Medical profession education is typically longer than other career fields due to the nature of education and training required. A common question for students considering the field of pharmacy is how long is pharmacy school?
While the length of schooling for doctors, some nursing degrees, and other specialities can be daunting, rest assured that pharmacy school is not that long. So how long is pharmacy school?
Pharmacy school generally lasts about 4 years of professional study, with varying options for pre-professional study.
What is pre-professional study?
Pre-professional studies are courses you take or degrees you earn prior to going to pharmacy school. Some programs require very little while others require full four-year degrees.
There are pros and cons for each option. For instance, time spent in pre-professional studies can better prepare students for pharmacy school, however it can make the total time spent in pharmacy school longer.
Some universities offer pre-pharmacy courses specifically designed to get you oriented to the material. Students who wish to do their pre-pharmacy coursework elsewhere can try an alternative method and take key classes that meet the requirements for “pre-pharmacy”.
Other students earn two-year or four-year degrees in other fields, and then pursue pharmacy school. Either way you choose, it will be important to identify what your preferred program requires for pre-requisite education. This information can be found on the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) website
Can I go to pharmacy school right after high school? How long is pharmacy school if I do this?
Yes! Should you choose to enter pharmacy school directly after high school, keep in mind your first two years will still be spent doing “pre-pharmacy” coursework before you enter your professional courses. Some schools have“0-6” or “early entrance” programs, which are both ways high-school students can get early acceptance to pharmacy school programs.
According to AACP, these programs guarantee students a spot in the four-year professional program, as long as they maintain good academic standing. If you enter into pharmacy school directly after high school, it is typically still 6 years of schooling to earn your pharmacy degree.
What if I want to go to non-pharmacy University first?
How long is pharmacy school is pharmacy school then?
The total time will depend on the type of pre-pharmacy schooling you choose to pursue. Some students choose to spend one or two years gaining a minor or major in a core subject area while others go on to pursue a Master’s degree, or even a Bachelor’s degree, prior to pharmacy school.
Pharmacy professional programs are typically four years in length starting with 1-2 years of heavily didactic courses, progressing into more experiential learning, and a final year of practical rotations. Total time spent earning a Doctorate in Pharmacy degree, in this instance, could range then from 6 years all the way to 8 or 9 years depending on your education path.
Training Beyond School
As the profession of pharmacy continues to advance, post-graduate training offers opportunities for more education and experience, helping graduates practice at the top of their licensing. Post-graduate training includes a yearlong residency in almost every field of pharmacy.
These experiences are considered to be equivalent to three years of on-the-job experience due to the level of intensity and workload of the programs. Furthermore, second-year and even two-year programs have also emerged as options for post-graduate training.
Post-graduate year 2 programs (PGY-2) are usually focused in specialty areas of pharmacy like paediatrics, oncology, critical care, and ambulatory care among others. Two-year programs are popular for pharmacy leadership or pharmacy administration training.
Lastly, there are also pharmacy fellowships, particularly in the field of Drug Information that graduates can pursue. The residency look up tool, located on the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP) website is great for looking up programs by year, by type, and by location. Check it out!
So, how long is pharmacy school? It is typically 4 years with many options before and after to extend that time. Key thoughts for students considering pharmacy school should be around the value of time spent learning prior to pharmacy school, and the value of post-graduate training.
As with any career, you will want to distinguish yourself from everyone else pursuing exciting positions, and both education before school and training after can help you gain that competitive edge.