything you need to know to get certified and start working.
  • Stay organized throughout the application process. The application process for graduate school can be overwhelming. As you fill out paperwork and submit documents, create a timeline and due dates for everything. Most schools have students apply through PharmCAS, a system that helps students stay organized and submit required documents on time. 
  • Do practice interviews with friends/family. In the same way you would practice for a game or performance, you should practice answering interview questions. Make your practice interviews feel as real as possible, get dressed up, choose a quiet room, and let your interviewer surprise you with their questions. If you can, practice interviewing with someone you look up to, such as your manager or a respected colleague. The more you practice answering questions while battling some nerves, the easier it will become. 
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest pharmacy trends. While schools may not ask you specific questions about medications, you will impress your interviewers if you are able to show them that you have a good baseline of knowledge and that you stay up to date on current trends and research. Knowing what regulations are being changed, researching a few medications in development, and understanding industry trends will help you stand out against other applicants. 
  • Know the school's mission statement. Graduate programs want students who are interested in their specific program, not just those who want to get into any school that will accept them. If you can, talk to graduates of your preferred pharmacy school to find out about the school's values, philosophies, and teaching styles. Be able to give specific reasons for applying to a particular program. 
  • Focus on Science GPA. While a good overall GPA is important, many graduate programs in healthcare are more interested in a science GPA than an overall GPA. If you have lower than a B grade in classes like chemistry or physiology, it may be worth re-taking those courses. 
  • Volunteer. Find opportunities to volunteer in your community. Volunteer hours show that you are committed to improving your community and are willing to put in extra time and effort. Volunteer hours do not necessarily have to be pharmacy or healthcare-related. 

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