Pharmacist Degree Program Information

One option for students with an aptitude for science and medicine is to earn a degree in pharmacy. Learn about the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program, in addition to popular career options, job growth, and average salary.

Essential Information

Pharmacists work with doctors and patients to provide safe and effective prescription drug treatment to aid in healing and slow the progression of illnesses. Pharm.D. programs provide prospective pharmacists with the proper training needed to safely administer medicine to patients. They also teach them to effectively communicate with physicians and patients, as pharmacists often work as a liaison between the two.

Prerequisites for the Pharm.D. program includes undergraduate coursework and taking the PCAT exam. Total program duration usually includes two years of undergraduate study, followed by four years of professional study. In order to graduate, students must complete a pharmacy internship, a fellowship, and pass the NAPLEX.

Doctor of Pharmacy

Most colleges and universities offering Pharm.D. degree programs require applicants to have completed a minimum of 60 credit hours of undergraduate coursework, including such classes as chemistry, physics, and biology. Additionally, nearly 75% of accredited Pharm.D. programs require prospective students to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). The curriculum teaches students concepts of medical ethics, as well as the structure and laws of the public health system. Most Pharm.D. degree program coursework is split between traditional classroom instruction and time spent working under the direction of a licensed pharmacist at a working pharmacy. The Pharm.D. curriculum involves extensive instruction on the chemical components of drugs, as well as the effects of different drugs on the body. Upon program completion, students must complete a 1- or 2-year fellowship, usually requiring a research project, and successfully pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). Pharm.D. program courses may include:

  • Introduction to pharmacy
  • Pharmacology
  • Chemistry
  • System disorders
  • Clinical practice

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a Doctor of Pharmacy degree program could go on to work in:

  • Drug stores and pharmacies
  • Hospitals and doctors' offices
  • Home health care
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed pharmacists in 2014 was about 297,100, and that number is expected to increase by 3% during the 2014-2024 decade. According to 2014 BLS figures, the median annual salary for pharmacists was $121,500.

While the Pharm.D. program requires significant time commitment due to a 1-2 year fellowship and pharmacy internship, it will pay off in the long-run as the job field for pharmacists is growing and median annual salary is in excess of $120K.

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