Pharmacists prepare, count, and deliver prescribed medications. They also may advise patients and doctors regarding these medications. Pharmacists are required to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) before they can gain licensure. But 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.
Students who pursue a pharmaceutical sciences bachelor's degree 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.
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Bachelor's Degree Programs in Pharmaceutical Sciences
Coursework in undergraduate pharmaceutical sciences degree programs requires 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
- Analytical chemistry
- Medicinal chemistry
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) expects jobs for pharmacists to grow by 3%. Two main factors behind this anticipated growth were the aging of the general population 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 2015, the median annual wages for pharmacists were $121,500.
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 program, 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.
Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences programs include the chemistry coursework and lab experiences needed to gain admission to a professional doctoral program and pursue a career as a pharmacist.