schools for pharmacy in the us

10 Top Schools for Pharmacy in the US

Are you searching for the top schools for pharmacy in the US? If so, then this article is for you.

The US has a good number of pharmacy schools that meet world standards. In this article, we will explore the 10 top schools in the US that will offer you valuable and quality education, world-class clinical training, and cutting-edge research in pharmacy.

You’ll also learn the steps to apply to a pharmacy school and the common prerequisites for most schools. In fact, this article presents you with an in-depth guideline on all you need to know about studying pharmacy in the US.

But first, let’s begin by knowing who a pharmacist is and his duties in the healthcare system.

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Who is a pharmacist, and what are your duties as a pharmacist?

A pharmacist is a healthcare professional qualified and licensed to prepare and dispense drugs. As a licensed pharmacist or druggist, your duty is more than just prescribing medicines. You are involved in the process of preparing and educating patients on the properties, effects, and proper use of drugs. According to the General Pharmaceutical Council, as a pharmacist, you have to ensure that:

  • Medicines supplied to patients are of good quality.
  • Supply of medicines is within the law.
  • Medicines prescribed to patients are suitable for their reported symptoms.
  • Patients are educated about medicines, including the required dosage to take, reactions that may come up while using the medicine, and answering questions the patients may have.

What are the types of degrees in pharmacy?

These are the different types of degrees in pharmacy:

1. Bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences

A bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences is the preferred major for pharmacy. It introduces you to the core areas of pharmacy: chemistry, biology, physics, pharmacology and pharmaceutics. This program takes four years to complete. However, there are accelerated programs that allow you to graduate in less time.

2. Master’s degree in pharmacy

A master’s degree in pharmacy introduces you to the world of pharmaceutical research. You’ll take lessons in immunology, drug delivery, computational chemistry, pharmacodynamics, etc. This degree can also be your pathway to a doctor of pharmacy program.

3. Doctor of pharmacy degree

A doctor of pharmacy degree could mean two things: a PharmD, which is the degree you need to practice as a pharmacist, or a PhD, which is a research-focused program in pharmacy.

To obtain a PharmD, you’d need to take the required prerequisite courses in high school and during your undergraduate studies.

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Is there a high demand for pharmacists in the US?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of pharmacists in the US is expected to grow by 2 percent from 2021 to 2031.

While that is below the national average for all professions (6 percent), it is important to note that there would be about 13,600 openings each year, within the same timeframe, for pharmacists. So, you still have high chances of landing a good paying job should you decide to study pharmacy within this period.

What are the top schools for pharmacy in the US?

1. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill) is one of the three oldest public universities in the U.S.  Over time, it has built a strong reputation as one of the best US schools of pharmacy.

UNC Chapel Hill offers three pharmacy degrees: a doctor of pharmacy, a master’s degree, and a PhD program in pharmacy. The master’s degree program is available in both residential and online formats. UNC Chapel Hill has a strong commitment to research as it offers PhD research programs in four core pharmacy areas.

The Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC Chapel Hill is committed to producing leaders in pharmacy education, pharmacy practice, and pharmaceutical sciences.

Visit the school’s website to explore its programs.

2. University of California, San Francisco 

As a university dedicated exclusively to the health sciences, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) ranks as one of the best schools for pharmacy in the US.

The school offers various pharmacy programs to its students. The PharmD program prepares students to be leaders in the constantly changing healthcare environment. UCSF also offers other degree programs in combination with the PharmD program. There’s the PharmD/MSCR program, which gives students in the PharmD program the chance to earn a Master of Science degree in clinical research. The PharmD/PhD program allows PharmD students to take part in clinical research and earn a PhD at the end.

Furthermore, UCSF offers a Master of Translational Medicine degree and PhD degree programs in five areas of pharmacy. The areas of PhD research are bioengineering, biological and medical informatics, biophysics, chemistry and chemical biology, and pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics.  

UCSF has consistently been one of the best pharmacy schools in the US because of the quality and variety of its programs. You can visit the school website for more information.

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3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The pharmacy programs at the University of Michigan (UMich) at Ann Arbor have national recognition for being among the best in the US.  

UMich offers a wide range of pharmacy programs to its students. Apart from its PharmD program, the school offers three PhD programs and an MS program in pharmacy. In addition, UMich offers three dual degree programs that allow students to graduate with an MBA, MPH or a PhD alongside their PharmD degrees.

UMich rides on its reputation as one of the best research schools in the US to train pharmacists who are not just sound in clinical practice, but also have a good knowledge of research in pharmaceutical sciences.

You can visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.

4. University of Minnesota

For over a century, the University of Minnesota has been one of the best schools for pharmacy in the US. The Minneapolis-based school offers a wide range of pharmacy programs. It offers a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program that prepares students to be qualified, sought after pharmacists in the healthcare sector.

In addition to its PharmD program, the University of Minnesota offers students the opportunity to earn dual degrees in pharmacy. Students earn masters in business administration, health informatics, or public health in addition to their PharmD degrees. The school also offers doctorate degree programs in five important areas of pharmacy.

You can visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.

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5. University of Florida

The University of Florida (UF) is a public research university in Gainesville, Florida. It ranks as one of the best schools for pharmacy in the US for a lot of reasons. Apart from its strong reputation in pharmacy education, the school has earned its place as one of the best clinical research centers in the US.

UF offers a doctor of pharmacy program, an online master’s program and a PhD program with five research concentrations. Students have the option to concentrate on clinical pharmaceutical sciences, medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutics, pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, or pharmacodynamics.

With over $32 million in research funding, UF has the best facilities and faculty to prepare its students to become sought after pharmacists in the US.

Visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.

6. University of Kentucky 

The University of Kentucky (UK), a public land-grant university in Lexington, Kentucky, is recognized as one of the best schools for pharmacy in the US.

The University of Kentucky offers two pharmacy programs to its students: a doctor of pharmacy program and a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences. However, the PhD program is available in five tracks:

  • Medicinal, bioorganic, and computational chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical chemistry and engineering
  • Pharmacology and experimental therapeutics
  • Clinical and experimental therapeutics
  • Pharmaceutical outcomes and policy

Students at UK have the opportunity to learn from faculty members that are practicing experts in their respective work environments.

Visit the school’s website for more information about its programs.

7. Ohio State University 

It’s not a surprise that Ohio State University (OSU) ranks as one of the best schools for pharmacy in the US. The school has consistently appeared among the top schools in the country for most of its programs, especially the health programs.

OSU is among the few schools that offer undergraduate pharmacy programs in the top 50 schools in the US. It offers major and minor programs in pharmaceutical sciences. Apart from its PharmD and undergraduate programs, OSU offers an MS-PhD track and a unique Early Assurance Program (EAP). The EAP program is designed for exceptional first-year students who wish to become licensed pharmacists. They have the benefit of getting into the PharmD program upon graduation. In addition, the EAP students have the option of taking the Bachelor of Science in pharmaceutical sciences and doctor of pharmacy combined degree program that sees them acquire both degrees in seven years instead of eight.

OSU is an exemplary citadel of learning. If you wish to visit the school website, click here.

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8. Purdue University 

Purdue University has a proven track record of excellence in pharmacy education and research. In over a century, Purdue has produced pharmacists who have made and are making a great impact in the pharmaceutical industry.

The Purdue College of Pharmacy has three departments: the Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy, the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, and the Department of Pharmacy Practice. The Department of Pharmacy Practice offers a four-year doctor of pharmacy program, a Master of Science, and doctor of pharmacy degree programs. The MS and PhD programs are available in two research tracks:

  • Health Services, Outcomes and Policy
  • Clinical Pharmaceutical Sciences

You can visit the website of the West Lafayette based school to learn more about its pharmacy programs.

9. University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC)

The University of Illinois, a public research university in Chicago, Illinois, has strong roots in research and is regarded as one of the best schools for pharmacy in the US.

UIC recently introduced a new bachelor’s program to its curricula. The bachelor’s program offers two pathways to a career in pharmacy: the Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Science (BSPS) and the BSPS/PharmD program. The school also offers the traditional PharmD program and a master’s program in Comparative Effectiveness Research. Furthermore, UIC offers two research tracks in its PhD program.

You can visit the school website for more information.

10. University of Texas – Austin

The University of Texas at Austin is a household name when it comes to first-class education. It’s not a surprise that it ranks as one of the best schools for pharmacy in the US.

UT Austin offers a doctor of pharmacy program, along with MS and PhD programs in interesting research areas. The master’s degree program is available in two research areas: health outcomes and pharmacotherapy. In the same vein, the PhD program includes research tracks on the two master’s concentrations, plus pharmacology and toxicology, molecular pharmaceutics and drug delivery, and chemical biology and medicinal chemistry.

UT Austin’s pharmacy programs are rich in value as their graduates are sought after in the US. You may want to explore the school website to learn more about the programs.

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What GPA do I need for pharmacy?

The minimum GPA requirement of most schools for pharmacy in the US is 3.0. However, some schools place theirs at 3.5 while there are others who accept lower GPAs of 2.75.

What major do I need to become a pharmacist?

To become a pharmacist, you’d need to complete a major in pharmaceutical sciences, biology, medicinal chemistry, or a related discipline.

These prepare you to have the necessary prerequisites for a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program.

How long does it take to become a Pharmacist?

It takes approximately eight years of college study to become a licensed pharmacist. This comprises two to four years of undergraduate studies and four years of professional training as a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD).

Some schools accept a minimum of two years in the undergraduate program, which would mean approximately six years of college work before you become a pharmacist.

What are the subject requirements for pharmacy schools?

These are the common prerequisites for most schools of pharmacy in the US:

  • Chemistry with lab 
  • Organic chemistry with lab
  • Physics 
  • Human anatomy and physiology with lab
  • Biochemistry with lab 
  • Biology with lab 
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Psychology
  • Calculus
  • English 
  • Humanities and social science classes

What Skills do I need to have as a Pharmacist?

As a pharmacist, the skills you need to succeed in your career are:

  • Attention to detail
  • Knowledge of drugs
  • Teamwork
  • Computer literacy
  • Good professional communication skills

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What are the areas of specialization in pharmacy?

There are several career areas in which a prospective pharmacist may specialize.  The Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) currently recognizes fourteen specialties. They are:

  1. Ambulatory Care Pharmacy
  2. Cardiology Pharmacy
  3. Compounded Sterile Preparations Pharmacy
  4. Critical Care Pharmacy
  5. Emergency Medicine Pharmacy
  6. Geriatric Pharmacy
  7. Infectious Diseases Pharmacy
  8. Nuclear Pharmacy
  9. Nutrition Support Pharmacy
  10. Oncology Pharmacy
  11. Pediatric Pharmacy
  12. Pharmacotherapy
  13. Psychiatric Pharmacy
  14. Solid Organ Transplantation Pharmacy 

Where Can I Work as a Pharmacist?

As a pharmacist, you can work as a:

  • Hospital pharmacist
  • Toxicologist
  • Physician associate
  • Research scientist
  • Clinical research associate
  • Pharmacologist
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Medical sales representative
  • Medical science liaison
  • Product/process development scientist
  • Regulatory affairs officer
  • Science writer
  • Community pharmacist
  • Medical research scientist

How do I become a Pharmacist?

To become a certified pharmacist in the U.S., you must:

1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences or related fields like biology and chemistry is the first step to a career in pharmacy. This prepares you with the necessary prerequisites to go into the professional doctor of pharmacy program.

2. Complete the Doctor of Pharmacy degree program.

Once you’ve completed your bachelor’s program, a doctor of pharmacy degree (PharmD) is the logical next step. This is a four-year program that equips you with the necessary clinical, theoretical, and research knowledge you need to be a pharmacist.

3. Complete a residency or Internship Program.

After your PharmD program, you’d be required to complete an internship to become a licensed pharmacist. If you wish to acquire more training and become specialized in areas like critical care pharmacy and infectious disease pharmacy, you’d need to complete a residency program. Residency programs in pharmacy take one to two years to complete.

4. Pass the NAPLEX and MPJE license exams and obtain your license to practice.

The North American Pharmacy Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) are important assessments you need to undergo to become a licensed pharmacist in the US. While the NAPLEX is completely focused on meeting national standards, the MPJE has state modifications, which require you to understand the laws regulating the pharmaceutical industry in specific states. Most states require you to have both licenses to be eligible to practice as a pharmacist in the state.

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What is the average salary of pharmacists in the US?

According to salary.com, the average salary of a pharmacist in the United States is $145,137, with an average hourly pay of $66 to $74.

The lowest 10 percent earn below $129,109 and the highest 10 percent earn more than $163,191.

What are the application processes required to get into a pharmacy school? 

There are four key steps in the application process:

  1. Taking the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).
  2. Completing the Pharmacy Central Application Service (PharmCAS) for the U.S. schools that participate in PharmCAS or individual school applications for non-participating institutions.
  3. Submission of supplementary materials such as academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.
  4. Management of the application process.

What is PCAT? Is it compulsory?

The PCAT is a specialized computer-based test that helps identify eligible applicants to pharmacy schools. It is designed to assess the student’s verbal reasoning, reading comprehension, math skills, scientific knowledge, and overall critical thinking skills.  It consists of 192 multiple-choice questions and one writing topic. 

However, in most schools, PCAT is not compulsory for some pharmacy programs. You should check your school’s requirements to know if PCAT is compulsory.

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Conclusion on schools for pharmacy in the US

With the outbreak of epidemics and infectious diseases, pharmacists are no doubt a significant part of society as they help in the development and dispensation of drugs to patients.

I hope this article has given you in-depth information about all you need to know about studying pharmacy in one of the best schools in the US.

Frequently Asked Questions about schools for pharmacy in the US

How much can I earn as a pharmacist?

As a pharmacist, you can earn between $136,747 and $154,587 in the US. Depending on your level of education and experience, and the organization and state, you can earn far more than $154,587. 

What school offers the best pharmacy program in the US?

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers the best pharmacy education in the US. 

Is pharmacy school hard?

Yes, pharmacy is really challenging. This is because you’d be going deep into science courses like chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology. And that’s not all. You’d be required to spend hours going in and out of classrooms, laboratories, and research centers. That leaves you with little time to handle your personal issues. 

Can a pharmacist become a physician?

Yes, a pharmacist can become a physician. However, both programs have different tracks and course requirements. So, it’d require him to go back to medical school to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to be a physician. 

Is getting into pharmacy schools competitive? 

With an average acceptance rate of 82.7%, pharmacy schools are relatively easy to get into. This can be attributed to the recent demand for healthcare professionals in the world. 

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