Pharmacist Major and Undergraduate Degree Program Information

Sep 05, 2019

Most pharmacy major requirements prepare students for pharmacy school requirements on their way to becoming a pharmacist. Here we explore the different pharmacy undergraduate degree programs available.

Undergraduate Pharmacy Programs

There are several pharmacy undergraduate degree program options for students wishing to become a pharmacist. Although there are very few, if any, online bachelor's degree programs in pharmacy available, students can choose from pre-pharmacy majors to majors in pharmaceutical sciences.

Pre-pharmacy degree programs are available as Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees. Typically, these pre-pharmacy programs are paired with a traditional major in general science or biology. Other schools may offer pre-pharmacy as a part of a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) degree in pharmacy. These degree programs help prepare students for applying to pharmacy school by requiring the necessary prerequisite coursework.

Another degree option for a bachelor's degree in pharmacy is a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS). This degree program may help prepare students for pharmacy school and/or working in the field of drug discovery and development. These programs tend to be more research-based, but still prepare students for professional school.

Pharmacy Major Classes

Students in any pre-pharm or pharmaceutical sciences major will take many different science and mathematics courses. Besides general education courses in areas like English, social science, and more, students with a pharmacy major are likely to take courses in:

  • Biology
  • General and organic chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Statistics
  • Physics
  • Pathophysiology
  • Calculus

Pharmacy School Requirements

While there are some hybrid pharmacy school programs available, most pharmacy school programs are on-campus and award graduates with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). A PharmD program generally takes 3 to 4 years to complete.

In order to get into pharmacy school and earn their PharmD, students must earn a bachelor's degree and complete prerequisite coursework in chemistry, biology, physiology, microbiology, calculus, statistics, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. They must also take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) and usually need to meet a specific GPA requirement.

Other Requirements to Become a Pharmacist

After earning their PharmD, aspiring pharmacists need to obtain a license to practice. Generally, pharmacists need to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), as well as a state-level exam concerning state pharmacy laws.

Although it is not required, some pharmacists may pursue additional certifications in various specialty areas, such as oncology. There is also a certification for pharmacists who need to meet state requirements for administering vaccinations. Other pharmacists may also choose to complete additional training through residency programs to specialize in a particular area of the field.

Pharmacist Overview

Degree Required Doctoral degree
Other Requirements Licensure
Annual Median Salary (2018)* $126,120
Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)* 0% (Little or no change)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pharmacists typically work full-time and may work in pharmacies, hospitals, drug stores, and more. There are also different kinds of pharmacists that specialize in different areas of the field, such as pharmaceutical industry pharmacists who help discover and develop new drugs or clinical pharmacists who work in hospitals and healthcare settings. In general, pharmacists help dispense medications to patients and may perform other duties like:

  • Relaying potential side effects of medication to patients
  • Administering vaccinations
  • Providing healthy-living advice
  • Maintaining records
  • Supervising pharmacy staff
  • Working with insurance companies
  • Filling prescriptions
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