Pre-Pharmacy Requirements: Courses You’ll Need to Take
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- What Does Pre-Pharmacy Mean? Is it a Major?
- Popular Majors for Pre-Pharmacy
- Pre-Pharmacy Course Requirements and Prerequisites
- How to Find the Right College for You
The healthcare world is full of specialties that allow you to make a meaningful difference. Pharmacy is one of the most important of these fields. As a pharmacist, you’ll earn a doctorate to educate patients and other medical providers on medications, distribute these drugs, and employ best practices to ensure safety.
How do you become a pharmacist? It starts with a pre-pharmacy track. In this post, we’ll walk you through the pre-pharmacy requirements to prepare you for a successful career as a pharmacist.
What Does Pre-Pharmacy Mean? Is it a Major?
Pre-pharmacy is not a major. Like pre-med, it’s a track, meaning you will complete certain required coursework for admission to pharmacy school. Meanwhile, you can major in practically anything.
Most students earn a bachelor’s degree before applying to Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) programs, although it is possible to apply after only 2-3 years of your undergraduate education. Some pre-pharmacy programs are available to help you prepare for pharmacy school in a shorter amount of time.
Popular Majors for Pre-Pharmacy
Logically, pharmacy (or pharmaceutical sciences) is the best major to prepare you for pharmacy school. This type of program will ensure that you cover all the prerequisites and help you gain skills and knowledge that are directly relevant to your future career. But, keep in mind that there are only 31 colleges and universities within the United States that actually have a major in pharmacy.
Biology is probably the most popular major for future pharmacists. That’s because it will allow you to fulfill many of the prerequisites for pharmacy school — anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, behavioral sciences, microbiology, and more — without putting in extra time. Plus, you’ll need a lot of the knowledge you’ll gain to perform well on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).
Like biology, chemistry enables you to meet many requirements for the pre-pharmacy track. Some colleges, like Bradley University, even have a chemistry pre-pharmacy concentration, in which you’ll focus on chemistry while fulfilling your prerequisites and receiving guidance and hands-on experience that will help you in your future career.
An article in Pharmacy Times argues that English is the best major for pre-pharmacy students. English majors tend to have higher GPAs than biology and chemistry students, which is critical for admission to pharmacy school. Additionally, an English major equips pre-pharmacy students with essential communication and writing skills, which will be necessary for both the admissions process and their careers.
Of course, English majors will need to put in a little extra work to meet both their pre-pharmacy and program requirements, since it’s unlikely that many of the pharmacy prerequisites will be covered in an English program.
Pre-Pharmacy Course Requirements and Prerequisites
The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) offers a Course Prerequisite Summary detailing the requirements for admission to most pharmacy schools in the US. Keep in mind that specific prerequisites vary from school to school, so be sure to check with the pharmacy schools that interest you for details. The AACP’s guidelines are:
- Anatomy, Physiology, and Anatomy & Physiology
- Biology/Biological Science
- General chemistry I & II
- Organic chemistry I & II
- Communication/Speech (Verbal)
- Humanities (e.g. history, languages, literature, philosophy, the arts, or religion)
- Math (calculus preferred)
- Social/Behavioral Science
While undergraduate colleges don’t usually have requirements for preparing for pharmacy school, they do sometimes provide more detailed guidelines based on these recommendations. For example, Temple University offers the following information based on the requirements of more than 50% of pharmacy schools in the US:
- General Chemistry I + II
- Organic Chemistry I + II
- Analytical Reading & Writing
- Intellectual Heritage I + II
- Anatomy & Physiology: 2 Semesters
- Public Speaking: 1 Semester
- Intro. to Organismal Biology
- Intro. to Cellular & Molecular Bio.
- Calculus I
- Economics (Check schools of interest to determine if micro or macro is preferred)
- Physics: 1 Semester
Recommended Coursework and Preparation
Again, you should check with the specific pharmacy schools that interest you to ensure you complete the necessary coursework and meet the requirements for admission. In addition to the courses above, some schools will want to see coursework in:
- Additional biomedical sciences concentrations
- Foreign language
Ultimately, you should have ample preparation in areas covered on the PCAT: Biological Processes, Chemical Processes, Critical Reading, Quantitative Reasoning, and Writing.
How to Find the Right College for You
A college’s pre-pharmacy track is one consideration when it comes to choosing the right school for you. Other factors include majors offered, size, prestige, type, acceptance rate, tuition, and many more. To find the best fit, check out CollegeVine’s school search tool, which will help you narrow down your search. You can also use this tool to find the 31 schools with a pharmacy major.
You can determine your real chances of admission to the schools you identify using our free chancing engine. This tool factors in your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and more to determine your odds of acceptance at various schools across the country. We’ll also give you tips on how to improve your profile!