Pharmacist Major and Undergraduate Degree Program Information

Read on to learn about majors and undergraduate degree programs that might appeal to aspiring pharmacists. Discover educational prerequisites and required courses in these programs as well as continuing education options for graduates.

Essential Information

Pharmacists are required to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) before they can gain licensure. In order to meet specific course requirements for entry into a Pharm.D. program, students must first complete either two years of undergraduate study or a bachelor's degree program. A Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences degree program provides the coursework necessary to allow for further studies in a Pharm.D.

An undergraduate degree program in pharmaceutical sciences is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon departments including chemistry, medicine, pharmaceutics and pharmacology. Students work in the classroom as well as extensively in laboratories. Many programs include internships as a key component of the major, often with pharmaceutical companies or research laboratories.

Educational Prerequisites

Many programs for aspiring pharmacists have competitive admissions processes. Applicants to bachelor's degree programs in pharmaceutical studies must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. The rigor of an applicant's college preparatory coursework is considered, as well as ACT or SAT scores, with minimum requirement varying by school.

Program Coursework

Coursework in undergraduate pharmaceutical sciences degree programs require extensive study of the basic sciences, with a heavy emphasis on chemistry. Additional courses help students understand the composition, function and regulations of pharmaceuticals. These include:

  • General chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Biochemistry

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Between 2010 and 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) expects jobs for pharmacists to grow by 25%. Two main factors behind this anticipated growth were the aging of the general population, because older people use more prescription drugs than younger people, and the combination of advancements in the field with more widespread insurance across the general population, which may raise the overall demand. As of May 2012, the median annual wages for pharmacists were $116,670.

Continuing Education Information

Since 1992, all colleges offering pharmacy programs in the United States have considered the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) to be the required degree in order to become a pharmacist. Pharm.D. programs do not require a bachelor's degree for admission, though some undergraduate study is required. Many colleges and universities offer 2-year pre-pharmacy programs that don't award a degree but prepare students to enter the doctoral program. Upon completing a Doctor of Pharmacy, graduates must pass a series of examinations, including the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and state tests of local pharmacy law, in order to become licensed pharmacists.

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