Can You Go Directly From High School To Pharmacy School?

In this article, our pharmacist discusses whether or not it is possible to go directly from high school to pharmacy school.


I’m currently a junior in HS and I am in a program where I go to a local community college instead of HS. So I'll have my AA degree when i graduate HS. So I have a few questions:Do I take the PCAT this year or my senior year if i’m trying to get in a university or pharmacy school right after high school? Also, I just got done with calculus 1 with a 71.7% which is a 1.7 GPA, passing but not enough to move on. Should I retake it for a better grade? Or do calculus 2 and not worry about it? Thanks!

Asked by Jon On Dec 21, 2017

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Dec 21, 2017

Pharmacy SchoolPharmacy school admissions is not like it once was. Historically, you needed to follow a defined path to be eligible to apply to pharmacy schools:

  • Complete 2 to 4 years of undergraduate university work
  • Take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test) 

Admissions now have a lot more flexibility in regard your pre-requisite requirements.

The vast majority of pharmacy schools still require pre-requisite classes that are not available to students in high school. There is no way to get into these schools directly from high school. Some examples of these pre-requisite classes are:

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry 
  • Physiology

In addition, you will not be able to attend any pharmacy school direct from high school that requires the PCAT for admission. While you can take the PCAT any time after high school, you simply will not be prepared for the test and will do poorly. There is a wide range of content that you will be tested on, most of which that you are not exposed to in high school including:

  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Statistics
  • Organic Chemistry

You would just be hurting your chances of doing well on the test if you go in unprepared.

Now, many pharmacy schools offer much more flexible admission terms that are of great interest to many people. Two of these programs are:

  • 'Early Assurance Programs'
  • '0-6 Programs' 

Early Assurance

Early assurance programs are a great way to to secure your spot at a given pharmacy school. Most of these programs work essentially by the same principles. You start at your university of choice (which houses the school of pharmacy) directly out of high school as an undergraduate. If you meet the listed academic requirements during your undergraduate years, you will automatically be enrolled in the school of pharmacy.

So, while early assurance programs don't directly admit you to the pharmacy school straight from high school, you have essentially 'save' yourself a spot if you meet the requirements in your undergraduate years.

The requirements for early assurance vary by school. Below, are the requirements from the University At Buffalo:

  • All science and math prerequisites are included in the EA GPA, including college courses permitted outside UB. 
  • Earn a minimum 3.30 cumulative GPA in all science and math prerequisites by the end of each of your second, third and fourth semesters (spring of first year, fall and spring of second year).
  • Complete ALL enrolled courses with a grade equal to or greater than C.  Repeat grades will not be used in computing the EA GPA.
  • Do not resign from any enrolled course. An R grade on your transcript disqualifies you from EA.

0-6 School Options

In your specific situation, you may want to look into pharmacy schools that offer a' 0-6 program' option. A '0-6 program' refers to a six year pharmacy program in which there are a no pre-pharmacy requirements for admission. In other words, you can go directly from high school (or transfer from a different university) to the pharmacy school. The vast majority of '0-6' pharmacy programs do not require the PCAT for admission as they are in place to encourage direct application from high school.

It should be noted that with these schools, the first few years of work are essentially undergraduate courses (e.g. organic chemistry, physiology etc...) and you must maintain certain academic standards to move through the program. The retention rate for these program (i.e. percentage of students who graduate compared to those who initially enroll) tends to be lower than schools that require admission based on college course work. Nevertheless, 0-6 schools are a great option for those who want to have a guaranteed spot in pharmacy school directly from high school.

The American Association Of Colleges Of Pharmacy has a great chart that lists all the different pharmacy schools and their Pharm.D programs. It also lists which schools offer a '0-6' program.

In regard to your grade in calculus, different schools have different admission requirements so it is difficult to give a recommendation on what to do. Having said that, a 71% in the course (C-) is well below what is generally accepted. I would recommend to retake the course.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Office: 716-389-3076

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