Pharmacy Schools Colleges & Universities

Find the entry requirements to accredited pharmacy schools and colleges in the United States that offer a Pharm.D. program. Become a licensed pharmacist in four to six years.

Applying to Pharmacy Degree Programs at Accredited Colleges and Universities: Want to become a pharmacist? Some 269,900 pharmacists are employed in the United States, with 65 percent of them employed in retail stores. Another 22 percent work in hospitals. The remainder works in online stores and mail order pharmacies, in research, or with the pharmaceutical industry. To join them, you'll need to complete a Pharm.D. degree from one of America's accredited pharmacy schools and complete licensing in the state where you plan to work.

Pharmacists dispense prescription drugs to patients and advise them on the use of the medications they're getting. They also consult with other healthcare practitioners and physicians on the proper dispensing of medications and side effects. They may work at university or pharmaceutical researchers or as consultants to drug makers and insurance companies.

Earning Degrees in Pharmacy Studies: Nearly 20years ago, you could train for pharmacy employment by completing a bachelor degree program. But in 1990, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy mandated the Pharm.D. degree programs have been discontinued by American pharmacy colleges. You can still take classes at the undergraduate level, and you can complete associate degree pharmacy technician training programs.

Each of the more than 100 pharmacy schools in the nation has its own set of entry requirements. For example, to the University of Illinois-Chicago pharmacy school, you won't need to hold an undergraduate degree to enroll in their four-year Pharm.D. program. Rutgers University, however, prefers applicants who already hold a bachelor degree to apply for their six-year program.

Working as a Pharmacist: Salaries and Job Projections: Depending on their pharmacy colleges and programs, many graduates continue their education after earning their Pharm.D. to understand the practices of their employers or to keep current with research practice. Fellowship and residency programs lasting up to two years may be required by your pharmacy school or state.

You'll also need to pass the required North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX)and, in most states, the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2009, pharmacists earned a median annual wage of $109,180. At the top end of the salary scale, 2009 wages were $134,290.

Employment of pharmacists is expected to rise by 17 percent during the 2008-2018 decade--much of the new jobs sparked by the need to service the aging American population--with the greatest demand coming from medical care establishments, hospitals, and mail order pharmacies.

Pharmacy Schools and Your Career: Earning degrees in pharmacy can lead to a wide range of professional options. A growing number of working pharmacists are choosing to work at part-time or reduced hour positions, increasing the demand for new pharmacists to shoulder the load. You'll need skills in research, patient and professional, communication, an analytical mind, and the desire to continue learning to succeed.

If you're uncertain if you're up to the demands of pharmacy colleges, you may want to pursue pharmacy tech training at the undergraduate level or through a local pharmacy to see if you have the deep interest and dedication to pharmacy science and public service before enrolling in a Pharm.D. program.

The writer Woodrow Aames has written articles and profiles for Yahoo, Microsoft Network, Microsoft Encarta, and other websites and print magazines around the world. He holds an MFA degree and has taught English abroad.

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