If you’re looking for pharmacy schools in the US, then look no further! In this blog, we’re going to show you a list of some of the top ranked pharmacy schools and explain how to get accepted. When you’re applying to pharmacy schools, it’s important to make sure you know the admissions requirements so you can prepare for the inevitable pharmacy school interview questions. When you’re building your list of top choices, researching the admissions requirements can help you organize your materials effectively and be ready for every step along the way. It’s also important to know what each school look for in their candidates, so keeping that in mind throughout your research is going to help you narrow your list down to the optimal choices. Pharmacy schools in the US can be competitive, but the right institution can provide a fulfilling education that prepares you for a successful career in pharmacy.
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Admissions Statistics for Pharmacy Schools in the US
Like pharmacy school acceptance rates in Canada, pharmacy school acceptance rates in the US can be quite competitive. Across all pharmacy schools in the US, the overall acceptance in recent years has gradually increased. Competition can be based on a variety of factors, including acceptance rates, GPA cutoffs, and PCAT scores. Not every school requires you to complete the PCAT test, but those that do have specific minimal scores that they use as a benchmark for competitive applicants. In fact, PCAT is becoming more important as more schools become accredited. In recent years, the number of schools that required completion of the PCAT increased to 109 out of 143 schools. When it comes to admissions, PCAT scores cannot be overlooked, especially if you’re taking the optional PCAT to compensate for a poor GPA.
The increase in acceptance rates doesn’t mean that getting accepted is easy. While some schools are easier to get into than others, the process of getting accepted requires a combination of a good pharmacy school personal statement, one or more pharmacy school letter of recommendation from a health care professional, and GPA scores usually above 3.0. Sometimes, just having a GPA above the cutoff isn’t enough when you consider that the average cumulative undergraduate GPA for accepted applicants in recent years was 3.32. With regards to admissions, it’s not only important to look at the GPA cutoffs for the schools you want to apply for, but you will also want to give yourself the best chance to getting accepted by aiming for a GPA higher than the previous year’s average.
Check out some of the application statistics for some of the top pharmacy schools in the US:
University of Michigan
Acceptance rate: 51.18%
Minimum GPA: C
Program highlights: The PharmD program at the University of Michigan offers students an opportunity to work on a major research project, which can help students get hands-experience that can provide valuable career opportunities. The program also has a maximum class size that they maintain to make sure resources are abundant for their students.
How to get accepted: Completion of credits in biology, biochemistry, chemistry calculus, English, genetics, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, physics, statistics, humanities or foreign language, and social science. PCAT is optional. Applicants must also submit two references from supervisors from research, work, or volunteering experiences, transcripts, and TOEFL or TSE tests if applicable.
University of California, San Francisco School of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 44%
Minimum GPA: 2.80
Program highlights: The PharmD program at the University of California in San Francisco focuses on preparing students for professional career in pharmacy through their patient-centered approach. Students can expect to learn essentials of care and practice through concepts such as cultural sensitivity, health and wellness foundation, population-based care, and patient-based care.
How to get accepted: Applicants are required to complete 59 semester units with a minimum GPA of 2.80. The PCAT is optional, but encouraged for those that think their results can demonstrate academic preparedness.
University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 38%
Minimum GPA: N/A
Program highlights: The University of Minnesota school of pharmacy supplies students with a strong experiential element with a curriculum that gives students a strong foundation in clinical pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, health systems, and pharmaceutics.
How to get accepted: Some prerequisite courses include biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, calculus, statistics, chemistry, physics, and behavioral science. Applicants must submit a personal statement, transcripts from all attended institutions, PCAT scores, work or volunteer experience, extracurriculars, and 2 letters of recommendation.
University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 49%
Minimum GPA: 2.5
Program highlights: The University of Kentucky PharmD program has a strong residency match rate and a diverse curriculum with a community service component and courses in patient-centered care, clinical reasoning, integrated drug and disease, wellness and health promotion, and others.
How to get accepted: All applicants are required to submit their application through PharmCAS. The PCAT test is not required, but optional. Invitation to an interview is strongly based on performance in science and math courses, in addition to overall GPA. Prerequisite courses include biology, chemistry, microbiology, statistics, physiology, anatomy, math, and behavioral science. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation.
Purdue University College of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 68.75%
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Program highlights: Purdue University PharmD program has an 85-member faculty to focus on providing students with the best experiential and theoretical basis for students who want to progress into other graduate studies in pharmacy or enter the field to start careers. Examples of courses in the curriculum include pharmaceutical calculations, population health management, and principles of pharmacogenomics.
How to get accepted: Applicants must have completed Purdue’s Pre-Doctor of Pharmacy Program or an equivalent. Committee looks for strong evidence of interpersonal skills and academic readiness evident in transcripts.
Working on your pharmacy school personal statement? Read this infographic for tips.
University of Texas College of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 31%
Minimum GPA: 2.0
Program highlights: The Texas PharmD program prepares students who want to progress into research-oriented graduate programs in the field of pharmacy with strong guidance from experienced faculty. The program is strongly committed to developing significant research outcomes through an inclusive and integrated student body and curriculum.
How to get accepted: The PCAT exam is optional for applicants who want to use it as a demonstrate of academic readiness. Students must submit three letters of recommendation and complete prerequisite classes with a minimum letter grade of C-. Other materials include a personal essay, resume, and Foreign Transcript Evaluation if applicable.
University of Washington School of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 26%
Minimum GPA: 2.80
Program highlights: The focus of the Washington PharmD program is to provide students with a scientific background designed to foster a patient-centered approach for delivering health care resources.
How to get accepted: Prerequisite coursework includes anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, English, calculus, statistics, microbiology, economics, humanities electives, and a social science elective. Students must submit a transcript and two letters of recommendation. PCAT scores are not accepted.
University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 24%
Minimum GPA: 2.5
Program highlights: The University of Maryland PharmD program defines itself through an integrated practice that combines science, technology, health care, and business to prepare students to work in settings in which any of these aspects are emphasized.
How to get accepted: 65 credits in prerequisite coursework (anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, English, calculus, statistics, microbiology, humanities, social science, communications, economics) are required. Students are required to submit two (they recommend three) reference letters, and are encouraged to provide evidence of work experience, pharmacy experience, extracurriculars, and optional PCAT.
University of Southern California School of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 27.86%
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Program highlights: The University of Southern California has a strong experiential aspect, which includes both clinical experience starting in first year of study, and community experience consistent throughout academic calendar.
How to get accepted: Students must have earned their bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation. Students must also submit their transcripts with relevant coursework (biological sciences, mathematics and physical sciences) and three letters of recommendation (one from science professor with whom you did research).
University of Iowa College of Pharmacy
Acceptance rate: 40%
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Program highlights: This program is ideal for students who want to complete a residency or who are interested in pursuing pharmacy research due to the strong emphasis on science-based pharmacy practice.
How to get accepted: If applicable, students must have a minimum score of 81 on TOEFL or equivalent. Students must also have their bachelor’s completed. Supplemental documents include a statement of purpose, resume or curriculum vitae, and the emails of three individuals who write letters of recommendation.
Application Requirements for Pharmacy Schools in the US
Most pharmacy schools in the US require a minimum GPA of 3.0, but no lower than 2.5. However, most competitive applicants have a GPA of at least 3.0. The average GPA of accepted applicants in recent years was 3.32, and 3.26 for all applicants. Because the data shows that the average GPA scores of applicants are consistently above the typical 3.0 cutoff, it’s best if you aim above the average to give yourself the best chance of getting accepted based on GPA.
Pharmacy schools also require a certain number of prerequisite courses. Some of these requirements include biology, biochemistry, calculus, organic chemistry, physiology, anatomy, English, and social science. Prerequisites can vary by institution, although usually only slightly, so do make sure you research the schools you’re applying to ensure you have all the right courses and credits. Some schools also don’t require completion of all prerequisite classes by the time of the application. Generally, most schools require a GPA above 2.0 for prerequisite classes. To make sure you have the right prerequisites, especially if you’re applying from out-of-state or from another country, you will want to find out what constitutes an acceptable credit for each designation.
As mentioned earlier, the PCAT test is also another requirement for many US schools. However, some schools no longer accept PCAT results, but others keep it optional. Schools that make it optional will advise you take the exam if your cumulative GPA is below a 3.0, if you have below a 3.0 GPA in some of your science credits, or if it’s been a few years since you completed your prerequisite courses. If you think this exam could benefit your academic readiness, it’s best to apply to schools that have the PCAT option, which can help make your application more competitive.
Although not as common as most of the other typical requirements, some pharmacies require completion of the CASPer test. Having a good CASPer score for these programs is essential for delivering a competitive application and ultimately in choosing which program you want to enroll in. To prepare for the CASPer, be sure to look at practice questions on the Altus Suite or enroll in a CASPer test prep course if you think you need the extra help to prepare.
Besides some of these academic requirements, most schools also require you submit two reference letters and a personal statement. Your personal statement should include information about why you want to pursue a career in pharmacy, and what experiences led you to want to pursue pharmacy. Make sure to mention experiences, skills, and objectives that are relevant to the program you’re applying to. Research the institution and search for desired applicant characteristics, which schools will often use the pharmacy school interview question “why do you want to be a pharmacist?” to judge. You should also tailor your resume with two to three years of work experience, ideally with clinical experience. Make sure you place your extracurriculars for pharmacy school in this document, which can include shadowing experiences, student clubs, or direct pharmacy experience. Most schools require two reference letters with at least one from a health care professional or professor you did research with. Extracurriculars are a great way to meet professionals whom you could request a letter from, so be sure to start accumulating experiences from these non-academic pursuits.
The majority of schools will also conduct interviews with selected applicants. The format of this assessment can vary by school, but you can expect some schools to use the multiple-mini-interview (MMI) format, which involves rotating through stations with different faculty members to answer their behavioral and situational questions. You can look into some MMI ethical questions and answers or MMI interview coaching to help you prepare for this section of the application.
If applicable, most schools also require proof of English proficiency. Most schools will accept the TOEFL exam to meet the language competency requirements. Other schools will require a test of spoken English (TSE) in combination with the TOEFL. If you took any English as second language courses, typically these tests will be mandatory.
How to get into Pharmacy Schools in the US?
No matter where you choose to apply, it’s important to adapt your application to the school you’re applying to. Remember, if you want to give yourself the best chance to get accepted, you have to be strategic.
Check out these tips to increase your chances of getting accepted:
Earn above average GPA scores
A competitive application starts with good GPA scores. It’s important not only to be aware of what the cutoff for the school you’re applying to is, but also to make sure that you’re aiming higher.
It’s worth repeating that most schools also require a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all prerequisite courses. Again, having higher grades make you a more competitive applicant, which is why you will want to exceed minimum scores if you want to stand out. In recent years, average GPA for accepted applicants in science classes was 3.17. Performing in science courses is especially important, because pharmacy is a science-based discipline that requires extensive knowledge of the human body to calculate precise dosages and make recommendations to patients based on relevant data. To maintain a competitive GPA, you can map out your course schedule to give yourself ample time to study for each class, and sign up for educational resources if necessary.
Take the right undergraduate program of study
While it isn’t a requirement to do your undergraduate in a science major, and plenty of successful applicants come from a variety of different academic background, your undergraduate major can put you in a good position to complete the prerequisite courses. According to a survey, the most identified college majors for accepted applicants for pharmacy school were biology, pharmacy, chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmaceutical sciences. An inference you can make from the results of this survey is that undergraduate programs in the sciences, if not pharmacy directly, correlate with higher acceptance because they demonstrate competence in core pharmacy subjects.
If you aren’t currently an undergraduate in any of the science programs listed, you can always plan your electives to incorporate the prerequisites for pharmacy programs. If you’re choosing an undergraduate program and you know you want to pursue pharmacy as a career, science programs typically give you the best chance to get accepted. If you’re not in a science major but still want to pursue pharmacy, you can always use strong clinical experience and performance in prerequisite classes to showcase academic readiness.
Start preparing early
Most pharmacy schools in the US don’t require completion of your undergraduate to get accepted, but most will require at least two years of undergraduate education to apply. Because you have to gather the necessary documents, including personal statements, reference letters, transcripts, and complete the exams such as CASPer, you will want to start the application process early to give yourself enough time to get organized. You will also need to complete strategic extracurriculars and clinical volunteer or work experience as well, which often require months of commitment. Non-academic requirements are also very important for a successful application and the earlier you start, the more quality experiences you can put on your resume.
Generally, while you’re actively making yourself a competitive applicant through experience, you will also want to start researching schools. Your criteria for schools you will want to apply to should be based on GPA cutoffs, accreditation status, location, placement rates, tuition, and the school’s philosophy or mission statement. You can always send admissions questions about the program, such as what kind of research they do, and what sort of clinical experiences they offer students. Take a look at the about us pages to find out more about their educational plan and goals for the institution.
Ask for help
Picking the right undergraduate, maintaining a high level of academic performance, having the right extracurriculars and experience, getting good scores on the CASPer and PCAT, and having written materials can be overwhelming to achieve. The good news is, you don’t have to go through the process alone. There is help available. Look into pharmacy school admissions help to get you organized and ready to plan for applying to the right schools and getting accepted. You can also refer to an MMI interview prep course or other services to help you prepare for the interview. For improving academic performance, find educational resources offered at your school to help you create better study habits and gain access to tutoring services for courses you’re struggling with.
Pharmacy School Tuition
Tuition fees are most likely going to be a factor in what schools you decide to apply to. Tuition fees can be expensive, especially if you’re an international medical graduate or applying from out-of-state. Fortunately, most schools offer some form of financial aid services or scholarships. If you’re interested in finding out more about these options, research some of the schools on your list and explore their options to see if you’re eligible.
Take a look at some of the average tuition fees in recent years:
Although acceptance rates for US pharmacy schools have reached critical new heights, competition for applicants continue to raise questions about how you can position yourself optimally to get accepted. Applicant characteristic data continues to show an increasing trend in applicants who exceed the performance expectations and cutoffs of various programs. To keep yourself among the most competitive applicants, it’s essential that you research the institution and program not just to know how you can get accepted, but so that you can make the right choice to fulfill your educational and professional goals.
1. What is the acceptance rate for US pharmacy schools?
The range of acceptance rates for some of the top ranked pharmacy schools can go from around 20 to 50%. However, acceptance rates vary by school.
2. What US pharmacy school is the best?
The University of Michigan has one of the top ranked pharmacy programs in the US with a 4:1 student to faculty ratio. However, it’s best to determine what school is best for you based on academic performance, tuition, location, and other factors you deem important.
3. What school has the lowest tuition costs?
One of the schools with the lowest tuition costs is Purdue University, which had an average tuition cost of $9,208 for in-state and $28,010 for out-of-state students.
4. Do pharmacy schools require applicants to complete the CASPer?
Not all pharmacy schools require applicants to complete the CASPer exam, but some do. Make sure you check the application requirements on the website of the schools you’re applying to before submitting.
5. Can I still get into pharmacy school if I didn’t do my undergrad in science?
You can still apply to pharmacy schools if you don’t have your degree in a science field, but you still have to complete the science prerequisites to apply. Some of these include credits in biology, chemistry, and health sciences.
6. What is a good GPA for pharmacy schools?
Most schools ask for a minimum GPA of 3.0, both cumulatively and for science credits. You will want to aim for a higher GPA than the cutoff to improve your competitiveness as an applicant.
7. Do all schools ask applicants to write the PCAT?
Not all schools require applicants to write the PCAT, but some do. Other schools make the PCAT optional for those who are close to the GPA cutoff or who want to increase the quality of their application.
8. What schools should I apply to?
This all depends on a combination of your academic performance, tuition costs, location of the campus, what the program entails, and your scores on the CASPer and PCAT. If you want to create a strategy to help decide what schools you should apply to, you can talk to a consultant or an advisor.
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