Pharmacy School Requirements: A Complete Guide

August 21, 2023
7 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 08/21/23

Read on to learn more about the pharmacy school requirements. 

A smiling student on campus

The first step to becoming a pharmacist is getting accepted into an accredited pharmacy school. Similar to applying to medical school, PharmD programs have strict requirements that you must fulfill in order to graduate. 

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to make sure you meet these requirements and break down important GPA and PCAT statistics about the country’s top pharmacy schools, so you can better understand where you stand amongst successful applicants. Let’s get started!

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Pharmacy School Course Requirements

Pharmacy schools require a variety of different course requirements, which we’ll explain below.

While the most important requirement of pharmacy school is a completed bachelor’s degree, many pharmacy schools are not particular about the major you complete in your undergraduate before applying to a four year PharmD program. While the most common undergraduate major for applicants is biology, successful candidates have also had majors from various disciplines, including English, business, psychology, and biochemistry. 

Regardless of the program that you complete in your undergraduate program, you will need to y complete the following prerequisite courses:

  • General Chemistry I & II
  • Organic Chemistry I & II
  • Biology I & II
  • Anatomy and Physiology (or A&P I & II)
  • Microbiology
  • Physics
  • Calculus
  • English Composition
  • Communication or Public Speaking
  • Psychology or Sociology
  • Statistics

Remember that there may be  different course requirements for pharmacy school, depending on the specific programs you are interested in. Make sure to check your school’s website to make sure you have completed all the necessary courses needed to apply.

Pharmacy School GPA Requirements

Pharmacy school GPA requirements will differ from program to program. Still, it’s important to know the average GPA of successful pharmacy school applicants to give yourself a better idea of where you stand. Here’s a list of the GPA requirements and the average GPA for successful applicants of the top 20 pharmacy schools in the US.

Pharmacy School GPA Requirement Average GPA
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 2.50 3.50
University of California-San Francisco 2.80 3.43
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 2.00
(C grade or higher)
University of Minnesota N/A 3.42
University of Florida 3.00 2.75-3.60
(for science classes only)
University of Kentucky 2.50 2.50
Ohio State University 2.70 3.40-3.50
Purdue University 3.00 3.50
University of Illinois-Chicago 2.75 3.40
University of Texas-Austin 1.70
(C- or higher)
University of Washington 2.80 3.41
University of Madison-Wisconsin No minimum requirement 3.50
University of Pittsburgh 3.00 3.60
University at Buffalo-SUNY No minimum requirement 3.00
University of Maryland-Baltimore 3.00 3.41
University of Southern California 3.00 3.40
University of Utah 2.75 3.50
University of California-San Diego 3.00 3.00-4.00
University of Iowa 2.50 3.40
University of Arizona 2.50 3.44

As you can see, there is usually a large discrepancy between the minimum GPA requirement and the average GPA of successful applicants. Remember that aiming for a high GPA will give you the best possible chance of acceptance to any PharmD program.

Pharmacy School PCAT Scores and Requirements

The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) is a preliminary test that all applicants can write to be considered for pharmacy school. Formatted similarly to the MCAT, the PCAT tests competency in all subjects related to pharmaceutical studies, including science knowledge, reading and reasoning skills, and written communication skills. 

Nowadays, many pharmacy schools do not require the PCAT for admission, and instead list it as optional. However, a high PCAT score can help strengthen your application if you find yourself with a lower GPA than expected.

Below is a list of the average PCAT requirements for the top 20 pharmacy schools. 

Pharmacy School Average PCAT Score
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 87.44
University of California-San Francisco Not Required
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Not Required
University of Minnesota N/A
University of Florida Not Required
University of Kentucky Not Required
Ohio State University N/A
Purdue University Not Required
University of Illinois-Chicago 30-99 percentile
University of Texas-Austin 70-85 percentile
University of Washington Not required
University of Madison-Wisconsin Composite score of 72%
University of Pittsburgh 81
University at Buffalo-SUNY N/A
University of Maryland-Baltimore 70
University of Southern California N/A
University of Utah Not required/optional
University of California-San Diego Not required
University of Iowa N/A
University of Arizona N/A

Before you start putting together your application, ensure that you check all of the PCAT requirements and guidelines for the pharmacy schools that you would like to apply to.

Other Common Requirements for Pharmacy School

When it comes to pharmacy school admissions, your grades and PCAT score only tell one side of your story. Admissions committees are looking for well-rounded applicants; they want to ensure students match their culture and values and have the potential to become exceptional pharmacists.

You may also need to meet other pharmacy school requirements, including: 

Volunteer or Paid Experience

Many PharmD programs look for applicants that are passionate about the pharmaceutical field, making a difference, and giving back to their community. The admissions committee will therefore look at any type of volunteer or paid experiences you have to evaluate your dedication and passion for giving back and helping others. 

While it’s great if you participate in experiences that are related to medicine and science, like shadowing a pharmacist in a pharmacy clinic, they don’t have to be. You can still show other desirable soft skills, like leadership, teamwork, and collaboration, in any experience that you have.

Letters of Recommendation

Pharmacy schools typically require students to submit letters of recommendation alongside their application. These letters are an excellent way to let the admissions committee know that other people see the passion and potential you have as a hopeful pharmacist.

You will be expected to submit anywhere from one to four recommendation letters with your application. While this number can change depending on the school you apply to, it’s best that you select at least one letter from someone with expertise in the field of pharmacy and medicine. This could include a mentor, a professor, or a former boss/supervisor that can speak to your competency and passion for the field.

The other letters can come from individuals who may not work or have expertise in the field but can advocate for your skills, passion, and potential, like a former coach, group leader, or teacher. The recommenders you pick can make or break your application, so choose wisely. 

To help your writers, you may want to consider providing a “brag sheet” consisting of helpful information about you and your accolades. This will act as a guide to help them include the information needed to make you look spectacular in the eyes of the admissions committee. 

Remember to give them plenty of time to write their letter, as it is one of the most important aspects of your application. You don’t want it to be rushed!

Supplemental Essays

Students writing an essay

Depending on your prospective school, you may be asked to complete a supplemental essay alongside your application. These can be one to two longer essay prompts that you’ll be asked to answer or a series of four to six questions, with your replies adhering to a specific word count.

These essays allow the admissions committee to learn more about you in your own words. You may be asked questions like:

  • Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
  • What motivates you in your desire to be a pharmacist?
  • How will you give back to the community and make a difference as a pharmacist?
  • How do you work with people that are different from you?

In all of your answers, you should be as authentic as possible. Speaking from the heart and remaining open and honest about your passion for pharmacy allows the admissions committee to better understand how you would fit in at their pharmacy school. 


An interview is being conducted

Once your application has been reviewed, you may be asked to complete an interview with an admissions officer. 

This is their opportunity to meet you face to face and ensure, once again, that you are a great fit for their PharmD program. Usually, this is the last step before acceptance, so if you’ve made it this far, congratulations—you’re almost there!

During the interview, you may be asked questions like:

  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • “What will you do if you’re not accepted to pharmacy school?’
  • “What makes a good pharmacist?’
  • “Are there any questions you would like to ask me?”

During your interview, you’ll want to be as authentic and confident as possible. Be sure to practice your answers in advance, allowing you to respond to questions calmly and confidently. However, it's crucial not to come across as overly rehearsed, so try to strike a balance when preparing your answers.

FAQs: Pharmacy School Requirements

Still curious about the pharmacy school requirements? We’ve answered the most frequently asked questions below. 

1. Is Pharmacy School Hard to Get Into?

Because pharmacists are generally well paid and carry a lot of responsibility, pharmacy school can be difficult to gain acceptance to (although some schools are easier to get into than others). 

However, even if it’s difficult, thousands of applicants get admitted yearly. 

By meeting all of the pharmacy school requirements outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to receiving an acceptance! 

2. What Are the Requirements for Pharmacy School?

To get into pharmacy school, you’ll need to have an undergraduate degree, meet required prerequisite courses, and secure a high GPA and PCAT score. You’ll also need o acquire three to four letters of recommendation, participate in meaningful volunteer or work experiences, and write supplementary essays..

3. What Is a Good GPA for Pharmacy School?

Every pharmacy school has different GPA requirements. However, you’ll want to aim for a weighted GPA as close to 4.0 as possible to make sure your application is competitive.

4. Do You Need to Write the MCAT for Pharmacy School?

You don’t need to write the MCAT to get admitted into pharmacy school; it’s specifically designed for students applying to medical schools. Instead, you’ll need to write the PCAT for your pharmacy school application.

5. Is the PCAT Required for Pharmacy School?

Many schools do not have a requirement for the PCAT. In other words, it is optional; however, it is still a good idea to take the exam to strengthen your application.

6. What Is the Best Pharmacy School in the US?

The best pharmacy school in the US is the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Final Thoughts

While getting into pharmacy school may be challenging, it’s the first and, frankly, one of the most important steps to becoming a pharmacist. Knowing the average GPA and PCAT scores for successful pharmacy school applicants can give you a general idea of what scores you should aim for to make sure you have a competitive application.

Successfully meeting all pharmacy school requirements and showing that your unique and personal values match what your dream school is looking for is the ticket to receiving an acceptance. We wish you the best of luck!

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