Pharmacists typically fill prescriptions – verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients – and check whether the prescription will interact negatively with a patient's medical condition or other drugs being taken. They also instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine, advise on any potential side effects and may counsel about about general health topics such as diet, exercise, stress management and medical equipment/supplies.

Pharmacists are responsible for completing insurance forms and working with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the medicines they need. And they oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists-in-training (interns).

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Degree Program

You must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from an accredited pharmacy institution and pass a state licensure exam. It is possible to enter a PharmD program upon completion of prerequisites before earning an undergraduate degree, but many PharmD programs prefer or require applicants to have a BA or BS first. 

Course Prerequisites

Prerequisites for admission vary by school. For specific college requirements, the AACP compiles Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR) each year. Typical prerequisite courses include:

  • General Chemistry and Biology
  • Physics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • English Composition
  • Public Speaking
  • Ethics or Philosophy
  • Humanities
  • Behavioral & Social Science
  • Economics

Application Requirements



Most PharmD programs require the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). The PCAT is a four-hour exam comprised of five content areas: writing, biology, chemistry, critical reading and quantitative reasoning. PSAR Table 6 lists which schools require the PCAT.

GPA and Extracurricular Activities

The average GPA of matriculants to PharmD programs is typically between a 3.3 and a 3.6. PSAR Table 5 provides a list of average GPAs for the most recent entering class. Schools vary widely in the minimum PCAT score they will consider, so consult individual program information for specifics. Many schools also encourage or require that applicants have paid or volunteer experience working with patients in a pharmacy or health-related setting. 

Application Process

Most pharmacy degree programs in the U.S. participate in the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) for admission. Designed for first-year professional pharmacy degree applicants, PharmCAS offers a simple, efficient process to apply to multiple colleges and schools of pharmacy using a single web-based application.

The PharmCAS application opens in July for enrollment in the following year. School deadlines vary from September (for early decision) to November 1 through March 1. PharmCAS provides detailed information on the application process.

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