|Program Levels||Non-degree granting preparatory program; necessary coursework might be included in an associate's or bachelor's degree program|
|Field(s) of Study||Pre-pharmacy|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Online Availability||Some coursework may be available online and could be combined with an intensive on-campus completion phase|
|Program Length||2 years|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||3% growth|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$121,500|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Pre-pharmacy programs are typically non-degree-granting programs designed to ensure students complete the prerequisite coursework needed to enter a Doctor of Pharmacy program. These programs are rarely offered online, although students may have the opportunity to complete theoretical coursework without a laboratory requirement in an online format. Laboratory coursework, generally, must be completed on campus.
Pre-pharmacy programs may lead to an associate's degree or the coursework may count toward a bachelor's degree in a natural science discipline. Pharmacists are required to graduate from an accredited Pharm.D. program and pass two licensure exams.
The Pharm.D. program is a 4-year, professional degree program required of all U.S. students who want to become pharmacists. Pharm.D. programs require that applicants complete prerequisite coursework before admittance. A pre-pharmacy program offers students the opportunity to fulfill these course requirements, most of which are in chemistry, mathematics and biology.
Most pre-pharmacy programs are not degree-granting themselves. Rather, they are intended to ensure that a student is adequately prepared to begin a pharmacy doctoral program. The pre-pharmacy courses may also count toward a bachelor's degree in general science, chemistry or biology.
Some universities with Doctor of Pharmacy programs offer their own pre-pharmacy programs, which may facilitate admission for undergraduate students who satisfactorily complete pre-pharmacy requirements. Alternatively, many community colleges offer Associate of Science degree programs that fulfill the pre-pharmacy course requirements.
Info and Requirements
Coursework for a pre-pharmacy program can usually be completed with two years of full-time study. Because most coursework is science-based and requires laboratory work, online programs are rare. Students may be able to complete some theoretical components of their pre-pharmacy programs via distance learning and find on-campus programs to complete the rest. A distance program may allow students to complete lab requirements during an intensive summer session.
Pre-pharmacy classes provide students with background knowledge of mathematics and science, with a particular focus on biology, chemistry, healthcare law, anatomy, physiology and other subjects relevant to pharmacology. Let's go over some of those classes here.
Organic Chemistry focuses on the structure of carbon-based compounds is the focus of this course. Topics include substitution reactions and elimination reactions.
In Anatomy, students learn about the structure of the human body. Bones, muscles and organ systems are examined through textbook readings and lectures. Some courses include dissections of cadavers or animals.
Microbiology examines cellular organisms, viruses and bacteria. Common pathogens and immune system responses to them are discussed.
In Calculus, integrals, derivatives and other fundamental calculus concepts are studied. Exams cover problem-solving and proof of theorems.
Most pharmacists work in drugstores and hospitals. Other places of employment include mail-order pharmacies, government agencies and physicians' offices. Job openings for pharmacists are expected to increase 3%, slower than average for all occupations, during the time period of 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for pharmacists was $121,500 as of May 2015, reported the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Should you choose to continue your education along these lines, pharmacy doctorate programs build on the core science and mathematics knowledge that students gain from pre-pharmacy programs. Coursework covers physiology, anatomy and the effects and interactions of various drugs. Health care law and patient communication are also addressed.
Again, many classes have substantial laboratory components, making exclusively online programs rare; however, some schools offer hybrid programs that allow students to complete theoretical coursework online and travel to campus periodically for intensive laboratory work.
Graduates of a Doctor of Pharmacy program must apply for state licensure and pass standardized exams before they can legally practice as pharmacists. As a condition for license renewal, most states require that pharmacists take a minimum amount of continuing education coursework every few years. Such continuing education courses must meet accreditation standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
In summary, online pre-pharmacy classes can be found but prerequisites for a Doctor of Pharmacy program require mostly on-campus classes. Pharmacists make around $120,000 a year and need to be knowledgeable in biology, chemistry, anatomy, and math.