The road to becoming a pharmacist has changed significantly in the past 10 to 15 years. In the past, all the only option for the prospective pharmacist was a bachelor's degree in pharmacy. Currently however, every single pharmacy school in the country now offers Doctor of Pharmacy (i.e. Pharm.D) programs.
In the same vein, pharmacy school curriculum's have changed dramatically. Up until only recently, it was uncommon for schools to offer anything different from the traditional 6 year program (which consists of 2 undergraduate years and 4 graduate years). Today however, there are a wide variety of options for prospective students.
While most programs will still require 6 years of college work, some schools have accelerated programs, where it is possible to graduate from pharmacy school after only 5 years of total college time!
Pharmacy School Program Length
The most traditional pharmacy school curriculum consists of 2 years of undergraduate learning, paired with 4 years of graduate work. The vast majority of pharmacy schools have this format. However, as discussed above, there are a variety of other options available.
Below, we list many of the curriculum options that pharmacy schools offer:
0-6 programs refer to schools that offer admission into pharmacy school directly from high school with no pre-pharmacy requirements needed for admission. These programs are a good choice if you know for sure you want to attend pharmacy school and become a pharmacist. A few schools that offer a 0-6 program include:
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
- Ohio Northern
- The University of Rhode Island
4 Year (Pre-professional) Programs
The 4 year program is the most traditional form of pharmacy school. It consists of 2 years of undergraduate work and completion of the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) exam. After completing the undergraduate work and taking the PCAT, you then apply (and hopefully get accepted!) to a 4 year pharmacy school.
Early Assurance Programs
Early assurance programs are an off-shoot of the traditional 4 year program. Essentially, high school students are admitted into a "early assurance" pre-pharmacy program at a particular school. These students are given a guarantee of admission if they pass/meet certain academic requirements, such as having a certain grade point average in math and science classes during the first 2 undergraduate years.
Early assurance programs are a good option for those that want to go to a particular school for pharmacy, but the school doesn't offer a 0-6 program.
2-3 (Pre-professional) Accelerated Programs
Accelerated programs allow you to go to school year round (i.e. Fall, Spring, Summer) to complete your Pharm.D degree in 3 years, as opposed to 4. Two years of undergraduate work, combined with 3 years in an accelerated program, allows individuals to go from high school to collage and attain a Pharm.D degree in 5 years.
Schools that offer accelerated 3 year programs include:
- University Of Maryland Eastern Shore
- LECOM (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine)
- Pacific University School of Pharmacy
Most of these schools also offer 2 year programs to individuals that already have a bachelor of pharmacy degree and wish to pursue a Pharm.D degree.
For a complete list of accredited pharmacy schools in the United States and programs offered, check out the website for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. They have a comprehensive list of programs available here.