8 Pre-Pharmacy Majors to Help You Get Into Pharmacy School

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What’s Covered:

 

So, you decided that you want to attend pharmacy school. Congratulations! This post will explore the majors you should consider in college so that you have the best shot at being accepted to pharmacy school.

 

You may think that a STEM degree is a requirement for pharmacy school, but through this post you’ll realize that the major you choose really comes down to personal choice and what you think you would excel at.

 

Are you a high school student wanting to learn more about pharmacy as a career? Then check out this post first: How to Become a Pharmacist: Steps to Take from High School.

 

Is Pre-Pharmacy a Major?

 

Pre-pharmacy itself is typically not a major, although some schools do offer it as a major. However, to become a licensed pharmacist with a PharmD, you must apply to pharmacy school after undergrad. Similar to pre-med, at most schools, pre-pharmacy is simply a list of requirements that a student wishing to attend pharmacy school must complete. Many of these consist of classes in biology, chemistry, physics, math and English. 

 

It is important to note, however, that pharmacy schools may have different requirements for classes that are specific for each school. Even educational requirements differ for each school–some prefer students with 4 year bachelor’s degrees, whereas others will accept students with two years of undergraduate studies. It is always important to check the requirements of the schools you will apply to as you complete your undergraduate degree.

 

How to Decide on a Pre-Pharmacy Major

 

Once you decide to pursue the pre-pharmacy track, choosing a major can be difficult. Here are a few things to think about when deciding on a major.

 

Consider your strengths and interests

 

In order to decide what major you should pick, you should consider your strengths and interests. STEM majors are always a great choice for pre-pharmacy students, but you should feel free to explore other areas of study. For instance, if you’re really good with numbers, consider an economics major. Or, if you’re interested in politics, consider a political science major.

 

College is a time to explore your interests and passions, so don’t force yourself into a STEM major just because it is common for pre-pharmacy students. As long as you plan out your courses and credits, you’ll be able to fulfill your pre-pharmacy requirements while also majoring in a different area that aligns with your strengths and/or interests.

 

Consider the number of pre-requisites covered

 

Like pre-meds, many students on the pre-pharmacy track choose majors within STEM so that the classes they take significantly overlap with their requirements. This can help lighten your course load by making it easier to complete both your major and pre-pharmacy requirements. Below are the typical pre-pharmacy requirements: 

 

  • General chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physiology 
  • Physics
  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Math/Statistics
  • English
  • Economics
  • Speech or Public Speaking 
  • Humanities or Social Science

 

While the requirements are definitely STEM heavy, you’ll notice that there are still some social science and humanities courses included. This means that even if you choose a non-STEM major, like English, there still may be some major and pre-pharmacy requirements that overlap.

 

Consider which major will best prepare you for the PCAT

 

In addition to the other factors, you’ll also want to consider what course load will prepare you for the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). This exam will test your knowledge on chemistry, reading and writing, biology, and quantitative skills. The PCAT is required by approximately 85% of pharmacy schools, so it is likely that you will have to take it. 

 

Regardless of which major you choose, you will take courses that cover the topics on the PCAT as part of the pre-pharmacy track. With that said, majoring in chemistry, for example, may give you an edge in that area of the PCAT, so it’s important to still consider the information tested on the PCAT when selecting your major.

 

Pre-Pharmacy Majors to Consider

 

1. Chemistry

 

Chemistry is a large building block to understanding how medications are dosed and why they affect the body in the way that they do. Additionally, a chemistry major can be very helpful for taking the PCAT as nearly 20% of the exam is on chemistry. A chemistry major can also help set you up for ample research opportunities at your university which can look great on your pharmacy school applications.

 

2. Biology

 

Biology majors take many classes in genetics, which can be very useful for understanding how medications interact with physiology and how genetic differences between people can change these interactions. The biology major helps students understand the interaction of drugs on the molecular level and continues to be one of the most popular majors for pre-pharmacy students. 

 

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3. Biochemistry

 

Biochemistry can be a great major for pre-pharmacy majors as students are required to take classes in biochemistry in pharmacy school. Majoring in biochem can give you a “leg up” as you will have a deeper understanding of the topic before attending pharmacy school.

 

4. Physics

 

Physics tends to be a math-heavy major which can show pharmacy school admissions that you have the quantitative skills required to succeed. Additionally, many pre-pharmacy schools require that you have 1-2 semesters of physics with a lab as well, so you would not need to worry about these additional classes.

 

5. Pharmacy 

 

Many universities do not have a pharmacy major, but there are still a few that do. Typically, the pharmacy major will cover many course requirements and additional classes will be in topics such as research ethics, pharmacokinetics, toxicology, and dosage. If you want to truly jump into your coursework, being a pharmacy major may be perfect for you.

 

6. Math

 

If you are interested in developing your quantitative skills, majoring in math might be a good choice. Additionally, one section on the PCAT exam tests your quantitative skills, so you would be well-prepared for this section.

 

7. Psychology

 

You shouldn’t discount non-STEM majors if you want to be a pharmacist. As long as you still take your required coursework, pursuing a non-STEM major can give you a different perspective on pharmaceuticals and allow you to think critically about the industry as a whole. Psychology plays a large role in medicine and overall health, making it an interesting major for pre-pharmacy students. 

 

8. English 

 

Believe it or not, some pre-pharmacy students are even English majors! There are a few required classes in humanities as a pre-pharmacy student and a section on reading and writing on the PCAT. Like the psychology major, an English major can expose you to a different perspective on health and potentially even help you develop a stronger application to pharmacy school because of your unique perspective

 

How to Find the Right College for You

 

When you’re choosing an undergraduate college with the intention of attending pharmacy school afterward, there are some important factors that you want to look for in your search. 

 

Research opportunities

 

You should certainly look for schools that provide research opportunities. Conducting research as an undergrad student will look great on your pharmacy school application and show that you have a passion and experience for becoming a pharmacist.

 

Robust pre-health advising

 

Pre-health advising will become very important as you choose what classes to take and your pharmacy school academic timeline. Make sure that whatever school you attend has counseling to help you make these difficult academic decisions. When you start your undergraduate career, you should be sure to plan ahead several semesters to ensure that you have enough time to take all classes required for attending pharmacy school. Pre-health advising can help you with this planning.

 

Faculty connections

 

A strong letter of recommendation is an important part of your application to pharmacy school. Attend a college where you feel as though you can create meaningful, one-on-one relationships with professors who can later write you fantastic recommendation letters. 

 

Are you still not sure what schools to consider as a pre-pharmacy student? Look no further! CollegeVine’s school search tool lets you search through schools using filters such as region, demographics, and major to help you find the perfect school. 

 

If you’re interested in finding out your odds of admission to the schools on your college list, check out CollegeVine’s free chancing engine! This tool calculates your chances of acceptance at various schools based on your GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, and more. 

 

 

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Short Bio
Juliette is a senior at Cornell University studying Industrial & Labor Relations. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, drinking coffee, and exploring different hiking trails in Ithaca.

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