If you are looking for a job in healthcare with great pay and job security, you might consider becoming a pharmacist.
Pharmacy school acceptance rates are at historical highs, but that doesn’t mean anyone can get in. You still have to meet the pharmacy school prerequisites and other requirements to be considered
Typical pharmacy school requirements include at least two years of undergraduate study including many math and science prerequisites, a good GPA, letters of recommendation, and some healthcare experience.
This guide goes into more detail on pharmacy school requirements, including GPA, prerequisite courses, in-person experience, and more.
Pharmacy School Requirements
Even though pharmacy school acceptance rates are high, you still have to meet the minimum requirements to get started. While pharmacy schools will each have their own specific requirements, there are a few things that every pharmacy school student will need before applying.
Since applying for doctorate programs takes a lot of time, energy, and money, making sure that you meet all minimum requirements before applying will make things much easier on your future self.
1) Bachelor’s Degree with a Good GPA
Most pharmacy schools require at least a 3.0 to apply, with some schools accepting GPA as low as 2.5. Some colleges will accept a low cumulative GPA as long as the applicant maintains a B average in their science and math courses.
However, to be a competitive applicant, you should aim for a GPA of around 3.5 or higher. If your GPA is lower than you’d like, you can retake most courses, and the higher score will be counted towards your average.
If raising your GPA is out of reach, you’ll have to make the rest of your application outstanding by including plenty of experience, volunteer hours, high PCAT or GRE scores, and excellent letters of recommendation.
2) Completed Prerequisite Courses
Simply having a bachelor's degree is not enough for a pharmacy school application. Masters and Doctorate-level pharmacy courses can be challenging.
Without a solid foundation of math and science, students would not be able to keep up with the demanding coursework required for pharmacy schools.
Some of the most common prerequisite courses required by pharmacy programs include:
- General Chemistry I & II
- Organic Chemistry I & II
- Biology I & II
- Anatomy and Physiology (or A&P I & II)
3) Pharmacy Experience
Having experience in a pharmacy or other healthcare setting not only helps your pharmacy school application look better but also helps you to know for sure whether becoming a pharmacist is the right career choice for you before you commit to it.
One of the best ways to get experience is by working as a pharmacy technician. Working in a retail pharmacy, hospital, or compounding pharmacy as a pharmacy technician will expose you to many different types of medications, allow you to practice working with patients, and allow you to spend time with working pharmacists.
4) Letters of Recommendations
Strong letters of recommendation can make a huge difference in your application for pharmacy school.
When getting letters of recommendation, make sure you are careful about who you choose to write them for you. While your roommate or best friend might say a lot of nice things about you, they are not the best choice for a letter of recommendation.
If you can, choose a science teacher from one of your undergraduate courses, a pharmacist you have worked with, or someone who has connections at the school you are applying for. However, make sure that the person recommending you knows you and can write a personalized letter for you.
5) Personal Statement or Essay
Almost all graduate schools require applicants to write a personal statement or essay when they apply. Pharmacy school candidates are no exception.
A pharmacy school personal essay typically includes information about why you want to become a pharmacist, what would make you a great pharmacy school student, how you will contribute to the growth and progression of the industry, and why a particular school is a good fit for you.
Before you submit your essay, make sure to have someone you trust to proofread it for you. Many colleges offer proofreading and editing services through their writing labs, and there are many places where you can pay to have a professional proofread, edit, and give you feedback before you submit your essay and application.
An interview is typically the final step on the way to any graduate school. If you make it to the interview stage, you have met all of the qualifications, are a competitive applicant, and are being strongly considered for a spot in the program.
During an interview, program directors and professors want to get an idea of who you are, your personality, and whether or not you would be a good fit for the program.
Do some research before your interview to find out the culture of the school, its values, and what its typical student population is like. Speaking to some alumni from the school can help you get an idea of what the program is really like.
While schools often like to have a diverse student body, each school will have its traits and talents that they value. Knowing what a school is looking for can help you do well on your interview and decide if you will be happy in the program.
Some questions you might expect during your pharmacy school interview include:
- Why do you want to become a pharmacist?
- What makes you a good fit for our program?
- How do you deal with stress and conflict?
- Tell me about your experience with pharmaceuticals or in healthcare.
- How do your values align with our program or school mission statement?
A Note About the PCAT
Prior to January 2024, prospective pharmacy school students were required to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) at many schools.
This test has now been officially retired, although students who have already taken the exam can still submit their scores with their application.
Some pharmacy schools now require applicants to submit their GRE scores while others have no standardized testing requirement.
Pharmacy School Acceptance Rates
Pharmacy school acceptance rates have gone up significantly in the past 20 years. What used to be considered one of the most competitive professions is now considered relatively easy to get started in.
Some schools are still more competitive than others, but overall acceptance rates continue to climb. If you are hoping to get into pharmacy school, take a look at some acceptance rates before you start applying.
FAQs About Getting Into Pharmacy School
What is the average GPA to get accepted to pharmacy school?
The average GPA to get accepted to pharmacy school is 3.5
What is the minimum GPA to get accepted to pharmacy school?
The minimum GPA to get accepted to pharmacy school is 2.5
What is the average PCAT to get accepted to pharmacy school?
When the PCAT was required by all pharmacy schools, the average PCAT for admitted applicants was a score of 400. The PCAT exam was retired on January 9, 2024.
What is the minimum PCAT to get accepted to pharmacy school?
The PCAT exam is no longer required for admittance to any pharmacy school.
What are the hardest pharmacy schools to get into?
Thomas Jefferson University has one of the most competitive pharmacy programs, with an acceptance rate of only 12%. Other competitive schools include Belmont University College of Pharmacy and California Northstate University College of Pharmacy which both have acceptance rates of 16%.
What are the easiest pharmacy schools to get into?
Some of the easiest pharmacy schools to get into include Health Sciences and Pharmacy at St. Louis, with an acceptance rate of 86%, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (91%), and North Dakota State University College of Pharmacy (96%).
Can I get into pharmacy school as an international student?
It is possible to get into pharmacy school as an international student. Private colleges are more likely to accept international students than state-supported, public institutions.
Can I get into pharmacy school with a low GPA?
Some pharmacy schools will accept candidates with a 2.5 GPA. Applicants with a low GPA should make sure that the rest of their application stands out. It may be helpful to retake science and math courses to improve your GPA before applying to pharmacy school. Students with a low GPA can also increase their chances of admission by applying to a school with a high acceptance rate.
What jobs are best for helping me get into pharmacy school?
Most pharmacy schools expect their applicants to have some kind of pharmacy or healthcare experience before applying to their program. Becoming a pharmacy technician is one of the best ways to get experience in pharmacy school, especially if you earn your pharmacy tech certification. Working in research centers can also help your application stand out.
Can I reapply to pharmacy school if I’m not accepted?
Most pharmacy schools will allow you to reapply if you are not accepted the first time. If your application is rejected, you can improve it for the next round by getting more work experience, adding volunteer hours, improving your personal essay, or retaking courses to improve your GPA.