One of the primary questions when applying to pharmacy school is, what courses are required for pharmacy school? Most PharmD programs require students to complete at least two years of prerequisites at the undergraduate level. Many of the required prerequisites are science and general education based.

Close, But No Cigar

While all pharmacy schools require prerequisite coursework, there isn’t a uniform standard for all schools. Courses like cell biology, immunology, and biochemistry are only conditionally required at certain institutions.

Don’t panic right away if you haven’t completed these courses. Several schools offer the ability to substitute other courses to satisfy these prerequisites. Discuss possible substitutions with the school, and confirm the school’s policies on course substitution.

what courses are required for pharmacy in the USA

Run Of The Mill

Even though there are slight variations in PharmD admission requirements, there are a handful of prerequisites that are fairly standard. Here is a general idea of the most common course required for pharmacy school:

  • 8 Hours General Chemistry
  • 8 organic chemistry
  • 8 Hours General Biology
  • 8 Hours Human Anatomy/Physiology
  • 6 Hours of English
  • 4 to 8 Hours Of Physics
  • Statistics
  • Calculus
  • Public Speaking
  • Humanity/Behavioral Science

The most important thing to remember is that every school is different! This cannot be stressed enough. Applying to pharmacy school is stressful. The last thing a student needs is to be in the application process only to discover they haven’t met the PharmD admission requirements.

The AACP website offers a comprehensive list of which courses are required for pharmacy school. Students should also consult PHARMCAS and each individual school to ensure there aren’t any issues.

Oops, Missed One

One of the biggest misconceptions is that all prerequisite coursework must be completed before applying. Yes, it’s nice to walk into the interview with a full transcript. But, it’s not the end of the world if you still have some work to do.

I’m the perfect example. I applied to the Medical University of South Carolina, and was invited to interview in January. During my interview, the Dean told me I had not completed all of my prerequisites. Calmly, I explained I was enrolled in my second semester of organic chemistry, and would be done in March. Problem solved. And, then it wasn’t.

The Dean informed me that I would also need to take microbiology. I admit, I should have done my research. Albeit a minor setback, having microbiology as a prerequisite seemed reasonable. Then he poured salt in the wound.

I was informed I would also need to take a public speaking course. That’s right, public speaking. I changed my major five times in undergrad, struggled to graduate in four years, and completed 141 credit hours without ever taking public speaking. Smiling through my internal turmoil, I assured him I could satisfy these requirements by the first day of school.

After returning home, I was all but certain I’d be asked to reapply the following year. Two weeks later I received a phone call from the Dean. Great… this guy doesn’t even have the decency to send me a rejection letter. No, he’s calling me to tell me it’s a no-go. I answered the phone and we exchanged greetings. Then I heard the only word that could reverse my premature brooding. “Congratulations!”

I was accepted to the Medical University of South Carolina contingent upon the completion of my prerequisites. I offer this story because students may opt to put off applying while only needing two or three more courses. I’m here to tell you that you don’t! Complete your applications, have a plan to complete the courses, and get yourself into pharmacy school!

Not So Fast

Remember, there’s more to consider than just what courses are required for pharmacy school. Applying to pharmacy school requires more than acing tests in undergrad. There are other PharmD admission requirements to consider.

  • Exams: Many schools require students to take an admissions test, such as the PCAT. There isn’t a set score on the PCAT for admission, but schools take PCAT scores into consideration.
  • Interview: Unlike most undergraduate schools, pharmacy school will require an interview with applicants. Interviews are usually conducted somewhere between December and March. This is where students have the opportunity to really make an impression!
  • Pharmacy Experience: While prior pharmacy experience isn’t a requirement, it does not hurt! Pharmacy schools are investing in you just as much as you are investing in them. Having pharmacy experience shows schools that you’re dedicated.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Pharmacy schools attempt to gather as much information on a student as possible. This can prove difficult as exposure to a student usually only happens during the interview. Strong recommendations help the school learn about a student and assist in the decision-making process.

Ready, Set, Apply

Much like pharmacy school, applying isn’t easy. Students need to research what courses are required for pharmacy schools and other (conditional) requirements. Pharmacy schools have administrators to assist in the process. These people are an applicant’s best friends. A word of advice, use them! Make phone calls, send emails, and do research online. Doing all of this will make “what courses are required for pharmacy school?” the easiest part of the application process.