The pre-pharmacy program is a two year, 60 plus semester hour curriculum required by schools of pharmacy for admission to their professional programs. An additional four years of study at a school of pharmacy is required to become a registered pharmacist. A minimum grade point average of 2.5 overall and in the sciences is necessary to enter pharmacy school, but a minimum GPA of 3.0 is more realistic. The example curriculum below is designed to meet the requirements of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Kansas. Course requirements for other schools of pharmacy are available upon request. General comments about pharmacy and pharmacy shcools are provided after the suggested courses below.
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1. A total of 21 hours of electives is required (besides the composition and speech requirements), 9 of which must be in the humanities (history, philosophy, literature, art, music, sociology, psychology, and anthropology; no activity courses).
2. A course in physics is required either in high school (B or better) or college.
3. The calculus course can be other than Calculus I. Pre-calculus courses will not count toward the pharmacy degree.
4. The KU School of Pharmacy is currently recommending Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology and lab as an additional biology course. At ESU this course (MC350/351) has a GB 140 (Principles of Biology) prerequisite or consent of instructor. As of this writing, KU is still accepting GB 140/141 as the introductory biology course as listed above. The current ESU advisor recommendation is to ask the instructor of MC 350/351 for permission to take it without taking GB 140/141. If permission is not granted, take GB 140 TO, which is the test out section of the course. Both of these recommendations assumes a strong background in biology from high school.
5. Consult with a pre-pharmacy advisor in the chemistry department if you have any questions.
GENERAL PRE-PHARMACY INFORMATION
CAREERS IN PHARMACY:
Students completing degrees in pharmacy recently have selected these general options for employment: drugstore pharmacists (40%), hospital or nursing home pharmacists (38%), pharmacy research, manufacture or sales (10%), graduate school (10%), and other (2%).
Employment prospects in the Midwestern states remain strong and starting salaries are good. The role of pharmacists in health care is constantly evolving as laws and medicine change. Pharmacists are more than ever expected to assist in the choice of drugs, administering them, and communicating to doctors and patients the information necessary for effective drug treatment. The range of duties of practicing pharmacists is from dispensing drugs at drugstores to being an integral member of the medical team in hospitals and nursing homes where they work with physicians to select the proper drug for treatment and overseeing proper dosages and administration. Even community pharmacists can expect to take blood pressure and blood glucose measurements, for example, as they monitor the administration of the appropriate medicines in the future.
Most schools of pharmacy now require two years of pre-pharmacy and four years of professional pharmacy courses. This six year program leads to a doctorate of pharmacy, commonly referred to as a Pharm. D. After testing by the state, the graduate becomes a registered pharmacist. The old B.S. in Pharmacy degree, which was earned after three years of pharmacy school, is no longer available at many schools.
Ph. D. degrees are offered by some pharmacy schools. Students with degrees in pharmacy, chemistry, or biology can enter Ph. D. programs in medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, and pharmacology and toxicology. These degrees lead to employment with educational research and teaching institutions (universities) or industrial research and development companies.
Applying to Pharmacy School
Since most of our students apply to the School of Pharmacy at the University of Kansas, this information is specific for that school. Components of the application process include a completed application form, transcripts of all college course work (and a high school transcript if high school physics was taken and a B or better grade received), results of the PCAT, three letters of recommendation, and, possibly, a personal interview.
A minimum of 60 credit hours is required for admission, but meeting all of the requirements comes closer to 68 hours. The KU course requirements can be found here. All of the required science and math courses must be completed by the time fall classes begin on the admission year. A couple general studies courses can be taken after admission, but this most likely would have to be done during the summer. Don't be misled by the minimum GPA of 2.5 required for admission as listed in their literature. Very few are admitted with a GPA below 3.0, with the average being close to 3.4. The school also recomputes your GPA for their purposes. Science courses are separated out and a GPA computed for them. A large difference in the overall GPA and the science GPA would not be viewed favorably. If a course is repeated, the average for the two attempts may be used instead of the using just the last grade received, as is done for computing the GPA on a transcript. It is recommended that instead of repeating a course to bring up a low grade, say a C in chemistry, that a higher level course be taken in the same field and a high grade achieved. For the class of 1994, 521 (unusually high) applied for 95 positions. The average GPA of those admitted was 3.4 overall and 3.38 in science courses.
The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is required at KU. It is administered by The Psychological Corporation at one or two sites in Kansas three times a year. A fee of $52 is charged plus extra fees for a late registration, additional score reporting (more than three), etc. The test is given in late October, mid-February, and late March. It is recommended that students on the regular two year prepharmacy schedule take the test in October of their second year. The test covers the material in Chem. I and II and general biology, but not organic chemistry and higher level biology courses, so the fact that you are part way through these courses will not affect your scores. Also tested are verbal ability, quantitative ability (math), and reading comprehension. The scores are sent directly to the schools of pharmacy you request. If you get a low score, you can repeat the exam in February and be in time for the current year's application deadline. Scores around the 70th percentile are considered good, below the 50th percentile are not good. Ask a pre-pharmacy advisor for information on registering for the test.
The pharmacy school will supply you with forms to be used for the required three letters of recommendation. They are interested in learning about your level of motivation, your commitment to pharmacy as a career, your maturity level, your goals, and any experience you have had working with people. Having work experience in a pharmacy is considered to be a small plus.
In some cases the selection committee may ask you to travel to Lawrence for a personal interview. This usually occurs with applicants who have some marginal aspects in their application materials relative to other applicants and will probably occur fairly late in the spring semester of your second year of pre-pharmacy. The best applicants are notified of selection during the first half of March, although this has occurred later. The process of selection can continue into June or even later as they work to fill the class with well qualified students. Our experience has been that all students applying from ESU who have reasonably good qualifications are selected for admission. Only a very few students from ESU who applied to KU School of Pharmacy in the last fifteen or more years have not been accepted will the main reason being that they had GPA's lower than 3.0.
In summary, for a successful application to a school of pharmacy do these things:
1. Take the required courses and achieve grades of B or better in most of them.
2. Prepare for the PCAT exam and try for a 70th percentile score or higher.
3. Make yourself known to teachers, pharmacists or other employers, and a community leader who can sincerely give you recommendations attesting to your good character, a strong work ethic, the ability to work well with others and a high motivation for a career in pharmacy.